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County assists with cold case murders

By Brian Knox | Published Saturday, November 17, 2018
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The Wise County Sheriff’s Office has assisted numerous criminal investigation agencies throughout the country recently by housing a suspected serial killer at the jail.

Samuel Little

As a result of those investigations, law enforcement officials say they have connected 78-year-old Samuel Little, also known as Samuel McDowell, to nearly 100 murders.

For the past couple of months, the WCSO housed Little, who is serving a life sentence after he was convicted in 2014 for the murder of three women in the Los Angeles area in the late 1980s. Little has also been named as a suspect in dozens of other unsolved murders across the country.

On July 16, an Ector County grand jury indicted Little in the 1994 murder of Denise Christie Brothers, 38, following an investigation involving Texas Ranger James Holland.

“Ranger Holland, in conjunction with our office and the Odessa Police Department, was able to use this case as a catalyst to continue to gain trust and information from Little in order to solve dozens of other cases,” Ector County Bobby Bland stated in a news release.

Following the indictment, Little was extradited from California and arraigned in Ector County. A mutual agreement was reached between the Ector County Sheriff’s Office and the WCSO to house Little at the Wise County Jail.

Investigators from across the country traveled to the Wise County Jail over the past couple of months to talk with Little about various unsolved murder cases ranging from 1970 to 2005, including one in Wise County.

“Mostly, we were just facilitators,” WCSO Chief Deputy Craig Johnson said. “We had a case that fit his M.O. (modus operandi), but it turns out he wasn’t responsible.”

Little was a suspect in a Wise County cold case murder from the 1980s, Johnson said. In that case, skeletal remains were found in the eastern part of the county near the Denton County line in 1987. Investigators estimated the body had been put there in the late 1970s or early 1980s.

“He was cooperative. He didn’t have trouble explaining his role in all of those cases,” Johnson said of Little, who denied he was responsible for the Wise County cold case.

Law enforcement officials from Texas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Illinois, Ohio, California, Indiana, Arizona, New Mexico, South Carolina, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Justice have interviewed Little.

While Little wasn’t connected to the Wise County cold case, he was able to provide details of more than 90 murders committed in multiple states, according to the WCSO.

“Due to the dedicated and tireless work of Ranger Holland and the Texas Rangers, Little will be confirmed as one of, it not the most, prolific serial killers in U.S. history,” Bland stated in a news release.

Little was transferred out of the Wise County Jail to another holding facility Tuesday.

The investigation was led by the Texas Rangers in coordination with the FBI, U.S. DOJ, Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Florida Division of Law Enforcement, Ector County District Attorney’s Office, Odessa Police Department, Ector County Sheriff’s Office and the Wise County Sheriff’s Office.

Little was arrested Sept. 5, 2012, in Louisville, Ky., after DNA evidence connected him to the murder of women in the Los Angeles area. According to a Los Angeles Times article at the time of his conviction in 2014, prosecutors presented evidence that Little was responsible for the deaths of Carol Alford, 41; Audrey Nelson, 35; and Guadalupe Apodaca, 46, whose bodies were found beaten and strangled between 1987 and 1989.

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