Although Lonnie Franklin, the defendant in the Grim Sleeper murders that plagued South Los Angeles over the past two decades, has been in custody for more than three months, the “800” Task Force charged with solving the carnage is still embroiled in the investigation, according to Bill Fallon, one of the eight officers assigned to the investigative unit. The detective granted Our Weekly an interview in between treks to Mississippi and Northern California to tie up loose ends in this ever-expanding multiple homicide case.

In the interim since Franklin’s arrest, police and forensic experts have sifted through some 800 pieces of evidence including stolen car parts, laundry machines and other paraphernalia found on his property on 81st Street near Harvard Avenue.

Notable among all this debris are a collection of credit cards, school and work identifications, as well as a slew of drivers licenses from California and out of state. These, and a number of potential victims who’ve come forward since the suspect’s apprehension, are an indicator that the current tally of 12 murders may be considerably higher.

Fallon, a task force member since its inception, has extensive homicide experience including a stint at the inner city’s 77th Division, which clocked 122 murders between 2003 and 2004 alone.

One compelling mystery that still hovers around the Grim Sleeper slaughters is the question of why the killer(s) apparently took a break of some 14 years during his grisly crime spree. One explanation is that person(s) involved never stopped. Given that some of the bodies were recovered in trash dumpsters, the rationale is that many more never materialized as they transitioned from dumpster-to-garbage truck-to city dump.

Fallon points out that much of the waste collected in city dumpsters is used in land fills, which further complicates the issue of recovery.

Detectives were further hampered by the historic friction between South Los Angeles’ residents and law enforcement. The progression of this particular case was impeded by the ingrained culture of the community that discourages communication with the police.

As the investigation progressed, Fallon noticed that the bodies seemed to be found along municipal boundaries, suggesting that the culprit might be a civil servant used to staying within the confines of a given jurisdiction.

It was later discovered the Franklin had worked for an extended period both as a police mechanic and sanitation worker. Several of the suspect’s neighbors dismissed a 1987 voice recording to police about the whereabouts of a victim’s body, when it was circulated during the course of the investigation, then after his apprehension they recognized distinctive phases and speech patterns consistent with those used by Franklin.

Criminalists and forensic experts have traditionally speculated about the number of serial killers circulating among the population at any given time (medical examiner Ronald M. Holmes put the number at 35 his 1989 book “Profiling Violent Crimes: An Investigative Tool”), but in recent years have shied away from these estimates. Fallon points out that Los Angeles, with its temperate climate, wide stretch of beaches, and the lure of Hollywood is a tempting destination for potential victims, and the predators who stalk them.

Since his incarceration, prime suspect Franklin has been physically attacked by a fellow inmate at the L.A. County Jail. The incident took place in an area reserved for attorney/prisoner consultations, and the assailant, detained for the molestation and murder of a 5-year-old girl, punched Franklin twice before deputies restrained him. Both prisoners were categorized as “K-10,” meaning they are to be segregated from the general prison population, either because of personal notoriety or because of the nature of their crimes.