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FBI working to connect serial killer to dozens of confessed murders

Investigators working to identify victims from Florida to California

Samuel Little listens as he is sentenced to three consecutive terms of life in prison without parole for murdering three women in the late 1980s, in a Los Angeles courtroom in 2014. Little, now 78, has since confessed to more than 90 killings across the country. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Samuel Little listens as he is sentenced to three consecutive terms of life in prison without parole for murdering three women in the late 1980s, in a Los Angeles courtroom in 2014. Little, now 78, has since confessed to more than 90 killings across the country. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – FBI investigators are working to identify dozens of other victims slain by a convicted killer who, while serving a life-sentence for different murders, recently confessed to killing an Ocala woman 36 years ago

Samuel Little, 78, has provided information on more than 90 murders authorities say he committed across the country in the '70s and '80s, including 20-year-old Rosie Hill's 1982 slaying in Marion County.

FBI crime analysts are saying Little may be among the most prolific serial killers in U.S. history.

Little was arrested in 2012 and convicted of slaying three California women. He was sentenced to three life sentences.

Since his arrest near Los Angeles, the FBI’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program, or ViCAP, investigators have been working with the Department of Justice 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," according to the FBI news release.

The FBI’s ViCAP works with law enforcement across the U.S. providing free behavioral and investigative resources for solved and unsolved violent crimes, including homicides, missing persons and sexual assaults.

The FBI agents went to California along with a Texas ranger to interview Little in the spring of 2018 about a possible connection to a cold case in Texas. In exchange for a move to a Texas facility, Little started talking.

“Over the course of that interview in May, he went through city and state and gave Ranger (James) Holland the number of people he killed in each place. Jackson, Mississippi—one; Cincinnati, Ohio—one; Phoenix, Arizona—three; Las Vegas, Nevada—one,” ViCAP Crime Analyst Christina Palazzolo said.

In all, Little confessed to 90 killings and Palazzolo and ViCAP Liaison Angela Williamson have been working ever since to connect evidence in current unsolved cases to Little's confessions.

The FBI has confirmed 34 killings so far. However, there are still a number of Little’s confessions that remain unproven.

The biggest problem the team faces is time. Little is in poor health, according to the FBI, and although he remembers his victims in detail, his nomad lifestyle and the nature of the murders makes matching the cases difficult.

Little targeted vulnerable women, sometimes involved in prostitution and drugs, whose deaths possibly went unreported or were not investigated.

"Little’s method of killing also didn’t always leave obvious signs that the death was a homicide," according to the FBI release. "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."

Holland has continued to interview Little in a Wise County, Texas, prison to try to solve as many of the cases with the help of the FBI team.

The FBI created a map of all the slayings Little said he committed since the 1970s. Anyone with information on these possible cases is asked to contact the ViCAP at 800-634-4097.

"The goal now is to identify his victims and provide closure and justice in unsolved cases," officials with the FBI said in a news release. "ViCAP is also hoping this case will serve as a reminder to every jurisdiction of the importance of consistent violent crime reporting."


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