Tracing serial killer Samuel Little’s Northeast Ohio roots: ‘They didn’t know who the hell was doing it’

Little confessed to killing 93 victims across the United States.

Tracing serial killer Samuel Little’s NEO roots: ‘They didn’t know who the hell was doing it'

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - What does it take to catch a killer? In this case, a serial killer who evaded police for decades?

By now, you’ve probably heard of Samuel Little, now called “America’s most prolific serial killer” by the FBI.

Little, 79, confessed to murdering 93 victims across the United States.

Seven of his victims were from Ohio.

A mugshot from the 1960s of confessed serial killer Samuel Little.
A mugshot from the 1960s of confessed serial killer Samuel Little. (Source: Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office/WOIO)

Little was raised in Lorain and throughout all of the killings, he kept coming back home.

19 News spent months tracing Samuel Little’s steps throughout Northeast Ohio for a 3-part investigation you’ll only see on 19 News-- To Catch A Killer: Samuel Little.

In Episode 1, we took a look at his first steps into crime in the Cleveland area.

Investigator Sara Goldenberg tracked down a local detective who never forgot Little, even though he was only arrested for a petty crime.

Retired Detective Alan Leiby remembers Samuel Little from a 1984 shoplifting case in Elyria.
Retired Detective Alan Leiby remembers Samuel Little from a 1984 shoplifting case in Elyria. (Source: WOIO)

We also brought you inside the case file of three murders out of Los Angeles that sent Little to prison and sparked investigations at police departments nationwide.

In Episode 2, Samuel Little’s days of going unnoticed are finally over.

Tracing serial killer Samuel Little’s Northeast Ohio roots: Hear a murderer's confession

A Texas Ranger cracked the next step of the case, ending up with dozens of confessions to murders across the country.

We heard part of Little’s confessions to murders in Cleveland. He sat down with investigators from the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office after first confessing to Texas Ranger James Holland. Little said he killed Mary Jo Peyton in 1984 and Rose Evans in 1991.

“You had to have been there to know about what happened. None of this was in the public knowledge,” said Special Investigations Chief Rick Bell with the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office.

Samuel Little confessed to killing Mary Jo Peyton and Rose Evans in Cleveland.
Samuel Little confessed to killing Mary Jo Peyton and Rose Evans in Cleveland. (Source: Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office/WOIO)

Wednesday night in Episode 3, 19 News delved into how Samuel Little got away with up to 93 murders.

Mary Jo and Rose weren’t Little’s only victims from the Cleveland area.

Tracing serial killer Samuel Little’s Northeast Ohio roots: Part 3

New leads in unsolved murder cases out of Akron and Willoughby Hills could answer questions that have been asked for decades.

We also found out more about a woman who may have covered up evidence from Samuel Little’s murders.

Little met Orelia “Jean” Dorsey in jail in 1971, after police said he committed robbery in Westlake.

“She was 30 years older than him. But from that point on, because she showed him loyalty, he wanted to be with her,” said Special Investigations Chief Rick Bell with the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office.

Jean and Little became inseparable after they got out of jail.

They moved across the country together, shoplifting and living a life of crime for 15 years.

“So the question remains whether she really knew or suspected, but he chuckled about that,” Bell said.

Samuel Little and his girlfriend Orelia "Jean" Dorsey.
Samuel Little and his girlfriend Orelia "Jean" Dorsey. (Source: Fort Myers Police)

The FBI says Little is in poor health and will likely remain in a Texas prison.

You can watch the full series of To Catch a Killer: Samuel Little above in this story, on the free 19 News app, or on Roku or Amazon Fire anytime.

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