Samuel Little, America's Most Prolific Serial Killer, Dead at 80 - Rolling Stone
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Samuel Little, Considered America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer, Dead at 80

Little confessed to 93 murders, authorities have confirmed nearly 60 victims

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. Authorities in Mississippi are asking for the public's help in identifying a victim of a confessed serial killer and are using a sketch drawn by suspect. News outlets report the Harrison County Sheriff's Office on Monday, Dec. 16, 2019, released a sketch of the victim drawn by Little. (Mark Rogers/Odessa American via AP, File)

Samuel Little, considered America's most prolific serial killer, has died at age 80.

Mark Rogers/Odessa American/AP

Samuel Little — who authorities say was the most prolific killer in U.S. history with nearly 60 confirmed victims — has died, the Associated Press reports. He was 80.

Little died at a California hospital on Wednesday. The cause of death has not been announced and will be determined by a coroner, but Little had diabetes, heart trouble and other ailments. He was serving a life sentence for multiple counts of murder.

Little was first sentenced to life in prison in 2014 for three murders in Southern California between 1986 and 1989. However, a few years later, he began confessing to scores more crimes — nearly one hundred murders across a dozen states between 1970 and 2005. He was able to evade detection because many of his victims’ deaths were ruled overdoses or accidental, according to the FBI — some bodies have yet to be found. Little also preyed on the homeless, drug users, and sex workers. Most of Little’s victims were women and he strangled most of his victims.

A career criminal throughout his life, when he wasn’t in jail, he was a transient traveling throughout the country. In 2018, he was questioned by Texas Ranger James Holland about a killing that Little was not involved in, but they developed a rapport that no other authority was able to garner previously with Little. They had about 700 hours of conversations, which led to Little sharing details on a slew of other murders that only the killer would know. He also provided Holland with several paintings and drawings he made of his victims and other key information. By the time of Little’s death, he had confessed to killing 93 people.

In early 2019, the FBI released a collection of 16 of those drawings. “We are hoping that someone — family member, former neighbor, friend — might recognize the victim and provide that crucial clue in helping authorities make an identification,” FBI spokeswoman Shayne Buchwald said in a statement at the time. “We want to give these women their names back and their family some long-awaited answers. It’s the least we can do.” Later that year, the FBI shared several videos of Little providing detail on more victims in an effort to “seek justice for each victim — to close every case possible.”

Authorities, who continue to investigate Little’s claims, have confirmed nearly 60 victims.

Little said his first killing was in Miami on New Year’s Eve in 1970. “It was like drugs,” he told Holland. “I came to like it.” Little said his last killing took place in Tupelo, Mississippi in 2005. Though he was eventually forthcoming about his killings, he revealed few details of his personal life.

Last year, Little told 60 Minutes that he confessed in hopes that others would not be convicted for his crimes. “I say if I can help get somebody out of jail, you know, then God might smile a little bit more on me,” he said.

“I don’t think there was another person who did what I liked to do,” he told 60 Minutes. “I think I’m the only one in the world. And that’s not an honor, that is a curse.”

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