Samuel Little, Named "Most Prolific Serial Killer in U.S. History" by FBI, Dead at 80

Convicted murderer Samuel Little, who the FBI considered the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history, has died at age 80 in a California hospital.

By Corinne Heller Dec 31, 2020 6:38 PMTags
Samuel LittleAP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Samuel Little, who the FBI considered the "most prolific serial killer in U.S. history," has died at age 80.

The imprisoned convicted murderer passed away at a California hospital on Wednesday, Dec. 30. The cause of his death remains under investigation by the Los Angeles County medical examiner's office. There was no sign of foul play in connection with the passing of Little, who suffered from diabetes and heart issues, The New York Times reported.

Little had confessed to strangling 93 people, nearly all women, in total across the United States between 1970 and 2005. He had been convicted of at least eight murders, some of which were solved using DNA analysis, The New York Times said. In 2014, he was convicted of first-degree murder by a Los Angeles County jury for the deaths of three women in the 1980s. Little was serving three consecutive life sentences with no possibility of parole when he died.

Law enforcement has been able to verify only 50 confessions out of the 93. Many of Little's victims were marginalized, young Black women estranged from their families and battling poverty and addiction. Many of their deaths were originally ruled overdoses or attributed to accidental or undetermined causes, according to the FBI

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"Little chose to kill marginalized and vulnerable women who were often involved in prostitution and addicted to drugs," the group said. "Their bodies sometimes went unidentified and their deaths uninvestigated. With no stab marks or bullet wounds, many of these deaths were not classified as homicides but attributed to drug overdoses, accidents, or natural causes."

Only in recent years did Little confess to the killings, speaking from a jail cell in California, his third stint in a state prison. In 2012, he was jailed for possession of a controlled substance and released after about two years.

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Prior to that, in 1985, he began a four-year sentence assault with a deadly weapon and false imprisonment. He was released on parole in 1987. In his confessions, Little admitted to killing at least six women that year. Law enforcement has not verified those incidents as murders committed by him.