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BY Mildred Europa Taylor, 8:00am December 31, 2020,

Samuel Little, America’s most prolific serial killer who went undetected for decades, dies at 80

Samuel Little was described by the FBI as the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history. Photo: CBS News

Samuel Little, the man described by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history, has died at the age of 80. Little died in a California hospital on Wednesday at 4:53 a.m., according to the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. An official cause will be determined by the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Little was serving three consecutive life-without-parole sentences for the murder of three women in the late 1980s in Los Angeles. In 2018, he confessed to 93 murders he carried out in 19 States from 1970 to 2005.

The FBI subsequently pronounced him as the “most prolific serial killer” in U.S. history. That announcement came five years after analysts with the Bureau’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP) started linking cases to Little and nearly 18 months after a Texan Ranger began eliciting from him breath ceasing confessions. The FBI then said it found Little’s confessions credible, with law enforcement able to verify 50 confessions. Many are pending final confirmation.

Little got involved in criminal activities after dropping out of high school and leaving his home in Ohio in the 1950s. According to a report by NPR, he lived a “nomadic life”. He stole, sold the stolen items and used the money to buy drugs and alcohol. He got in trouble with the police several times, spending short stints in jail. Then he began his killing spree, which went undetected for decades until 2014 when he was first convicted for the murder of the three women in Los Angeles in the 1980s.

“I got away with numerous murders, of women, in my life over the span of 50 years…,” Little told Texas Ranger James Holland over the course of 700 hours of interviews in 2018. Holland caught up with Little rotting away in prison at the edge of California’s Mojave Desert. Little said he strangled his victims, however, their deaths were originally ruled as overdoses or attributed to accidental or undetermined causes. Some bodies were never found.

Most of the killings were carried out in Florida and California, he said. Asked the cities he killed most in, he said Miami and Los Angeles. “And how many did you kill in Los Angeles?” Holland asked. “Los Angeles, approximately 20,” answered Little.

Asked by 60 Minutes’ Sharyn Alfonsi how Little evaded the law for so long, Holland said, “He [Little] was so good at what he did. You know, ‘How did you get away with it, Sammy?’ Did the crime, left town.”

Judges and prosecutors nationwide had been able to close longstanding cases following Little’s confessions. It had also led to the resolution of some 50 cases of murder that had been dormant for years in just over a year as a result of the detailed confessions to Holland, CBS News reported. Little’s remarkable memory and ability to visualize his victims meant he could sketch them. There are some 50 of those sketches. And they matched the victims.

Months before his death, Little, in a telephone interview with Alfonsi, expressed worry there might be innocent people in jail for some of his crimes. “Probably be numerous people who are– been convicted and sent to penitentiary on my behalf. I say, ‘If I can help get somebody out of jail, you know, God might smile a little bit more on me,” said Little.

He said his victims were “broke and homeless” walking right into his spider web. According to him, he doesn’t think there would be another person who did what he liked to do. “I think I’m the only one in the world. That’s not an honor. That’s a curse,” he said.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: December 31, 2020


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