America’s ‘Most Prolific Serial Killer’ Confessed to More Than 90 Murders So He Could Be Moved to a Texas Prison
Chris Pleasance, Daily Mail, November 30, 2018
A drifter who may be the most prolific serial killer the US has ever known confessed to a three-decade long murder spree so that he could move jails.
Samuel Little, 78, was already serving a life sentence in California for murdering three women when he admitted killing 87 more across a dozen states between 1970 and 2005.
If proven, that total would make him the most prolific killer in US history. Investigators have so far linked Little to 34 of the killings.
FBI agents now say Little used the confession as a bargaining chip because he wanted to move jails from California to Texas, though they did not give his reasons for wanting the transfer.
In September Little was indeed transferred to Texas to face trial for the 1994 killing of Denise Christie Brothers in Odessa.
Agents say Little, who uses a wheelchair and is in poor health, will likely remain incarcerated in the state until he dies.
When Little first requested his transfer he only mentioned the Brothers murder, but his attitude changed after he met Texas Ranger James Holland, who was dispatched to extract the confession.
The two men formed an unlikely bond and what followed were a series of near-daily admissions in which Little often recalled the exact car he was driving during the murder, and even sketched some of the victims.
Near-daily discussions took place with law enforcement ‘to create the most accurate accounting possible of Little’s crimes,’ the FBI said.
‘Little remembers his victims and the killings in great detail,’ the bureau added.
‘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, who also went by the name Samuel McDowell, targeted vulnerable women who were often involved in prostitution and addicted to drugs, authorities say.
Once a competitive boxer, he usually stunned or knocked out his victims with powerful punches before he strangled them while masturbating.
‘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,’ the FBI said in a statement.
That, couple with queries over the dates, means it is proving difficult to connect Little to some of the killings he claims.
In the case of the 1972 murder of an unidentified Jane Doe, Little described the signs he saw, the dirt roads he drove and the U-turn he took, and then explicitly pinpointed the spot where he left the woman’s body, all of which was on point with what police knew about the murder site.
‘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,’ the report read.
‘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.’
In one murder confession of a 20-year-old Florida woman, Little told an investigator ‘God put him on this earth to do it.’
Little, who stands at six-foot-three-inches-tall, was first arrested at a homeless shelter in Kentucky in 2012 and extradited to California to face drug charges.
Once there, DNA evidence linked him to three cold cases and Little was convicted in 2014 of murdering three women in Los Angeles between 1987 and 1989.
Those victims were 41-year-old Carol Alford, whose body was found on July 13, 1987; 35-year-old Audrey Nelson, found on Aug. 14, 1989; and 46-year-old Guadalupe Apodaca, found on Sept. 3, 1989.
All three had been beaten and strangled.
Sentenced to three life terms in prison, Little was transferred to Texas in connection with the investigation into another murder.
Bobby Bland, district attorney of Ector County where Little is being held, said the elderly man eventually confessed to the 1994 murder of Denise Christie Brothers in Odessa, Texas.
After Holland gained his trust, Little began confessing to dozens of other murders.
During the course of an interview in May 2018, Little ‘went through city and state and gave Ranger Holland the number of people he killed in each place,’ FBI crime analyst Christina Palazzolo said.
‘Jackson, Mississippi — one; Cincinnati, Ohio — one; Phoenix, Arizona — three; Las Vegas, Nevada — one…’ Palazzolo said.
Investigators from Prince George’s County in Maryland traveled to Texas to interview Little, and once there were warned that the convicted killer showed absolutely no remorse for taking the lives of so many.
‘We were told directly not to ask him, ‘Let’s do this for the family,’ because he did not view his victims as deserving of any type of remorse,’ Prince George’s Police Sgt. Greg McDonald told the Washington Post.
‘So if you went into a room and asked him, ‘Want to do this for the family?’ he would shut down.’
The Maryland investigators said Little described the crime scene from Prince George’s County’s longest running cold case with such detail that they were sure he had committed the murder of Jane Doe, who they had hoped he would help them identify. It’s one of only two homicide cases in the county with unidentified victims, police said.
He revealed he had known the woman who was from Massachusetts for a few days, that she had a child, and had recently become divorced, all of which were new details the Maryland police didn’t know.
Little told Texas Rangers before Maryland police came to interview him that met 20-something woman off New York Avenue at the old Greyhound Bus Station in the District.
The two eventually drove together to a wooded area up Interstate 295, where she suggested they pull over at Maryland Route 197 to have consensual sex on a dirt road, where Little claimed to have killed her and dumped her body.
Little said he strangled her to the point of unconsciousness, but she came back to and tried to flee, so he had to catch up with her and make sure she was dead.
Little also said that he strangled the women for sexual gratification, and took joy in reliving the details of his murders, which is why he was confessing to so many heinous crimes after all these years.
‘Talking with him, you can hear he actually gets excited about describing his homicides and describing how he strangled his victims,’ Bernie Nelson, one of the county detectives, said.
‘He looked you right in your eye and said he couldn’t help himself. He’s a monster.’
Maryland police are now awaiting DNA results from the woman’s bones, and hope to use some of this new information to finally identify her.
On November 15, the Marion County, Florida Sheriff’s Office closed the cold case of the 1982 homicide of Rosie Hill, 20, after Little also confessed to that killing, the agency announced in a Facebook post.
‘On Monday, August 16, 1982, at approximately 6.00pm, Rosie Hill’s remains were discovered in a wooded area off of County Road 326 in the vicinity of a hog pen,’ the post read.
‘During the investigation, it was determined that Rosie was either strangled or suffocated by her attacker. Several witnesses came forward saying that Rosie left a bar with an unknown male and was not seen again. The witnesses gave a description of the suspect and his vehicle, which matched Little’s.
‘In December 1982, Little was arrested for the attempted murder, aggravated assault and rape of two prostitutes in Pascagoula, Mississippi.
‘MCSO detectives interviewed Little there and he claimed that he did not know Rosie and he invoked his right to an attorney. MCSO detectives did not have enough evidence at the time to charge Little with Rosie’s murder and ultimately, he was never charged in the Pascagoula case.
‘In 1983, Little was arrested and ultimately acquitted, in Alachua County, Florida for the homicide of Patricia Mounts.’
MCSO Major Crimes Detective Sergeant Michael Mongeluzzo interviewed Little while he was in custody in Texas after he was incarcerated for the murders of the California women, which is when he confessed to killing Rosie Hill and dumping her body.
‘Little told Sgt. Mongeluzzo that he killed Rosie because God put him on this earth to do it,’ the MCSO said.
‘Due to his three life sentences and recent indictment in the state of Texas for murder, the MCSO and the State Attorney’s Office for the Fifth Judicial District will not be pursuing murder charges against Little in the death of Rosie Hill.’
Little admitted to a total of 90 murders in all, authorities said, of which law enforcement officers have so far verified 34 killings.
‘Little will be confirmed as one of, if not the most, prolific serial killers in US history,’ Bland said in a statement.
Prior to his confessions, the deadliest known US serial killer was believed to be Gary Ridgway, the so-called ‘Green River Killer’ convicted of 49 murders who is serving a life sentence in Washington state.
The FBI said it was working with the federal, state and local agencies to match Little’s confessions to unsolved murders across the country, many of which were not classified at the time as homicides.
According to the FBI, Little ‘remembers his victims and the killings in great detail’ but is ‘less reliable, however, when it comes to remembering dates.’
‘Little’s method of killing also didn’t always leave obvious signs that the death was a homicide,’ the FBI said.
‘The one-time competitive boxer usually stunned or knocked out his victims with powerful punches and then strangled them,’ it said.
‘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.’
Little grew up in Ohio, dropped out of high school and lived a ‘nomadic life,’ shoplifting or stealing to buy alcohol and drugs, the FBI said.
His criminal record dates back to 1956 with arrests for shoplifting, fraud, drugs and breaking and entering.
He was accused of murdering women in Mississippi and Florida in the early 1980s but was not convicted.
The FBI said Little is in poor health and is likely to spend the remainder of his days in prison in Texas.
The FBI did not say what ailments he suffers from but Little is wheelchair-bound and has heart disease and diabetes.