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Samuel Little, America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer, Dies In California Hospital At Age 80

Samuel Little confessed to strangling 93 victims during his decades-long reign of terror, often targeting sex workers or other vulnerable people.

By Jill Sederstrom

America’s most prolific serial killer has died.

Samuel Little, who confessed to strangling 93 victims over more than three decades, died early Wednesday morning at a California hospital, according to a statement from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Authorities said the 80-year-old was pronounced dead at 4:53 a.m. Wednesday at an “outside hospital” after serving more than six years behind bars for murder.

Little’s official cause of death has not been revealed and will be determined by the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Little was convicted of first-degree murder by a Los Angeles County jury on September 25, 2014 and later sentenced to three consecutive life-without-parole terms for the deaths of three women; however, authorities believe he is responsible for taking the lives of nearly 100 people during his decades-long killing spree.

The FBI confirmed Little’s distinction in 2019 as “the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history” after he confessed to strangling 93 victims between 1970 and 2005.  

Investigators had been able to verify 50 of his confessions at the time, but believed that “all his confessions are credible,” authorities said.

The slayings were scattered across the country, taking place in at least 37 cities, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Little was able to go undetected for decades because he often targeted prostitutes or other vulnerable people and was transient, frequently moving from one area to another.

Samuel Little

According to the FBI, many of the deaths were originally ruled overdoses and attributed to accidental or undetermined causes.

“For many years, Samuel Little believed he would not be caught because he thought no one was accounting for his victims,” said Christie Palazzolo, a ViCAP (violent criminal apprehension program) crime analyst for the FBI.  

To kill his victims, Little often relied on his skills as a former boxer, punching victims to stun or knock them out before strangling them to death, the paper reports.

Authorities finally caught up with the prolific serial killer in 2012, when he was charged with killing three women in Los Angeles in the 1980s.

Oxygen profiled his shocking crimes earlier this year in the two-hour special, “Catching A Serial Killer: Sam Little.”