Among the 30 drawings of serial killer Samuel Little’s presumed victims posted on the FBI’s website, a young white woman in her mid-twenties is depicted with long blond hair in a high ponytail. She has a slightly melancholy expression. The woman, who wears bright red lipstick and black eyeliner, was killed in Los Angeles in 1996, though her body was never found.
Authorities want to change that. They are using Little’s macabre renderings, as well as his confessions, in the hopes of identifying all the victims and closing the cold cases for good.
“We need the public’s help identifying some of these victims,” FBI analyst Christie Palazzolo tells PEOPLE. “We felt putting them out there might help bring the tip that we need, and provide some closure for [that victim’s family.”
Little, who is serving three life sentences in a California prison for killing three Los Angeles women in the 1980s, confessed to 93 murders to Texas Ranger Jim Holland. Little began this series of confessions in 2018.
“Each confession has always had a story to it,” says Palazzolo, who was with Angela Williamson of the Justice Department’s Violent Crime Apprehension Program when Little began confessing to Holland. “He remembers so well the details of his interaction with each victim and that’s what makes him stand apart from other killers who claim these big numbers.”
His eerie drawings also stand out. They include a 26-year-old African American woman, who went by “Jo” — a woman Little met in St. Louis, Missouri, and killed between 1976 and 1979.
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Little started drawing his victims after prison guards showed Williamson and Palazzolo sketches of celebrities Little had posted on his cell wall. “So Ranger Holland was like, ‘Hey, you really like talking about your victims,” Williamson says in this week’s issue of PEOPLE. “Would you like to draw them?’ Little said, ‘Yeah.’ He would stay up all night drawing pictures for us.”
Authorities have since verified 50 of Little’s confessions, including the murder of 29-year-old Melissa Thomas, who was found strangled to death in an Opelousas, Louisiana, graveyard in 1996.
“He said how pretty she was,” Melissa’s brother Reginald Thomas says. “She had one gold tooth in her mouth. Her hair was short. He remembered every detail. He didn’t leave town until two days later because he wanted to make sure nobody knew that he had done it.”
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After Little’s confession, Thomas says, he organized a balloon release for his sister. “I kind of felt like we were letting her go,” he says.
Williamson is hoping more families like Thomas’ get closure, too. “Every one of these victims that we’ve helped to identify so far, they were missed and loved dearly,” she says. “There’s somebody out there who still cares, still wants to know.”
If you have any information about Little’s murders, please contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI or submit at tip online at tips.fbi.gov.