Los Angeles Times

The inside story: How police and the FBI found one of the country's worst serial killers

WASHINGTON - The FBI analysts sat mutely, listening intently to the scratchy audio feed from an interview room across the hall.

The two women were anxious, having spent months collecting and assessing ephemeral crumbs from the nomadic life of Samuel Little, a 77-year-old California prisoner and once-competitive boxer whom they suspected of multiple murders.

They had no hard evidence - no fingerprints, no DNA, no witnesses. Little had been convicted in 2014 of strangling three women in Los Angeles, and they were convinced there were more. How many, they didn't know.

The analysts mostly had a gut feeling, informed by detailed research into four decades of Little's itinerant wanderings across the country and how he seemed again and again to intersect with long-cold investigations into bodies and bones.

Their only hope was to obtain a confession, a task that fell to a Texas detective known for his expertise in sociopaths and psychopaths. But no one was optimistic.

Huddled in a guard break room in the California State Prison in Lancaster on May 17, the analysts shifted uneasily in their seats, their ears locked on a speaker and eyes fixed on stack of notes, police reports and crime scene photographs.

They were as ready as they could be, though nothing could have prepared them for what was to come - the unspooling of one of the nation's worst serial killing sprees, involving dozens of deaths.

It would take dogged police work and more than a little luck. Unlike investigations that start with a victim and lead to a killer,

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