Samuel Little’s more than 100-page rap sheet details crimes in 24 states spread over 56 years – assault, burglary, armed robbery, shoplifting and drug violations.
In that time, authorities say, he served less than 10 years in prison.
Baffling and sad as that is, when Los Angeles cold case detectives caught up with Little this past fall, they had far more serious allegations against him.
Investigators wanted the recidivist criminal on far more serious charges: The slayings of two women in 1989, both strangled and nude below the waist.
Samuel Little’s name came up, police said, after DNA evidence collected at old crime scenes matched samples of his stored in a criminal database.
After detectives say they found yet another match, a third murder charge was soon added against Little, a 72-year-old former boxer and transient.
As he Los Angeles, authorities in California, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Louisiana, Texas, Georgia, Mississippi and Ohio are scouring their own cold case files.
Their goal? Establish any ties to Little. One old murder case, in Pascagoula, Miss., already has been reopened. DNA results are pending in some others.
Los Angeles detectives allege that he was also a serial killer, who traveled the country preying on prostitutes, drug addicts and troubled women.
They assert Little often delivered a knockout punch to women, proceeded to strangle them while masturbating, then dumped the bodies and left town.
Their investigation has turned up a number of cases in which he was a suspect or convicted. Police are using those old cases to help build their own against Little.
“We see a pattern, and the pattern matches what he’s got away with in the past,” said LAPD Detective Mitzi Roberts.
Little has pleaded not guilty in the three LA slayings, and in interviews after his September arrest – for drug possession – he described his police record as such:
“Dismissed, not guilty, dismissed. I just be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Still, as more details emerge, so do more questions. Among them:
How did someone with so many encounters with the law, suspected by prosecutors and police of killing for decades, manage to escape serious jail time?
“It’s the craziest rap sheet I’ve ever seen,” said Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman, who has worked many serial killer cold cases.
“The fact that he hasn’t spent a more significant period of his life (in custody) is a truly shocking thing. He’s gotten break after break after break.”
Deputy Public Defender Michael Pentz, who represents Little, declined to comment.
Authorities have compiled a 24-page timeline tracking Little’s activity since his birth. His rap sheet has helped pinpoint his location sometimes on a monthly basis.
Law enforcement agencies around the U.S. are now cross-referencing that timeline with cold case slayings in their states to see if anything matches up.