Samuel Little, 80, has confessed to strangling 93 people, virtually all of them women, in a murderous rampage that spanned 19 states and 30 years. A gifted artist with an accurate memory, Little has produced lifelike drawings of dozens of his victims. With the fervor of an old man recalling the exploits of his youth, he has provided police with precise details about their murders, reports the Washington Post. Across the nation, police have spent more than two years using that information to reopen cold-case investigations and bring closure to families who have waited decades to learn what happened to their relatives. “If Little hadn’t confessed … then none of this would have been solved,” said Angela Williamson, a Justice Department official. Investigators believe his confessions are “100 percent credible,” she said. So far, officials say they have identified more than 50 victims. Other cases are in limbo, either because police have been unable to find a killing with circumstances to match Little’s description, or because the victim is an unclaimed “Jane Doe.”
The FBI has pleaded with the public for assistance. The Post obtained and analyzed thousands of pages of law enforcement and court records — including a complete criminal history assembled in the early 2000s — and interviewed dozens of police, prosecutors, defense attorneys and relatives of Little’s victims. The newspaper reviewed video and audio recordings of a number of Little’s confessions. The result is a portrait of a fragmented and indifferent criminal justice system that allowed a man to murder without fear of retribution by deliberately targeting those on the margins of society — drug users, sex workers and runaways whose deaths either went unnoticed or stirred little outrage. In many cases, authorities failed to identify those who died as murder victims, or conducted only cursory investigations.