|Other names||Samuel McDowell|
|Education||Hawthorne Junior High School|
|Criminal penalty||4 Life sentences without the possibility of parole|
|Victims||50–93+ (8 convictions) |
Span of crimes
|State(s)||California, Texas and Ohio (convicted)|
16 others (accused)
|September 5, 2012|
|Imprisoned at||California State Prison, Los Angeles County|
Samuel Little (born June 7, 1940) is an American serial killer who was convicted in 2012 of the murders of three women in California between 1987 and 1989 and in 2018 of the murder of one woman in Texas in 1994. He claims to have killed as many as 93 people, and investigators have linked him to over 60 murders. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has confirmed his involvement in at least 50 murders, which makes Little the most prolific convicted serial killer in United States history in terms of proven cases; he allegedly murdered women across 19 states over a quarter of a century ending around 2005.
Samuel Little was born on June 7, 1940, in Reynolds, Georgia, to a mother he claimed was a prostitute. Soon after his birth, Little's family moved to Lorain, Ohio, where he was brought up mainly by his grandmother. He attended Hawthorne Junior High School, where he had problems with discipline and achievement. In 1956, after being convicted of breaking and entering into property in Omaha, Nebraska, Little was held in an institution for juvenile offenders.
Little moved to Florida to live with his mother in his late 20s, working at various times as a cemetery worker and an ambulance attendant (by his own account). Little has said he then "began traveling more widely and had more run-ins with the law”, being arrested in eight states for crimes that included driving under the influence, fraud, shoplifting, solicitation, armed robbery, aggravated assault, and rape. Little claims that he took up boxing during his stints in prison, referring to himself as a former prizefighter.
In 1961, Little was sentenced to three years in prison for breaking into a furniture store in Lorain; he was released in 1964. By 1975, he had been arrested 26 times in eleven states for crimes including theft, assault, attempted rape, fraud, and attacks on government officials.
In 1982, Little was arrested in Pascagoula, Mississippi and charged with the murder of 22-year-old Melinda Rose LáPree, who had gone missing in September of that year. A grand jury declined to indict Little for the murder of LaPree. However, while under investigation, Little was transferred to Florida to be brought to trial for the murder of 26-year-old Patricia Ann Mount, whose body was found in September 1982. Prosecution witnesses identified Little in court as a person who spent time with Mount on the night before her disappearance. Due to mistrust of witness testimonies, Little was acquitted in January 1984.
Little moved to California, where he stayed in the vicinity of San Diego. In October 1984, he was arrested for kidnapping, beating, and strangling 22 year old Laurie Barros, who survived. One month later, he was found by police in the backseat of his car with an unconscious woman, also beaten and strangled, in the same location as the attempted murder of Barros. Little served two and a half years in prison for both crimes. Upon his release in February 1987, he immediately moved to Los Angeles and committed more than 10 additional murders.
Little was arrested on September 5, 2012, at a homeless shelter in Louisville, Kentucky and extradited to California to face a narcotics charge, after which authorities used DNA testing to establish that he was involved in the murder of Carol Ilene Elford, killed on July 13, 1987; Guadalupe Duarte Apodaca, killed on September 3, 1987; and Audrey Nelson Everett, killed on August 14, 1989. All three women were killed and later found on the streets of Los Angeles. He was extradited to Los Angeles, where he was charged on January 7, 2013. A few months later, the police said that Little was being investigated for involvement in dozens of murders committed in the 1980s, which until then had been undisclosed. In connection with the new circumstances in Mississippi, the LaPree murder case was reopened. In total, Little was tested for involvement in 93 murders of women committed in many US states.
Trial and incarceration
The trial of Samuel Little for the murders of Elford, Nelson, and Apodaca began in September 2014. The prosecution presented the DNA test results as well as testimony of witnesses who were attacked by the accused at different times throughout his criminal career. On September 25, 2014, Little was found guilty and was sentenced to life imprisonment without possibility of parole. On the day of the verdict, Little continued to insist on his innocence. As of 2016, Little was serving a sentence at the California State Prison, Los Angeles County.
On November 9, 2018, Little confessed to the 1996 fatal strangulation of Melissa Thomas. On November 13, 2018, Little was charged with the 1994 murder of Denise Christie Brothers in Odessa, Texas after having confessed the crime to a Texas Ranger in May 2018. Little pleaded guilty to the murder of Brothers on December 13 and received another life sentence. The Ector County, Texas District Attorney and Wise County Sheriff's Office also announced on November 13 that Little had confessed to dozens of murders and may have committed more than 90 across 14 states between 1970 and 2005.
On November 15, 2018, the Russell County, Alabama District Attorney announced that Little had earlier that month confessed to the 1979 murder of 23-year-old Brenda Alexander, whose body was found in Phenix City. On November 16, 2018, Macon, Georgia sheriffs announced that Little had credibly confessed to the 1977 strangling murder of an unidentified woman and the 1982 strangling murder of 18-year-old Fredonia Smith. In the fall of 2018, Little confessed to the 1982 murder of 55-year-old Dorothy Richards and the 1996 murder of 40-year-old Daisy McGuire; both of their bodies were found in Houma, Louisiana.
On November 19, 2018, Harrison County, Mississippi sheriff Troy Peterson said that Little had confessed to strangling 36-year-old Julia Critchfield in the Gulfport area in 1978 and dumping her body off a cliff. On November 20, 2018, Lee County, Mississippi law enforcement officials announced that Little had admitted to killing 46-year-old Nancy Carol Stevens in Tupelo in 2005 and that the case would be presented to a grand jury in January 2019. On November 21, 2018, Richland County, South Carolina authorities announced that Little had confessed to murdering 19-year-old Evelyn Weston, whose body was found near Fort Jackson in 1978. Little also confessed to having killed 20-year-old Rosie Hill in Marion County, Florida, in 1982.
On November 27, 2018, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced that a Violent Criminal Apprehension Program team had confirmed 34 of Little's confessions and was working to match the remainder of Little's confessions to known murders or suspicious deaths. Little began making the confessions in exchange for a transfer out of the Los Angeles County prison in which he was being held. One included his confession to a previous cold case homicide in Prince George's County, Maryland, previously one of only two homicide cases in that county with unidentified victims.
In December 2018, Little was indicted for strangling Linda Sue Boards, 23, to death in May 1981 in Warren County, Kentucky. Her body was found on May 15, 1981 near U.S. Route 68. One of Little's victims was identified in December 2018 as Martha Cunningham of Knox County, Tennessee, who was 34 years old when Little murdered her in 1975.
On May 31, 2019, Cuyahoga County, Ohio prosecutors announced indictments, with four counts of aggravated murder and six counts of kidnapping, that accuse Little of killing Mary Jo Peyton in 1984 and Rose Evans in 1991 in Cleveland. Both victims were strangled and dumped. The body of Rose Evans, 32, was found on August 24, 1991, in a vacant lot on East 39th St. She left her hometown of Binghamton, New York when she was 17. Evans had been strangled according to coroner Elizabeth K. Balraj. As for Peyton, an anthropologist had to create a model of what she looked like, but she remained unidentified until 1992 when Cleveland put her thumbprint in an FBI data base and got a match. Little picked up Peyton at a bar near East 105th and Euclid avenues. He described her as a short, plump woman in her 20s with brown hair. Little also confessed to killing another Cleveland woman in 1977 or 1978. The woman murdered in 1977 or 1978 was found on March 18, 1983, in Willoughby Hills according to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs). She was likely black and somewhere between 17 and 35 years old. The woman's body had been dumped down a grassy slope, near a fence in a wooded area just off Interstate 271; when her body was found by a man walking his dog, only her skeleton, some clothing and jewelry remained.
Little has also confessed to killing one woman in Akron; two in Cincinnati—one of the bodies was dumped outside of Columbus; and one woman he met in Columbus and disposed of in Kentucky. Of the two women Little murdered in Cincinnati, one was identified as Anna Stewart, 33, whose body was dumped in Grove City. Stewart was last seen on October 6, 1981, getting out of a cab at General Hospital to see her sister in the hospital (now UC Medical Center). She was killed on October 11. He killed the other woman between 1980 and 1999. The "Jane Doe" was anywhere from 15 to 50 as the details of her age and the date of her murder are unclear. She was black, slender, wore glasses and lived in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood of Cincinnati with a "heavy female Hispanic." Little left her beside a cigarette billboard in Ohio. On June 7, 2019, Little was indicted in Hamilton County, Ohio for murdering the two women killed in Cincinnati.
Little has drawn portraits of many women he killed. These portraits have been released by the FBI in hopes of someone identifying the women. At least one portrait has solved a cold case in Akron, OH.
|Name||Date of murder||Date of conviction||Location of murder|
|Anna Stewart||October 11, 1981||August 23, 2019||Cincinnati, Ohio|
|Mary Jo Peyton||July 3, 1984||August 23, 2019||Cleveland, Ohio|
|Carol Elford||July 13, 1987||September 25, 2014||Los Angeles, California|
|Guadalupe Abodaca||September 3, 1987||September 25, 2014||Los Angeles, California|
|Audrey Nelson||August 14, 1989||September 25, 2014||Los Angeles, California|
|“Jane Doe”||1980–99||August 23, 2019||Cincinnati, Ohio|
|Rose Evans||August 24, 1991||August 23, 2019||Cleveland, Ohio|
|Denise Christie Brothers||February 2, 1994||December 13, 2018||Odessa, Texas|
According to the FBI, Little confessed to the murders of the following individuals. He provided sketches for twenty-six of them. All of these individuals have not been confirmed to be linked to specific, known murders, unless noted.
|Name||Date of murder||Location of murder||Notes|
|Unnamed white female||1970–71||Homestead, Florida||Age unknown. Little provided a sketch of this victim.|
|"Linda"||1971||Miami, Florida||Black female, approximately 22. Little provided a sketch of this victim.|
|"Marianne/Mary Ann"||1971–72||Miami, Florida||Black transgender female, approximately 18. Little provided a sketch of this victim.|
|Unnamed black female||1971–72||Miami, Florida||Possibly affiliated with the air force.|
|Unnamed white female||1972||Prince George's County, Maryland||Approximately 20–25. His confession was matched to a known Jane Doe case. Possibly from Massachusetts. Little provided a sketch of this victim.|
|Unnamed white female||1973||Kendall, Florida||Approximately 45, possibly from Massachusetts. Both 1973 victims are described to possibly have the first name "Sarah".|
|Sarah Brown||1973||New Orleans, Louisiana||Age unknown. Worked at a local restaurant on Canal Street.|
|Unnamed black female||1974||Savannah, Georgia||Approximately 22 or 23. Little provided a sketch of this victim.|
|Unnamed black female||1974||Cincinnati, Ohio||Age unknown and dumps her body in Columbus, Ohio. Little provided a sketch of this victim. Authorities working on case.|
|"Emily"||Mid 1970s||Miami, Florida||Black female, approximately 23 or 24. Possibly worked at the University of Miami.|
|Unnamed black female||1975||Knoxville, Tennessee||Approximately 25.|
|Unnamed black female||1976–77||Wichita Falls, Texas||Age unknown. Disposal location of body unspecified, stated to be near this city. Little provided a sketch of this victim.|
|"Jo"||1976–79||Granite City, Illinois||Black female, approximately 26. May have picked her up in St. Louis, Missouri. Little provided a sketch of this victim.|
|Unnamed black female||1976-79||East St. Louis, Illinois||Age unknown. Possibly picked up in St. Louis, Missouri.|
|Unnamed black female||1976–79
|Houston, Texas||Age unknown. Little provided a sketch of this victim.|
|Unnamed black female||1977||Macon, Georgia||Approximately 30–40. This confession was matched to an existing Jane Doe case.|
|Unnamed black female||1977||Pascagoula, Mississippi||Approximately 35 to 45. Possibly met in Gulfport but native to Pascogoula and worked at Ingalls shipyard. Confession matched to an existing Jane Doe case. Little provided a sketch of this victim.|
|Unnamed black female||1977 or 1978||Cleveland, Ohio||Unknown age which authorities are still working on that case. On June 2, 2019, she was identified as a black female and petite, somewhere between 20- and 35-years-old. Little dumped her body down a grassy slope, near a fence in a wooded area just off Interstate 271 in Willoughby Hills, Ohio. The body was found in 1983, on March 18 according to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) and believe she was 17 to 24 years old.|
|Unnamed black female||1977–78||Plant City, Florida||Age unknown. Apparently met in the city of Clearwater. Little provided a sketch of this victim.|
|Unnamed black female||1977 or 1982||Charleston, Georgia||Approximately 28. Little provided a sketch of this victim.|
|Unnamed black female||1980–81||Dade County, Georgia||Approximately 25–30. This confession was matched to a known Jane Doe case.|
|Unnamed black female||1980–84||Gulfport, Mississippi||Approximately 22.|
|Unnamed black female||1981||Atlanta, Georgia||Approximately 35–40. Little provided a sketch of this victim.|
|Unnamed white female||1982||New Orleans, Louisiana||Age unknown. Little provided a sketch of this victim.|
|Unnamed white female||1983–84||Atlanta, Georgia||Approximately 26 and may have been from Griffin, Georgia. Little provided a sketch of this victim.|
|Unnamed female||1984||Near Columbus, Ohio||Unknown age which authorities are still working on that case. Disposes of her body in Northern Kentucky.|
|Unnamed black female||1984||Atlanta, Georgia||Approximately 23–25 and possibly a college student. Little provided a sketch of this victim.|
|Unnamed white female||1984||Northern Kentucky||Age unknown. Possibly picked up from Columbus, Ohio. Little provided a sketch of this victim.|
|Priscilla Baxter-Jones||1984-mid 1990s||West Memphis, Arkansas||Approximately 28 or 29. May have been picked up in Memphis, Tennessee. Little provided a sketch of this victim. Confession matched to a known Jane Doe case. The family of Zena Maria Jones recognized this sketch as their missing relative. A man named Anthony Jones also stated the sketch resembled his mother, Priscilla Baxter-Jones, who was killed in 1997. Samuel Little confessed that he killed this woman and dumped her body in the Mississippi River.|
|Unnamed black female||1984||San Bernardino, California||Approximately 18–23.|
|Unnamed black female||1984||Fort Myers, Florida||Age unknown.|
|Unnamed black female||1984||Tampa Bay, Florida||Age unknown. Little provided a sketch of this victim.|
|Frances Campbell||1984||Savannah, Georgia||Approximately 23. Little is suspected of asking Campbell for a date at a bar near the intersection of Montgomery Street and Victory Drive in 1984. Campbell's body was discovered in 1985 on top of a pile of debris from the construction of Interstate 516. Savannah police matched Little's description of Campbell to a missing person's case. A Chatham County Grand Jury indicted Little in December 2019 for Campbell's murder.|
|Unnamed black female||1987||Los Angeles, California||Age unknown.|
|Unnamed black female||1987||Los Angeles, California||Age unknown.|
|Unnamed black female||1987||Los Angeles, California||Approximately 19.|
|"Granny"||1987||Los Angeles, California||Black female. Approximately 50.|
|Unnamed black female||1987||Los Angeles, California||Approximately 22 or 23.|
|Unnamed black female||1987||Los Angeles, California||Approximately 26 or 27. Little provided a sketch of this victim.|
|Unnamed black female||1987 – early 90s||Monroe, Louisiana||Approximately 24. Little provided a sketch of this victim.|
|Unnamed Hispanic female||1988 or 1996||Phoenix, Arizona||Approximately in her 40s. May have been native to the area. Little provided a sketch of this victim.|
|Jolanda Jones||1994||Pine Bluff, Arkansas||Age 26.|
|"Alice"||1990-91||Los Angeles, California||Black female. Approximately 40–45.|
|Roberta Tondarich||1991||Akron, Ohio||Age unknown. Authorities working on case, IDed in October 2019. |
|Unnamed black female||1991–92||Los Angeles, California||Approximately 20–22. May have been from San Francisco.|
|Unnamed black female||1992||Los Angeles, California||Age unknown.|
|Unnamed black female||1992–93||Los Angeles, California||Age unknown. Little provided a sketch of this victim.|
|Unnamed Hispanic female||1992–93||Los Angeles, California||Approximately 24 or 25. May have been from Phoenix.|
|Unnamed black female||1992–93||North Little Rock, Arkansas||Age unknown.|
|Unnamed black female||1996||Los Angeles, California||Approximately 23–25.|
|"T-Money"||1996||Los Angeles, California||Black female. Approximately 23 or 24.|
|Unnamed white female||1996||Los Angeles, California||Approximately 23–25. Little provided a sketch of this victim.|
|Unnamed black female||1996||Los Angeles, California||Approximately 25.|
|"Ann"||1997||Phoenix, Arizona||White female, age unknown. Little provided a sketch of this victim.|
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In all, Little confessed to about 90 murders in that interview and in others, according to the Texas Rangers and the FBI.
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