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The FBI is asking for the public's help in identifying dozens of victims of a convicted murderer who has confessed to strangling 93 people, claims the agency says are credible and make him the most prolific serial killer in US history.
Investigators who have interviewed Samuel Little at a Los Angeles-area prison say they have confirmed 50 of the homicides he admitted to carrying out between 1970 and 2005 and have released videotapes of his jailhouse confessions as they investigate the remaining slayings.
"Even though he is already in prison, the FBI believes it is important to seek justice for each victim - to close every case possible,” the FBI said in a statement posted to its website, which also includes drawings made by Little (79) of many of the women he strangled.
Little, who is serving life behind bars for his conviction on three murders committed in the 1980s, began confessing additional killings some 18 months ago to a Texas Ranger who interviewed him in his cell at the state prison in Lancaster, California, according to the FBI.
He appears to have targeted mostly vulnerable young black women, many of them prostitutes or drug addicts, whose deaths were not well-publicised at the time and in some cases not recorded as homicides.
The FBI videotapes show Little, sitting in front of a cinder block wall in blue jail scrubs and a gray knit cap, sometimes appearing bemused or smiling as he recalls the circumstances surrounding the murders.
The FBI has also released sketches made by Little of victims who remain unidentified in hopes that members of the public might recognise them. The agency cautioned that not all Little's descriptions may be accurate as his memory is faulty.
A map posted on the FBI website shows that most of the still uncorroborated murders were committed across the US South, although one young woman was killed in northern Ohio and two others in Southern California.
One unidentified victim was described by investigators as a black man aged 18 or 19 who presented himself to Little as a woman named Marianne or Mary Ann. He was slain in 1971 or 1972.
Another was a 25-year-old white woman with blonde hair, blue eyes and a "hippie appearance" whom Little met in Ohio and strangled to death in northern Kentucky in approximately 1984.
It was not yet clear if Little, who is in failing health, will face additional prosecutions in the newly uncovered murders.