78-Year-Old Murderer Who Could Be America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer Found Guilty In 1994 Cold Case

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Evie Fordham Politics and Health Care Reporter
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  • Samuel Little, 78, avoided the death penalty for a guilty plea in the murder of a Texas woman Thursday.
  • Little claims to have killed roughly 90 women across the U.S., which would rank him the deadliest serial killer in U.S. history.
  • Many of the victims’ cases languished because they were allegedly prostitutes or drug addicts whose deaths were not always ruled a homicide.

A 78-year-old murderer who claims to have killed 90 people was found guilty in a 1994 Texas murder cold case Thursday.

Samuel Little has been in prison for life since 2014 for three murders in the Los Angeles area. He was given another life sentence for the murder of Denise Christie Brothers in Odessa, Texas, Thursday.

Little surprised investigators when he started talking in the spring of 2018 and confessed a multitude of murders, which would rank him among the deadliest serial killers in U.S. history. He’s in poor health and wanted to use the confessions to move prisons.

Little pleaded guilty to Brothers’ murder to avoid the death penalty, reported CBS 7. (RELATED: America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer May Be Sitting In A Texas Cell. Here’s What The FBI Knows About His Confessed Murders)

Brothers’s family issued the following statement after Little’s guilty plea according to CBS 7:

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to all Law Enforcement agencies involved in bringing closure to the death of Denise. Not knowing what happened to our mother for over 24 years has certainly created a void in our lives. It is a shame that our grandparents, her parents, did not live to get the same closure and to see justice served. I hope the other victims’ families finally get the answers they deserve. We appreciate the efforts of everyone working on this case and for respecting our privacy.

People look at photos of known victims of serial killers Lonnie Franklin known as the "Grim Sleeper", Samuel Little and other Los Angeles serial killers at a memorial service in Los Angeles, California on December 8, 2018. (MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

People look at photos of known victims of serial killers Lonnie Franklin known as the “Grim Sleeper”, Samuel Little and other Los Angeles serial killers at a memorial service in Los Angeles, California on December 8, 2018. (MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Brothers was 38 when she was strangled. Her body wasn’t found for a month after her disappearance, according to the Dallas Morning News.

The Texas case was the breakthrough that brought Little’s avalanche of murder confessions, some of which dated back to 1970, he said. The FBI tied him to Brothers’ murder using DNA, and Texas Ranger James Holland traveled to California to interview Little. Representatives from the FBI’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP), which connected Little to the Texas case, assisted Holland.

“Over the course of that interview in May,” ViCAP analyst Christina Palazzolo said according to the FBI. “[Little] 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.”

The FBI published an online map with details of all of the murders Little claims to be responsible for, from southern California to northeast Ohio. More than 40 of the murders have been confirmed as of Thursday, reported CBS 7.

Little was convicted of the three murders that landed him in jail years after he committed them. Los Angeles Police Department detectives traced him via DNA evidence to the murders of three women between 1987 and 1989 in that area.

Little’s modus operandi was the same in all three cases. A former competitive boxer, Little beat and strangled the women and left their bodies in an alley, a dumpster and a garage, according to the FBI. The crimes were likely sexual in nature.

Little had been charged with killing two women in Mississippi and Florida in the early 1980s but escaped conviction, according to the FBI. He had gotten in trouble for smaller crimes like shoplifting and fraud dating back to 1956. He sometimes went by the name “Samuel McDowell,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

If the FBI confirms Little was behind as many murders as he says he was, he would rank among some of the country’s most notorious serial killers.

Ted Bundy was convicted of killing three people in the late 1970s but said he had killed 30 women, according to Fox News. Cannibalistic murderer Jeffrey Dahmer confessed to killing more than 12 men and boys between 1978 and 1991. And serial killer and rapist John Wayne Gacy was executed in 1994 after killing 33 men and boys in the 1970s, according to USA Today.

Serial killers have long fascinated Americans and occupied a space in pop culture, especially in movies. The story of Dahmer’s early years was told in the 2017 movie “My Friend Dahmer,” and former Disney star Zac Efron is set to portray Bundy in a film premiering in January 2019.

Follow Evie on Twitter @eviefordham.

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