Little’s criminal history dates back to 1956, and includes many shoplifting, fraud, drug, solicitation, and breaking and entering charges, according to the FBI. Now investigators think they are just beginning to unravel the true extent of his crimes.
The Los Angeles Police Department detectives used DNA to match Little to three unsolved homicides from 1987 and 1989. In all three cases, the women had been beaten and then strangled. He was charged with three counts of murder, and in 2014, Little was convicted and sentenced to three consecutive life sentences with no possibility of parole.
ViCAP Crime Analyst Christina Palazzolo and ViCAP Liaison Angela Williamson with the Department of Justice Senior Policy Advisory accompanied Texas Ranger James Holland to California to interview Little in the spring of 2018. The convicted murderer was hoping to move prisons and in exchange, he was willing to talk.
“Over the course of that interview in May, 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,” Palazzo was quoted as saying.
So far, the team has confirmed 34 killings. Investigators say they are working to confirm many more.
Investigators 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,” according to the statement from the FBI.
Investigators say he led a nomadic lifestyle — and the victims he targeted — may explain how he got away with murder for decades.
“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,” FBI officials stated. “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.”
Additionally, many of the killings occurred in the 1970s and early 1980s, before DNA profiling was widely available. Even after DNA analysis came into play, the victims’ involvement in prostitution made it difficult to gather physical evidence.
Holland is in custody in Wise County, Texas, and Holland has been interviewing him almost daily to get the most accurate possible account of his crimes. Palazzolo and Williamson have worked to examine 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.”
“Little is in poor health and will likely stay in prison in Texas until his death,” according to the FBI statement. “The goal now is to identify his victims and provide closure and justice in unsolved cases.”
You can see a map and full list of his confessions here.
For more information or to report potential case links to Samuel Little, contact ViCAP at 800-634-4097.