Cold-Case Indictments Of Serial Killer Samuel Little Seek Accountability

File photo (Tony Ganzer / ideastream)
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Samuel Little, 78, says he began a killing spree in 1970 that lasted for decades.

He targeted vulnerable or marginalized women, including those with drug addiction or working in prostitution.

Little is a Lorain native currently jailed in California and authorities say he confessed to killing five women in Ohio, three in the Cleveland area. In total, he’s admitted to committing 93 murders over 35 years. If true, he would be the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history.

Last week in Cuyahoga County, a grand jury indicted Little for two murders authorities could tie to him.

“There needs to be an accounting for each of these victims,” says Richard Bell, special investigations chief for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office.

It is imparative to show the “long arm of the law” will not allow someone to get away with a single assault on another person, especially a homicide, Bell says. But it’s also important for the families of victims and investigators looking for a suspect in yet-unsolved crimes.

“By solving it, by closing the books, you’re letting everyone know that this was the person that should be held accountable for that crime, and that’s important to the family that we get that right,” Bell says.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley said Little confessed to killing 21-year-old Mary Jo Peyton in 1984 and 32-year-old Rose Evans in 1991. A third local victim Little confessed to killing has not been found or identified, but an investigation is ongoing, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office says.

“There are no words to describe the pure evil that exists within Samuel Little,” O’Malley said in a statement announcing the indictments.

Little targeted women on the margins of society and relayed to authorities key details of the crimes he committed. Those kinds of details, confirmed through witness statements, crime scene photos, and Little’s own sketches of victims, helped prove the confessions were genuine, Bell says.

“He, in fact, knew exactly what he was doing, and he wanted to keep that a secret. He wanted to get away with it. So he would fly out of town as quickly as he could after hiding the body — he didn’t need to hide it perfectly. He needed to hide it long enough that he was no longer in town," Bell says. "That’s why he got away with it for so many years.”

Little is in Texas serving multiple life sentences without the possibility of parole.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to Richard Bell, special investigations chief for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, when ideastream meant to refer to Samuel Little, the convicted killer. It also erroneously stated Little is currently incarcerated in Texas. He is currently serving a life sentence in California State Prison.

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