Samuel Little, deadliest serial killer in American history, dies in California

LOS ANGELES – According to authorities, the most productive serial killer in U.S. history with nearly 60 confirmed victims died in California on Wednesday, officials said. He was 80.

Samuel Little, who had diabetes, heart problems and other ailments, has died in a California hospital. He served a life sentence for several murders.

California Department of Corrections spokeswoman Vicky Waters said there was no sign of foul play, and his cause of death would be determined by a coroner.

Little was a career criminal who was in and out of jail for decades and for years denied ever killing anyone.

Then, in 2018, he opened up to Texas Ranger James Holland, who was asked to interrogate him about a murder that appears to have been committed by Little. During about 700 hours of interviews, however, Little provided details about the number of murders only the killer would know.

He was a skilled artist and even provided Holland with dozens of paintings and drawings of his victims. They sometimes scratched their names if he could remember them, as well as details about the year and place of the murder and where he dumped the body.

RELATED: Deadliest serial killer in U.S. history linked to the murder of Houston woman

By the time of his death, Little admitted to killing 93 people between 1970 and 2005. Most of the killings took place in Florida and Southern California.

Authorities, which are continuing to investigate his allegations, said they have confirmed nearly 60 murders and that they have no reason to doubt the others.

Nothing he’s ever said has been proven wrong or false, ‘Holland told CBS news magazine ’60 Minutes’ in 2019.

The numbers dwarf those of Green River killers Gary Ridgeway (49), John Gacy (33) and Ted Bundy (36).

Nearly all of Little’s victims were women, many of them prostitutes, drug addicts, or poor people living on the fringes of society. They were individuals, and he said he believed few people would be left behind to search for them and not much evidence for the police to follow.

Indeed, local authorities in states across the country initially classified many of the deaths as accidents, drug overdoses or the result of unknown causes.

Little strangled most of his victims, usually shortly after meeting them during casual encounters. He drowned one, a woman he met in a nightclub in 1982.

He was nearly 80, with a lack of health and life in prison in a California jail when he began trusting Holland in May 2018, after years of refusing to speak to other authorities. Once a strong, binding boxer who used his powerful hands to strangle his victims, he now uses a wheelchair to get around.

Holland described Little as a genius as well as a sociopath, and the killer could never adequately explain to him why he did what he did. Although he was known as an expert interviewer, he himself said he could only guess why Little was opening him up.

The ranger worked tirelessly to create and maintain a bond with the killer during their hundreds of hours of interviews, which brought him favorite snacks such as pizza, Dr. Pepper and grits and discussed their mutual interest in sports. He also gave Little the assurance that he would not be executed.

Holland would address Little by his nickname Sammy, while Little Holland mentioned Jimmy and once told the Los Angeles Times that he “found a friend in a ranger in Texas.”

He said ’60 minutes’ he hopes his confessions can free anyone who is wrongly convicted of his crimes.

“I say if I can help get someone out of jail, you know, then maybe God will smile at me a little bit more,” he said.

Little was a passerby who traveled through the country when he was not in jail for lies, assault, drugs or other crimes. He started killing on New Year’s Eve 1970 in Miami.

“It was like drugs,” he told Holland. “I liked it.”

His last murder was in 2005, according to him, in Tupelo, Mississippi. He also killed people in Tennessee, Texas, Ohio, Kentucky, Nevada, Arkansas and other states.

Kentucky authorities finally caught up with him in 2012 after he was arrested on drug charges and his DNA linked him to three murders in California.

When he told of the other killing, the authorities were amazed at how much he remembered. According to them, his paintings indicated that he had a photographic memory.

One murder was solved after Little remembered that the victim was wearing dentures. Another after he told Holland he killed the victim near a set of extraordinary bows in Florida. A victim he met outside a strip club in Miami in 1984 was remembered as 25 years old with short blonde hair, blue eyes and a ‘hippie look’.

As he continued to speak, authorities across the country rushed to investigate old cases, locate family members and close families.

Little revealed little details about his own life except that he was raised in Lorain, Ohio, by his grandmother. Authorities said he regularly went by the name Samuel McDowell.

He was married once, Little said, and has been involved in two long-term relationships.

He claims he developed a fetish for women’s necks after he was sexually aroused when he saw his kindergarten teacher touch her neck. He was always careful, he added, to avoid looking at his wife or girlfriends’ necks and never hurting anyone he loved.

“I do not think there was another person who did what I wanted to do,” he said, “60 minutes.” “I think I’m the only one in the world. And it’s no honor, it’s a curse.”

Copyright © 2020 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.