Pushing Up Lilies

In the Mind of Monsters

Episode Summary

Join me on a chilling journey into the abyss of the human psyche in this episode of Pushing Up Lilies. We'll explore the morbid curiosity that draws us to the enigmatic world of serial killers, delving deep into the haunting case of one particular malefactor — Samuel Little. Today we navigate through the murky waters of our fascination with the darkest corners of humanity. Samuel Little, a name etched in infamy, becomes the focal point of our exploration. Through meticulous research and storytelling, we unravel the twisted narrative of this prolific serial killer, shining a light on the darkness that lurks within the minds of those who defy all understanding. As we satiate our curiosity, we'll confront the uncomfortable questions that arise when exploring the motives, methods, and madness of individuals like Samuel Little. This episode serves as both a cautionary tale and an exploration of the human fascination with the macabre. * Listener discretion is advised.

Episode Notes


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Episode Transcription

0:06 Welcome to Pushing Up Lilies.

0:08 I'm your host, Julie Mattson.

0:10 Pushing Up Lilies is a weekly True Crime podcast with spine tingling, unusual and terrifyingly true stories from my perspective as a forensic death investigator and a sexual assault nurse examiner.

0:24 Do I have some stories for you?

0:26 Are you ready?

0:30 Many of us who love true crime also love to hear stories about serial killers.

0:37 I don't know why it's not that we condone what they do, but it's just interesting to try to figure out how people think and why they do the things that they do.

0:50 There's a great diversity in the desires of serial killers that lead them to eventually kill people.

0:59 There's a lot of different reasons why they do that.

1:03 Sometimes the act of murder can actually be an end in itself for them.

1:11 Most serial killers they say that they get satisfaction from the act of killing and the gratification that they get from the act of murder.

1:21 Differentiates them from one-time murderers who kill incidentally just based on something that happened and those who kill frequently.

1:34 Serial killers have a chronic and overwhelming need to commit murder and it distinguishes them from those people who just kill one time because it serves other criminal interests.

1:47 And, you know, we've all met that kid in school back when we were younger that we thought was a little bit different.

1:54 Maybe quiet, a little insecure never dated did things that we considered weird.

2:02 Although they spoke with us, and they seem like nice people.

2:07 We always had those people that were a little bit different.

2:11 I mean, I'm sure you've done it.

2:13 I know I've done it many times.

2:14 Like I feel like he might be a serial killer someday.

2:17 You know, just because they're a little bit different.

2:19 But many serial killers are very insecure, and they kill because they fear rejection.

2:30 And in a lot of cases, the fear of rejection correlates to having been abandoned by their mother or having issues with their mother in early childhood.

2:41 Now, there were a lot of infamous serial killers who were rejected or even abandoned by their birth mothers.

2:48 David Berkowitz, Ted Bundy, some serial killers like Edmund Kemper were tormented, abused, and even tortured by their birth mothers.

2:59 And in a lot of cases, they would seek to avoid painful relationships with people as adults, fear of rejection can make a serial killer want to eliminate any objects of his affection.

3:16 He comes to believe that by destroying the person that he desires prior to entering into a relationship with them, he can eliminate the possibility of being abandoned later and a lot of that again goes back to their childhood.

3:32 It keeps them from being humiliated or hurt by someone that they love.

3:37 There was an FBI report back in five that reported on serial homicide, a serial killer selects victims based on availability, vulnerability and desirability.

3:53 We'll start with desirability that is subjective and its attractiveness or appeal of the victim to the serial killer.

4:02 The desirability involves a lot of things related to motivation.

4:08 But it can be characteristics like the victim's race or their gender, body type age, ethnicity, all kinds of different things.

4:18 Vulnerability is the extent to which the victim is at risk to attack.

4:25 A single female walking down the street at night is going to be very vulnerable.

4:31 But if she has a large dog with her, then that's going to decrease her vulnerability.

4:37 It's very interesting and then availability is determined by the kind of lifestyle of the victim.

4:45 Are there any circumstances that might provide the offender access for an attack?

4:51 Like a single female who spends her evenings alone at home.

4:56 If someone's watching her and they know that she's always by herself and lives alone, then that's going to make her more available for a break in attack by a serial predator.

5:08 Motive can sometimes be difficult when we're investigating a serial murder, they can have multiple motives for committing the crimes.

5:19The motive can evolve as they continue to kill.

5:23 It can change regardless of the motive, they commit their crimes because they want to, there are people as we all know who are suffering from mental illness and may not have a real motive, maybe anger or different things like that.

5:39 But anger is also a very powerful motivation to have rage or hostility towards someone just like, you know, we talked about last week with the love triangle.

5:52 Monetary reward in many cases can be beneficial to the serial killer.

6:00I mean, in many cases, if it's a family member or whatnot and financial gain can be a motivation.

6:07 Thrill is a motivation and that makes the offender feel empowered and exhilarated psychosis, which again, a lot of people in the world as we all know, suffer from severe mental illness and they kill specifically because of the illness, sexually based killing is also a motivation driven by the needs or desires of the offender.

6:33 It's important to remember that regardless of the motive, serial killers are compelled to commit murder, it's what they do because they want to do it and they need to do it.

6:48 Many of you may or may not know about Samuel little.

6:53 He was known for being the most prolific serial killer in us history and that's by the number of confirmed killings.

7:01 The other names for him were the choke and stroke killer and Mr. Sam, but he was convicted of eight counts of murder and received four life sentences without the possibility of parole.

7:14 When he was on trial, he continued to insist on his innocence, and he was imprisoned in the California State prison in Los Angeles County after he was caught once he was put in prison.

7:29 But he was born as Samuel McDowell and he was born on June 7th, 1940, in Reynolds, Georgia and his mother was Bessie May little.

7:40 She was, again, we talked about what happened in their past, but she was a teenage prostitute who abandoned him.

7:48 It's believed that she possibly was even in jail when she gave birth to him.

7:53 Now, his father was 19-year-old Paul McDowell and Samuel Little was raised in Ohio, mainly by his grandmother because probably of the issues with abandonment when he was younger, he had issues with discipline in school.

8:10 He said that he had been having sexual fantasies about strangling women as a child.

8:16 And then as a teenager, he began collecting true crime magazines with pictures of women being choked.



8:25 In 1956, he was held in a juvenile institution after being convicted of breaking and entering into a property in Omaha, Nebraska.

8:35 And then in the late sixties, he moved to Florida to live with his mother.

8:39 And now the weird thing is he worked as a cemetery worker and an ambulance attendant.

8:46 It's really scary when people who think this way are allowed to be around dead people because we've all heard stories about what can happen.

8:57 He began traveling and had run ins with the law.

9:02 He was arrested in eight states for driving under the influence, shoplifting, armed robbery, aggravated assault, rape, solicitation fraud.

9:15 I mean, all the things it started at a very young age.

9:19 And again, it does meet the typical stereotype of someone who's been abandoned at a young age by his mother.

9:27 In 1961 he got three years in prison for breaking into a furniture store.

9:33 And then he was released in 1964.

9:38 This guy had 60 confirmed and 93 claimed and suspected victims, and the span of his crimes was from 1960 to 2012.

9:52 The possible crimes, but the confirmed crimes are between 1970 and 05.

10:00 That's 35 years that this guy killed people in the States of California, Texas, and Ohio.

10:09 And he was accused of killing people in 16 other states.

10:14 The majority of his victims were drug addicts or homeless individuals or prostitutes, but most of them were female.

10:23 I guess he thought that these people would leave fewer clues for authorities to find them and maybe the chances of them being identified were less likely in total.

10:37 He was only charged and convicted of eight murders, but Annie Stewart was one of those and she was 32.

10:45 She was murdered in 1981 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

10:49 Little strangled her and disposed of her body in the woods behind some apartments and he was convicted of her murder, but not until 2019.

11:00 She was murdered in 81.

11:03 Mary Jo Patton, who was 21, was murdered sometime in 1984 after she met Little at a bar in Cleveland, Ohio.

11:13 Now he claimed that he and Peyton left the bar together and he took her to a factory and choked her before he threw her body down a staircase.

11:21 And two workers from a nearby office discovered her dead a few weeks later in July, but he was convicted of her murder on August 23rd of 2019.

11:34 Again, these convictions are not long ago. But the murders were, Carol Linda Alford, who was a 41-year-old, was murdered by Little in Los Angeles, California.

11:47 Little's DNA match was found on her underwear and under her fingernails.

11:54 This is another reason why it's very important in our cases, why we do trace evidence.

12:00 We ask the doctors to maybe do fingernail scrapings underneath the fingernails or sexual assault exams to see if there's anyone else's DNA on their underwear or anywhere.

12:13 Now, we did those in the acute setting when I was working as a sexual assault nurse, but she was found on July 13th of 1987 in a L A alley.

12:24So she was nude from the waist down.

12:27 Her daughter recognized her body.

12:29 She had been strangled according to autopsy.

12:32 She also had other wounds.

12:34 It looked like she had been maybe punched in the head.

12:37 Little was found guilty of her killing on September 25th of 2014, Guadalupe Apodaca was 46 and was found on September 3rd of 1989 in an abandoned auto repair shop in Los Angeles.

12:56 A boy kicking a soccer ball against the building, looked into the window and actually saw her body.

13:02 Authorities determined that little kneeled on her chest and strangled her with his hands and this caused her to have a seizure.

13:09 She was also nude from the waist down and had blood in her anal cavity.

13:14 And DNA also linked little to that crime on September 25th of 2014.

13:20 Now there was also a case of a lady and a lot of these are in California found in a dumpster behind a nightclub and a restaurant in Los Angeles.

13:31 Back in 89 there was nothing that could be used to identify her.

13:37 She was naked from the waist down.

13:39 She'd been repeatedly hit in the head before she was strangled.

13:42 According to her autopsy, she also had road burns that said that she may have been pulled on a hard surface before she died.

13:50 Bruises on her belly appeared that she had been punched and she had serious injuries from strangulation and stomach injuries that showed considerable force.

14:01 DNA under her fingernails linked little to her crime.

14:05 He was convicted of that September 25th of 2014.

14:08 And she was identified as Audrey Nelson Everett who was 35.

14:13 Now, Zena Jones and this was in West Memphis Arkansas.

14:18 We heard that, you know, he did some traveling after he got his job.

14:22 And so she was 30 years old women found in West Memphis Arkansas.

14:26 In 1990 she was found July 28th.

14:29 She had been missing since July 6th, from Memphis Tennessee.

14:33 She was found on the Arkansas side of the Mississippi river.

14:37 A fisherman discovered her little admitted to killing her.

14:41 And the strange thing is that this guy provided sketches of some of his victims.

14:47 Now he said she was a prostitute who was between 28 and 29 and he picked her up in Memphis.

14:52 He choked her while in the car and, and then dropped her into the river after he entered Arkansas.

14:59 He was found guilty of her homicide, and she was identified in 2022 after a family member saw his sketch and noticed a resemblance between Jones and the sketch that little had drawn.

15:13 And the list goes on.

15:15 Rose Evans 32 murdered in Cleveland.

15:18 Little encountered her while driving, offered her a ride and then he strangled her while in an abandoned area and dumped her body in a lot and covered her with two tires.

15:28 That's weird because in the last week's episode, we talked about the guy who killed his wife and covered her with two tires in the storage shed.

15:35 Like what's the deal with two tires?

15:37 It definitely does not cover up an entire body.

15:40 He was convicted of her murder on August 23rd of 2019.

15:45 And then the last one he was convicted of was Denise Christie Brothers, she was 32.

15:50 She was a mother of two found in Odessa, Texas in 1994 February 2nd.

15:57 She had been reported missing on January 1st.

16:00 She had been missing for a little over a month.

16:03 She had been strangled.

16:05 Little actually pled guilty to killing her and received his fourth life sentence for that.

16:11 On December 13th of 2018, there were several other suspected murder victims.

16:19 According to the FBI, he confessed to them, provided sketches for 26 of them, but not all of them have been confirmed to be linked to him.

16:31 But these happen like in Florida, Miami homestead Florida, many of them in Miami, Kendall, Florida, New Orleans, Louisiana, Savannah, Georgia.

16:41 Another one in Ohio, which some of the ones that he was actually confirmed killing were also in Ohio, Tennessee.

16:49 And then Wichita Falls, Texas, there was an unnamed black female.

16:54 He provided a sketch of very interesting that he was able to sit down and draw photos of these victims years later.

17:03 I'm curious to see those.

17:05 Well, evidently, they're good because one of the family members identified their mother based on his sketch.

17:13 He obviously had some skills.

17:16 He could have been, you know, what we call a normal person and held a job, but he chose to kill people.

17:21 Instead, several in Los Angeles, California, Louisiana and Ohio, a majority of them.

17:30 Some in Nebraska, he claimed to have strangled more than 93 people between 19 72,005.

17:39 The strange thing is that many of the victims were first ruled as accidental or overdoses.

17:45 Many of the victims' bodies were never found and the confessions he provided along with a sketch could not be matched to anybody that had been missing.

17:55 He chose the victims that he thought might not be missed or had a history of drug abuse, things like that.

18:06 And then because of their past, whenever they were found deceased, many times, it was assumed that they had overdosed if they were prostitutes, and they had a history of being on drugs without examining the body.

18:19 And again, that's why we do autopsies because we can see signs of strangulation.

18:26 That's why it's very important that we do autopsies, especially in a young person.

18:32 And as we see, most of his victims were younger, we would always bring somebody that we suspected to die of an accident or an overdose to our medical examiner's office.

18:42 And of course, once the doctors start looking at the body and doing the autopsy, they might discover the strangulation marks and other signs of strangulation.

18:52 It's kind of crazy that.

18:53 He did have a long-term girlfriend, Aurelia Dorsey, who is now deceased, but she supported them both by shoplifting for years.

19:04 In 71 he was arrested in Cleveland along with his girlfriend and they were charged with robbery of a gas station.

19:12 His girlfriend testified against him in a subsequent robbery case.

19:18 It's really interesting.

19:20 He was eventually found not guilty.

19:23 Now, Little died on December 30th of 2020 in Los Angeles County area hospital.

19:30 He suffered from many health issues including diabetes and heart problems and many health conditions and was taken from the jail to the hospital where he was pronounced, you know, he was serving four life sentences.

19:48 And it's real interesting if you go back and look at his history at all, how he's progressed as far as age from the time he began killing until the time of his death as many times as he had been in jail and as much trouble as he had been in, you know, he didn't go to jail until later in life, he got away with it.

20:11 I mean, he figured out how to do it.

20:13 And again, he chose his victims carefully.

20:16 Now there is a documentary miniseries called Confronting a serial killer and it does consist of five episodes, it premiered on Starz in April of 2021.

20:30 They're investigating little in that television miniseries.

20:34 I have not actually seen that.

20:36 I think that would be really interesting to watch.

20:39 But he started confessing his crimes after he was already in jail.

20:44 But from his Texas jail cell at one time, 78-year-old little actually drew color portraits of 16 of the women that he killed.

20:54 And they were very detailed, their shapes, face shapes, eye color ethnicity.

20:59 They were very accurate.

21:01 They could still help identify some of the victims that are still unknown.

21:06 Again, many of them were prostitutes or drug addicts and some of them have even been linked to cold cases.

21:13 And now they say that a lot of times that they want to relive their crimes, they remember details of it because they consider it an accomplishment, which I find very interesting.

21:26 I am hoping that each of you had an amazing Christmas.

21:30 We did spend some time in North Dakota, and it was 20 degrees which is relatively warm for them.

21:38 This time of year, I was told it was still cold, but we managed to survive that.

21:43 I spent some time in Nashville on Christmas Eve, now I’m home.

21:48 Now, the weather here today has been a little bit chilly but it's not raining.

21:53 It was raining in Nashville whenever I left.

21:56 It's tolerable right now.

21:57 I hope that everybody is staying safe, and again had, and continue to have a wonderful holiday season.

22:06 I encourage everyone to be super safe on New Year's Eve.

22:10 I know it's always kind of a scary time of year.

22:13 Lots of DWI’s it's always been kind of a time when, when I was younger, I would always want to go out because New Year's Eve was exciting and there were so many things going on and everyone was having parties.

22:26 But as I've gotten older, I find myself just wanting to stay home more during those times when I know that the roads might be dangerous.

22:33 I don't know.

22:34 Maybe as you get older you start to think about your life a little bit more.

22:37 And to, you know, I think sometimes working as a death investigator starts to make you maybe a little bit paranoid.

22:44 I hate to use that word, but it just starts to kind of make you think all the time.

22:48 What's the worst thing that can happen?

22:50 My poor Children were raised with that frame of mind.

22:54 And so I guess it's a good thing because it helped them hopefully make better decisions.

22:59 But again, everyone stay safe and try to stay warm.

23:04 I look forward to talking to you next week.

23:07 Thank you so much for joining me today on Pushing Up Lilies.

23:11 If you like this podcast and would like to share with others, please do me a quick favor and leave a review on Apple podcast.

23:18 This helps to make the podcast more visible to the public.

23:21 Thanks again for spending your time with me and be sure to visit me at PushingUpLilies.com for merchandise and past episodes.