Home » Escatawpa Jane Doe: Found In 1977, Identified By DNA In 2021
Samuel Little confessed to killing over 90 women and authorities believe that Escatawpa Jane Doe was one of them. On December 27, 1977, hunters came across her remains near a construction site by Mississippi’s Highway 613 and Interstate 10 in Jackson County. At the time, all authorities knew was that she was a Black woman who had probably been deceased for approximately three to four months. She was petite, possibly wearing a wig, had a gold front tooth, and was the victim of a homicide, although police never determined a cause of death.
As authorities looked into her case, they believed that prolific serial killer Samuel Little was responsible for her murder. According to reports, prior to Little dying in prison in 2020 at 80, he confessed to authorities that he killed Escatawpa Jane Doe. However, he could not recall her name, so she continued to go unidentified until a DNA match was announced this week.
Her name was Clara Birdlong.
“Investigators eventually learned Samuel Little was arrested in Pascagoula in August of 1977 for petit theft. Although he is now deceased, Samuel Little is considered a prime suspect in the death of Clara Birdlong,” the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. “After further investigation and elimination of all other living and deceased relatives, investigators concluded the victim known as Escatawpa Jane Doe, was Clara Birdlong, born in 1933 in Leflore County, MS.”
Oxygen reports that in January, Clara’s DNA was sent to a Texas lab where they attempted to construct a family tree and found through testing that she had a relative in the state. That person revealed that there was a family member who was born in the 1930s and went missing in the 1970s. They connected authorities to Birdlong’s 93-year-old grandmother and DNA testing proved that they were, indeed, relatives.
Still, the investigation was far from over. This year, police spoke with a witness who shared the tale of their final moments with Clara. She was reportedly last seen in her native Leflore County, Mississippi with a Black man who said he was on his way to Florida. The witness said they never saw Clara again.
Samuel Little lived a long life of crime including theft, assault, rape, and murder—and he zipped around the state committing nefarious deeds. His reign of terror is confirmed to have lasted between 1970 to 2005, but his stretch could go from the 1960s to as far as 2012 when he was convicted of several crimes. He was known to sexually assault and beat his victims before strangling them.
Little was given four life sentences without the possibility of parole. One month before he died, Little confessed to two other murders, one of which another man had been wrongfully convicted of committing.
The Sun Herald reports: “Anyone who may remember Birdlong is asked to call the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department at 228-769-3063 or Mississippi Coast Crime Stoppers at 877-787-5898.”
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