Samuel Little, America's Most Prolific Serial Killer

Samuel Little was sentenced in 2014 to three life sentences without parole as a confessed perpetrator of at least 60 murders. But in 2018, Samuel Little began to reveal his secrets. Find out what he was hiding here.
Samuel Little, America's Most Prolific Serial Killer

Written by Vanessa Viqueira

Last update: 27 October, 2022

The United States is the country with the highest number of serial killers, especially during the twentieth century. Samuel Little was one of them. 

In fact, Samuel Little has gone down in history as the most prolific serial killer on record, surpassing the previous one, Gary Ridgway. In 2018, he confessed to having committed more than 90 murders. To date, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has confirmed his involvement in at least 60.

A nomadic serial killer

Samuel Little always led a nomadic lifestyle, which made it easy for him to find victims in different parts of the United States. In addition, he had no specific preferences regarding his victims. They could be black, white, or Latino. However, most were young, with bright red lips and large eyes, as he later revealed.

The lack of a defined profile for the victims complicated the work of the investigators since the crimes weren’t seen as related to the same serial killer. Furthermore, Little’s first crimes began before DNA was adopted as evidence.

Crime scene

In 2012, Little was detained in the state of Kentucky, in a homeless shelter. At that time, he was only being investigated for drug-related crimes. However, as soon as biological samples were taken, his profile was linked to the murder of three women in 1987 and 1989.

The victims had been killed by strangulation, and their bodies had subsequently been dumped in off-the-beaten-track locations such as an alley, a landfill site, and a garage. For these three murders, he was sentenced to three life sentences. At the time, nothing else was known about Samuel Little. Until, in 2018, he began to confess his dark secrets.

The secrets of Samuel Little

In 2018, Little confessed to something that investigators had already feared; there were more victims. What they didn’t expect was that the list of them would be so extensive. In fact, he confessed to 93 murders, committed between 1970 and 2005.

At first, the police didn’t take him seriously. However, after hours of questioning, Samuel Little revealed all the secrets he’d been hiding. He talked enthusiastically about the murders he’d committed, offering highly relevant details about the crimes. Once investigated, their validity was verified, and the police could relate him to more than fifty murders.

Samuel Little was 1.9 meters tall and would knock his victims out with his fists (he had experience as a former boxer). He’d then strangle them, leaving no suspicious signs. Added to this was the social context of the victims since many of them were extremely poor or suffering from addiction problems.

Furthermore, some had criminal histories, so their deaths were attributed to causes such as drug overdoses, accidents, or even natural causes.

The portraits of his victims

Little’s case is fascinating because of his photographic memory. He liked to kill but was also passionate about drawing. Proof of this can be found in the drawings of the portraits of his victims. These portraits include details such as the colors of their eyes and their hairstyles.

Drawings of the victims of Samuel Little

Detective Holland, who took Little’s confession, said that the first thing that struck him was Little’s memory and recollection of the details. As he explained, “Little remembered some strange arches near where he killed a woman outside of Miami. Of course, when Miami detectives went to investigate, they found those same arches“. Details like this put a name to the victim: Miriam Chapman, murdered in the year 1976.

Investigators found this material to be of great forensic value. Nevertheless, it wasn’t enough. Indeed, despite the fact that the data provided has helped to solve more than thirty cases, Little failed to remember the dates and chronology of the murders. For this reason, the FBI decided to make the portraits public, in the hope that they could be identified.

According to Holland, ” Nothing he has said has turned out to be false. We have been able to verify almost everything he has said “. There can be no doubt that the women that Samuel Little drew existed, and they’re presumably still out there somewhere because their killer remembered them.

The end

At no time did Little show any remorse. He claimed that “If God has made me like this, why should I ask for forgiveness?

When Samuel Little died at the age of 80, in a California hospital, he was serving three life sentences without parole after being convicted in 2014. Currently, investigations are still open to clarify whether the other murders he confessed to actually occurred.

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  • Samuel Little Confession: Covington, Kentucky, 1984. (2019, 6 octubre). [Vídeo]. YouTube. 

  • Samuel Little Confession: Miami, Florida, 1972, «Marianne». (2019, 6 octubre). [Vídeo]. YouTube. 

  • Samuel Little Confession: North Little Rock, Arkansas, 1992/1993. (2019, 6 octubre). [Vídeo]. YouTube. 

  • Sandoval, P. X. (2019, 13 octubre). Una vida contada cadáver a cadáver. EL PAÍS.