The ‘pure evil’ serial killer who hid in plain sight for decades


Convicted killer Samuel Little, 78, could turn out to be among the country’s most prolific serial killers in history, and one who, until now, law enforcement didn’t even realize existed.

According to the FBI, after being convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2014 for three murders in Southern California between 1986 and 1989, Little recently began confessing to dozens more. In total, Little has confessed to killing 90 women across more than a dozen states between 1970 and 2005 — and thus far, according to the FBI, investigators have been able to link 34 unsolved murders to Little’s confessed crimes.

One big question looms: How was he able to get away with it for so long?

Prior to his 2012 arrest for the three murders in California, Little was no stranger to law enforcement — his criminal record dates all the way back to 1956, and includes charges and prison time for crimes like shoplifting, fraud, breaking and entering, assault and false imprisonment. He’d been charged with multiple murders before, too, but prosecutors either couldn’t get an indictment (Mississippi) or failed to secure a conviction (Florida). Little was a drifter who moved from place to place, across dozens of states, never staying for too long. He kept to himself, but moved within the fringes of society in each place he lived, alongside the poverty-stricken and homeless, drug users and sex workers. They were his victims too.

In 2012, Little was extradited from Kentucky to California on a warrant for an outstanding narcotics charge. Once he was in custody, the Los Angeles Police Department obtained his DNA and found that it matched DNA from three unsolved homicides from the 1980s. All three female victims had been beaten and then strangled to death. Little was adamant that he was innocent throughout his trial, but prosecutors had more than just DNA evidence, they had witnesses — several women testified to having barely escaped their own violent encounters with Little.

By the time Little was convicted in 2014, the FBI’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP) had already been working on a full background report. Investigators noticed “an alarming pattern” between Little’s movements and several other unsolved murders across the country, including a 1994 cold case in Odessa, Texas, which closely resembled the murders in Los Angeles.

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