FBI: Convicted Serial Killer Linked To 90 Murders, Most Prolific Serial Killers in U.S. History

By  //  November 27, 2018

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Samuel Little has confessed to 90 murders to date

ABOVE VIDEO: According to the Texas Rangers, Samuel Little has confessed to 90 murders to date, and the FBI is working with the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Texas Rangers, and dozens of state and local agencies to match Little’s confessions with evidence from women who turned up dead in states from California to Florida between 1970 and 2005.

(FBI) – A 78-year-old man sitting in prison in Texas may be among the most prolific serial killers in U.S. history, FBI crime analysts report.

According to the Texas Rangers, Samuel Little has confessed to 90 murders to date, and the FBI is working with the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Texas Rangers, and dozens of state and local agencies to match Little’s confessions with evidence from women who turned up dead in states from California to Florida between 1970 and 2005.

Little’s run-ins with the law date back to 1956, and there are clear signs of a dark, violent streak among his many shoplifting, fraud, drug, solicitation, and breaking and entering charges. But law enforcement has only recently begun unraveling the true extent of his crimes.

Little was arrested at a Kentucky homeless shelter in September 2012 and extradited to California, where he was wanted on a narcotics charge. Once Little was in custody, Los Angeles Police Department detectives obtained a DNA match to Little on the victims in three unsolved homicides from 1987 and 1989 and charged him with three counts of murder. For these crimes, Little was convicted and sentenced in 2014 to three consecutive life sentences with no possibility of parole.

According to the Texas Rangers, Samuel Little has confessed to 90 murders to date, and the FBI is working with the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Texas Rangers, and dozens of state and local agencies to match Little’s confessions with evidence from women who turned up dead in states from California to Florida between 1970 and 2005.

In all three cases, the women had been beaten and then strangled, their bodies dumped in an alley, a dumpster, and a garage. Little asserted his innocence throughout his trial—even as a string of women testifying for the prosecution told of narrowly surviving similarly violent encounters with Little.

In the early 1980s, Little had also been charged with killing women in Mississippi and Florida but escaped indictment in Mississippi and conviction in Florida. He had, however, served time for assaulting a woman in Missouri and for the assault and false imprisonment of a woman in San Diego.

When Los Angeles got the DNA hit on Little, they asked the FBI’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP) to work up a full background on him. The FBI found an alarming pattern and compelling links to many more murders.

ViCAP reached out to the Texas Rangers with one clear connection. “We found a case out of Odessa, Texas, that sounded very much like him, and we could place him passing through the area around the same time,” said ViCAP Crime Analyst Christina Palazzolo, who worked on the cases with Department of Justice Senior Policy Advisory and ViCAP Liaison Angela Williamson. “We sent that lead out to the Texas Rangers, who were eager to follow up on the long-cold case.”

When Palazzolo and Williamson accompanied Ranger James Holland to California to interview Little in the spring of 2018, the convicted murderer was hoping to move prisons. In exchange for a move, Little was willing to talk.

“Over the course of that interview in May,” said Palazzolo, who was sitting down the hall combing through data with Williamson, “he went through city and state and gave Ranger Holland the number of people he killed in each place. Jackson, Mississippi—one; Cincinnati, Ohio—one; Phoenix, Arizona—three; Las Vegas, Nevada—one.” In total, Little confessed to 90 killings, and Palazzolo and Williamson have been working to match up evidence to as many confessions as they can. Thus far, the team has confirmed 34 killings with many more pending confirmation. There are still a number of Little’s confessions that remain uncorroborated.

Williamson and Palazzolo say Little remembers his victims and the killings in great detail. He remembers where he was, and what car he was driving. He draws pictures of many of the women he killed. He is less reliable, however, when it comes to remembering dates. Little’s uncertain timeline has created a verification challenge for the ViCAP team, along with the issues stemming from the victims Little targeted, his methods, and how much he moved around—features of his crimes that begin to explain how he got away with murder for decades.

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From the time Little dropped out of high school and left his Ohio home in the late 1950s, he lived a nomadic life. Palazzolo and Williamson said he would shoplift and steal in a city or town to gather the money to buy alcohol and drugs, but never stayed in one place for long. He would drive from New Jersey to California in a matter of days, reports Palazzolo, and when he had his many run-ins with police, they often just wanted to shoo him out of town.

Little chose to kill marginalized and vulnerable women who were often involved in prostitution and addicted to drugs. Their bodies sometimes went unidentified and their deaths uninvestigated.

Little’s method of killing also didn’t always leave obvious signs that the death was a homicide. The one-time competitive boxer usually stunned or knocked out his victims with powerful punches and then strangled them. With no stab marks or bullet wounds, many of these deaths were not classified as homicides but attributed to drug overdoses, accidents, or natural causes.

In addition, DNA evidence was often not available or could not provide a clear link back to Little. A large number of the killings occurred in the 1970s and early 1980s, before DNA profiling was part of the law enforcement toolbox. After DNA analysis came into play, the victims’ work as prostitutes complicated the ability of police to gather telling physical evidence.

After Holland interviewed Little, he was indicted for the Odessa homicide and extradited to Texas a few months later. He remains in the custody of Odessa, but has been housed in Wise County for some time to be closer to Holland, who has been conducting nearly daily interviews to create the most accurate accounting possible of Little’s crimes. Palazzolo and Williamson have continued to gather new information from these interviews and are examining every tie they can find, from mortuary records and death certificates to cold case files.

“The biggest lesson in this case is the power of information sharing,” said Kevin Fitzsimmons, ViCAP’s Supervisory Crime Analyst.

“These connections all started in our database of violent crime.”

Palazzo and Williamson said the cases that were recorded in ViCAP made for early and easy connections. The absence of data on so many others is what has made confirming Little’s accounts difficult and is perhaps part of what allowed his crimes to continue for so long.

“A Jane Doe who turned up dead in an alley in New Orleans may look like an isolated event,” stressed Fitzsimmons.

“But when entered into the ViCAP database and examined with other mysterious deaths or missing persons, patterns emerge. That is the value of ViCAP. “

Little is in poor health and will likely stay in prison in Texas until his death. The goal now is to identify his victims and provide closure and justice in unsolved cases. ViCAP is also hoping this case will serve as a reminder to every jurisdiction of the importance of consistent violent crime reporting.

For more information or to report potential case links to Samuel Little, contact ViCAP at 800-634-4097.

Samuel Little’s Confessions: Murder Locations and Victims

These incidents are either linked to victims who have not yet been identified (Jane Does) or to murders described by Samuel Little that have not yet been definitively corroborated by law enforcement (unmatched confessions).

The information depicted when selecting the pinpoints on the map (also available in text form below) is based on interviews with Samuel Little; they are his confessions and recollections, and dates are approximations. (Information current as of November 15, 2018.)

The information depicted when selecting the pinpoints on the map (also available in text form below) is based on interviews with Samuel Little; they are his confessions and recollections, and dates are approximations. (Information current as of November 15, 2018.)

Phoenix, Arizona
Unmatched Confession: Hispanic female in her 40s. Killed in 1988 or 1996. Victim possibly from Phoenix.
Unmatched Confession: White female killed in 1997. Victim possibly called “Ann.”
North Little Rock, Arkansas
Unmatched Confession: Black female killed in 1992 or 1993.
Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Unmatched Confession: Black female killed between 1990 and 1997.
West Memphis, Arkansas
Unmatched Confession: Black female between 28-29 years old killed in 1984. Victim picked up in Memphis, Tennessee.
San Bernardino, California
Unmatched Confession: Black female between the ages of 18-23 killed in 1984.
Los Angeles, California
Unmatched Confession: Black female killed in 1987.
Unmatched Confession: Black female killed in 1987.
Unmatched Confession: Black female, age 19, killed in 1987.
Unmatched Confession: Black female, age 50, killed in 1987. Victim possibly called “Granny.”
Unmatched Confession: Black female between 22-23 years old killed in 1987.
Unmatched Confession: Black female between 26-27 years old killed in 1987.
Unmatched Confession: Black female between 40-45 years old killed in 1990 or 1991. Victim possibly called “Alice.”
Unmatched Confession: Black female between 20-22 years old killed in 1991 or 1992. Victim possibly from San Francisco.
Unmatched Confession: Black female killed in 1992.
Unmatched Confession: Black female killed in 1992 or 1993.
Unmatched Confession: Hispanic female between 24-25 years old killed in 1992 or 1993. Victim possibly from Phoenix.
Unmatched Confession: Black female between 23-25 years old killed in 1996.
Unmatched Confession: Black female between 23-24 years old killed in 1996. Victim possibly called “T-Money.”
Unmatched Confession: White female between 23-25 years old killed in 1996.
Unmatched Confession: Black female age 25 killed in 1996.
Homestead, Florida
Unmatched Confession: White female killed in 1970 or 1971.
Miami, Florida
Unmatched Confession: Black female, age 22, killed in 1971.Victim possibly called “Linda.”
Unmatched Confession: Black male, age 18, killed in 1971 or 1972. Victim possibly called “Mary Ann” or “Marianne.”
Unmatched Confession: Black female, age 28, killed in 1971 or 1972. Victim possibly worked on Homestead Air Force Base.
Unmatched Confession: Black female between 23-24 years old killed in the mid 1970s. Victim possibly called “Emily.” Victim possibly worked at the University of Miami.

Kendall, Florida
Unmatched Confession: White female age 45 killed in 1973. Victim possibly called “Sarah.” Victim possibly from Massachusetts.
Perry, Florida
Unmatched Confession: Black female killed in 1993.
Fort Myers, Florida
Unmatched Confession: Black female killed in 1984.
Tampa Bay, Florida
Unmatched Confession: Black female killed in 1984.
Plant City, Florida
Unmatched Confession: Black female killed in 1977 or 1978. Met victim in Clearwater, Florida.
Savannah, Georgia
Unmatched Confession: Black female between 22-23 years old killed in 1974.
Unmatched Confession: Black female age 23 killed in 1984.
Atlanta, Georgia
Unmatched Confession: Black female between 35-40 years old killed in 1981.
Unmatched Confession: White female, age 26, killed in 1983 or 1984. Victim possibly from Griffith, Georgia.
Unmatched Confession: Black female between 23-25 years old killed in 1984. Victim possibly a college student.
Macon, Georgia
Confession Matched to a Jane Doe: Black female between 30-40 years old killed in 1977.
Dade County, Georgia
Confession Matched to a Jane Doe: Black female between 25-30 years old killed in 1980 or 1981. Met the victim in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Granite City, Illinois
Unmatched Confession: Black female, age 26, killed between 1976 and 1979. Met victim in St. Louis, Missouri. Victim possibly called “Jo.”
East St. Louis, Illinois
Unmatched Confession: Black female killed between 1976 and 1979. Met victim in St. Louis, Missouri.
Covington, Kentucky
Unmatched Confession: White female killed in 1984. Met victim in Columbus, Ohio. Body disposed of somewhere in Northern Kentucky (city unspecified).
New Orleans, Louisiana
Unmatched Confession: Black female killed in 1973. Victim possibly called “Sarah.” Victim possibly worked at a restaurant in New Orleans.
Unmatched Confession: White female killed in 1982.

Plaquemine, Louisiana
Unmatched Confession: Black female killed in 1978 or 1979.
Monroe, Louisiana
Unmatched Confession: Black female, age 24, killed between 1987 and the early 1990s.
Prince George’s County, Maryland
Confession Matched to a Jane Doe: White female between 20-25 years old killed in 1972. Victim possibly from Massachusetts.
Jackson, Mississippi
Unmatched Confession: Black male, age 16, killed in 1984.
Gulfport, Mississippi
Unmatched Confession: Black female, age 22, killed between 1980 and 1984.
Unmatched Confession: Black female between 27-29 years old killed in 1988.
Unmatched Confession: Black female between 23-24 years old killed in 1988.
Pascagoula, Mississippi
Confession Matched to a Jane Doe: Black female between 35-45 years old killed in 1977. Met the victim in Gulfport, Mississippi. Victim possibly from Pascagoula. Victim possibly worked at Ingalls Shipyard.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Unmatched Confession: Black female, age 40, killed in 1993.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Unmatched Confession: White female, age 25, killed in 1974.
Cleveland, Ohio
Unmatched Confession: Black female killed in 1978 or 1979.
Cincinnati, Ohio
Unmatched Confession: Black female killed in 1974.
Akron, Ohio
Unmatched Confession: White female killed in 1991 or 1992.
Charleston, South Carolina
Unmatched Confession: Black female, age 28, killed between 1977 and 1982.
Knoxville, Tennessee
Unmatched Confession: Black female, age 25, killed in 1975.
Wichita Falls, Texas
Unmatched Confession: Black female killed in 1976 or 1977. Body disposed of somewhere outside of Wichita Falls (city unspecified).
Houston, Texas
Unmatched Confession: Black female between 25-28 years old killed between 1976 and 1979 or in 1993.

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