A set of human remains found in a garbage bag in Ohio in 1982 has been positively identified as a former member of the O’Jays. As first reported by the Akron Beacon Journal, police have confirmed that the bodily remains of Frank “Frankie” Little Jr. were found in Twinsburg, OH nearly 40 years ago.
In February 1982, the then-unidentified human remains were found in a garbage bag beside a business in Twinsburg. For nearly four decades, generations of police officers attempted to find out who the man was through a myriad of methods including facial reconstruction and various DNA databases. With his identity determined, Little’s cause of death has changed from “undetermined” and is now ruled a homicide as police open a murder investigation.
Little’s time in the Canton, OH-founded soul outfit was brief, serving as guitarist/songwriter in the mid-1960s. He is credited along with lead vocalist and co-founder Eddie Levert on such songs as 1964’s “Do the Jerk”, 1966’s “Pretty Words”, 1967’s “Oh, How You Hurt Me”, and is also credited with vocals on 1962’s “Down at the Corner”.
The case began in February 1982 when employees of a now-closed machine shop discovered a human skull while dumping shavings in the woods. Police canvassed the area and found additional male remains, though not enough to form a complete body. A forensic anthropologist determined that the body parts had been there for between two and four years.
Despite pleas to the public and other law enforcement agencies, the case sat cold for nearly 20 years. In 2009, Sgt. Greg Feketik reopened the case, hoping to use advanced DNA techniques not available in the 1980s. Unfortunately, the John Doe’s genetic profile was not in the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System database. In 2016, forensic artist Samantha Molnar with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations made a clay model of what the man’s skull would look like, but this still brought forward no results.
After the Golden State killer was positively identified as Joseph DeAngelo in 2018, Twinsburg detective Eric Hendershott wondered if the body in his case could be identified the same way. Through the help of non-profit the DNA Doe Project, the man’s genealogical profile was compared with those in public databases. This lead to the surname Little as investigators continued to widdle down possibilities. Hendershott eventually contacted Margaret O’Sullivan, Little’s cousin, who informed him that Frank had a brother living in Georgia. After the brother offered a DNA sample, police determined that the remains were those of Frank Little Jr.
Though the discovery of Little’s identity closes one mystery over 40 years in the making, it also opens up a whole new one.
“Part of the mystery is over with, but we have no idea how he got there, how he disappeared or where he lived toward the end of his life,” Hendershott said.
[H/T Akron Beacon Journal]