|Born||June 7, 1940|
Reynolds, Georgia, United States
|Other names||Samuel McDowell|
|Criminal penalty||Life imprisonment|
Span of crimes
|State(s)||California and Texas (convicted)|
12 others (accused)
|September 5, 2012|
|Imprisoned at||California State Prison, Los Angeles County|
Samuel Little (born June 7, 1940) is an American serial killer. In 2014, he was convicted of the murders of three women in California between 1987 and 1989. After this conviction, California authorities said that he might have killed people in nine states, starting in the 1970s. He claims to have killed as many as 90 people; investigators have linked him to at least 34 murders.
Little was born on June 7, 1940, in Reynolds, Georgia, possibly during one of his mother's prison stints. Little has claimed his mother was a "lady of the night". Soon after his birth, his family moved to Ohio. He grew up in Lorain, Ohio, and was brought up mainly by his grandmother. He attended Hawthorne Junior High School, where he had problems with discipline and achievement. In 1956, while still a high school student, Little was arrested for the first time and convicted for breaking and entering into property in Omaha, Nebraska. He was held in an institution for juvenile offenders. In the late 1960s, Little moved to Florida, where he lived with his mother. He worked as an ambulance attendant and then a cemetery worker. Having a strong physique, Little took up boxing during prison time and considered himself a prizefighter at one point. Little did not continue his education after high school, spending most of his free time on the streets, engaging in petty theft and occasionally working part-time as a day laborer.
Little was arrested in 1961 and sentenced to three years in prison for breaking into a furniture store in Lorain. He was released in 1964. He left Ohio and shuttled between different states for the following few years and made a living through robbery and theft.
By 1975, Little had been arrested 26 times in 11 states for crimes including theft, assault, attempted rape, fraud and attacks on government officials. Little spent much of his time with prostitutes and pimps. In 1982 he was arrested in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and charged with the murder of 22-year-old prostitute Melinda LaPree, who had gone missing in September that year.
A grand jury declined to indict Little for the murder of LaPree. But while under investigation Little was transferred to Florida to be brought to trial for the murder of 26-year-old Patricia 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 of Mount's murder. Little then moved to California, where he stayed in the vicinity of San Diego. In October 1984, Little was arrested for kidnapping, beating and strangling Laurie Barros, 22 years old, who survived. One month later he was found by police with another woman, in the same location as the attempted murder of Laurie. This woman was found unconscious in the backseat of Little's car, having also been beaten and strangled. He served only 2.5 years in prison for both crimes and was released in February 1987 where he immediately moved to Los Angeles, and committed upwards of 10 more murders.
Little was arrested on September 5, 2012, at a homeless shelter in Louisville, Kentucky, after authorities used DNA testing to establish that he was involved in the murder of Carol Elford, killed on July 13, 1987; Guadalupe Apodaca, killed on September 3, 1987; and Audrey Nelson, killed on August 14, 1989. All three women were killed and later found on the streets of Los Angeles.
Little 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 the state of Mississippi, the case of the murder of LaPree was reopened, in which Little was acquitted in 1984. In total, Little was tested for involvement in 60 murders of women committed in the territory of 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 testing 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 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 Louisiana State Police 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 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.
|Name||Date of murder||Date of conviction||Location of murder|
|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|
|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.|
|"Linda"||1971||Miami, Florida||Black female, approximately 22.|
|"Marianne/Mary Ann"||1971–72||Miami, Florida||Black female, approximately 18. Little provided a sketch of this victim.|
|Unnamed female||1971–72||Miami, Florida||Black female. 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".|
|Unnamed black female||1973||New Orleans, Louisiana||Age unknown. Possibly worked at a local restaurant.|
|Unnamed black female||1974||Savannah, Georgia||Approximately 22 or 23.|
|Unnamed black female||1974||Cincinnati, Ohio||Age unknown.|
|"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 or 1993||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 a shipyard. Confession matched to an existing Jane Doe case.|
|Unnamed black female||1977–78||Plant City, Florida||Age unknown. Apparently met in the city of Clearwater.|
|Unnamed black female||1977 or 1982||Charleston, South Carolina||Approximately 28.|
|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|
|Unnamed white female||1983–84||Atlanta, Georgia||Approximately 26 and may have been from Griffin, Georgia. Little provided a sketch of this victim.|
|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.|
|Unnamed black female||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, who was killed in 1997.|
|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.|
|Unnamed black female||1984||Savannah, Georgia||Approximately 23.|
|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.|
|Unnamed black female||1987 – early 1990s||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.|
|Unnamed black female||1990–97||Pine Bluff, Arkansas||Age unknown.|
|"Alice"||1990-91||Los Angeles, California||Black female. Approximately 40-45.|
|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.|
|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.|
- "ViCAP Links Murders to Prolific Serial Killer". FBI. Washington, D.C.: United States Department of Justice. November 27, 2018. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
- Fieldstadt, Elisha (November 14, 2018). "Suspected serial killer Samuel Little may be connected to at least 90 murders". NBC News. New York City: NBC. Retrieved November 14, 2018.
- Williams, Timothy (November 26, 2018). "He Says He Got Away With 90 Murders. Now He's Confessing to Them All". The New York Times. New York City: The New York Times Company. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
- Caniglia, John (April 8, 2013). "Sam Little, who grew up in Lorain, is linked to serial killer probes". Cleveland.com. Cleveland: Advance Publications. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
- Associated Press (April 7, 2013). "Timeline retraces the whereabouts of a career criminal, alleged serial killer". Fox News. New York City: Fox Corporation. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
- Abdollah, Tami (April 7, 2013). "More cases connected to L.A. serial killer suspect". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Honolulu. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
- "Timeline retraces the whereabouts of a career criminal, alleged serial killer". Associated Press. April 7, 2013 – via Fox News.
- "Exclusive: LAPD arrests serial killer suspect from 1980s". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California: Tronc. January 7, 2013. Retrieved December 16, 2018.
- Kim, Victoria (September 1, 2014). "Women's testimony called 'blueprint' to serial killer suspect's behavior". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California: Tronc. Retrieved December 16, 2018.
- "Man Linked to Three Cold Case Murders" (Press release). Los Angeles, California: Los Angeles Police Department. January 7, 2013. Retrieved December 16, 2018.
- "Cross-Country Killer: Samuel Little Tied to Cold Case Murders in 10 States?". The Hollywood Gossip. April 8, 2013. Retrieved December 16, 2018.
- Opabola, Maru I. (April 2, 2013). "Local records chief hailed for helping crack nationwide cold case". The Gainesville Sun. Gainesville, Florida: New Media Investment Group. Retrieved December 16, 2018.
- Havens, April M. (September 4, 2014). "Former Pascagoula prostitutes testify of escapes from convicted serial killer Samuel Little". gulflive.com. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
- Gerber, Marisa (September 25, 2014). "L.A. serial killer gets 3 life terms, screams, 'I didn't do it!'". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California: Tronc. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
- "LITTLE, SAMUEL - AV2258 - 76 - 11/24/2014 - Lancaster".
- "Arrest made in 1996 murder of Opelousas woman". KATC.com. November 14, 2018. Retrieved November 14, 2018.
- Rojas, Nicole (November 14, 2018). "Killer Samuel Little Charged in 1994 Texas Cold Case". MSN. Microsoft. Retrieved November 14, 2018.
- "Serial killer who confessed to 90 murders pleads guilty in Texas woman's 1994 death". NBC News. New York City: NBC. Associated Press. December 13, 2018. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
- Williams, Timothy (November 26, 2018). "He Says He Got Away With 90 Murders. Now He's Confessing Them All". New York Times. New York City: The New York Times Company. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
- Williams, Chuck (November 15, 2018). "Almost 40 years after Phenix City murder, California serial killer makes a confession". Ledger-Enquirer. Columbus, Georgia: McClatchy. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
- Kovac, Joe Jr. (November 16, 2018). "Skeletal remains of slain Macon women linked to suspected Georgia-born serial killer". The Telegraph. Macon, Georgia: McClatchy. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
- "Mass murderer implicated in 3 Louisiana deaths confesses to 90 killings spanning 4 decades". The Advocate. Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Georges Media. November 15, 2018. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
- Fitzgerald, Robin (November 19, 2018). "She was strangled, thrown in a Coast dirt pit in 1978. Now a suspected serial killer has confessed". Sun Herald. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
- "Man who confessed to 90 deaths says he killed Decatur woman in 2005". The Decatur Daily. Decatur, Alabama: Tennessee Valley Printing Co., Inc. November 20, 2018. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
- Bland, David Travis (November 21, 2018). "Serial killer likely murdered Columbia woman in 1978, sheriff says". The State. Columbia, South Carolina: McClatchy. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
- Levenson, Eric; Johnston, Chuck (November 28, 2018). "A convicted murderer says he killed 90 people and got away with it. The FBI believes him". CNN. Atlanta: Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
In all, Little confessed to about 90 murders in that interview and in others, according to the Texas Rangers and the FBI.
- Bui, Lynh (November 29, 2018). "Serial killer Samuel Little says a 1972 unsolved Maryland case is among 90 he got away with, police say". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C.: Nash Holdings. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
- Story, Justin (December 13, 2018). "Convicted serial killer charged in 1981 death of Smiths Grove woman". Bowling Green Daily News. Bowling Green, Kentucky. Retrieved February 8, 2019.
- Hickman, Hayes (December 16, 2018). "Knox woman's death dismissed as natural until serial killer Samuel Little's confession". Knoxville News Sentinel. Knoxville, Tennessee. Retrieved February 8, 2019.
- "ViCAP Links Murders to Prolific Serial Killer". Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved April 4, 2019.
- "Another family tells police serial killer's sketch of victim is their loved one". WREG.com. February 23, 2019. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
- Lauren, Jillian (December 20, 2018). "The Serial Killer and the 'Less Dead' The only reporter who's talked to Samuel Little tells how he was caught — and why he almost got away". The Cut. New York City: New York Media, LLC. Retrieved February 15, 2019.