What You Need to Know: Serial Killer Samuel Little

Convicted killer admits killing 90, including at least 7 in Georgia

A 78-year-old Middle Georgia native claims he’s killed 90 people since 1970, and he’s shared explicit details with investigators. And though Samuel Little has confessed to killing seven women in Georgia, that total could be even higher, according to police. 

Already serving a life sentence for strangling three California women, the old unknown boxer and drifter has lately been making confessions, so far claiming he’s killed more than 90 people across the country over four decades, in hopes of being transferred to another prison, according to the FBI. 

Authorities are trying to vet his statements, while scouring files to see if he could be connected to more cold cases. Little is from tiny Taylor County, west of Macon. 

Samuel Little listens to opening statements as his trial begins on Aug. 18, 2014 in Los Angeles. (Bob Chamberlin/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Photo: Bob Chamberlin/TNS

Included among his confessed killings are seven women from Georgia: Three in Atlanta, two from Savannah, one each in Bibb and Dade counties. The deaths of a Columbus woman, found just over the Alabama border, and an 18-year-old from Macon could also be linked to Little, according to local police agencies. 

Little claims he killed three women in Atlanta between 1981 and 1984, according to the FBI. Little couldn’t provide names, but said he killed a woman between the ages of 35 and 40 in 1981, a 26-year-old in 1983 or 1984, and then a woman who may have been a college student in 1984. She was between the ages of 23 and 25. 

Despite the claims, Atlanta police said Thursday investigators had not yet connected any cold cases to Little. 

“We’re aware of those claims and have been looking into them,” Officer Jarius Daugherty said in an emailed statement. “So far, we have not been able to corroborate any homicide claims in the City of Atlanta attributable to him.” 

Little has now confessed to homicides in 16 states: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, the FBI said this week. His victims were all women with the exception of two: an 18-year-old in Florida and a 16-year-old in Mississippi.

Two other Georgia cases 

Though the cases are listed on the FBI’s list of Little’s confessions, police suspect he’s to blame for two other Georgia cold cases. 

In the Macon area, Little claims he killed 18-year-old Fredonia Smith, whose parents told The Telegraph newspaper she’d gone out for ice cream and never returned on July, 10 1982. Her remains were found a month later in someone’s backyard, according to the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office. 

Little also said he killed a woman whose skeletal remains were discovered on the edge of some woods near Riverside Drive on Sept. 8, 1977. Her identity is still a mystery, though the GBI last year had an artist make a bust of what her face might’ve looked like. 

Two Bibb investigators travelled to interview Little in a Texas jail, where he’s held in connection to yet another homicide. 

“Little gave investigators specific details and information, which linked him to both ‘cold case’ homicides, where Little admitted to strangling both women,” Sheriff David Davis said in a news release. The sheriff’s office didn’t release the specifics tying Little to the cases, other than the fact that Little mentioned a dirt road that investigators then located and found important to one of the deaths. A spokeswoman for the county district attorney’s office said she couldn’t comment because the cases are still under review. 

In another case, Columbus resident Brenda Alexander’s body turned up off a dirt road in Phenix City, Ala. on Aug. 27, 1979, nude but for her Timex calendar watch with a leather band, according to the Ledger-Enquirer. Detectives with the Alabama city’s police department also interviewed Little in the Texas jail, where he told them he strangled the 23-year-old after meeting her at a dance club in Columbus. 

“I don’t believe he was making any of this stuff up. I think he’s just telling a story like he remembers it,” Capt. Jason Whitten of Phenix City police told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He gave some details of the crime that no one else would know.” 

Whitten declined to release those details, because he’s still in the process of verifying Little’s statements and preparing a file to present to the local district attorney’s office for consideration. But the investigator said he’s confident the confession can bring resolution to the long-cold case and comfort to the victim’s family. 

“They deserve some closure after all these years,” he said. “That’s what it should be about, not the sensational story of this serial killer.” 

Tracking a killer 

The killings began in the 1970 and spanned more than three decades, ending in 2005, he told investigators. Little had several run-ins with law enforcement dating back to 1956, but wasn’t behind bars long. 

In January 1984, he was acquitted in the death of a 26-year-old mentally disabled woman found dead in fall of 1982 near Gainesville, Fla. A fiber analyst testified at the trial that hairs found on Patricia Ann Mount’s clothes “had the same characteristics as head hairs taken from” Little, who witnesses said had been seen leaving a bar with her, according to the Gainesville Sun. But when cross-examined, the analyst said “it was also possible for hairs to be transferred if two people bumped together.” 

By October 1984, Little was arrested in San Diego, accused of attempting to kill two prostitutes who had been kidnapped a month apart, driven to the same abandoned dirt lot, assaulted and choked, the Associated Press reported. The jury failed to reach a verdict, and Little later pleaded guilty to lesser charges of assault with great bodily injury and false imprisonment. 

He served about 2-and-a-half years of a four-year sentence and was paroled in 1987. According to his account, he just kept killing. 

Then in 2012, Little was arrested at a homeless shelter in Kentucky and returned to California, where he was wanted on a narcotics charge, according to the FBI. But when DNA matched him to three homicides in Los Angeles, Little was charged with three counts of murder. In 2014, he was sentenced to three life sentences with no possibility of parole. 

“In all three cases, the women had been beaten and then strangled, their bodies dumped in an alley, a dumpster, and a garage,” the FBI posted on its website. “Little asserted his innocence throughout his trial—even as a string of women testifying for the prosecution told of narrowly surviving similarly violent encounters with Little.” 

Los Angeles police then sent Little’s DNA to the FBI, which linked him to a case in Texas. The confessions started to flow in recent months after Texas Rangers and FBI agents began meeting with Little.

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