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Remains recovered in 1982 in Twinsburg identified decades later as guitarist for band The O’Jays

Published: Dec. 14, 2021 at 10:25 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 14, 2021 at 7:18 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The Twinsburg Police Department announced on Tuesday that human remains discovered in 1982 have been identified nearly 40 years later as Frank “Frankie” Little Jr., a guitarist and songwriter for the band The O’Jays.

The remains of Little, who was born in Cleveland in 1943, were found in a garbage bag behind a now-closed business on Cannon Road in Twinsburg on Feb. 18, 1982.

The Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death a homicide.

Investigators initially believed that the remains belonged to an 5-foot 6-inch tall African-American man between the ages of 20 and 35 years old at the time. The remains were distinct because it appeared the remains were from someone who had a curvature of the spine as an adolescent.

Recent research and testing from the DNA Doe Project led to the identification of Little after a close relative provided a matching DNA sample, confirmed by Dr. Lisa Kohler, of the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation Crime Lab.

“There were distant DNA matches that were from South Carolina that we reached out to and they were willing to help out and provide family trees,” said Detective Eric Hendershott of the Twinsburg Police.

Little was a member of The O’Jays during the mid-1960s, according to the Twinsburg Police Department, and has multiple writing credits with the group.

Frank "Frankie" Little Jr.
Frank "Frankie" Little Jr.(Source: Twinsburg Police Department, CMSD)

Little left California, where he was working with the O’Jays, when he was deployed to Vietnam during the Vietnam War as a member of the United States Army.

However, after his stretch in Vietnam ended, Little, according to police, never returned to California to rejoin the O’Jays, instead he went back to Cleveland but never reconnected with his family here either.

Family members who were contacted by Twinsburg police said after that they lost track of Little and police said they could not find a paper trail of his life.

His former band mates with the O’Jays said they never heard from him.

He was last known to reside in Cleveland near the area of East 105th Street and Superior Avenue during the mid-1970s.

Not much information is known, either, about Little’s disappearance and apparent homicide, the Twinsburg Police Department said.

“If we get anyone who knew him in life, especially in the 70′s, who he was living with, who his associates were, that would be useful information in this case,” Hendershott said.

Police said Little had a daughter, who died in 2012, as well as a son, who has not yet been identified or located.

This is a developing story.

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