9: Princess Berthomieux

Princess Berthomieux

Princess Berthomieux

Princess Berthomieux, 14, was found March 19, 2002, in an alley in the 8100 block of South Van Ness Avenue in Inglewood. Cause of death: strangulation. She had been in and out of foster homes.

The ally behind 8100 South Van Ness Boulevard

The ally behind 8100 South Van Ness Boulevard

Junction of 81st and Van Ness - Inglewood

Junction of 81st and Van Ness - Inglewood

37 responses to “9: Princess Berthomieux

  1. She was so young that she almost didn’t fit the victim type. Could she have also seen something? It seems like “he” targets 20-30 black women who are “high risk”, this 14 year old girl really isn’t the type.

  2. Although she was only 14, you can be sure that this girl looked older than that. I don’t think the killer has any actual age range in mind. He is an opportunist like most serial killers. His previous victims just happened to be mostly street girls who are generally in their 20’s or older.

  3. Don’t serial killers generally keep within the same M.O.? Why would he switch from gunshots to strangulation?

    Only two suppositions come to me at the moment: As FutureFBI commented, the girl saw something she shouldn’t have, perhaps to link him with the murders, or perhaps he had made an effort to stop killing, afraid he was going to be caught…but something, perhaps a stressor, perhaps some sort of imbalance has set him back off?

    Could it even be that he’s been incarcerated for a previous crime all these years unconnected to the Sleeper case and she was a ‘celebration’ of his release?

  4. Well this is the first victim since the late 80’s Jackie attack, where this woman acually saw her attacker and said he was a black male in a rust orange Pinto that also shot her once in the chest. These three things link Grim to the attack on her. I think that Grim decided to lay low and got very scared after he learnt that his target had lived. This is why I think he didn’t kill again for such a long time. D, it is very likly that Grim’s M.O. changed because of the gap between his murders. This girl was in and out of foster care which may mean that she got it pretty rough and was wandering the streets, Grim saw her and decided to attack her. He may of had a gun but because she was younger decided to try strangulation.

  5. That makes sense, Nocturn. If one persumes Grim is the type of serial killer who performs his murders for a sense of empowerment the switch would also make sense.

    The women were generally shot from the front and sexually assaulted. This would certainly show how ‘powerful’ he is at least in his mind. Which could also explain the change in M.O. from firearms to strangulation I imagine. After all, a 14 year old girl isn’t likely to provide much of a struggle for a grown man, so it isn’t hard to imagine that actually feeling her dying and struggling against him gave him another such thrill…made him feel powerful again.

    Which might also feed into why he switches back to his M.O. with firearms.

    Princess was 14, a child. The two victims immediately after her were older women, both aged 35. All three of them were death by strangulation. Perhaps it was because he expected them to be weaker specimens that he went in close for his kills? The final victim was 25, in the prime of her life and thus one would imagine much more capable of putting up a successful struggle.

    After all, Grim has to be somewhere between his 40’s and his 60’s by now one would imagine. He isn’t a young man and he certainly isn’t as strong as he used to be.

  6. Sure, feel free. But I should point out I had made an error in my above post. In fact it was not three victims strangled, it was only two. I had accidentally clicked the same profile twice for the 35 year old woman.

  7. “He isn’t a young man and he certainly isn’t as strong as he used to be.”

    That isn’t a safe assumption at all. The youngest officer we have in our Special Weapons and Tactics team has fifteen years experience as a Law Enforcement Officer, and our SWAT team is in military-condition fitness. Several of them are in their late 40’s to early 50’s or older and are technically in better shape now than they were as starting officers in their twenties.

    It’s very possible that if this individual has kept fit, he could be in better shape than most men in their twenties, especially if he has an athletic or military background.

  8. Strangulation is different. It is harder and requires closer contact with the victim. Wonder if this was a sudden killng,that he did not have a gun and others premediated.

  9. Just because he’s a serial killer doesn’t mean he is necessarily stupid. Perhaps he read about ballistics linking some of the victims. If he were wearing some type of gloves, it would eliminate that and fingerprint evidence. Because there was a gap in the killings, he may have been in the pen for a while. Then they’d have both fingerprints and ballistics for his gun.

  10. she knew him. She would not talk to a man of his age and his appearance…logically – she would pay him no mind otherwise – she would be hard …. life ….. she had talked to him –maybe harshly – she knew him. In 2002 – with her life wisdom he would not be able to approach her otherwise. Where did she live in relation to this crime?

  11. I disagree with J. In my middle 50s I was unceremoniously approached by a homeless girl while eating lunch at a local mall food court (one would think she would never have talked to an older man “like me”). But she immediately offered sex for money. Perhaps this victim did the same because he looked prosperous and “safe” and he “took her up” on her “offer”. And then killed her. But the fact that he went back to older women says he’s not going to step out of his “comfort zone” unless approached first, and “youth” is not his trigger. 20 to 40 year olds are his comfort area, obviously–perhaps mimicing a youth trauma of some kind with an “older family member”. The “church” relationship could provide a clue–he could a midlevel administrator, perhaps, who deals mostly with adult women (and feels they “best” him in their interchanges), rather than a “youth counselor” or pastor, both of whom would deal regularly with children.

  12. What caliber gun was used in Janecia Peters killing? It seems like he went dormant after the failed killing and when he resurfaced in early 2000 he didn’t have a gun, resorting to strangulation on a weaker and more vulnerable person (14 year old). By reading all the given facts it’s my guess he was recently released from prison (or in and out of prison) keep in mind the 13 year gap. He was not sentenced in L.A. county. He fled the L.A. area (he felt he failed and ‘Jackie’ would identify him) and was probably arrested in another jurisdiction/county for a violent crime (back then in the 80s, there was no DNA database). Upon his release, he had to have paroled to the only place he knew, HOME. Look for continuing parole violations involving drugs and the parolee eventually in and out of prison so much they finally said time served. This guy is a drug addict/ex-drug addict, he is involved in church and uses that clean cut persona to charm his victims, has trouble interacting sexually with women brought on by insecurities and rejection. He is the quite and smooth type. He obviously feels very confertable in the L.A. area, dumping these women within the dark alleys that he so often rode his bike through when he was a child. He isn’t as slick as everyone thinks and does not go on the prowl but acts more on instinct and urge after a drug induced frenzy. He doesn’t crave the attention but is rather annoyed that he’s on the radar. He will and has changed his MO a bit but he will always slip up due to is instinctive impulses (saliva on breast, semen. etc…). I really would like to know ALOT more about Thomas Steele’s murder. I believe that is the link!!!!!

  13. It seems like since it says she was in and out of foster care that she was a prime target for prostitution. Since that seemed to be his MO, it all sorta fits together..
    It’s hard to believe but there are plenty of young women out there who prostitute at a very young age such as this young lady.
    Foster care is a hard place, you never have a real family. On the streets you have family, or at least that may be how she felt..

  14. Doesn’t it seem like she is the same age as the time the SK took off? 13 years?

    Is it possible that he knew when she was a baby? or that he is related to her somehow?

  15. My opinion is that this young girl is the biggest lead yet. If you find out who she hung out with, who was her friend, you will find the connection to the grim sleeper. mark my words when I say the killer stays within a 6 block radius from this drop site. Maybe this girl could have been friends with his daughter or son. Since she was a runaway she could have been spending the night in his house. So he had to strangle her so tht no one would here a gun shot. That is just my opinion. Maybe the news could run another broadcast asking for information of her friends and her life leading up to the day of her murder. She is the key

  16. Kate, I agree with you on the possibility that if the circumstances leading up to this victim’s death were known it may provide a lead. It must be stated, however, that this particular murder does not exactly stand out from those of the other (female) victims. Yes, this girl may only have been 14 years old but she probably looked and acted much older than that. There are many girls in their early to mid-teens who (because of how they dress and act) look much older than they really are. I’m personally convinced that if the details leading up to and surrounding the murder of the male victim (Thomas Steele) were known it COULD lead to the LAPD and FBI’s being able to crack the case. Why? The male victim was the ONLY one who was not covered with trash, dumped in an alley or otherwise hidden.

  17. In the August 2009 Newsweek story, Princess’ date of death is listed as March 19, not March 9 as listed on this site. Which is the correct date?

  18. Princess Berthomieux was reported missing on December 21st 2001 but was actually discovered March 19th 2002 so Newsweek is correct. However, her death probably occurred on, or very close to, December 21st. I will alter the victim profile for Princess Berthomieux to reflect the correct date that she was discovered. Sorry for the error.

    • I found the birthdate and date of death for Princess on the web:

      August 13. 1986 – March 9, 2002.

      The two dates have been verified by a family member.

      http://www.ancientfaces.com/person/princess-c-berthomieux/88537924

      The L.A. Times mention that the coroner and the D.A.s office stated two DIFFERENT dates for when Princess’ body was discovered. This is very strange! The Times should have investigated by interviewing the coroner as well as the D.A’s office. Isn’t that what journalists are supposed to do?!

      “Her nude body was found by a passerby in the shrubs, according to coroner’s records. Although the coroner gave the date her body was found as March 9, 2002, officials from the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said her body was found 10 days later. Berthomieux had last been seen by her family on Dec. 21, 2001, police said.”

      http://projects.latimes.com/homicide/post/princess-berthomieux/

      As for the December 21, 2001 date: as far as I understand, this is when she went missing.

  19. Isnt it weird that he did not kill from 1988 to 2002 which was 14 years, and princess was 14 years old when she was murdered. Was she a celebration of his comeback?

  20. this is unbelievable!Im from l.a and i travel all through the south l.a area. western is a street i know like the back of my hand and ive never heard about this guy. now when i see these alleys it gives me a chill. this guy needs to be caught. he will slip up and give a break that the lapd needs. r.i.p to all the victims. nobody deserves to be treated that way. note.. in 2010 i see alot of young and old prostitutes all down western ave now.

  21. This is heart-rending. I went to junior high and high school with Princess. I remember hearing of her death and just being shocked, hurt and disgusted that someone would do such a thing. My heart goes out to her older sister and family. I know they feel relieved that her murderer has been captured. Rest in Peace Princess….God Bless!

  22. Great that they got him, appearently beyond reasonable doubt. “Familial DNA” – son gets arrested, DNA matches well, but he is too young to be the man. So, they monitor his father, who one day eats a pizza. Feds move in, get a leftover with saliva and wham. Whatever can be said about gov. monitoring and human rights, this is the brilliant side, providing some comfort to the families of the victims, and saving lives. Bravo!

  23. I also went to school with Princess & was very saden to hear such news. I was older than her, but my sister had classes with her. First I would like to say that a lot of people commented on the fact that she looked older, may have acted older & perhaps was also a prostitue… to me those are excuses or justifications to why she was murdered. For goodness sake, she was just a child who endured an undeserving life. In my opinion, she was a very shy and unsure girl who looked and acted her age if not slightly younger. I have moved away from Los |ngeles since joining the Navy, but my most recent visit I saw his bilboard and it sent chills up & down my spine because it was too close to the home I grew up in and the schools I attended for that to be the first time hearing about him. I was at lunch watching CNN when I heard this man was caught and being the only one from L.A. out my co-workers, no one could relate to how I felt. Currently I work in the field of science and I’m trained in DNA & RNA matching and is very proud of the improvement that science has made. May other murders be brought to JUSTICE!

  24. I also knew Princess she was a very sweet young lady. She lived a few houses down from my grandmother where she lived with her foster parents.She was very special,and she did look her age ( although her mind was not 15 she was a little slow ), she was very sweet, she would always stop by the house when we had family dinners ( she got in on a picture with me that i wanted in front of my truck. but the picture came out better with her in it! ), or waliking home from church just stop by to say hi and sit for a min.
    I pray that this brings some peace to the family.

  25. Found this related article: http://projects.latimes.com/homicide/post/princess-berthomieux/

    and this one: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-grim-sleeper-families-20100713,0,6036267.story?page=2&track=rss

    Princess had been raised by a retired nurse, Dolores Smart, and interior designer, David Smart, in a well-to-do Claremont neighborhood, said Samara Herard, 39, her foster sister. Her family had taken the girl in when she was only 3 years old, a victim of brutal physical and sexual abuse who still could not walk or talk, Herard said. At age 14, Princess ended up with a foster family in Inglewood. She was killed the next year. Fifteen years after Ware’s death, in March 2002, the nude body of Princess Berthomieux, 15, was found in an Inglewood alley. She had been beaten and strangled.

  26. This is all too sad….This poor girl struggled all through Junior High School. People made fun of her day by day. God rest her soul….I attended school with her. I was in the 8th and she was a 7th grader. Untimely death for this girl. It hurt my heart when I found out.

  27. THAT IS SO SAD I PRAY THAT GOD CAN GIVE HER FAMILY RESTING FAITH AND CONTINUE TO GIVE THEM STRENGTH. I THINK ABOUT STUFF LIEK THIS ALL THE TIME LIKE WHAT IF….WHAT5 IF ITS SOMEONE IN MY FAMILY OR A FRIEND. THIS IS REAL LIFE SITUATIONS OUT HERE AND REGARDLESS NO MAN OR WOMAN SHOULD HAVE TO DEAL WITH ANOTHER PERSON STEALING THEIR LIFE. GOD KNOWS BEST AND EVEN IN SITUATIONS LIKE THIS DEEP DOWN THIS WAS A LESSON IN SOMEWAY. GOD DOES NOT MAKE A MISTAKE REGARDLESS IF WE SEE IT AS PAIN OR MISFORTUNE. I KNOW THAT GOD WILL PREVEAL IN THE END AND JUST LIKE HE DID IN THIS SIUATION. WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGH THAT HIS SON GETS ARRESTED AND THEN LEADS TO HIM AND A SLICE OF PIZZA. I LOVE TECHNOLOGY FOR THE RIGHT REASONS AND THIS IS THE RIGHT REASON. GOD IS REAL AND YOU BETTER RECOGNIZE HIM. CAUSE HE IS LOOKING AND BOOKING AND HE HAS TO SEE GOD FOR EVERYLIFE THAT HE TOOK. I PRAY FOR ALL THE FAMILIES EVEN ONES THAT DONT HAVE TO DEAL WITH THIS SITUATION ITSELF I JUST THANK GOD FOR PEACE AND RESTING FAITH AND MAY THEY ALL RIP.

  28. Do people wanna know why it took so long to figure this dude out?? It’s simple. Most of his victims were killed in gang territories. I think one of his victims was thrown in an alley that is claimed by Eight Trey Gangster Crips. With gang wars happening in Los Angeles all the time it seemed like random killings. I’m not sure what hood claims this spot this poor little gurl was found in. But if it’s Inglewood it’s probably either blood or sureno.

  29. God bless this baby , this is not fair! God bring justice please , and bring it now. These crimes are unspeakable , please God make sure they have the right man because whoever really, really did this should burn in hell!

  30. She shouldn’t have to go through all of this stuff. She all ready been through enough when she was little. He need to go to jail or go to hell for what he did to all of them girls.

    Because of the one who survived if she was dead to I don’t think they would have caught them

  31. You know her home life was not great and sicko mark .That is why women who live on the streets and drug user become victims. I hope the court system makes his life a living hell.They were all victims and no matter what they did in there life doesn’t change anything

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s