Samuel Little, AKA Samuel McDowell, was a lifelong criminal who committed one illegal act after another during his 56 year spree. He was arrested in 24 different states for crimes such as shoplifting, drug charges, armed robbery, rape, and even murder. In 1982, this man was suspected of killing two women, one in Florida and another in Mississippi. In the Florida case, Sam was acquitted; a Mississippi grand jury failed to indict him and a serial killer walked. Today we know he was most certainly responsible for those deaths. For all of the law breaking he did throughout the country, Sam served less than ten years combined imprisonment – that finally changed in 2012.
Samuel was in his seventies when he was finally busted for the murders of 41 year old Carol Alford, 46 year old Guadalupe Apodaca, and 35 year old Audrey Nelson. Though these 3 California women lost their lives between 1978 and 1989, they were not linked to Samuel until 2012. Finally, Sam was picked up at a homeless shelter in Kentucky on unrelated charges; once in custody a DNA sample was taken, that DNA was a match for the three California cold cases.
Sam enjoyed the control aspect of murder; he got off on holding a woman’s life in his hands, overpowering her, and extinguishing her light. Simply put, killing turned him on. Samuel, once a competitive boxer, would lure his victim to a desolate area where he would attack, and he used his fists as weapons. These women were beaten, strangled, raped, and robbed. When he was done, their brutalized remains were discarded as trash.
Like many serials, Samuel chose to victimize troubled women; they were drug addicts and/or sex workers. He didn’t seem to care much whether they were black or white, which is uncommon; most (not all, but most) serial killers tend to kill within their own race. His victims were easy prey, especially decades ago when these women would’ve received very little protection from law enforcement. It’s said that many of Sam’s murders weren’t even investigated, it was decided that these women had simply overdosed. Considering the way in which this man chose to commit murder, with all of the punching, raping, and the strangling, this seems highly improbable to me. It’s more likely that old school cops didn’t feel the need to investigate an addicted sex worker’s death. Often when Samuel had a run in with the law, he would simply skip town.
Thankfully, Sammy wasn’t always successful in killing his victims, and a number of women who survived an attack by this man testified against him in the California murder trials. This serial killer was found guilty and given 3 consecutive life sentences. During his sentencing, Sam stood before the court and pleaded for people to believe him, that he was an innocent man who deserved a new trial. A few years later he was singing a different tune.
After he was caught and tried for those 3 California murders, police began to connect Sam to other cold cases in several different states including California, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Ohio, and his home state of Georgia. At first the killer held fast to his innocence, but at the ripe old age of 79 Sam began to confess. He admitted to having stolen more than 90 innocent lives.
These murders date back four decades; so far, nearly 60 of these kills have been confirmed, and many more are pending. This killer possessed a photographic memory when it came to details, he just wasn’t real good with dates. Police have said that everything Sam said pertaining to his crimes checked out; they believe it’s probable that his body count truly is that high.
Recently Sam was in Odessa, Texas, where he was tried for the 1994 murder of Denise Christie Brothers. Same modus operandi as the others; Denise was found in an empty lot approximately a month after having gone missing. The killer plead guilty and he received another life sentence. Another troubling cold case which Sam confessed to is that of a 16 year old male to female transgender from Jackson, Mississippi, who lost her life back in the 80’s. Police have identified this person, but they are not naming her. Though Sam was never tried for the majority of these murders, maybe the families can have a little closure just knowing what happened.
Sam was a really big deal when we heard of him a couple of years ago. To put this in prospective, Bundy is known to have killed 30+, Dahmer murdered 17+. Gacy is responsible for taking the lives of 33+ young men, Atlanta’s child murderer, Wayne Williams, has a body count of 23+, and Green River Gary has a grand total of 49+. These are confirmed kills, not suspected. It is thought that Sam killed 93, but even if they never confirm the rest of Samuel’s victims, even with a body count of 50 he already surpasses many other notorious serials. And with technology being what it is now, thankfully killers like this are becoming a thing of the past.
*I wrote this when Samuel was first caught, and now I’m posting because he’s just passed away at 4:53 a.m. on Wednesday, December 30th of 2020 at the ripe old age of 80. The official cause of his death is pending, but considering his age and the fact that he had trouble with his heart and diabetes, I’m willing to bet he died of natural causes.