Police: 'It was theft by day, murder by night' - KPTV - FOX 12

Police: 'It was theft by day, murder by night'

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Samuel Little appears in a courtroom on March 4 for his arraignment in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) Samuel Little appears in a courtroom on March 4 for his arraignment in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Detectives are investigating if a suspected serial killer, indicted in the deaths of three women in California, could be responsible for the unsolved murders of several Portland women.

"It's absolutely a welcome surprise," said Portland police cold case homicide detective Jim Lawrence. "We're excited because it's a lead that we didn't have before, and we potentially have a suspect to investigate."

Los Angeles police said they are currently preparing to send a nationwide alert with 72-year-old Samuel Little's profile to law enforcement through the FBI'S VICAP, Violent Criminal Apprehension database.

Little, who also went by the name Samuel McDowell, was indicted for the sexually-motivated killings of three women in Los Angeles in the 1980s.

The three women were Carol Alford, 41; Audrey Nelson, 35; and Guadalupe Apodaca, 46. Detectives said Little has denied involvement in the slayings.

Los Angeles police cold case detective Mitzi Roberts said all three women were manually strangled. Once a boxer, police said Little would deliver a knockout punch before strangling his victims.

Police describe Little as a drifter and career criminal. He's been arrested dozens of times in more than 20 states, mainly on assault, burglary, theft and drug charges.

Roberts told FOX 12 she thinks Little is a serial killer of prostitutes and troubled women, who has gone relatively unnoticed all these years and left a trail of victims across the country.

"The fact that he has been in so many states and been involved in criminal activity for 55 years of his life," Roberts said. "For him (Little), it was theft by day, murder by night."

The FOX 12 Investigators learned Little was arrested for theft in Portland on July 30, 1973.

It was an arrest that police said alone wouldn't raise any red flags that he was a possible serial killer.

"Up until this point, no he has not been on our radar," Lawrence said.

FOX 12 alerted Portland police detectives, who spoke with LAPD investigators about possible Oregon victims.

"There are a couple of cases that are of interest to me, not specific to the 1973 arrest date," Lawrence said. "He's in the western part of the United States and some of the things he has done in terms of his pattern, his methodology, leads me to believe that we do have a couple of cases he could potentially be good for."

Lawrence wouldn't say which cases specifically. They're now comparing a detailed timeline of Little's whereabouts over the last four decades with the three dozen unsolved murders of Portland women that had a sexual component.

"The majority of his victims experienced some form of manual strangulation, so we'll be looking at those cases next," he said. "And then there's other things about what he's done that hasn't been released publicly that we're then going to take a look at. We're also going to see if we can resurrect reports from prostitutes who were assaulted because part of the reason he was identified is he had some victims who survived, so we're going to look at those reports and see if he (Little) is described as being physically in the area."

DNA analysis of evidence will also factor heavily in any investigation. Los Angeles detectives said forensic evidence collected at the three Los Angeles murders connected Little to the crimes.

Little was accused of two murders and two attempted murders in Florida and Mississippi in the early 1980s. Back then, he was known as Samuel McDowell and was not convicted in those cases.

Little was arrested last fall at a homeless shelter in Louisville, Kentucky on an unrelated drug charge and extradited to California.

No trial date has been set for the three Los Angeles cases. Little is due back in court this month for a procedural hearing. If convicted, Little would face a minimum of life in prison without parole. Prosecutors have said they may seek the death penalty.

Other cold case units in California, Florida, Georgia, Ohio and now Oregon, are scouring their cold case files for a link to Little. One murder case in Mississippi has already been re-opened.

"We do anticipate if we have a case we think he's good for that we'll be looking very closely with (LAPD) detective Roberts," said Lawrence.

If you have any information about Little or when he may have been in the Portland area, call the Portland police cold case homicide unit.

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