At the end of life, the best moments with family and friends, the people who fell in love with him and the best travels should be remembered. Samuel Little remembers killing 93 women.
Piccolo is 79 years old. He started counting his crimes for the first time a year and a half ago. He remembers with the same precision as the cold murders committed more than four decades ago. He also has a photographic memory which allows him to make portraits of his victims. They were mostly young African American women, alone, who lived on the edge.
With Little’s confessions, the FBI asks for help from all the country’s law enforcement agencies and citizens to help name those stories. This week, the FBI announced that it has already managed to prove 50 of these crimes. The figure is relevant because it officially makes Little the biggest serial killer in the history of the United States. Former Gary Ridgway has been sentenced for 49 years. Federal police released Little’s portraits and some of Little’s confessions in a series of videos that detract from any television fiction.
In one of the videos, Little tells the story of Ruth, a light-colored black woman. Outskirts of Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1992 or 1993. “Oh my friend, I loved it. I forgot his name … wait, I think it was Ruth. It was very large. His teeth were crooked. He had a space between his teeth. If it is so. And it was a light skin color … honey. And his hair wasn’t very long. “He picked it up from a house where he was with other women who smoked crack. They spent two days together driving around the city and committing a little shoplifting. They went to the shops of Sears and Kroger, he remembers exactly. In Kroger in Little Rock, he was arrested.
The woman didn’t know what to do alone, so she stayed in the car, parked in the shop. He stayed until the owner called the police station and dropped the charges just to get her taken away. “They let me go!”. Little laughter as he tells it. He is a 79 year old man who tells another anecdote of his life. The video of the interview omits the part where he killed that woman. The fragment ends by saying that he took her to a wheat field where there was a pile of garbage. “I parked the car looking outside to see if anyone was coming. I got it out of the car. It was too heavy to carry. So I just took it out of the car and left it there in the trash. “
Little did he ever escape particularly from justice. It simply wasn’t detected by the system. He was born in 1940 in Georgia. His first arrest was recorded in 1956. Over the years, he has been detained dozens of times. He was a drunkard and a wanderer. Many times the local authorities were happy to drive him out of town. He killed and went to another place. He was eventually arrested for rape and murder, but was released on both counts. Eventually, in 2012, he was detained in a Kentucky homeless shelter for a drug issue pending in Los Angeles.
Little’s DNA suddenly solved three crimes from the Los Angeles police archives. Carol Alford, 41, whose body was found in an alley in 1987. Audrey Nelson, 35, found in a container in 1989. Guadalupe Apodaca, 46, whose body was left in a garage in the same year. Little did he deny the charges to the end. Two physical tests had traces of his DNA. The odds that he wasn’t him were 1 in 450 quintillions, prosecutor Beth Silverman told the court. On September 25, he was sentenced to three life sentences. “I did not!” He screamed during the hearing.
Los Angeles police released Little’s DNA to the FBI, which placed it on the violent crime database. Dozens of games started appearing across the country. One of these, very clear, in Odessa, Texas. Denise Brothers was an African American prostitute whose body was found in a bush behind a parking lot. The case was unsolved for 24 years. In 2018, a Texas Rangers agent named James Holland, a specialist in obtaining confessions from assassins, traveled to see Little in California State Prison. There he got the confession. Little remembered tiny details, like the fact that Brothers wore fake teeth.
Little wanted to change prison. In return, he would speak. He was extradited to Texas with the promise that he would not be sentenced to death. There, Holland chatted with him for 48 consecutive days in sessions lasting several hours. He confessed to 65 murders. A year and a half after the first confession, Little has returned to the California state prison and is still talking. It goes from 93.
“Tell me about Marianne,” asks Agent Holland in another of the videos. “It was what they would call a transgender today,” he laughs little. “A black man dressed as a woman?” He nods. The crime was in 1972, but Little remembers it with a chilling level of detail. He says he was 19 and was from Liberty City, Miami. He had a boyfriend named Wes. He met her in a bar on 17th street, wearing a cream and red miniskirt. He got into his Pontiac Le Mans car and drove I-27 towards Fort Lauderdale. He entered a side path that led to the swamps. He left the corpse face down on the mud. You don’t know the exact site. He believes that the body has never been found.
Little’s confessions last 45 years and 37 cities in 14 states. Three women in Phoenix, 10 in Miami, 18 in Los Angeles, one in many places. The oldest crime he remembers was in 1970 and the last in 2005. In a report by 60 minutes Aired on CBS aired October 6, the cameras show a meeting between Holland and Little in which the detainee says: “I have been in the midst of numerous murders of women for 50 years.” “Where did you kill the most?” Holland asks. “Oh, easy, in Miami and Los Angeles.”
Little’s victims were marginal women. Investigators fear that some deaths have never been reported, that no one has lost them. Little was a boxer during a period of his life. According to the FBI, he beat his victims to death and then strangled them. There are no stabbings or blows. Being prostitutes and drug addicts, investigators fear that some of these crimes were not once classified as homicides, but were mistaken for overdose deaths.
In that report, Holland says the first thing that caught his eye is how “smart” Little is. “To begin with, the photographic memory, its memories of the details,” he explains. “For example, Little remembered strange arches near the place where he killed a woman outside Miami. Of course, when Miami detectives went to investigate, they found the arches.” Details such as the one called the victim: Miriam Chapman. It was 1976.
All Little’s confessions are credible, according to investigators. This means that in the dusty folders in the U.S. local police files there are at least 43 other unsolved cases whose key could be in these stories. “Nothing he said turned out to be untrue. We were able to verify almost everything he said, “Holland said on CBS. Those women existed. They had a name that wasn’t just Ruth or Marianne. They are somewhere. Her killer remembers them.