(TMU) — When most people think of candidates for the dubious crown of most prolific American serial killer, names like Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy and the Green River Killer, Gary Ridgeway, come to mind. But while these men each had major reigns of terror that claimed dozens and dozens of lives, a new sadistic monster may claim the mantle of worst serial killer in U.S. history.
Last week, just in time for Halloween, the FBI announced that 79-year-old inmate Samuel Little has confessed to 93 murders over the course of 35 years.
Shockingly, Little was a free man as recently as 2012, when he was arrested on a narcotics charge in Kentucky and extradited to California. It was there that the LAPD linked his DNA to three murders, and in 2014 prosecutors won three consecutive life sentences against Little.
However, while the FBI’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP) believed there were more victims, they didn’t imagine the number would soon balloon to nearly a hundred.
Over the course of several years, Texas Ranger James Holland visited Little in prison, conducting daily interviews and helping Little sketch chalk pastel portraits of the women he murdered. With the help of FBI agents who confirmed the victims, Little eventually confessed to murdering 90 women, most by strangulation.
“For many years, Samuel Little believed he would not be caught because he thought no one was accounting for his victims,” stated ViCAP analyst Christie Palazzolo. “Even though he is already in prison, the FBI believes it is important to seek justice for each victim—to close every case possible.”
A former boxer, Mr. Little lived a nomadic life, frequently moving to different cities and prowling poor neighborhoods. This lifestyle, in addition to the poor DNA analysis technology of previous decades, allowed Little to evade arrest. He also targeted marginalized women—predominately low-income African-American sex workers—who are often unlikely to draw expansive police investigations. In fact, many of the women were originally either unidentified or considered drug overdoses.
While Little was arrested dozens of times for armed robbery, rape, and kidnapping, he had served less than 10 years in prison prior to his 2012 arrest, after which police were finally able to link him to three murders that happened in the late 1980s.
The FBI is still trying to identify all of Little’s victims. The agency is working against the clock as Little’s age and declining health and memory are factors. Agents recently released to the public five sketches of victims who have not yet been identified.