A 72-year-old man suspected of killing three women south of downtown Los Angeles in the 1980s appeared in court Friday afternoon but saw his arraignment postponed. He'll remain behind bars. Patrick Healy reports from Downtown LA for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Jan. 11, 2013.
A 72-year-old man suspected of killing three women south of downtown Los Angeles in the 1980s appeared in court Friday afternoon but saw his arraignment postponed.
Samuel Little was charged Monday with three cold-case murders, and police said he may be a suspect in additional unsolved slayings. LA detectives are also talking to authorities in other areas where Little, described as a transient, has traveled.
"He's a career criminal, like a wandering criminal that goes from place to place committing crimes," Detective Mitzi Roberts said.
Investigators said the Los Angeles crimes were sexually motivated strangulations.
On Friday afternoon in the downtown Los Angeles Superior Court Criminal Courts Building, a judge agreed to a public defender's request to have Little's arraignment continued to Feb. 7. He was denied bail.
Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman said in court that there were "no witnesses" in the case.
Detectives said Little has had contact with police in 24 states. They said most of his arrests were for drunken driving and burglary, but they believed he also committed more violent crimes directed at those with "high-risk lifestyles," such as prostitutes and substance abusers.
He was accused of two murders and two attempted murders in Gainesville, Fla., and Pascagoula, Miss., in the early 1980s, where he was identified then as Samuel McDowell. He avoided conviction in those cases and came to California, where he lived in the mid- to late 1980s in the LA and San Diego areas.
He also preyed on two women in the San Diego area in 1984, according to a report from U-T San Diego. He served two years in state prison for those two assaults.
"We really believe he's responsible for more ... nationally and especially in California," Roberts said outside the courthouse Friday.
Little was arrested by the U.S. Marshal's Office in September in Louisville, Ky., on a 2009 LA narcotics warrant, according to a Los Angeles Police Department press release.
DNA evidence had linked to the 1989 murders of Audrey Nelson and Guadalupe Apodaca.
Held in Kentucky while local detectives built a case against him, Little waived extradition and was brought to Los Angeles in October, police said.
Then, in November, Little was connected by DNA evidence to a third case, the 1987 slaying of Carol Alford.
His arrest came as a result of cold-case screenings and DNA testing funded by a federal "Solving Cases with DNA" grant awarded to LAPD.
Roberts said Little had never before been tied to any of the cases and was unfamiliar to homicide detectives.
Now, she said, they'll try to recontruct what Little's activities during the period when the LA killings occurred.
"Fortunately he's left a pretty hefty trail for us," she said. "We've got a pretty good timeline on him based on his arrest record."