Crime & Courts

Convicted murderer says he killed more than 90. Were any of the victims local?

How Columbia may be linked to possible Texas serial killer

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said that a case he worked on in 1978 involving the death of Evelyn Weston may be linked to Samuel Little, a possible serial killer in Texas.
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Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said that a case he worked on in 1978 involving the death of Evelyn Weston may be linked to Samuel Little, a possible serial killer in Texas.

Columbia police and Richland County sheriff’s investigators are reviewing their cold cases to determine if any might be connected to a serial killer who claims to have murdered more than 90 people in multiple states, including South Carolina.

Among the cases that Columbia police say they are reviewing is the 1992 disappearance of 23-year-old Dail Dinwiddie from Five Points. Meanwhile, Richland County investigators are looking into a 1978 case.

Samuel Little, 79, a convicted murderer, claims to have killed more than 90 people between 1970 and 2013, The Washington Post’s Kyle Swenson reported, which would make him the most prolific killer ever in the United States. His claims have been linked back to 30 unsolved crimes, with nine of those confirming Little’s involvement.

NBC reported that Little has confessed to killing people in several states, including South Carolina.

Little’s crimes typically involved the killing of younger women, including many who had lived troubled lives, according to the Post. Local investigators have never said that Dinwiddie’s life matched that description.

Columbia Deputy Chief Melron Kelly said its investigators are “scouring all of our unsolved homicides,” to see if any links to Little could be made. Regarding the Dinwiddie case, “I can guarantee that’s always on the front of our minds.”

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Dinwiddie has been missing since in the early hours of Sept. 24, 1992, after she and a group of friends saw a U2 concert at Williams-Brice Stadium. Afterward, they went to Five Points and wound up at Jungle Jims, a bar that’s now closed. She was separated from her friends, left the bar, returned and eventually told the bouncer at Jungle Jims goodnight.

She headed toward Harden and Greene streets, but hasn’t been seen again.

Meanwhile, Richland County sheriff investigators are trying to decide if Little was in the area in 1978.

“We are looking into if there’s a case connected to Little,” said RCSD spokeperson Cynthia Roldan.

While she would not say which case investigators are reviewing, the sheriff’s department lists two cold cases from 1978 on its website: the killing of a woman and a double murder of a man and woman inside a home.

On Sept. 12, 1978, Evelyn Weston’s nude body was found on a dirt road off Percival Road near its intersection with Spears Creek Church Road in northeast Columbia. She died from a gun shot to the head, The State reported in 1978. A man searching for his missing dogs found her body and contacted authorities.

The State reported in 1978 that Weston, who was unemployed, was last seen at a nightclub on Percival Road. At 19 years old, she had a son.

She was also survived by her mother and foster mother, according to an obituary. Weston’s house was reported to be off Farrow Road in North Columbia near where James Clyburn Memorial Pedestrian Bridge now stands.

In the other 1978 Richland County cold case, an engaged man and woman were found shot and beaten, The State reported at the time. Joe Duda and Ruby Crooks were at her Blythewood home for Christmas. Crooks’ children found their mother and Duda dead. They were going to announce their marriage at a party the day after they were killed.

Little was born in neighboring Georgia, and he’s connected to killings in the Southeast in the late 1970s and early 1980s, The Post reported, including a 1977 murder in Macon, Ga. Little also admitted to a 1978 slaying in Mississippi.

The Post story said two 1982 slayings in Florida and Louisiana were tied to Little. Deaths connected to Little continued into the 1990s and 2000s. After avoiding conviction on multiple murder charges, Little was found guilty in 2014 for three Los Angeles murders in the 1980s after DNA evidence linked him to the deaths, according to The Post. A judge sentenced Little to three consecutive life sentences. Little began claiming the 90 killings this summer.

The Richland County Sheriff’s Department has scheduled a news conference about their investigation into Little for Thursday, Nov. 21.

Evelyn Weston 1978 article.jpg
From Sept. 14 1978 issue of The State The State archives
Evelyn Weston obituary.jpg
Evelyn Weston’s obituary from Sept. 14 1978 The State The State archives.

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