Man, 72, held in 1980s serial killings
Authorities on Monday announced the arrest of a 72-year-old man who they allege is a serial killer responsible for the slayings of at least three women in Los Angeles during the 1980s.
Los Angeles Police Department detectives allege that Samuel Little preyed on women in downtown and Central Los Angeles, meeting some at bars before strangling them and dumping their bodies.
If the allegations are true, it would mark the discovery of yet another serial killer operating in Los Angeles during the 1980s. Two years ago, the LAPD arrested a man it said was the notorious Grim Sleeper allegedly responsible for at least 10 slayings in South L.A.
Little has been extradited to California from Kentucky, where he was taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals Service in early September on an unrelated criminal warrant, LAPD officials said. Little was charged Monday by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office with three murder counts and special circumstances for multiple murder.
LAPD Dets. Mitzi Roberts and Rick Jackson, who investigated the case, said there is DNA evidence linking Little to the Los Angeles slayings but would not elaborate, citing the ongoing investigation. Roberts and Jackson spent weeks crisscrossing the country following Little’s path. Sources said that they interviewed four women who said they survived attacks by Little and that they may testify in court.
Police identified the victims as Carol Alford, 41, who was found dead 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.
Officials would not elaborate on the backgrounds of the victims but said all three had children. Police allege that Little met victims while cruising in his car or in bars.
Little has a long criminal record dating back to the 1950s. Detectives said they believe he committed thefts during the day to make money to finance his barhopping.
“It was theft by day and murderer by night,” Jackson said of Little.
Little, who also used the name Samuel McDowell, committed crimes in 24 states but served relatively little time in state prison or county jail, the detectives said. In the early 1980s, Little was accused of two murders and two attempted murders in the Gainesville, Fla., and Pascagoula, Miss., areas.
Little was acquitted by a Florida jury in the strangulation murder of 26-year-old Patricia Ann Mount, whose body was discovered Sept. 12, 1982.
He was never brought to trial in the three 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, moving first to 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.
Little was being held in Wasco State Prison after being extradited and could not be reached for comment.
The LAPD is now working with other jurisdictions to determine whether Little is responsible for additional killings.
“If any law enforcement agencies have similar killings that occurred between 1960 and the present, they should contact LAPD cold case detectives,” Roberts said.
The slayings occurred during a period of high crime in Los Angeles. Police believe there were several serial killers targeting women in South L.A. in the 1980s and early 1990s, including the Grim Sleeper.
On July 7, 2010, Los Angeles police arrested Lonnie David Franklin Jr. at his home in South Los Angeles, a location officials described as being “right in the heart of” the Grim Sleeper killings. Prosecutors have charged Franklin with 10 counts of murder.
Chester DeWayne Turner was sentenced to death in 2007 for the murders of 10 women between 1987 and 1998 in South Los Angeles. Authorities believe he was tied to nine more killings.
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