FBI declares Samuel Little America's most prolific serial killer with 93 murders, chose women 'no one would miss'

Samuel Little used to beat and strangle his victims, earning him the moniker 'choke and stroke killer' due to his modus operandi.

                            FBI declares Samuel Little America's most prolific serial killer with 93 murders, chose women 'no one would miss'
(Source : Getty Images)

Ted Bundy confessed to killing 30 people across seven states between 1974 and 1978 before being strapped to the Raiford electric chair in 1989. Jeffrey Dahmer murdered, dismembered, and raped 17 men and boys from 1978 to 1991. The highest number of murder convictions in American serial killer history was doled out to Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer,  who was convicted of 49 murders in Washington State during the 1980s and 1990s. He was also known to masturbate on his victims as he kept them in a stranglehold. 

But for Samuel Little, the numbers shoot up to as many as 93 killings, making him the most prolific killer in US history. A combined Bundy and Dahmer toll falls significantly lower than Little's number.

FILE - In this Monday, Nov. 26, 2018 file photo, Samuel Little, who often went by the name Samuel McDowell, leaves the Ector County Courthouse after attending a pre-trial hearing in Odessa, Texas. A Texas prosecutor says investigators have linked more than 60 killings in at least 14 states to a 79-year-old inmate who may be the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history. Ector County District Attorney Bobby Bland said Friday, June 7, 2019, that Little continues to cooperate with investigators from around the country who interrogate him in prison about cold case killings dating back to the 1970s. Little, who is serving life sentences in California, claims to have killed at least 90 women. (Mark Rogers/Odessa American via AP, File)

According to the FBI’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP), Little has been matched to 50 cases, with 43 confessions still pending confirmation. He has been convicted of three murders, two of which he committed in California and the rest in Texas.  

God 'knew' what he had done

The details of Little's birth are vague. He was born in Reynolds, Georgia on June 7, 1940, but he was raised by his grandmother in Ohio. Investigators believe that he may have been born in prison, while his mother, who he described as "a lady of the night" by the New York Times was serving time. He has also claimed that he was abandoned by his mother before being raised by his grandmother. 

He did, however, had a hard time following rules right off the bat. While attending Hawthorne Junior High School, he is said to have had problems with discipline. 

There has been no conversation of his religious beliefs but he claimed to be an investigator that God 'knew' what he had done and does not ask for forgiveness. He believes that he was created that way and there was no need for remorse. When he was 16 years old, he was convicted for a "breaking and entering" crime in Omaha, Nebraska and spent some time in juvenile detention.  He had stolen a bicycle.

He had moved soon after birth to Ohio following which he moved once again to Florida in his late 20s, one of the states where he committed most of the murders. At the time he was with his mother and is said to have worked at the Dade County Department of Sanitation and at a cemetery, according to a report in the Star-Advertiser. 

His problems with the law started increasing between 1971 to 1974 and he is said to have been arrested for violent crimes like armed robbery, rape, theft, solicitation of a prostitute, aggravated assault on a police officer along with other charges in eight states. He was in and out of jail, multiple times and spent 10 years for these crimes. He was charged with the murders of 22-year-old woman Melinda LaPree in Mississippi and the murder of 26-year-old Patricia Mount, in Florida, but was never convicted.

He beat his victims and strangled them

A self-proclaimed ex-prize fighter, detectives have called the now diabetic and wheelchair bound Little as someone charismatic and psychopathic. He would beat up victims and then strangle them. In one of his murders, he had punched a victim so hard in the lower stomach, he had broken her spine. His victims were assaulted, then strangled and then left sometimes on the trash and others in empty dirt lots. Other bodies were never found.

The LAPD is said to have called him the 'Choke and Stroke Killer' due to his modus operandi. Authorities have also found semen on the body of his victims or their clothing that have matched Little, but he vehemently denies rape. This could also have happened due to him masturbating on his victims. According to Texas Ranger James Holland, who has been crucial in getting him to confess through 700 hours worth of interviews, he is said to have "vented" in the interview room for 30 minutes for being wrongly called a rapist, according to CBS.

He targeted women that he believed no one would miss, prostitutes and marginalized, vulnerable women who were poor and often addicts. Additionally, because his murders did not have stab or bullet wounds, they would more often than not be treated as natural deaths, accidents or a drug overdose. Often, the bodies could not be identified, letting him get away with it. "I never killed no senators or governors or fancy New York journalists. Nothing like that”, he told Journalist Jillian Lauren, who wrote the New York Magazine profile. “I killed you, it’d be all over the news the next day. I stayed in the ghettos." He also moved from place to place never settling in any roots, making him harder to detect. 

He also said that in one of his murders, he called himself an artist. Speaking about Denise Brothers, who was murdered in Odessa, Texas, in 1994, he is said to have told her that he wanted to sketch her. The journalist recanted what he said, “'I told her I was an artist. She was a spicy one. I told her I could draw her so pretty, like van Gogh!’ He cracked himself up with that one. ‘I told her she was beautiful. I said, ‘I love you.’" 

He felt the need to "own" women, he said. "I wanted their helplessness. All I ever wanted was for them to cry in my arms," he said but when pressed about why he couldn't let her live if that was all, he had recanted with, "Maybe it wasn’t all I wanted.”

He called them his "babies", the profile noted. “I live in my mind now. With my babies. In my drawings”, he told Lauren. “The only things I was ever good at was drawing and fighting.”

Recent confessions

LAPD homicide detective Mitzi Roberts, who was one of the first to suspect he's a serial killer but the true extent of his crimes only came to light after he spoke to Ranger James Holland. Little was found guilty and given a life imprisonment sentence for the murders of Carol Elford, Audrey Nelson, and Guadalupe Apodaca through DNA test results as well as the testimony of witnesses who were attacked by him at different times throughout his criminal career. He continued to claim he was innocent until 2018.

After holding him with his questions for almost 18 months, Holland offered to get the death penalty off the table. "Basically, what I told him was, I can go to the district attorney and I can ask him to take the death penalty off the table. And, and I believe that he will do that", he told CBS. He met with the district attorney in Odessa, Bobby Bland who said that he did it for "a greater good" and the death penalty was waived for Little.

He was taken to Wise County Jail in Texas and Little confessed to 65 of his murders. The number only kept increasing and as of now the FBI says they have no reason to doubt the credibility of his confessions.

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