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Crime News Cold Cases

Confessed Serial Killer Sentenced To Life In Prison After Admitting to 30-Year-Old Florida Cold Case Murder

The Florida Office of the State Attorney said Michael Townson, 53, admitted to killing Linda Little in October 1991. He also confessed to as many as nine murders to Memphis CBS station WREG.

By Caitlin Schunn
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A Florida judge sentenced a serial killer to life in prison on Tuesday, after police said he confessed to the cold case killing of a Daytona Beach woman who vanished more than three decades ago, her body never found, according to the Florida Office of the State Attorney.

Michael Townson, 53, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder of Linda Lois Little, and won’t be eligible for parole until serving at least 25 years, according to the State Attorney of Florida’s 7th Circuit.

“This defendant is a confessed serial killer,” State Attorney R.J. Larizza said in a press release. “I hope the plea brings peace to the family during the Christmas holidays.”

Little, 43, worked as a waitress at the Chart House restaurant on South Beach Street, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported. She finished her shift around 1 a.m. on Oct. 11, 1991, and rode off on her bicycle, stopping at a bar along the International Speedway Boulevard Bridge. She was seen a few hours later at a nearby 7/11, but never showed up for work the next day.

RELATED: Convicted Killer Confesses To 1991 Murder Of Florida Waitress, Saying He Had 'Hatred For Women,' Authorities Allege

A story in the News-Journal at the time said investigators found no evidence of foul play, but Little’s family was certain she would not have left without telling them. The family distributed 3,500 fliers and gave them to truckers to distribute throughout the country. Lamar Advertising also put up billboards, according to the newspaper.

A police handout of Linda Little

Townson was indicted by the Volusia County Grand Jury in October after he admitted to Daytona Police that he killed Little. He told officers he was in Daytona Beach for his birthday in mid-October 1991, when he met Little at the 701 Club Bar inside the old Texan Hotel, according to the state attorney’s office. He said the two left in Townson’s car and got into an argument. Townson told police he hit Little and choked her, then drove north on I-95, admitting he got off at the second exit in Georgia and put her body behind a dumpster in a rural area.

The state attorney’s office said a recent check of unidentified bodies in Camden County did not turn up a match for Little. But Townson was shown a picture of Little and said there was “no doubt” that was the woman he had murdered in 1991. Police said other parts of the story lined up with the case.

Prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty against Townson if he entered the plea by Dec. 26, according to the plea agreement, reported by the Daytona Beach News-Journal. 

Townson told police he deserved to be in prison, and that he has “a hatred for women,” the Dayton Beach News-Journal reported.

This is the confessed serial killer’s second murder in Florida, the state attorney’s office said. At the time of his confession, Townson was already serving a life sentence in Brevard County, Florida for beating Sherri Carmanto to death with a steel pipe inside her Titusville home in 2007. In 2020, he asked to speak to Daytona Beach police, and confessed to killing Little, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Little’s sister, Wanda Hinson, said in a phone interview with the Daytona Beach News-Journal she is hopeful that others with information will follow Townson’s example and come forward to help families who have lost loved ones. 

“The way I look at it, I’m hoping that somebody else sees his story and that they will admit and give (closure) for other families,” Hinson said to the newspaper. “He wanted to get right with God is what his statement was and in doing that, we got the information that we’ve been praying for.”

Townson also allegedly admitted to killing multiple women across the South, according to Memphis CBS station WREG. He agreed to an interview with the station inside prison in 2019.

He told WREG he was staying in a cash motel in Memphis around Christmas 1993 when he met Allean Michelle Branch. He said Branch agreed to help him find drugs, but he couldn’t control himself.

“We were just fooling around,” Townson told the station. “Next thing you know, I just snapped. I remember a little more. It’s not like it’s the first time, when I completely blacked out.”

Townson told WREG he didn’t know what triggered him, but he took her out of the car, and put her, her shoes and her bag on the side of the road.

Townson admitted to killing a second woman while in Memphis, but that victim hasn’t been identified, according to WREG.

During the interview, Townson told WREG at a young age he was physically and sexually abused by his stepfather, as well as family friends and tried to run away at one point.

He admitted he beat a woman to death after doing drugs with her, near a park in Orlando, Florida in 1988, but didn’t remember her name, according to WREG. He later told the station he’d killed “probably nine” people, saying the murders happened in Kentucky, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee. Police are still looking into many of his confessions.

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