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5 serial killers with ties to Arizona, some with unknown victims

Posted at 12:00 PM, May 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-01 15:01:04-04

Multiple Arizonans have fallen victim to some of the most notorious criminals and serial killers in our country's history — and there may be more cases investigators haven't solved yet.

ABC15 is taking a look at some of these cases, including a few with victims who may be yet to be identified.

Samuel Little

Samuel Little

According to a 2018 report from the FBI, Samuel Little confessed to 90 murders dating back several decades in various states.

He was arrested in Kentucky in 2012, leading police in various states to begin linking his DNA to unsolved homicides cases.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, "Little stated he strangled all of his victims, with the exception of two who were drowned, and was adamant he never shot or stabbed them. Investigators say the manner in which Little killed his victims was more reminiscent to suffocation then strangulation, in that several of his victims did not have broken or fractured hyoid bones in the throat. Multiple victims' deaths were misclassified in autopsy reports and listed as drug overdoses or natural deaths."

In 2018, Little reportedly gave more information about the murders he said he committed, including three in Phoenix.

“Little remembers his victims and the killings in great detail. He remembers where he was, and what car he was driving,” the FBI report says. “He draws pictures of many of the women he killed. He is less reliable, however, when it comes to remembering dates.”

The FBI lists a Hispanic woman, possibly from Phoenix, in her mid-20s who was killed in 1992 or 1993.

Little reportedly sketched an unnamed Hispanic woman, possibly in her 40s, who he said was killed in either 1988 or 1996 in Phoenix.


A Wikipedia page notes Little also sketched a photo of a woman, nicknamed “Ann”, who he said was murdered in 1997, though that information has not been verified by the FBI.

Little died in 2020, with many of his victims yet to be identified.

If you have any information linked to Little’s confessions, please contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI or submit a tip online at

Richard Ramirez

Richard Ramirez, convicted of the "Night Stalker" serial murders in 1985, arrives at court in handcuffs and chains in Los Angeles, Ca., Wednesday, Oct. 4, 1989. The jury recommended a death sentence. (AP Photo/Alan Greth)

Richard Ramirez, known by several monikers including the Night Stalker, was convicted of 13 murders, five attempted murders, nearly a dozen sexual assaults, and 14 burglaries.

Some of the victims of his crimes survived and helped lead police to eventually identify him as a suspect.

Ramirez’s photo was posted by the media and he was recognized after he traveled to Tucson, Arizona, by bus to visit his brother, CNN says. That ultimately led to his arrest and convictions.

Ramirez Hernandez
Richard Ramirez, accused of 14 counts of murder in the "Night Stalker" serial killings, is flanked by attorneys Daniel Hernandez, left, and Arturo Hernandez during court appearance in Los Angeles, Ca., Tuesday, Oct. 21, 1985. Ramirez wants the two men to represent him instead of his current attorney, Joseph Gallegos. Municipal Court Judge Elva Soper advised Ramirez to refrain from making a hasty second change of defense attorneys. (AP Photo/Lennox McLendon)

Ramirez was sentenced to death by gas chamber, but in 2013, Ramirez died at age 53, the El Paso Times reported.

Ramirez also reportedly admitted to a crime that occurred in Phoenix, though police never followed through with his connection to it, an investigator said.

One incident involved “two elderly people” who survived the attack in their home.

“There’s no doubt in my mind it was him,” the investigator said, and Ramirez eventually said he was involved.

Todd Kohlhepp

Todd Kohlhepp
AZDOC photo of Todd Kohlhepp

Before Todd Kohlhepp was convicted of murdering seven people, he was imprisoned in Arizona for 15 years for kidnapping.

In the 1980s, when Kohlhepp was a teenager, he lived with his biological father in Tempe. He was charged with kidnapping and sexual assault after attacking a teenage girl. The conviction led to a 15-year sentence in an Arizona prison and he was released in 2001.

In 2003, four people were found dead in a South Carolina Superbike Motorsports motorcycle store, and Kohlhepp admitted to those murders in 2016.

In 2016, a couple went missing after they went to clean Kohlhepp’s home. The man was found dead with multiple gunshot wounds and the woman was later found alive, chained inside a metal container on his property.

Two other bodies, identified as people who went missing in 2015, were found on his property. Kohlhepp admitted to killing them.

Cold Case Killer
File - This undated file photo provided by South Carolina State shows Todd Kohlhepp. Kohlhepp, already in prison for seven murders, claims he has two additional victims. The Greenville News reports Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright confirmed Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, that Kohlhepp has told investigators that two people are buried near Interstate 26 in the Enoree area of southern Spartanburg County. (South Carolina State via AP, File)

Reports say, during interrogation, he said he also shot someone in Arizona, and later wrote to a newspaper that he had more victims who had not been discovered.

According to a media report from 2016, Tempe police were reviewing other missing person cases or homicides from that time period to see if Kohlhepp may have played a role.

He remains behind bars.

Jason Thornburg

Texas Dumpster Fire Bodies
This undated photo provided by the Fort Worth Police Department shows Jason Thornburg. Thornburg, arrested in the deaths of three people whose dismembered bodies were discovered in a burning dumpster the week before in Texas, confessed to those slayings and two others, police said Tuesday Sept. 28, 2021. ( Fort Worth Police Department via AP)

Jason Thornburg was arrested in Texas in 2021 after three bodies were found burning in a dumpster.

According to the Associated Press, Thornburg said he “felt compelled to sacrifice them.”

Thornburg also admitted to killing his roommate and a girlfriend in Arizona, who was reported missing.

A police affidavit reportedly said Thornburg had a deep knowledge of the Bible.

Before the killing spree, he served time behind bars in Texas. WFAA says he was previously convicted of misdemeanors in Arizona, Oklahoma, and Texas.

As of February 2022, he is facing life in prison for murder and arson charges, both felonies punishable by up to life in prison.

Robert Wayne Danielson Jr.

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Robert Wayne Danielson Jr. served 11 years in an Oregon prison for murdering a man in 1970.

Weeks after his release from prison, Danielson reportedly killed a couple, who had been camping in the desert, execution-style. Their truck was stolen during the ordeal and later abandoned in Yuma.

Months later, Danielson and a teenage girl started a relationship, and the pair tied up a man in an Oregon park and killed him.

Shortly after, they tied up a couple in a California park and killed them.

Danielson also murdered someone in Apache Junction.

Danielson was ultimately sentenced to death in California. He ended his own life in prison in 1995.