“The fascination behind serial killers continues to be unmatched, with our viewers consistently asking for more,” says Henry Schleiff, Group President of Investigation Discovery, Travel Channel, American Heroes Channel and Destination America. “We chose these cases not just because of these macabre monsters, or that each investigation is a self-contained mystery, but because each story will leave our viewers gripped to the screen until the final scene, when justice is ultimately served.”
On Monday, August 31 and Tuesday, September 1, a two-part special called The 93 Victims of Samuel Little chronicles “one of the most prolific and elusive of all time” in Samuel Little, who was convicted of murdering four women and is believed to be responsible for nearly 90 other murders over four decades.
Ahead of The 93 Victims of Samuel Little special, here’s what you need to know about why he is called “the choke and stroke killer” and where he is today.
The Choke and Stroke Killer Nickname
Between the years 1957, when Little was 17, and 1975, this prolific serial killer was arrested 26 times in 11 states, spanning across the country from Maryland to California. Charges included shoplifting, theft, assault, rape, DUI, fraud, breaking and entering, solicitation of a prostitute, and aggravated assault on a police officer, according to Fox News.
But it wasn’t until the early 1980s that bodies of his victims began to surface. Patricia Ann Mount was the first victim found. Her body was discovered in a rural area of Forest Grove, Florida, in September 1982, followed by another body and several accusations of assault from other women. However, Little did not serve any jail time until 1984 when he pleaded guilty to assault and false imprisonment and served two and a half years. He was paroled in early 1987 and moved to Los Angeles, which is where he committed three of the murders for which he would eventually be convicted — Carol Ilene Elford, Guadalupe Duarte Apodaca, and Audrey Nelson Everett, killed between 1987 and 1989 in Southern California.
According to A&E’s Biography, the Los Angeles Police Department began referring to Little as the “Choke and Stroke Killer” at that time because he often masturbated while strangling his victims.
Little has only ever been convicted of four murders — the three in Southern California and one in Texas, for the 1994 murder of Denise Christie Brothers.
Little Has Been Positively Linked to Over 60 Victims
In June 2019, a Texas prosecutor told the Associated Press that investigators have positively linked more than 60 killings in at least 14 states to the 80-year-old Little. He is believed to be responsible for over 90 altogether. According to The Independent, Little has been charged with two cold cases, the murders of Mary Jo Peyton and Rose Evans in Ohio, and the FBI has now closed more than half of the other killings Little has confessed to, but since he is already serving life in prison without the possibility of parole, he will not be charged in them.
The New York Times reported in 2019 that the FBI believes Little’s confessions, but it is hard to conclusively confirm those confessions so many years later. Little’s lack of names for many of his victims has made tracking them difficult. Additionally, Little targeted marginalized populations — prostitutes, homeless women, drug addicts.
In an interview with New York Magazine, Little said that he stuck to “the ghettos” because it was easier to evade being captured.
“I never killed no senators or governors or fancy New York journalists — nothing like that,” he said to New York Magazine reporter Jillian Lauren. “I killed you, it’d be all over the news the next day. I stayed in the ghettos.”
In an FBI article about Little, VICAP crime analyst Christie Palazzolo said that the FBI thinks it is important to try to account for every victim.
“For many years, Samuel Little believed he would not be caught because he thought no one was accounting for his victims,” said Palazzolo. “Even though he is already in prison, the FBI believes it is important to seek justice for each victim—to close every case possible.”
Serial Killer Week is airing every night at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Investigation Discovery.