TAMPA, Fla. - If what 78-year-old Samuel Little has told federal investigators is true, he may be one of the most prolific serial killers of all time.
Little, a convicted murderer who today sits in a Texas prison, has now confessed to roughly 90 murders in 15 states, from 1970 through 1990. The FBI said agents are working with agencies from California to Florida to match those confessions with evidence from women found dead between 1970 and 2005.
Meanwhile, investigators in Pinellas and Hillsborough County are looking through cold case files to connect the dots. Two of Little's alleged killings happened in the Bay Area in the '70s and '80s.
Little, who was serving consecutive life sentences for murder, began talking to a Texas Ranger about a killing there. He only began his confessions after he lost an appeal to his sentences for strangling three women in California.
Investigators say he then went on to detail murders over three decades in at least 15 states.
Little said in 1977 or 78 he met a woman in Clearwater and then killed her in Plant City. He also said he killed a woman in the Tampa area in 1984.
Both were described only as black women.
Law enforcement spokesmen in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties told FOX 13 News that they just learned of the confessions and are searching their cases, but, so far, no victims have been identified.
"There's always the possibility that there was a missing persons case that isn't yet classified as a homicide," said Bryanna Fox, assistant professor of criminology at USF.
She says she would like to see as much corroborating evidence as possible before believing Little's claims.
"If it were true, he would certainly be one of the most prolific serial killers to date," said Fox.
Famed serial Killer Ted Bundy confessed to killing 30 women in seven states including Florida. Little is claiming three times as many victims.
Sheriff's detectives in Marion County say Little admitted to killing Rosie Hill, whose body was found in the woods near Ocala 36 years ago.
"When he called me and let me know that they had found the person, and then the man admitted that he did it, that really gave us closure and that really lifted the burden off of me," said Minnie Hill, Rosie's mother.
As more information comes out on Little's crimes, more families could get answers to loved ones killed or missing. In February, the FBI released dozens of sketches drawn by Little, who said the women's faces were those of his victims. However, the amateurish drawings may not have been helpful in positively identifying any of the victims.
So far, officials said they have been able to confirm 34 killings, and are working to confirm 10 unmatched confessions in Florida.
Across the country, police in Los Angeles asked the FBI to build a background report on Little, and federal officials said discovered an "alarming pattern and compelling links to many more murders." The FBI said he has a long history of contact with law enforcement, including shoplifting, fraud, drug, solicitation, and burglary charges. They said he lived a nomadic life and never stayed in one place for long after dropping out of high school and leaving his Ohio home in the late 1950s.
The women were found beaten, then strangled, officials said, and their bodies were dumped in an alley, dumpster and a garage.
Federal officials said Little had faced charges for allegedly killing women in Mississippi and Florida, but was not indicted or convicted. They said there weren't always obvious signs of murder among the cold cases.
The FBI said Little - as a one-time competitive boxer - usually punched his victims to stun or knock them out before strangling them.
In most of the cases, DNA evidence was either not available or didn't provide a link to Little.
Other unsolved cases in Florida that may be linked to Little include four in Miami, one in Homestead, one in Kendall, one in Perry and one in Fort Myers.
A full list of the unmatched confessions by Little can be found on the FBI website.