In this article:
- While there are many other serial killers who have gained more infamy, Samuel Little has been named “the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history” by the FBI.
- Between 1970 and 2005, Little is believed to have killed around 93, most of them women from the fringes of society.
- Samuel Little had been arrested for violent crimes many times before he was ever convicted of murder yet, for some reason, he was allowed to walk free and continue his killing spree.
When it comes to infamous serial killers in U.S. history, a few names inevitably come to mind: Ted Bundy, Ed Gein, John Wayne Gacy, and Richard Ramirez, to name a few. And, of course, with the recent release of the ultra-popular Netflix series DAHMER, the internet is littered with Jeffrey Dahmer’s name.
However, while all these killers are nightmarishly terrifying and have done unspeakable things, none have killed as many people as Samuel Little.
In the world of true crime, Samuel Little’s name isn’t brought up quite as often as these other well-known serial killers. However, after confessing to 93 murders, the FBI declared Little to be “the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history.” And his reign of terror took place over a very long period of time.
Believed to have committed his first murder in the early 1970s, Little wasn’t arrested on murder charges until 2014. That’s around 40 years in which Samuel Little was moving around the United States, claiming victim after victim.
How did Samuel Little evade conviction for so long? He targeted those on the fringes of society: women who were homeless or involved in prostitution or addicted to drugs.
Though he wasn’t particularly smart regarding when or where he committed his murders or where he disposed of the bodies afterward, Little was somehow allowed to walk free for years and kill more and more people.
Let’s take a look at the horrifying life and crimes of Samuel Little, the man that the FBI claims is the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history.
Portrait of a Prolific Killer
Samuel Little’s childhood was anything but healthy. He was born in 1940 in Reynolds, Georgia, to 16-year-old prostitute Bessie Mae Little, who had been impregnated by 19-year-old client Paul McDowell.
Needless to say, Samuel Little’s father was not present in his upbringing. Bessie Mae Little moved the two of them to Lorain, Ohio, soon after Samuel was born. Samuel was brought up primarily by his grandmother.
According to Samuel Little’s own account, he began having violent sexual fantasies about women as early as kindergarten, when he would watch his kindergarten teacher touch her own neck. He also began collecting true crime magazines that depicted women being choked at an early age.
In 1956, at the age of 16, Samuel Little had his first run-in with the law. He was convicted of breaking and entering in Omaha, Nebraska, and placed in a juvenile correction facility.
Not long after, in the 1960s, Little’s mother moved them to Florida and Little’s criminal activity became even more frequent. He began traveling around and committing crimes in various states.
During this time, he was arrested on charges of driving under the influence, armed robbery, shoplifting, fraud, solicitation, aggravated assault, and rape.
By the year 1975, Little had been arrested 26 times for almost every crime in the book. However, it wasn’t until 1982 that Little was brought to court concerning a murder. And the miscarriage of justice that would occur in the following years was nothing short of disgusting.
A Killer Walks Free
In 1982, Samuel Little was arrested in Pascagoula, Mississippi, for the murder of 22-year-old Melinda Rose LaPree.
However, the grand jury did not indict him for the murder. While under investigation, though, Little became connected to the murder of Patricia Ann Mount and he was extradited to Florida later in 1982.
While on trial, Little was said to have been with Mount the night before her disappearance. However, due to the fact that Mount was involved in prostitution, witness testimonies were declared untrustworthy and Little was allowed to walk free in 1984.
That very same year, Little was arrested for kidnapping, beating, and strangling 22-year-old Laurie Barros, who managed to escape alive.
When the police found Little, he was sitting in the back of his car with an unconscious woman, who had also been beaten and strangled, in the exact same spot where he had attempted to kill Barros. For both of these crimes, Little served a mere two and a half years in prison.
This gross miscarriage of justice was not without consequences. As soon as Little was released from prison in 1987, he immediately moved to Los Angeles and went on to commit at least 10 additional murders.
Convicted Too Late
It wasn’t until 2014 that Samuel Little was actually charged with murder, after he had already killed 93 people. In 2012, he was arrested at a homeless shelter in Lousiville, Kentucky, on narcotics-related charges and extradited to California.
Once in California, officials were able to use DNA testing to connect Little to three murders: Carol Ilene Elford, Guadalupe Duarte Apodaca, and Audrey Nelson Everett.
All three of these women had been murdered in Los Angeles. All three of them had been beaten and strangled to death and their bodies were left in an alley, in a dumpster, and in a garage.
The pattern was clear enough for law enforcement to establish Samuel Little’s modus operandi. As a result, the police began investigating Little’s involvement in over 30 more murders in the 1980s while he awaited trial for the three murders in Los Angeles.
In 2014, Little stood trial for the three Los Angeles murders and was convicted using DNA evidence and testimonies from other surviving victims who had been attacked by Little. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and began serving his sentence in California State Prison, Los Angeles County.
In the time just after his trial, Little maintained that he was innocent. However, in 2018, it seems that he gave up on freedom and began confessing to his other murders.
On November 9, 2018, Samuel Little confessed to strangling Melissa Thomas in 1996 in Opelousas, Louisiana.
A few days later, he was charged with the murder of Denise Christie Brothers in Odessa, Texas after confessing to a Texas Ranger. Shortly after, the Texas Sherriff’s Office announced that Little had confessed to dozens more murders and may have committed more than 90 murders across 14 states between 1970 and 2005.
From there, the floodgates opened and Little began to speak openly about his terrifying string of murders. Cold cases all around the country began to reopen as Little spilled the beans about the identities and locations of his victims.
As recently as November 2020, Little confessed to two more murders in Florida, with one of his convictions leading to the release of a man who was wrongfully convicted.
In December 2020, Samuel Little was found dead in his prison cell. While no official cause of death has been released, Little was known to suffer from diabetes, heart problems, and other health complications.
Now that he’s dead, the exact number of lives that Samuel Little will probably never be known. However, with his estimated murder count sitting somewhere above 90, the FBI has called Samuel Little “the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history.”
However, had Samuel Little not been ignored and allowed to walk free by our justice system, most of these murders could have been avoided. And, for that, a deep, unrepayable debt is owed to the victims and their families.