October 20, 2014

Elyria
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Police search cold cases for links to suspected serial killer

ELYRIA — Suspected serial killer Samuel Little left certain tell-tale evidence when he allegedly slew his victims and that’s what Elyria police are looking for as they re-examine old cases to see if Little may have killed here.

Little

“Cases that we look for have to have a certain criteria in terms of evidentiary value,” Elyria police Capt. Chris Costantino said.

But he and Detective Lisa Dietsche, who is spearheading the local investigation, said they couldn’t publicly disclose the clues they’re looking for because it could affect future sex crime investigations.

Little, a 72-year-old drifter who also is known as Samuel McDowell, is jailed in California on charges he killed three women in the late 1980s in Los Angeles. Those women, Carol Alford, Audrey Nelson and Guadalupe Apodaca, were all strangled in sexually motivated killings and their semi-nude bodies dumped.

LAPD Detective Mitzi Roberts said that Little targeted women with “high-risk lifestyles” such as prostitution and drugs. Little was linked to the cases by DNA evidence and arrested at a Louisville, Ky., homeless shelter on a California drug warrant in September.

Dietsche, who has received a letter of commendation from Los Angeles police for her work on the Little case, said that right now there are two cases that she is focusing on for a possible link to Little.

The problem, she and Costantino said, is that in both instances they don’t have a body, although they declined to identify the missing women.

“We don’t want to give any false hope to those families,” Costantino said.

Dietsche said Little appears to have chosen his victims, whom she described as “women of ill repute,” the same way wherever he killed, picking up women in bars or on the street and then sexually assaulting and strangling them.

She said he probably targeted them because of their reputations.

“He picked women that would not be believable,” Dietsche said.

But Dietsche said she and investigators across the country are looking for women who may have survived an attack by Little.

“Who knows, there could be someone out there who got away from him and didn’t report it,” Costantino said.
Little, who grew up in Lorain, has a criminal record stretching back to the 1950s that spans 24 states.

Although many of his arrests were for minor crimes like theft and DUI, he has more serious charges on his record.

He was acquitted of a 1982 murder in Florida and was a suspect in a killing that same year in Pascagoula, Miss., but was never indicted. Pascagoula police have reopened that investigation.

Roberts said that based on her investigation, she believes Little was a prolific serial killer with victims across the country.

Dietsche said she has talked with Cleveland police and FBI agents about the case. The number of law enforcement agencies looking at Little for old unsolved homicides will continue to grow as police learn more about Little’s movements over the past half-century, she and Roberts both said.

The best-case scenario, Costantino said, would be if Little decided he wanted to cooperate with investigators, although so far he hasn’t.

“We would need a break to where he’s willing to talk and maybe share,” he said. “It’s not uncommon for (serial killers) to do that.”

Michael Pentz, Little’s Los Angeles public defender, declined to comment on the case Thursday.

Anyone with information on Little can contact Dietsche at (440) 326-1360.

Roberts and fellow LAPD Detective Rick Jackson can be reached at (213) 486-6810.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.