Samuel Little sketches released by FBI

State & Regional
Samuel Little Mug 720 via AP

On Tuesday, the FBI released 16 sketches drawn by Samuel Little who has confessed to nearly 90 murders throughout the United States, including one in Odessa.

Investigators are attempting to match the confessions to open investigations in various states, with the goal of closing them for good. Little drew the sketches from memories of his victims. 

The beginning

That man who could now be remembered as the most prolific serial killer in US history had run-ins with the law dating back to 1956, according to the FBI report.

The report revealed Little dropped out of high school and left his Ohio home in late 1950. He lived a nomadic life, never staying in one place too long.

The report reads, “Little chose to kill marginalized and vulnerable women who were often involved in prostitution and addicted to drugs. Their bodies sometimes went unidentified and their deaths uninvestigated.”

While the bodies went ‘unidentified,’ Little did not forget them. Investigators said he described the victims and murders in great detail, even drawing pictures of many of them.

The report reads, “Little’s method of killing also didn’t always leave obvious signs that the death was a homicide. The one-time competitive boxer usually stunned or knocked out his victims with powerful punches and then strangled them. With no stab marks or bullet wounds, many of these deaths were not classified as homicides but attributed to drug overdoses, accidents, or natural causes.”

Little has confessed and described in great lengths 90 murders.

In some cases, Little remembered their age, name, where they met and where he dumped the body.

The report says that DNA evidence was not available or could not produce a clear link back to Little since a large number of killings occurred in 1970-1980, before DNA profiling was regularly used.

For this reason, 60 victims are marked as Jane Doe.

A link in the chain

Investigators in these cold cases caught a break when Little was arrested in a homeless shelter in Kentucky back in 2012.

FBI officials say his DNA matched three homicide victims in Los Angeles and he was transported to California to face charges.

Ultimately Little was convicted in all three cases and was sentenced to life in prison. What investigators didn’t know at the time, this was just the tip of the iceberg and the beginning of a long road.

A Texas Ranger then got involved in the case and traveled to California with an FBI investigator to begin interviewing Little on other cases out of West Texas.

During the interview, Little was eager to make a deal, according to the FBI.

Little wanted to move prisons and told the Ranger and FBI investigator that he would exchange information, if that were possible.

As it turned out, Little was a wealth of information on several open investigations in Texas, Arizona, Washington, Georgia and more.

Officials say Little went city by city, state by state and gave the Texas Ranger very specific details on each case. In some cases, Little was even able to remember where he was, what car he was driving and even drew the victims in great detail, according to the report.

In total, officials say Little confessed to 90 murders throughout the country. Now, investigators needed to connect the dots.

A West Texas Connection

After Little’s DNA matched him to California, the Texas Ranger also matched it to a case in Odessa, according to the report.

Little later confessed to the murder of Denise Brothers in 1994.

He was then indicted in 2018 and brought to Ector County to stand trial in the case. Little, having already confessed to the crime, pleaded guilty and was again sentenced to life in prison.

Ector County District Attorney, Bobby Bland said in a statement following the resolution of the trial:

“We appreciate the hard work done by the Texas Rangers, the Odessa Police Department, the Ector County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI and the Department of Justice for helping us obtain justice for Denise Christie Brothers and her family after all these years. Due to the efforts of law enforcement agencies from around the country, dozens of victims’ families now have answers. Although this is a conviction in Ector County, Texas, I hope it will serve as justice for all those atrocious murders committed across this nation in this unprecedented era of terror and mayhem caused by Samuel Little.”

Little was also arrested in Lubbock – not for murder, but for shoplifting.  Lubbock Police said no local murder cases were tied to Little who pleaded guilty and served 14 days in the Lubbock County Detention Center in 2006. 

Cold Cases remain

While cases had wrapped up in Odessa and Los Angeles, investigators still have a long way to go.

Officials say in the 90 confessions, investigators have been able to confirm a little more than 34, with several still pending.

The FBI also announced on Tuesday that eight more cases had been confirmed or matched to open cases and one formerly unmatched confession has been matched to a victim.

That still leaves almost 50 confessions that have not yet been matched as investigators dive deeper into the saga of Samuel Little.

(Original story from added information about his arrest in Lubbock.) 

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