Los Angeles police officials said they plan to comb through scores of old unsolved murders to see whether a reputed 72-year-old serial killer carried out slayings in the city beyond the three women he is suspected of killing in the 1980s.
Samuel Little, who authorities allege also killed women in Florida and Mississippi, currently is being held at California's Wasco state prison. He was charged Monday and is expected to return to Los Angeles for arraignment this week on the counts of murder with special circumstances.
LAPD's cold case homicide detectives now plan to take a methodical look at evidence from scores of unsolved murder and death cases dating back to the 1980s and early 1990s to determine whether Little may have been involved.
Prosecutors have charged Little in connection to three L.A. killings that appear to be sexually motivated strangulations: Carol Alford, 41, found dead on July 13, 1987; Audrey Nelson, 35, whose body was discovered Aug. 14, 1989; and Guadalupe Apodaca, 46, found Sept. 2, 1989. Their bodies were discovered in the Central Avenue-Alameda Street corridor, just south of downtown, although police have not released the exact locations where the victims were found.
LAPD detectives Mitzi Roberts and Rick Jackson, who investigated the cases, said there is DNA evidence linking Little, but declined to elaborate further because of the ongoing investigation. Roberts and Jackson spent months criss-crossing the country following Little’s path.
Two years ago, the LAPD arrested a man they said was the notorious “Grim Sleeper,” allegedly responsible for at least 10 slayings in South L.A. After his arrest, LAPD detectives examined hundreds of unsolved deaths involving women in the city with "high-risk lifestyles."
Detectives said they will focus on sexually motivated strangulations. But they also expect inquiries from law enforcement agencies around the country because Little has a criminal record in 24 states dating back to the 1950s.
Detectives said they believe he committed thefts during the day to make money to finance the bar-hopping that brought him into contact with his alleged victims.
“It was theft by day and murder by night,” Jackson said.
Little, who also used the name Samuel McDowell, served relatively little time in state prison or county jail, the detectives said. In the early 1980s, he was accused of two murders and two attempted murders in Gainesville, Fla., and Pascagoula, Miss.
Little was acquitted by a Florida jury in the strangulation death of Patricia Ann Mount, 26, whose body was discovered Sept. 12, 1982.
He was never brought to trial in the Mississippi cases, which include the strangulation death of Melinda LaPree, 24, on Sept. 14, 1982. That case has been reopened by the Pascagoula Police Department in light of new evidence, authorities said.
Little moved from the South to California in the mid-1980s, settling first in San Diego.
He served more than two years in state prison after being convicted of assault and false imprisonment of two San Diego women in separate cases, police said. Shortly after being paroled, he moved to Los Angeles.