– Lonnie Franklin, the convicted serial killer known as the "Grim Sleeper," who preyed on the women of South Los Angeles for more than two decades, has died in prison. He was 67.

California corrections officials said Franklin was found unresponsive in his cell at San Quentin State Prison on Saturday. An autopsy will determine the cause of death; however, there were no signs of trauma, corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton said.

The stepmother of a victim named Barbara Ware told People magazine she was shocked by the news.

"I won't say I'm pleased he died but at the end there was justice for all the bad things he did in his life," Diana Ware said. "We can now be at peace."

Franklin had been on death row since August 2016 for the deaths of nine women and a teenage girl. Franklin was linked at trial to 14 slayings, including four women he wasn't charged with killing. Police have said he may have had as many as 25 victims.

Most of the victims were shot at close range, though two were strangled. Their bodies were dumped and left to rot in alleys and trash bins.

The killer earned his moniker because of the apparent hiatus from the late 1980s to 2002. The murders went unsolved for years while Franklin worked as a city trash collector, even servicing the Los Angeles police.

Community members complained that police didn't seriously investigate the killings because the victims were black and poor and many were drug users and prostitutes.

Franklin was connected to the crimes after a task force that re-examined the old cases discovered that DNA from Franklin's son, which was in a database because of an arrest, showed similarities to genetic evidence found on some of the "Grim Sleeper" victims.

associated press