The first confirmed victim of America’s most prolific serial killer Samuel Little has finally been identified after almost five decades.
Little confessed to the murders of 93 women across multiple states between the years of 1970 and 2005, before he died in prison in 2020.
His first confirmed victim was a young woman whose remains were discovered off Arkwright Road, Macon, in his home state of Georgia in 1977.
But, for 46 years, investigators were unable to determine her identity and she was known only as “Macon Jane Doe”.
Now, she has finally been given her name back thanks to the use of genetic genealogy.
The Bibb County Sheriff’s Office announced on Thursday that the woman had been identified as Yvonne Pless, who was around 20 years old when she was last seen alive.
The sheriff’s office said that it had teamed up with the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC) back in 2018 when Little confessed to killing two women in Macon.
Bibb County Captain Shermaine Jones and CJCC’s Sexual Assault, Child Abuse and Human Trafficking Unit program director Amy Hutsell visited Little in prison in Texas the following year to interview him about his claims.
There, they found that his confessions matched two unsolved cold case murders.
The identity of Little’s second Macon victim was already known. Fredonia Smith was murdered in Washington Park in 1982.
While Smith’s surviving family was notified that her case had been solved, Pless’s identity was still unclear.
Then, using forensic genetic genealogy on a sexual assault kit, investigators were able to identify Pless and track down her family members.
Pless’s family did not even know she was dead, according to a heartfelt statement they shared with Channel 2 Action News.
“We appreciate the interest in our family member’s story. When Captain Jones and Ms Hutsell notified us that Yvonne had been identified, we were unaware she was deceased,” the statement read.
“We are mourning the loss of our loved one and have no comments at this time. We ask that our privacy be respected.”
The FBI has so far confirmed that Little committed at least 60 murders during his four-decade reign of horror, making him the most prolific serial killer in US history.
His other 33 confessions are also deemed to be credible and the bureau continues to work on verifying them.
Little claimed he committed his first murder on New Year’s Eve 1970 in Miami.
He said that it felt like “drugs” so he continued to kill, until his last victim in Mississipppi in 2005.
Born in Georgia but spending his childhood in Ohio, Little had dozens of brushes with the law but managed to get away with dozens and dozens of murders until he confessed to a Texas ranger in 2018.
Despite his countless arrests for attempted rape and assault across multiple states, he was arrested and acquitted of murder twice in Florida and Mississippi in 1982.
In 2014, he was finally convicted of murder for the killings of Linda Alford, Guadalupe Duarte Apodaca and Audrey Nelson Everett in California.
While behind bars in 2018, he began spilling his secrets to Texas Ranger James Holland when he was interviewed about a murder that he actually hadn’t carried out.
He continued to confess to dozens more murders, giving details about each one and painting pictures of what the victims looked like.
Most of his victims were women, many of them drug addicts or sex workers, who he would meet by chance and then strangle them.
He died in December 2020 in prison.