PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WKRG) — Investigators have identified a Gulf Coast victim of prolific serial killer Samuel Little.
For years, the victim was simply known as “Escatawpa Jane Doe” by Jackson County, Mississippi investigators. Through DNA evidence, they’ve now identified her as Clara Birdlong.
Birdlong’s remains were discovered in December 1977 in the area that’s now Highway 613 and Interstate 10. Investigators determined she was likely murdered several months before the remains were found.
Several composite images and facial reconstructions were created to help identify Escatawpa Jane Doe. The images depicted an African American woman with a front gold tooth.
According to the FBI, Little confessed to 93 murders across the country. Escatawpa Jane Doe was among the victims, although Little did not know her name.
In January 2021, investigators in Mississippi worked with a DNA research facility to create a family tree from Escatawpa Jane Doe’s DNA. The investigation uncovered a distant relative in Texas, who then pointed investigators to others who knew Birdlong and recalled her being reported missing in 1977.
That same year, Little was arrested in Pascagoula for petit theft.
DNA samples taken from those close to Birdlong led investigators to conclude in September that the remains discovered in 1977 were in fact those of Birdlong. Her cause of death remains undetermined.
Little, the most prolific serial killer in American history, died in prison in December 2020. Investigators were able to identify many of his victims through portraits drawn by Little himself. Many of his victims remain unidentified.