ELYRIA, Ohio — A man from Lorain is being called a serial killer who targeted prostitutes across the country.
Sam Little, 72, is in custody and awaiting trial for three murders in California during the late 1980s. He was arrested just this past January.
How did they connect him now?
It started with relentless detective work in Florida that looked back at cold cases from other agencies, including right here in Northeast Ohio.
“I think that Sam Little is a monster that preyed on vulnerable people,” said Detective Mitzi Roberts with the LAPD.
“In early February 2013, we received correspondence from an investigator in Florida inquiring about an arrest that we had made of a Samuel McDowell, also known as Sam Little back in 1984,” said Captain Chris Constantino with the Elyria Police Department.
Elyria police say Little grew up in Lorain, Ohio.
He was arrested by the Elyria Police Department back in 1984 for shoplifting.
“The officer at the time made a notation that he had a broken right leg with a cast on his leg. And what came about is two weeks prior to him coming into Elyria, he was being investigated for an unsolved homicide in Tallahassee, Fla., where they feel this injury was a contributing factor in the case,” said Constantino.
But Florida police couldn’t convict Little of the crime.
But almost 20 years later, investigators were able to piece together a timeline of Little’s alleged crimes and alerted different police agencies to look back at cold cases matching Little’s M-O.
“He meets women in bars, meets them on the street. He targeted those with high-risk lifestyles,” said Detective Rick Jackson, with the LAPD.
Through DNA evidence, the LAPD was able to link Little to the women in Los Angeles.
They found him in Kentucky.
“With the help of the U.S. Marshals Office, we got him in custody for an unrelated narcotics warrant that he had. Police got him off the streets while we were putting the case together,” said Jackson.
And while investigators continue to pull cold cases, what they have already uncovered is astonishing.
“Little was arrested more than 50 times in 24 different states. And now, this has come full circle to where he is being linked to several murders throughout the United States. That’s why it’s important that anyone with an unsolved murder get in contact with the LAPD or detectives with our police department,” said Constantino.
The district attorney’s office in Los Angeles hasn’t yet decided if it will pursue the death penalty.