Samuel Little, Georgia-born serial killer called deadliest in U.S. history, dies

LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Calif. — A convicted serial killer called by the FBI the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history died Wednesday at 81.

Samuel Little, who has ties to Georgia, died at a hospital in Los Angeles county, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The cause of death has not been determined for Little, who had diabetes, heart trouble and other ailments.

Little was behind bars serving a life sentence for multiple counts of murder. He had been in and out of jail for years, but denied the murders for years.

[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]

However, he told investigators in 2018 that he was responsible for 93 killings nationwide between 1970 and 2005. A year later, the FBI announced that federal crime analysts believed all of his confessions are credible.

At least 60 confessions have been verified. That’s more than Gary Ridgeway (49), John Gacy (33) and Ted Bundy (36).


Little, who often went by the name Samuel McDowell, was born in Reynolds, Georgia and grew up with his grandmother in Lorain, Ohio. He was described by investigators as a transient and former boxer who traveled the country preying on women.

Almost all of his victims were women, many of them prostitutes, drug addicts or poor people. Little told investigators they were people he believed no one would look for.

Little painted haunting pictures of many of his victims and told authorities he murdered several Georgia women in the late 70s and early 80s.

[PHOTOS: Serial killer Samuel Little’s victim sketches]

In 2019, Bibb County investigators traveled to question Little in prison. The sheriff’s office said in a statement that one victim was killed in 1977 and another in 1982.

In the 1982 case, a woman’s body was found in the backyard of a Macon home. She had been strangled. Police identified her as Fredonia Smith.

In Atlanta, Little told investigators he killed a black woman between 35 and 40 years old in 1981. Years later, in 1983 or 1984, Little says he killed a 26-year-old white woman possibly from Griffith, Georgia. In 1984, he says he killed a black woman age 23-25, who was possibly a college student.

In Savannah, Little told investigators he killed a black woman who was 22-23 years old in 1974 and a black woman, age 23, in 1984.

He strangled most of his victims, usually soon after meeting them during chance encounters. Little said his last killing was in 2005 in Tupelo, Mississippi.

Read more here.

[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]

The Associated Press contributed to this article.