Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

February 26, 2011

Lowndes authorities search for missing couple's bodies

VALDOSTA — Authorities are searching for the bodies of an Ohio couple believed to have been dumped in the Lowndes County area by a man suspected of three murders, said Lowndes County Sheriff Chris Prine Friday.

The case stretches from the murder of a 26-year-old woman in Ohio, the disappearance of a couple in their 80s, a suspect driving south toward Florida, and his arrest Wednesday in West Virginia. The search for the couple and the suspect gained national attention last week following the brutal murder of Tiffany Brown, 26, of Ohio.

Following his arrest earlier this week, the suspect reportedly claimed to have dumped the bodies of Richard Russell, 84, and wife Gladis Russell, 85, in Lowndes County, Prine said.

Though no bodies have been located, the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office, Cook County Sheriff’s Office, Lanier County Sheriff’s Office, Valdosta Police Department, Hahira Police Department, CSX Railroad Police and the Norfolk Southern Railroad Police spent Thursday and Friday searching the region.

Authorities confirmed that the suspect, Samuel Littleton II, spent time on Feb. 18 in the Valdosta area, Prine said. He drove a gray-and-green 2004 Mercury Grand Marquis with an Ohio license plate.

The case began earlier this month, when Brown, a mother of two, was reported missing in Bellefontaine, Ohio. She was last seen on Feb. 11.

On Feb. 16, while interviewing Brown’s mother, police reportedly noticed what appeared to be a blood-stained piece of clothing in her house, according to various Ohio news reports. A search warrant led to the discovery of Brown’s stabbed body in the basement.

The mother was not a suspect in the case, but Samuel K. Littleton II, 37, who reportedly lived in the mother’s basement, became a suspect. Ohio law-enforcement wanted him on felony counts of murder, assault, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence, according to the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office.

On the same evening authorities discovered Brown’s body, they located Littleton’s abandoned pick-up truck on private property in Logan County, Ohio. The Russells and their Grand Marquis were also reported missing at this time.

The Russells were reportedly the previous owners of the house where Brown’s body had been discovered, according to ABC News.

Earlier this week, Littleton stopped in Princeton, W.Va., and reportedly placed a phone call with his father from a telephone near a West Virginia State Police barracks, according to The Bluefield Daily Telegraph. Littleton apparently spent up to three days in the wooded hills of southern West Virginia. He reportedly attempted building a fire while wearing a hoodie sweatshirt in 20-degree temperatures, according to The Telegraph.

On Wednesday, Feb. 23, authorities located the Grand Marquis in the parking lot of a Princeton Walmart. West Virginia state police used a helicopter to flush the suspect out of woods behind the store. Following a brief foot chase, authorities apprehended the suspect. A police dog brought the fleeing suspect down, according to The Telegraph.

Questioning led to the claim he had dumped the Russells’ bodies in Lowndes County.

Prine said he did not know if the Russells were reportedly killed before the visit to South Georgia or while in the Lowndes County area. The suspect likely has limited knowledge of South Georgia. Authorities aren’t absolutely certain Lowndes County is the location, which is why the search has stretched to other South Georgia counties.

Based on the suspect’s account, authorities have been searching railroad tracks along wooded areas. Prine said law-enforcement has searched the past few days off Interstate 75 exits throughout South Georgia.

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