A Texas prosecutor on Friday said that investigators have linked a 79-year-old California inmate to more than 60 killings in 14 states dating back to the 1970s, which would make him the most prolific serial killer in US history according to AP.
The inmate, Samuel Little, claims he killed more than 93 women as he traversed the country living a nomadic lifestyle. He is currently serving life sentences for killing three Los Angeles-area women, and pleaded guilty last year to killing a Texas woman in 1994. Now in failing health and having exhausted his appeals, Little is cooperating with investigators.
"At this point in his life I think he’s determined to make sure that his victims are found," said Ector County District Attorney, Bobby Bland, who added that investigators from around the country have traveled to interrogate him in prison about cold case killings.
When Little went on trial in 2014, prosecutors said he was likely responsible for at least 40 murders since 1980, and were probing deaths in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and Texas. At the time, however, Little did not cooperate.
Bland credits a Texas Ranger named James Holland with gaining Little's trust and convincing him to confess.
Holland traveled to California last year to speak with Little about cold cases in Texas. That led Little to be extradited to Texas and his guilty plea in December in the 1994 strangulation death of Denise Christie Brothers in the West Texas city of Odessa. But Holland’s conversations with Little have continued, even after Little was returned to California to serve his sentences, and it was Holland who determined that he was responsible for 93 deaths, said Bland, who received an update from Holland this week.
Information provided to Holland was relayed to law enforcement agencies in several states, leading to a revolving door of investigators who traveled to California to corroborate decades-old deaths. -AP
On Friday, prosecutors announced charges against Little for the 1981 deaths of two Cleveland women. Separately, he was charged in a second Cincinnatti killing, while he also confessed to another murder in Cleveland - however investigators are still attempting to identify the victim.
In many cases Little's victims had been suffocated or strangled, leaving few physical marks which in many cases led investigators to presume the women had overdosed or died of natural causes.
"There’s still been no false information given," said Bland of the new information Little has been providing on the cold cases. "Nothing has been proven to be false."
Most prolific in US history
Currently, the most prolific serial killer in US history is Gary Ridgeway. Known as the Green River Killer, Ridgeway was initially convicted of murdering 48 women and girls, and was able to cut a deal for life in prison without parole in a plea bargain over his 49th victim. Ridgeway claims he has murdered at least 71 women and girls, most of whom were either prostitutes or in vulnerable situations.
Meanwhile, serial killers John Wayne Gacey and Ted Bundy confessed to 33 and 30 homicides respectively in the 1970s.
Globally, the deadliest serial killer who was not a world leader is English general practitioner named Harold Shipman, who was determined to have killed at least 250 people. He was convicted in 2000 for the deaths of 15.