How Worst Serial Killer in US Got Away With It for Decades

Samuel Little enjoyed decades of impunity by targeting the unmissed: Washington Post
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 1, 2020 12:00 PM CST
'It Is Possible to Get Away With Murder'
This Nov. 24, 2014, file photo shows Samuel Little.   (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via AP, File)

America's most prolific serial killer operated for more than 30 years, targeting vulnerable, usually Black women, under the watch of an "indifferent" criminal justice system. That's according to part one of an in-depth investigation by the Washington Post, which interviewed experts and reviewed thousands of pages of legal documents to get a picture of Samuel Little's case file and learn how "it is possible to get away with murder." Police have identified 60 victims of the man serving multiple life sentences in a California state prison, mostly thanks to his own confessions, per CBS News. He claims to have killed 93 people in 19 states from 1970 to 2005, and he has provided details and victim sketches in many of those cases. He boasts of a strategy of avoiding victims "who would be immediately missed," allowing him to "go back to the same city" to kill again.

"I'm not going to go over there into the white neighborhood and pick out a little teenage girl," Little told investigators. If he had, "this would have been the biggest story in the history of the United States," criminologist Scott Bonn tells the Post. Little instead targeted sex workers, addicts, runaways, women with mental disabilities, and other women, mostly Black, "whose deaths either went unnoticed or stirred little outrage," per the Post. While several cold-case murders have been attributed to Little in recent months, per ABC News and the AP, some deaths weren't even classified as murders at the time. When bodies surfaced, officials wrongly concluded the victims were struck by lightning or dropped dead from alcohol. All this illustrates that "it is possible to get away with murder if you kill people whose lives are already devalued by society," per the Post. (Read more Samuel Little stories.)

Stories to sink your teeth into.
Get our roundup of longform stories every Saturday.
Sign up
We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.