Sam Little has been described as the most prolific serial killer in American history. Convicted in 2012 of the murders of three women in California between 1987 and 1989, and later in 2018 for the murder of a woman in Texas in 1994, he has since been linked to a total of 93 murders.
The documentary series Confronting a Serial Killer is directed by Joe Berlinger, who also made Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes and the recent Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel. It focuses on the relationship between Little and author and journalist Jillian Lauren, as she attempts to identify his victims before it is too late.
It is a race against time, as Little was 72-years-old when he was convicted, and suffered from diabetes and heart problems in prison. He died at the age of 80 on 30th December 2020.
How to watch Confronting a Serial Killer
The five-part documentary series Confronting a Serial Killer will premiere on Starzplay in the UK on Sunday, 18th April. New episodes will then be shown every Sunday.
Starzplay is available via the Starzplay app, and also via Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Virgin TV, Roku and Rakuten TV.
What is Confronting a Serial Killer about?
This true crime documentary series about murderer Sam Little is shown from the perspective of journalist Jillian Lauren, who developed a relationship with the serial killer, initially when she was researching an idea for a novel. Determined to identify many of the women he has killed – he confessed to 93 murders but could not name many of his victims – Lauren talked to Little and also received drawings from him of his victims that have since helped to identify them.
The series also includes interviews with female investigators who worked on his case, survivors and victims’ family members.
In an interview with the US series 60 Minutes in 2019, Little talked about his crimes to Texas Ranger James Holland and admitted: “I got away with numerous murders, of women, in my life over the span of 50 years.” Many of his victims were prostitutes, drug addicts and other women he thought the police would spend little time trying to find.
Little’s confessions led to 50 cold cases being solved, some dating back decades, and even some where other people had been wrongly convicted for Little’s crimes. He told 60 Minutes: “Probably be numerous people who [have] been convicted and sent to penitentiary on my behalf. I say, ‘If I can help get somebody out of jail, you know, God might smile a little bit more on me’.”
What has Joe Berlinger said about Confronting a Serial Killer?
Director Joe Berlinger is an experienced true crime filmmaker, having made documentaries including the Paradise Lost trilogy (about the murder of three children), Unspeakable Crime (about the murder of a young woman named Jessica Chambers) and Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes. He also directed the 2019 movie about Bundy, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, starring Zac Efron.
Berlinger does realise that some people love true crime series, while others loathe them and think there are too many on TV.
“The genre has never been more popular with some and more hated by others. So you may be asking yourself: why make another show about yet another vicious serial killer? That is the very question I ask myself at the start of this – and every story – I choose to tell,” he says. “I only want to take on a subject if I can have an impact on something that needs changing.”
“It is the system that needs changing. Sam Little repeatedly slipped through the hands of law enforcement due to prejudice, racism and gender bias. Police, attorneys, judges and jurors failed Little’s victims time and again.”
Berlinger notes that Little carefully chose his victims to avoid being caught. “Little hunted along society’s margins. Crisscrossing state lines, he strangled sex workers, drug addicts, single mothers, people with mental health issues and especially women of colour. He believed his victims would not be missed. He was wrong. He also believed his choice of victim would be the key to his freedom. Sadly he was right about this… until some brave women came along.”
It is those brave women – Jillian Lauren, investigating detective Mitzi Roberts and one of Little’s few surviving victims, Laurie Barros – who contribute to the documentary and shine a light on the flaws in the American justice system.
“Confronting a Serial Killer spotlights systemic neglect that continues to fail disenfranchised communities,” Berlinger says. “Until there is more equity in our legal system, mass killers will elude capture. Monsters like Sam Little should never have the chance to kill with impunity, enabled by a system that prioritises the value of some human lives over others.”
Is there a trailer for Confronting a Serial Killer?
There is a trailer for the series, and you can watch it here: