Little may have killed more victims than any serial killer in history. He was also noted for his ability to remember many details about his victims in murders that spanned decades and the majority of the continent. Authorities from multiple agencies worked together to compile an FBI database linking Little’s crimes together, using sketches and details Little recalled to identify his many victims. As Little ages and his health deteriorates, investigators are working to identify as many victims as possible.
Now, the investigation has brought closure to the Parker family, and to a son who spent most of his life never knowing what happened to his mother.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Patricia Parker Had a Family Who Did Not Know What Happened to Her for Nearly 40 Years
Patricia Parker was a 30-year-old woman and mother who disappeared without a trace. Her son thought his mother may have abandoned him. Investigators said the closure that identifying Parker brought to the family, and especially her son, was one of the most satisfying aspects of the case.
“Her family has been looking for her for 30 plus years. The comfort in her son this morning, to know that his mom didn’t leave him, she was actually killed, and that’s how she left this life, to me, that was the best part of this whole case,” Joe Montgomery, Special Agent in Charge for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said during a press conference Friday, October 9, 2020.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation began investigating her case in 1981, but over the years, the case went cold, according to a GBI press release. Her body was found September 28, 1981 in Dade County, Georgia.
2. Patricia Parker’s Family Went to Authorities After Officials Unveiled a Model of Jane Doe in 2019
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation continued working on the case, even after it had been cold for decades. On March 19, 2019, GBI and the the Hamilton County District Attorney’s Cold Case Unit held a press conference to reveal a facial reconstruction of their Jane Doe. They asked for the public’s help identifying the woman, and Patricia Parker’s family came forward. The family offered DNA samples, which they used to compare to Jane Doe, leading to their definitive identification October 9, 2020, according to a GBI press release.
During Little’s 1981 confessions, he told Texas Rangers he killed a young, black female in the 1980s in Chattanooga. The description of the crime was matched to the Jane Doe found in Dade County.
“On December 19, 2018, GBI Special Agent Steve Rogers and CCU Supervisor Mathis travelled to Decatur, TX where Samuel Little was incarcerated and interviewed him,” the press release said. “Little provided investigators with more details that led them to believe the remains found in Dade County were the woman Little had taken in Chattanooga and killed in Georgia.”
3. Parker Met Little At a Night Club in Chattanooga in 1981
Parker and Samuel Little met at a night club in Chattanooga in 1981, in an area now known as Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, officials said in a press conference. Her body was later found along I-24 in Dade County, Georgia. GBI Special Agent Steve Rogers was one of those who interviewed Little after he confessed to a murder that matched their Jane Doe. But Little did not have many details and did not know her name.
“You’re trying to match what you know about the case with what he’s telling you to try and judge if he knows what he’s talking about,” Rogers said.
Little maintained his innocence until 2018, when he began confessing to Texas Ranger James Holland and others. At that time, Little confessed to killing 93 women from California to Florida between 1970 and 2005. Some women who survived their encounters testified at his trial in California about how they narrowly survived, according to an appeal filed in the case.
4. Parker’s Murder Case Will Likely Never Go to Trial & Sam Little Is Already Imprisoned for Life
Sam Little is already serving multiple life sentences in California after he was found guilty at trial in the murders of several of his victims. Little, now 80, will likely not face trial in Parker’s case. It would be a costly expense to taxpayers to convict a man who will already spend the rest of his life in prison, authorities said at a press conference. They are hoping to negotiate a plea deal for Little in the case.
Little’s first known crime was committed as a teenager. He stole a bicycle, and he was sent to a juvenile detention center. He left home and moved from place to place, which helped him escape prosecution in his murder spree. Over the years, he was convicted of crimes including robbery, rape and assault with serious bodily injury, but spent only a total of 10 years in prison in his crime sprees, according to a profile in New York Magazine. He was charged in two murders but escaped conviction.
The Los Angeles Police Department dubbed him “The Choke-and-Stroke Killer” for his sexually motivated crimes. He would often strangle a woman while masturbating.
5. Samuel Little Lived a Nomadic Lifestyle That Kept Investigators From Pinning Him to His Crimes & Targeted Marginalized Women
Little also frequently targeted women who were prostitutes or addicted to drugs. This also made the cases more difficult to solve, and his method of beating and choking a victim did not leave obvious signs of a homicide.
“Little’s method of killing also didn’t always leave obvious signs that the death was a homicide,” the FBI wrote in its profile of Little. “The one-time competitive boxer usually stunned or knocked out his victims with powerful punches and then strangled them. With no stab marks or bullet wounds, many of these deaths were not classified as homicides but attributed to drug overdoses, accidents, or natural causes.”
His own mother was a “lady of the night.” He told New York Magazine Journalist Jillian Lauren that his mother abandoned him on the side of a dirt road when he was an infant, and he was raised by his grandmother in Lorain, Ohio.
He targeted marginalized women to help escape detection.
“I never killed no senators or governors or fancy New York journalists. Nothing like that,” he told Journalist Jillian Lauren, who wrote the New York Times profile. “I killed you, it’d be all over the news the next day. I stayed in the ghettos.”