America’s deadliest serial killer, Samuel Little, left a trail of 93 —maybe more— bodies…because of his special MO. I’ve written several blogs about serial killers, and my blog here is useful if you need some basics about this kind of multicide. It’s not the same as mass murder or spree killings, for example.
A special MO.
How’d Little manage to get away with so many murders? He was smart, kept on the move, and used a method of operation (MO) that was difficult to investigate. Police use a criminal’s MO, or technically modus operandi, to figure ’em out, to link cases with similar MOs.
Little murdered dozens of women across 19 states over a quarter of a century (starting in the 1970s) before he was finally nabbed. But it wasn’t until a Texas Ranger got him to talk about his killing persona rather than his rapist persona. Little got angry when people pegged him as a rapist, not an accomplished killer which was his perception of himself. His self-identity if you will.
The CBS program “60 Minutes” has done stories on Little. It’s clear he used his unusual intelligence to deftly maneuver his way around the criminal justice system without being sentenced for a single murder during his killing spree.
After his last crime and a massive hunt, Little was traced to a homeless shelter in Louisville, Kentucky. He’d just cashed one of his social security checks in 2012. After his arrest, his DNA linked him to the murder of Carol Elford in 1987 in Los Angeles.
A special MO.
Little killed his victims —usually sex workers who might not be missed—with a special MO which is sometimes difficult to identify — manual strangulation. It is unlike ligature strangulation which may involve identifiable rope, clothing, etc. Manual strangulation is unique in that it doesn’t always leave visible injury, bruising, traces of blood, or evidence of blunt force trauma.
Medical examiners do look for internal signs. For example, at hyoid bones to determine if death’s due to homicide by strangulation or suicide by hanging.
Signs of Strangulation —
Red face and/or neck
Petechiae (red pinpoint spots/burst blood vessel)
Swollen tongue or lips
Bite marks inside mouth
Bruising in neck and under chin
Samuel Little was eventually charged for three murders, and in January 2013 he received three separate life sentences. Little, however, maintained his innocence throughout his court ordeal.
After his sentencing, months went by and Little’s appeals were consistently rejected. It was only after that that Little was resigned to his fate that the FBI decided to interrogate him about other possible murders. The Bureau wondered especially about the murder of Denise Brothers in Odessa, TX, which matched Little’s special MO or style mentioned finally in their database.
A Texas Ranger plays a key role.
It was during this interrogation that Little broke down, unraveling and spilling for the first time. He soon told a Texas Ranger interviewing him that he had committed 50 or more killings, including Denise Brothers’ murder.
The Ranger persisted and found Little not only had a photographic memory for places and victims in his killings, but artistic talent.
Soon, Little was creating colored sketches of his victims to aid investigators of many unsolved murders.
Special court arrangements during Covid-19 lockdowns have been made it possible for Little to plead to numerous cold cases. He seems willing to help spring a few innocent inmates who were convicted of HIS crimes…and give closure to still-grieving survivors of unsolved murders.
For more Information.
The Investigation Discovery channel (ID) premiered Part 1 of a four-hour special entitled ‘The 93 Victims of Samuel Little’ on August 31, 9 PM, 2020.
Let me know what you think of Samuel Little. Does his avuncular, grandfatherly face make you think “serial killer?”
To learn about CLEFT HEART: Chasing Normal, click the Amazon or Barnes & Noble buttons in the margins. Or click the image of the book cover. My coming-of-age memoir has intertwining love stories, mystery, tragedy, and triumph.