Cross Country Serial Killer
At 78 years old, Samuel Little has confessed to strangling and killing 90 women over the years.
"I am a serial killer. I would kill again."
Aileen Wuornos once warned police and the community at large. It seems that most serial killers have a code that their needs matter more than anyone else's, seems to be a statement that doesn't need to be said. Samuel Little allegedly took both the Wuornos statement and the selfish characteristic to dramatic new heights with his killing spree. What's fascinating is that for the most part, he got away with it. If not for a confession and some handy detective work, Little could have performed 90 or so murders and never have been tried for most of them.
Not much is known about Little's childhood. He was born in Georgia, and at some point, his Grandmother was awarded custody of him, she raised him in Ohio. At the age of 16, he would be charged with his first of many crimes, breaking and entering. Taking things that don't belong to him and without consent would be a running theme of his life.
Little once bragged to California police officers, “I used to be a prizefighter,” and he used his hands in many of his attacks. Over an 18 year period, 1957 to 1975, he would be arrested and tried on various charges including more B&E, rape, and aggravated assault on a police officer. When convicted, he would rarely spend more than a few months in jail before being released and moving to another state to unleash his terror on that community.
In 1976, a woman by the name of Pamela Kay Smith tried to get help and escape from Samuel Little. After an encounter with him, in which he beat and raped her, she ran to a nearby house to get help. Her shirt was torn, and she was not wearing pants or underwear. Why target Smith? It's the MO that Little would use in many of his encounters with women. She was vulnerable and on drugs. When police caught up with him, Little's defense was a confession, “I only beat her." He was convicted of assault with the intent to rape. Somehow only served three months in jail. This would begin a pattern of him beating and/or raping women and either not getting caught or if he did serving very little time in jail for his crimes.
Little's first known murder was discovered in 1978. A group of friends in Saucier, Missouri came across the body of Julia Critchfield. She had been strangled and raped, then left on the roadside when he was finished with her. A black dress was strewn across her body, but otherwise, she was naked. Critchfield was the mother of four children and was 36 at the time.
After that, it took four years and traveling more than 500 miles for the next murder to be connected to Little. This time the victim was 21 years old Rosie Hill. She was raped, strangled, and then her body was left near a hog pen in Marian County, Florida. Hill had been seen leaving a bar with a stranger, believed to be Little. Friends and family hadn't heard from her in almost a week before her body was found. Another message from someone who had strong feelings about women.
Melinda LaPree's body was found in a cemetery in 1982, the same year as Hill. The only difference this time was location, LaPree was in Pascagoula, Missouri. LaPree had been seen with Little before she was killed. He might have gotten away with it if two prostitutes hadn't stepped forward and told police that he also beat them. A grand jury decided not to indict him, despite the overwhelming evidence.
After that very narrowly escaping justice, Little moved back to Florida. This time he lived in Forest Grove and met up with Patricia Ann Mount. As was his typical behavior, he raped and strangled her. This time he was indicted and stood trial. A jury acquitted him and sent him back out to kill again. One wonders what the people on that jury think about their decision that has changed the lives of thousands of people, and ended nearly a hundred more. That is not a question that will likely ever be answered.
After his acquittal, Little decided that it was time to go to the West Coast, and settled in San Diego, California. Almost upon his arrival, he was arrested tried for attacking an unnamed woman. This time the jury was deadlocked, and instead of going through with a retrial, Little agreed to a plea deal that saw him plead guilty to lesser charges.
That should have been enough to scare Little from committing more violence against women. It wasn't. In fact, starting in 1987, he began to escalate the violence and murder spree. Carol Alford was found dead in South LA. A couple of years later, 1989, Audrey Nelson's corpse was found in a trash bin in Downtown LA. Guadalupe Apodaca was found later in '89; her body was put in an abandoned building. All were raped, beaten, and strangled. The murders would take until 2014 to solve.
A Cold Case detective began piecing a theory together that the murders were linked. DNA evidence helped him tie all three murders to Samuel Little, and then they started to build a case against the serial killer. Beth Silverman, the Prosecutor on the case, said, “This is a man … who believes he can take whatever he wants from women." As if that weren't obvious, as is the hate that he holds against the female portion of the population. Little was convicted and sentenced to spend the rest of his life in jail.
Something happened, after years of trying to extract a confession from the killer, Little started talking. He has told a Texan Detective that he was responsible for 90 murders throughout the last five decades. Bobby Bland, a District Attorney for Ector County, says “People for years have been trying to get a confession out of him, and James Holland is the one who finally got him to give that information,” Why now? Maybe to cleanse his soul before he dies? Perhaps he feels genuine remorse for what he has done, though that seems unlikely. In a scenario that seems to be the likeliest, some believe that Little is boasting and trying to make sure he goes down as one of history's most notorious serial killers.
This is why some experts are cautioning to take his confession with a grain of salt. During the time that Little was actively killing women, other serial killers were doing the same thing. Most notably was the so-called "Grim Sleeper" and a drug epidemic that was claiming the lives of women as well. Bland says that none of that matters because so far they have been able to prove everything that Little has told them, “So far we don’t have any false information coming from him.” Justice may finally be served for the loved ones of the ladies that were murdered.
From Ohio throughout the South and into California, Samuel Little killed and beat women to forge his path into the history books. Though justice failed to stop him several times over, time has done what prosecutors and police could not, it has led to a confession from a killer.