Confessed serial killer charged with 1970s murder of South Mississippi woman

Julia Critchfield’s body was found in 1978 in Harrison County

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A convicted murderer who has confessed to killing dozens of people across the country is now charged with murder in the death of a South Mississippi woman.

Samuel Little, 78, has been charged in the 1978 killing of a Harrison County woman, said the county's sheriff Troy Peterson.

Julia Critchfield, 36, was found by authorities on Jan. 22, 1978. Sheriff Peterson said deputies were responding to a report of a woman being found at the bottom of a dirt pit in the north part of Saucier. An autopsy later revealed that Critchfield had died of asphyxiation due to strangulation. Authorities were unable to locate a suspect at the time and the case eventually went cold.

Julia Critchfield's body was found in 1978 in a dirt pit in the northern part of Saucier.
Julia Critchfield's body was found in 1978 in a dirt pit in the northern part of Saucier. (Photo source: Critchfield Family)

More than 40 years later, 78-year-old Little is making headlines for admitting to murdering more than 90 people across the United States. Authorities notified Sheriff Peterson that Little had confessed to killing a woman in Harrison County in the 70s. Authorities say the information Little provided matches up with the murder of Critchfield.

On Oct. 31, 2018, investigators from Harrison County traveled to Wise County, Texas to interview Little. During that interview, the convicted murderer admitted again to killing Critchfield, giving details about her death that only the suspect would know. Harrison County investigators then charged him with murder.

Last week, Little reportedly admitted to killing a Jackson County woman. Melinda LaPree’s body was found in 1982 in a Gautier cemetery. District attorney Tony Lawrence says Little was in South Mississippi between 1977 and 1982, which would put him on the Gulf Coast at the time of both LaPree’s and Critchfield’s murders.

Melinda LaPree's body was found in a Gautier cemetery in 1982.
Melinda LaPree's body was found in a Gautier cemetery in 1982. (Photo source: Pascagoula Police Dept.)

Pascagoula Police investigator Darren Versiga said Little was arrested in LaPree’s death but authorities didn’t have enough evidence to prosecute him at the time. Versiga said he and the district attorney will meet with LaPree’s family and make a decision on whether or not to bring the case to trial. If they decide to go forward with the trial, all of the evidence will be brought before a grand jury in Jackson County so they can make a rational decision about how they want to move forward with this case.

Eventually, Little will be extradited back to Mississippi to answer to the murder charge in Harrison County, as well as any other charges that may be pending against him. However, authorities say Little is currently serving three life sentences in California for the murders of three women and the chances of him carrying out a sentence in Mississippi are nearly impossible.

Copyright 2018 WLOX. All rights reserved.