Tag Archives: World

TOP STORIES, World

Call to ban killer robots in wars”:


This is not about terminator robots but “conventional weapons systems with autonomy”

A group of scientists has called for a ban on the development of weapons controlled by artificial intelligence (AI).

It says that autonomous weapons may malfunction in unpredictable ways and kill innocent people.

Ethics experts also argue that it is a moral step too far for AI systems to kill without any human intervention.

The comments were made at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meetingin Washington DC.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) is one of the 89 non-governmental organisations from 50 countries that have formed the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, to press for an international treaty.

Among those leading efforts for the worldwide ban is HRW’s Mary Wareham.

“We are not talking about walking, talking terminator robots that are about to take over the world; what we are concerned about is much more imminent: conventional weapons systems with autonomy,” she told BBC News.

“They are beginning to creep in. Drones are the obvious example, but there are also military aircraft that take off, fly and land on their own; robotic sentries that can identify movement. These are precursors to autonomous weapons.”

Ryan Gariepy, chief technological officer at Clearpath Robotics, backs the ban proposal.

His company takes military contracts, but it has denounced AI systems for warfare and stated that it would not develop them.

“When they fail, they fail in unpredictable ways,” he told BBC News.

“As advanced as we are, the state of AI is really limited by image recognition. It is good but does not have the detail or context to be judge, jury and executioner on a battlefield.

“An autonomous system cannot make a decision to kill or not to kill in a vacuum. The de-facto decision has been made thousands of miles away by developers, programmers and scientists who have no conception of the situation the weapon is deployed in.”

According to Peter Asaro, of the New School in New York, such a scenario raises issues of legal liability if the system makes an unlawful killing.

“The delegation of authority to kill to a machine is not justified and a violation of human rights because machines are not moral agents and so cannot be responsible for making decisions of life and death.

“So it may well be that the people who made the autonomous weapon are responsible.”

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Cheryl Grimmer: Murder charge in toddler’s 1970 disappearance dropped”:


Cheryl disappeared shortly after her family migrated to Australia

Australian prosecutors have dropped their case against a man who had been accused of murdering a UK-born toddler almost 50 years ago.

The disappearance of three-year-old Cheryl Grimmer from a New South Wales beach in 1970 is one of Australia’s longest-running mysteries.

A man was arrested in 2017, and he later pleaded not guilty to murder.

On Friday, a judge ruled that a key part of the prosecution case could not be used as evidence in a trial.

It concerned statements made by the man during a police interview in 1971, when he was aged 17.

The Supreme Court of New South Wales found that the evidence could not be heard because the teenager had not had an adult representative present during the interview.

Justice Robert Allan Hulme said: “The Crown accepts that its case cannot succeed without it.”

Family devastated

Cheryl went missing from a shower block on 12 January, 1970, in Wollongong, a city 70km (44 miles) south of Sydney, shortly after her family moved to Australia from Bristol.

It sparked a massive search at the time, but no trace of the girl was ever found.

GETTY IMAGES

Police conduct a search days after Cheryl’s disappearance

On Friday Cheryl’s brother, Ricki Nash, said the family was devastated by the latest development and felt let down by police.

“We’re just a bit numb, a bit shocked… no words can describe how I feel at the moment,” he said outside the court.

Over the years, the family had expressed frustration at the lack of progress in the case.

Another of her brothers, Stephen Grimmer, said in 2016: “My mum and dad have passed on now not knowing, and we want to know too before we pass on.”

‘Unfair’ evidence

In explaining his decision, Justice Hulme acknowledged that the man had made a written statement and engaged in a “walk-through style interview” with police in 1971.

Unlike now, minors were not legally required to be accompanied by an adult when giving such statements.

NSW POLICE

Cheryl with her late father, Vince Grimmer

However, Justice Hulme ruled that the man’s police interview “should be excluded on the basis of unfairness”.

He also noted testimony from psychologists who had reviewed the case for the trial.

They found that the man had “low intellect” and would have been “more vulnerable to influence” at the time, the judge said.

The man’s trial had been due to begin in May.

Prince Philip will not be prosecuted over crash”:


The Duke of Edinburgh will not face prosecution over his road crash near the Sandringham estate, the Crown Prosecution Service has said.

The 97-year-old voluntarily gave up his driving licence on Saturday after his Land Rover Freelander collided with another vehicle in Norfolk last month.

He later apologised to the occupants of the other car – two women and a baby.

The CPS says it decided that it would not be in the public interest to prosecute the duke.

Chris Long, Chief Crown Prosecutor from CPS East of England, said: “We took into account all of the circumstances in this case, including the level of culpability, the age of the driver and the surrender of the driving licence.”

The duke escaped injury after his vehicle landed on its side following the collision with a Kia on 17 January on the A149 near the Queen’s country estate.

Two days later Norfolk Police gave him “suitable words of advice” after he was pictured driving without a seat belt.

He wrote to one of the passengers in the Kia – Emma Fairweather, who broke her wrist in the accident.

In the letter, dated 21 January andreproduced by the Sunday Mirror , the duke acknowledged the “very distressing experience”.

“I would like you to know how very sorry I am for my part in the accident,” he wrote, on Sandringham House headed paper.

“The sun was shining low over the main road. In normal conditions I would have no difficulty in seeing traffic coming… but I can only imagine that I failed to see the car coming, and I am very contrite about the consequences.”

Ms Fairweather had previously criticised the duke for a lack of communication following the crash.

Paul Manafort: Trump ex-aide lied to prosecutors, judge rules”:


Paul Manafort was found guilty of multiple fraud charges in 2018

Donald Trump’s former election campaign chief Paul Manafort breached his plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller by lying to prosecutors, a US judge says.

US District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that Manafort “made multiple false statements” to the FBI, Mr Mueller’s office and a grand jury.

Mr Mueller leads a probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 US election.

This related to his work as a political consultant in Ukraine.

Manafort, 69, then accepted a plea deal on other charges in return for co-operating with Mr Mueller’s investigation.

In her ruling on Wednesday, Judge Berman Jackson said there was evidence that showed Manafort had lied about – among other things – contacts he had with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian political consultant. Prosecutors claim Mr Kilimnik had ties to Russian intelligence.

The judge also cleared Manafort of allegations that he lied on two other subjects.

The verdict means that Manafort – who has been held in a detention centre in Virginia since June – could now potentially face harsher sentences or have charges against him re-filed.

Last year, Mr Mueller said that Manafort lied “on a variety of subject matters” after signing the plea deal.

What was the plea deal?

Last August, Manafort was convicted on eight counts of fraud, bank fraud and failing to disclose bank accounts.

A month later he pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiracy against the US and one charge of conspiracy to obstruct justice in a plea bargain with Mr Mueller. The agreement avoided a second trial on money laundering and other charges.

The plea deal meant Manafort would face up to 10 years in prison and would forfeit four of his properties and the contents of several bank accounts – but deadlocked charges from the previous trial would be dismissed.

It was the first criminal trial arising from the Department of Justice’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the presidential election.

However, the charges related only to Manafort’s political consulting with pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine, largely pre-dating his role with the Trump campaign.

How did we get here?

Manafort worked for the Trump presidential campaign for five months in 2016 and was in charge when Mr Trump clinched the Republican party nomination.

President Trump has branded the Mueller investigation a “witch hunt” and insisted there was no collusion between his team and Russia.

Manafort was charged by Mr Mueller last October and during the trial he was accused of using 31 foreign bank accounts in three different countries to evade taxes on millions of dollars.

Prosecutors presented evidence of Manafort’s luxurious lifestyle, saying it was only possible because of his bank and tax fraud.

MPs to debate next steps, Brexit:


MPs are to debate and vote on the next steps in the Brexit process later, as Theresa May continues to try to get a deal through Parliament.

A series of amendments – designed to change the direction of Brexit – will be considered in the debate, which is expected to be a routine procedure.

But BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said the PM could be facing another defeat.

Some Tory Brexiteers are refusing to back the government, she said.

No 10 insists Mrs May still plans to hold a vote on a deal as soon as possible but Labour has accused her of “running down the clock” in an effort to “blackmail” MPs into backing her deal.

The prime minister has asked MPs to approve a motion simply acknowledging that the process was ongoing and restating their support for the approach.

But several MPs have tabled amendments – which set out alternative plans – including one from Labour that would force the government to come back to Parliament by the end of the month to hold a substantive Commons vote on its Brexit plan.

Another, from the SNP, calls on the government to pass a law leading to the Brexit process being halted.

Commons Speaker John Bercow is yet to decide which of these will actually be considered by MPs.

However, influential Brexiteers from the European Research Group of Tory backbenchers are angry at being asked to support the PM’s motion.

This is because it combines the view backed by a majority of MPs last month that the government should seek an alternative to the “backstop” with a separate move to stop Brexit happening without a formal deal.

The backstop aims to prevent the return of customs checkpoints on the Irish border in the event that no trade deal comes into force.

The group’s deputy chairman, Mark Francois, told the BBC: “We cannot vote for this as it is currently configured because it rules out no deal and removes our negotiating leverage in Brussels.”

He said members had “pleaded” with Downing Street to change the wording, which he said goes back on what the prime minister has previously told MPs.

“A senior ERG source says they haven’t decided whether to abstain or vote against, but they won’t back the government,” said BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg.

Most MPs want to avoid a no-deal scenario, fearing chaos at ports and disruption to business. But some Brexiteers have played down that prospect, arguing it is an example of “Project Fear”.

MPs rejected the deal negotiated with the EU by a historic margin in January and the prime minister says she is seeking legally-binding changes to the controversial “backstop” – the “insurance policy” aimed at avoiding a return to border checks between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

The UK is currently due to leave the EU on 29 March, whether or not a deal has been approved by the Commons.

Presentational grey line

Could Brexit cause a Labour split?

By BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg

You’ll be used to people in my kind of job saying things like, “these are critical days”.

And hands up, on many of the occasions when a big move is predicted, a damp squib often comes along to squelch the expectation.

What I’m about to say may well be a repetition of that familiar phenomenon. But I’m not the only person in Westminster this week to be wondering whether after many, many, many months of private conversations where this possibility was discussed, in the next couple of weeks, maybe even in the next couple of days, something that actually is critical is going to start happening.

Read more

What happens next?

The prime minister has promised to return to the Commons on 26 February with a further statement – triggering another debate and votes the following day – if a deal has not been secured by that date.

If a deal is agreed, MPs will have a second “meaningful vote”, more than a month after Mrs May’s deal was rejected in the first one.

Mrs May told MPs on Tuesday she was discussing a number of options with the EU to secure legally binding changes to the backstop, including replacing it with “alternative arrangements”, putting a time limit on how long it can stay in place, or a unilateral exit clause so the UK can leave it at a time of its choosing.

The EU has continued to say it will not renegotiate the withdrawal agreement.

On Wednesday, European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted that “no news is not always good news”, saying the EU was “still waiting for concrete, realistic proposals from London”.

The prime minister has also said she will lift the requirement for a 21-day period before any vote to approve an international treaty, which means she could delay the final Brexit vote until days before the UK is due to leave the EU.

Former attorney general Dominic Grieve warned on Tuesday that time was running short for the ratification of a deal under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act.

The Act requires 21 sitting days before the ratification of any international treaty, to allow MPs to study the agreement.

But Mrs May responded: “In this instance MPs will already have debated and approved the agreement as part of the meaningful vote.”

If there was not time for normal procedures, the government would amend the law around Brexit to allow it to be ratified more quickly.

Brexit: MPs to debate next steps
Confused by Brexit jargon? Reality Check unpacks the basics

Theresa May ‘scrapes the mould off jam’


As if Theresa May was not in enough of a jam over Brexit, she has now sparked a debate about how to handle actual jam – the kind that comes in jars.

It comes after she reportedly told cabinet ministers she scrapes the mould off the fruit preserve rather than throw it away.

The SNP’s Pete Wishart picked up on the PM’s comment on Twitter, saying it was “a bit like she runs the Tory Party”.

The PM reportedly made the comments in a cabinet discussion on food waste.

The prime minister told colleagues that she scrapes the mould off and the rest is “perfectly edible”, according to the Daily Mail.

She added that people should use “common sense” to work out if the whole jar should be thrown out.

Labour’s shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said on Twitter “I don’t reckon too many Tories will be scraping mould off food” in “Tory-fuelled austerity UK”.

Meanwhile, the Lib Dems say the jam reference is “very apt”.

Campaign group Wrap says 10m tonnes of food is binned in the UK every year.

Of this figure, which is largely made up of household food waste, it is thought about 60% could be avoided.

Mrs May is understood to have been discussing the issue with cabinet ministers on Tuesday.

Last year the government announced a £15m scheme to address food waste from the retail and manufacturing sectors and outlined further plans to reduce it in England in its Resources and Waste Strategy.

Asked whether the prime minister thought people should follow her example, her official spokesman said: “That is a matter for the individual.”

A spokesman for Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, who makes his own jam with fruit grown on his allotment, said: “Jeremy’s love of both making and consuming jam is well known, and as such he personally never gets to the point of scraping or chucking mould.”

Safe to eat?

The Food Standards Agency’s advice is that some species of mould can produce toxins, and that food that is obviously rotten or containing mould should not be eaten. Children, elderly people and pregnant women, along with others who have a weakened immune system, should be especially careful, the FSA advises.

It adds that while removing the mould – along with significant amount of the surrounding product – may work, there is no guarantee it would remove all unseen toxins.

But Hugh Pennington, professor of bacteriology at Aberdeen University, told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme that he would scrape the mould off, “depending on the quality of the jam”.

“Generally speaking, I wouldn’t be worried about the mould doing any harm,” he said. “I would just question how long it has been in the cupboard, but it’s safe to eat.”

“Jam’s got a lot of sugar in it, which stops nasty bugs getting in it. It’s been made by boiling… so it’s a pretty safe product.”

British IS schoolgirl ‘wants to return home’:


Ms Begum was 15 when she left the UK in 2015

One of three schoolgirls who left east London in 2015 to join the Islamic State group says she has no regrets, but wants to return to the UK.

In an interview with the Times, Shamima Begum, now 19, talked about seeing “beheaded heads” in bins – but said that it “did not faze her”.

Speaking from a camp in Syria, she said she was nine months pregnant and wanted to come home for the sake of her baby.

She said she’d had two other children who had both died.

She also described how one of her two school friends that had left the UK with her had died in a bombing. The fate of the third girl is unclear.

‘It was like a normal life’

Bethnal Green Academy pupils Ms Begum and Amira Abase, were both 15, while Kadiza Sultana was 16, when they left the UK in February 2015.

They flew from Gatwick Airport to Turkey after telling their parents they were going out for the day. They later crossed the border into Syria.

After arriving in Raqqa, she stayed at a house with other newly arrived brides-to-be, she told the Times.

“I applied to marry an English-speaking fighter between 20 and 25 years old,” she said.

Ten days later she married a 27-year-old Dutch man who had converted to Islam.

She has been with him since then, and the couple escaped from Baghuz – the group’s last territory in eastern Syria – two weeks ago.

Her husband surrendered to a group of Syrian fighters as they left, and she is now one of 39,000 people in a camp in northern Syria.

Asked by Times journalist Anthony Loyd whether her experiences of living in the one-time IS stronghold of Raqqa had lived up to her aspirations, Ms Begum said: “Yes, it did. It was like a normal life. The life that they show on the propaganda videos – it’s a normal life.

“Every now and then there are bombs and stuff. But other than that…”

“I’m not the same silly little 15-year-old schoolgirl who ran away from Bethnal Green four years ago,” she told Mr Loyd.

“I don’t regret coming here.”

‘I always thought we’d die together’

But Ms Begum said the “oppression” had come as a “shock” and said she felt the IS “caliphate” was at an end.

“I don’t have high hopes. They are just getting smaller and smaller,” she said. “And there is so much oppression and corruption going on that I don’t really think they deserve victory.”

She referred to her husband having been held in a prison where men were tortured.

Kadiza Sultana, Amira Abase and Shamima Begum
Kadiza Sultana, Amira Abase and Shamima Begum (l-r) in photos issued by police

A lawyer for the family of Kadiza Sultana said in 2016 that she was believed to have been killed in a Russian air strike.

Ms Begum told the Times her friend had died in a bombing on a house where there was “some secret stuff going on” underground.

She added: “I never thought it would happen. At first I was in denial. Because I always thought if we got killed, we’d get killed together.”

‘Scared this baby is going to get sick’

Ms Begum said losing two children “came as a shock. It just came out of nowhere, it was so hard”.

Her first child, a girl, died at the age of one year and nine months, and was buried in Baghuz a month ago.

Her second child – the first to die – died three months ago at the age of eight months, of an illness that was compounded by malnutrition, the Times reports.

She told the paper she took him to a hospital. “There were no drugs available, and not enough medical staff,” she said.

As a result she said she was “really overprotective” of her unborn child.

“I’m scared that this baby is going to get sick in this camp,” she said. “That’s why I really want to get back to Britain because I know it will be taken care of – health-wise, at least.”

She said she should be giving birth “any day now”.

“I’ll do anything required just to be able to come home and live quietly with my child.”

IS has lost control of most of the territory it overran, including its strongholds of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria.

However, fighting continues in north-eastern Syria, where the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) say they captured dozens of foreign fighters in recent weeks.

Pangolins: Rare insight into world’s most trafficked mammal”:


A study is being conducted by conservationists from Chester Zoo

The secret life of the world’s most trafficked mammal, the pangolin, has been caught on camera in Africa.

Footage gives a rare insight into the behaviour of the giant pangolin, the largest of all the scaly animals.

Observed by remote-operated cameras, a baby takes a ride on its mother’s back, while an adult climbs a tree.

Scientists are releasing the footage to highlight the plight of the animals, which are being pushed to extinction by illegal hunting for scales and meat.

Large numbers of their scales have been seized this month alone, including Malaysia’s biggest-ever interception of smuggled pangolin products.

The images and video clips of giant pangolins, one of four species in Africa, were taken at Uganda’s Ziwa sanctuary, where the animals live alongside protected rhinos and are safe from poaching.

Stuart Nixon of Chester Zoo’s Africa Field Programme said much of their behaviour has never been recorded before.

“We know so little about this species, almost everything we’re picking up on camera traps this year as a behaviour is a new thing,” he told BBC News.

The giant pangolin: The largest of the eight pangolin species
The giant pangolin: The largest of the eight species
Short presentational grey line

Pangolins

  • Sometimes called scaly anteaters, they are the only mammals in the world to be covered in protective scales
  • Their scales are made of keratin, the same material found in human fingernails
  • Pangolins lap up ants and termites with their long sticky tongues
  • There are four species in Africa -the African white-bellied pangolin, giant ground pangolin, ground pangolin and black-bellied pangolin
  • The giant pangolin, found in the rainforests and grasslands of equatorial Africa, is the biggest, measuring up to 1.8m long and weighing up to 75lbs.
Short presentational grey line

The pangolin is said to be the most widely trafficked mammal in the world.

Its scales are in high demand in Asia for use in traditional Chinese medicine, despite there being no medical benefit for their use, while its meat is considered a delicacy in some countries.

This week, authorities in Malaysia seized more than 27 tonnes of pangolins and their scales – believed to be worth at least £1.6m – on Borneo, in the biggest such haul in the country.

Pangolins are regarded as a delicacy in some countries
They are regarded as a delicacy in some countries

The wildlife monitoring group Traffic said police had discovered two big pangolin-processing facilities stocked with thousands of boxes of meat in the eastern state of Sabah.

“It is hoped that comprehensive investigations can lead to unmasking the syndicate and networks operating from the state and beyond,” said Kanitha Krishnasamy, Traffic’s director in Southeast Asia.

The discovery comes just days after 10 tonnes of scales were intercepted in Vietnam, Hong Kong and Uganda.

Scientists say the plight of the animals looks bleak, and they have no idea how many are left in the wild.

Pangolin scales intercepted on Borneo
Pangolin scales intercepted on Borneo

Stuart Nixon, who is working in collaboration with the Uganda Wildlife Authority and the Rhino Fund Uganda on the project, said they are encountered so rarely in the wild that there is not enough data to allow a decent estimate.

A study is under way to survey and monitor giant pangolins at the site as the first step towards identifying their strongholds.

“This species is literally being wiped out, it’s being obliterated across central Africa, there’s no doubt about that,” he added. “Trying to get people engaged and to care about pangolins is really the key step.”

Sam Mwandha of the Uganda Wildlife Authority added: “These rare glimpses into the lives of giant pangolins are very exciting for those of us dedicated to protecting Uganda’s rich wildlife and challenges us to ensure that we protect and conserve this highly threatened species for future generations.”

Six California officers shot man as he woke in his car”:


Willie McCoy (right) in an image shared by his cousin David Harrison (centre)

California police have said a 20-year-old black man who was shot and killed in his car by six officers last week had reached for a gun first.

But Willie McCoy’s family has pushed back, saying the aspiring rapper was not a threat to the officers as he was just waking up.

Vallejo police had been called for a wellness check when a driver was spotted slumped over in his vehicle.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene on 9 February.

“Any loss of life is a tragedy,” police chief Andrew Bidou said in an updated report of the incident on Tuesday.

The police report does not name Mr McCoy as the driver, citing the ongoing investigation, but local media identified him after speaking with family members.

Vallejo is a city near San Francisco that has been the site of several alleged cases of police brutality against black residents.

What do Vallejo police say?

According to the police department, officers received a call from employees at a Taco Bell fast food restaurant on Saturday night, requesting a check-up on a driver in the parking lot.

When they arrived on scene, they saw Mr McCoy unresponsive in his vehicle with a semi-automatic handgun on his lap. More officers were called while Mr McCoy slept.

Police had planned on opening the car door and retrieving the weapon before engaging Mr McCoy, but were unable to do so as the doors were locked.

Mr McCoy then woke up and looked at the officers, who commanded him to keep his hands visible. Police then say he did not comply and “quickly moved his hands downward for the firearm”.

“Fearing for their safety, six officers fired their duty weapons at the driver,” the news release stated. Multiple rounds were fired in a span of four seconds.

“Officers continued to yell commands at the driver and ultimately reached through the broken glass of the driver’s window to unlock the vehicle.”

Police attempted medical assistance but the driver died at the scene. An official post-mortem examination is still under way.

A preliminary investigation found that the gun had been reported stolen in Oregon.

The officers have not been named and have been placed on administrative leave for the duration of the investigation.

Photo of Willie McCoy and his cousin David Harrison
Willie McCoy (left) and his cousin David Harrison

What does the family say?

Mr McCoy’s family has disputed this police account.

During a vigil on Sunday, Mr McCoy’s older brother Mark said police had surprised Mr McCoy and fired too quickly.

“My little brother was just shot for no reason,” he said, according to CBS News.

“If I wake you up… if I knock on your front door and, ‘Bang bang bang!’ you’re going to jump off the bed,” he said. “Why wouldn’t you be safe while you wake him up and then [say] ‘Driver, exit the car’?”

David Harrison, Mr McCoy’s cousin, told the Los Angeles Times on Monday that Mr McCoy was raised by relatives after his parents passed away when he was a child.

He said his cousin had finished up a session in a recording studio before he drove to the Taco Bell.

In an emotional Facebook video, Mr Harrison pleaded with other young people to listen to their parents and keep away from cops.

“I want no other parents, no other kid’s parents, to go through this ever again,” Mr Harrison said. “They can’t just keep killing us in the street like this. My little cousin was asleep in the car.”

Mr McCoy’s family has hired civil rights attorney John Burris – who recently took on a case where a homeless man sleeping in Oakland was killed by police – to represent them, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

FBI releases serial killer Samuel Little’s drawings of victims”:


The FBI released Samuel Little’s drawings in the hope that the victims could be identified.

The FBI has released the portraits a serial killer drew of his victims in the hope that they can be identified.

Samuel Little, 78, confessed to killing 90 people over three decades last year, while already serving three life sentences for murder.

The killings took place across the US between 1970 and 2005.

Investigators say he targeted “marginalised and vulnerable women”, and that some of their bodies went unidentified and deaths uninvestigated.

Having heard all of his confessions, they believe he could be one of the most prolific serial killers in US history.

Victim drawing
Los Angeles, California: ‘White female between 23-25 years old killed in 1996’
Victim drawing
White female killed in 1984. Met victim in Columbus, Ohio. Body disposed of somewhere in Northern Kentucky’

Little, a former competitive boxer, would knock his victims out with punches before strangling them – meaning that there were not always “obvious signs” that the person had been killed.

Now, they are hoping that Little’s drawings can help them to finally find out who the victims were so that their families can be notified.

“With no stab marks or bullet wounds, many of these deaths were not classified as homicides but attributed to drug overdoses, accidents, or natural causes,” the FBI said in its initial report in November last year.

Victim drawing
White female between 20-25 years old killed in 1972. Victim possibly from Massachusetts’
Victim drawing
‘Black female, age 26, killed between 1976 and 1979. Met victim in St. Louis, Missouri. Victim possibly called Jo’

‘One of the most prolific serial killers in US history’

Although Little has been convicted of three murders, the FBI believes that he is responsible for many more.

Little was first caught in 2012 when he was arrested on a drugs charge in a homeless shelter in Kentucky, and extradited to California.

Once he was in police custody in Los Angeles, officers carried out DNA testing on him.

The results linked him to three unsolved murders from 1987 and 1989, which were all in Los Angeles County.

He pleaded not guilty at trial, but was eventually convicted and sentenced to three consecutive life sentences, with no chance of parole.

Victim drawing
‘Black female between 28-29 years old killed in 1984. Victim picked up in Memphis, Tennessee’
Victim drawing
Houston, Texas: ‘Black female between 25-28 years old killed between 1976 and 1979 or in 1993’

His three known victims were beaten and strangled, before their bodies were dumped in alleyways or bins.

Before being convicted of murder Little had already built up an extensive criminal record, with offences from armed robbery to rape in a number of different states across the US.

Little’s case was passed on to the FBI’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Programme (ViCAP), which analyses people who serially commit violent and and sexual crimes. They then share their findings with local law enforcement in different areas, in order to check them against any unsolved crimes.

ViCAP, tasked with doing a full background check on Little, noticed that the three LA killings were very similar to a number of unsolved deaths dating back to the 1970s.

Victim drawing
‘Black female between 35-45 years old killed in 1977. Met the victim in Gulfport, Mississippi. Victim possibly from Pascagoula. Victim possibly worked at Ingalls Shipyard.’
Victim drawing
‘Black female killed in 1976 or 1977. Body disposed of somewhere outside Wichita Falls (city unspecified).’

Crime analyst Christina Palazzolo writes on the FBI website that they “found a case out of Odessa, Texas, that sounded very much like him, and we could place him passing through the area around the same time”.

In spring last year, investigators set up an interview with Little, hoping to find out more information. Knowing that he wanted to move prisons, they struck a deal – he could move prisons if he talked.

Then, during the interview, Ms Palazzolo says “he went through city and state and gave [us] the number of people he killed in each place”. Once he was done, he had confessed to 90 killings. The FBI says it has so far been able to verify 34 of these.

Many of Little’s victims were sex workers, people with substance abuse issues and trans women, whose deaths may not have been investigated or would have been ruled to be accidental at the time.

His memory of the killings was mostly precise, as he could give details about where they happened and what car he was driving. But he was unable to remember specific dates – which, investigators say, has caused further issues with identifying the victims.

Agents are continuing to question Little and collect drawings of his victims.

Other images are described as:

  • Las Vegas, Nevada: ‘Black female, age 40, killed in 1993’
  • Monroe, Louisiana: ‘Black female, age 24, killed between 1987 and the early 1990s’
  • ‘Phoenix, Arizona: ‘White female killed in 1997. Victim possibly called Ann’
  • White female, age 26, killed in 1983 or 1984. Victim possibly from Griffith, Georgia’
  • Atlanta, Georgia: ‘Black female between 23-25 years old killed in 1984. Victim possibly a college student’
  • ‘Hispanic female in her 40s. Killed in 1988 or 1996. Victim possibly from Phoenix’
  • Atlanta, Georgia: ‘Black female between 35-40 years old killed in 1981’
  • Miami, Florida: ‘Black [trans female], age 18, killed in 1971 or 1972. Victim possibly called Mary Ann or Marianne’