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'Would have died with him': Fulton Co. detective on how admitted serial killer helped close Atlanta cold case

Samuel Little has admitted to killing nearly 100 women. So far, many of those cases, including the death of a metro Atlanta woman, have already been confirmed.

ATLANTA — For the first time, we're hearing from Fulton County investigators who recently tied a murder case from the 1970s to serial killer Samuel Little.

Little confessed over the past year to more than 90 murders including three in the Atlanta area. A Fulton County police detective said that without the help of the 79-year-old convicted murderer, this case would have died with him.

Little is currently serving multiple life sentences for murders in California. When he confessed to the 1977 murder of Lee Ann Helms, Little gave investigators details only the killer would know.

"We would review it every year to see if we could get anything new on the case," Detective Stewart Webb said.

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Webb said the case file, though, didn't include any physical evidence - and witnesses have since passed away.

"Primarily, the witnesses that had made statements from the club around the time she disappeared," Webb said.

Police also lacked a strong suspect.

"No new leads came in, so it basically became a cold case," he said.

Then, in February, the FBI released a photo from the collection of sketches Samuel Little recently Drew of the 93 women he confessed to murdering over 35 years - and in 19 states.

Credit: FBI
Drawing by Samuel Little of Atlanta victim, now believed to be Lee Ann Helms

RELATED: The Hunt | Serial killer confesses to 7 unsolved Georgia murders

Atlanta Police followed up on Little's confession and then Fulton County Police received a call.

"We were able to pull the Lee Ann Helms case and started comparing to the confession he made," Webb said.

Webb said Helms was from Griffin and lived and worked in Downtown Atlanta. On the night she died, Helms allegedly met Little at a club. A Department of Transportation worker later found Helms' body. She was strangled and left in a wooded area near Union City - near the intersection of Oakley Road and Oakley Industrial Boulevard. 

Little shared details about that night - Helms' weight, height, job, and her 10-month-old son.

"A lot of the information in the case matched up to statements he was making about her - about the scene, about her history," Webb said. "They did talk a little before he killed her. So, she did give him some information that really only the killer would know."

Webb then tracked down Helms' family and the only photo they have of her as an adult. He sent the photo to Little. Investigators said Little looked at the picture and confirmed he killed her.

"Without that, it would have remained a cold case and probably would have never been solved. It would have died with him," Webb said.

The detective said the case of Helms murder is now closed and he is talking with the Fulton County District Attorney's Office about the case and any charges they will file against Little.


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