The death of a Pine Bluff woman in 1994 was originally ruled as being drug-related.
But now, 25 years later, police are taking a second look at the case as a possible murder after a noted serial killer confessed to the crime.
The body of Jolanda Jones, 26, was found on Port Road on Feb. 24, 1994, and is one of some 90 murders nationwide that convicted serial killer Samuel Little, 76, has reportedly confessed to. More than 60 of the killings have been verified, according to authorities.
Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney S. Kyle Hunter has asked the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory to take another look at Jones’ autopsy results in an effort to collaborate Little’s story.
Deputy Pine Bluff Police Chief Terry Hopson, in a memo to Police Chief Kelvin Sergeant on June 25, said that in October 2018, he had been contacted by the Violent Crimes Unit of the FBI in Virginia and told that a man in police custody in Dallas, Texas, “half-admitted” to killing a black female in Pine Bluff in the early 1990s.
Hopson, who before his promotion was a long-time PBPD detective, said the agent gave him brief details of what Little had said, and Hopson told the agent about the death of Jones. The FBI agent then gave Hopson contact information for Texas Ranger James Holland, who was working with Little.
Hopson made contact with Holland, and Holland told him some of the specifics that Little had described about Jones’ death.
“I had been at the location on Port Road at the time of the female’s death, and Little had described it as if he were there,” Hopson said in the memo to Sergeant. Photos of Jones and a copy of the autopsy report were sent to Holland.
In the meantime, Little had painted a picture of Jones as he had of many of his previous victims.
“The likeness was remarkable,” Hopson said in the memo.
Little was recently taken to Los Angeles, California, in January 2019 to answer charges for other murders, and on May 19, Pine Bluff Police Detective Steve Rucker went to Los Angeles to interview Little. Hopson said that in a lengthy and very descriptive interview, Little described details of how he killed Jones on Port Road.
Those details have not been made public.
Hopson reported that Rucker also spoke with Dr. Frank Peretti of the State Medical Examiner’s Office and told him about what Little had said about the manner in which he killed Jones. Peretti said that particular method could possibly go undetected in Jones’ situation.
A case file has been sent to Hunter, who is examining it and waiting for additional information from the medical examiner’s office.
Hopson also said in the memo that Little was asked about other possible crimes in Pine Bluff during that period and denied involvement in any others. Timelines from February 1994 bear that out. The most prominent of those was the May 9, 1994, disappearance of Cleashindra Hall, who is still classified as missing. Numerous investigations since then have proved fruitless.