Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

LA Police Arrest Suspected 1980s Serial Killer

Samuel Little

Samuel Little

He has no snappy moniker, nor has the press been exhaustively covering his every killing, but detectives in LA believe that they have given a name to yet another of the unknown serial killers whose activities were masked by the carnage of the 1980s.

U.S. Marshals arrested suspected serial killer Samuel Little, 72, hiding out in a homeless shelter in Louisville, Ky., sometime in September 2012. Marshals describe Little as a career criminal, who lived life on the run, with a rap sheet spanning 24 states. He was arrested on an outstanding narcotics warrant and extradited to California. The surprise in this case comes from investigators in LA, who announced on January 7, 2013, that they have matched Little’s DNA to at least three murders of women committed in the 1980s. Authorities say that Little has been connected to at least three murders. They describe the killer’s m.o. as targeting women in downtown and central LA, meeting some at bars and others while cruising in his car, strangling them and dumping their bodies in the Central Avenue-Alameda Street corridor, south of downtown LA. Little is in custody and has been charged with three counts of murder and special circumstances for multiple murder.

The known victims so far have been identified as Carol Alford, 41, found on July 13, 1987; Audrey Nelson, 35, found on August 14, 1989; and Guadalupe Apodaca, 46, found on September 2, 1989. All three were mothers with children. In addition there are four women who say that they survived attacks by Little. Those women may be called to testify at his trial.

South Central Los Angeles was plagued with murders in the 1980s. Over fifty prostitutes were murdered during a four-year period, so many that they were lumped together and called the Strawberry Murders. It wasn’t until the advent of DNA technology and testing that some of those many unsolved cases were solved. Detectives started combing through cold cases in 2001 planning to test available DNA in hopes of get a match, which they did. Some of the unsolved murders were tied to known offenders, but others to the same, unknown perpetrator, a serial killer. The first big payoff came with the July 2010 arrest of Lonnie Franklin Jr. for the Grim Sleeper murders, though many suspected that more serial killers would emerge from cold-case investigators’ ongoing DNA-testing efforts. The recent DNA matches to Little would seem to confirm the presence of what will in all likelihood turn out to be the second in a series of LA serial killers from the 1980s.

Investigators all over the country are combing through their cold cases looking for similar unsolved cases that could be tied to Little.

Lonnie David Franklin Jr. and the Case of the Grim Sleeper

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