If Samuel Little hadn't wanted a change of scenery, scores of murders across the US might have remained unsolved. The FBI says the 78-year-old man suspected of being America's most prolific killer wasn't happy in California, where he was serving three life sentences for the murders of three women in the 1980s. So when a Texas Ranger interviewed him about a cold case earlier this year, he opened up in hopes of being extradited to that state, NBC reports. And then he just kept confessing. "Over the course of that interview in May, he went through city and state and gave Ranger Holland the number of people he killed in each place. Jackson, Mississippi—one; Cincinnati, Ohio—one; Phoenix, Arizona—three; Las Vegas, Nevada—one," says FBI crime analyst Christina Palazzolo. Little was extradited to Texas and is expected to die in prison there—and possibly soon, as investigators say he is in poor health. More:
- Dozens of confirmed victims. The FBI says Little confessed to a total of 90 killings in 19 states. So far, investigators have confirmed 34 and they are working to match up evidence with confessions to confirm more. Investigators say he can remember the killings and the locations in detail (down to the signs he saw on the road) and can even draw some of the victims, though he is fuzzy on dates.
- How he was caught. Little was charged with the three California murders after he was apprehended on a drug charge at a Kentucky homeless shelter in 2012 and DNA linked him to the crimes, NPR reports. Investigators believe he got away with so many murders for so long because he was constantly moving around the country and killed "marginalized" women involved in prostitution or drugs, whose deaths were less likely to be thoroughly investigated.
- His method. Little, a former competitive boxer, usually knocked his victims out with punches and then strangled them, investigators say. "With no stab marks or bullet wounds, many of these deaths were not classified as homicides but attributed to drug overdoses, accidents, or natural causes," the FBI says.
- ViCAP. The FBI says its Violent Criminal Apprehension Program helped uncover an "alarming pattern" in Little's background after he was linked to the California murders, ABC reports. The information-sharing program helped tie Little to the unsolved Texas case that led to the confessions.
- "He's a monster." Investigators from Maryland's Prince George's County say interviewing Little helped them clear up a cold case from 1972. They say investigators from other cases warned them not to try urging him to confess for the sake of the victim's family, because he did not "view his victims as deserving of any type of remorse." "Talking with him, you can hear he actually gets excited about describing his homicides and describing how he strangled his victims," detective Bernie Nelson tells the Washington Post. "He looked you right in your eye and said he couldn’t help himself. He’s a monster."
- Another cold case cleared. "They're always in the back of your mind." Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott says one of Little's confession has cleared up a case that he has been working on for 40 years, the AP reports. The South Carolina sheriff had been on the force for three years when 19-year-old Evelyn Weston was shot dead. "I'm not going to say they haunt you. But they're always in the back of your mind," he says of the county's cold cases.
(This serial killer accidentally killed himself.