A 53-year-old “confessed serial killer” in Florida was handed his second second life sentence after police say he admitted to the cold case murder of a woman who has been missing for more than 30 years.
Michael Shane Townson on Tuesday pleaded no contest to one count of first-degree murder in the 1991 slaying of Linda Lois Little, authorities announced.
Circuit Court Judge Dawn D. Nichols handed down a sentence of life in prison with the possibility for parole after serving at least 25 years. Townson is already serving a separate life sentence after he was convicted of murdering a woman in Brevard County in 2007.
According to a press release from the Office of the State Attorney for Florida’s Seventh Judicial District, a grand jury in Volusia County in October indicted Townson for Little’s murder after he confessed to investigators that he killed her and dumped her body behind a dumpster.
Prosecutors said that Townson told detectives he was in Daytona Beach for his birthday in mid-October 1991 when he met “a woman named Linda at the 701 Club bar inside the old Texan Hotel.” Townson said that he and Linda left the bar in his car and then “got into an argument.”
“Townson stated that he ‘backhanded’ Little and choked her,” the release states. “After he realized he had killed her, Townson told detectives that he drove north on Interstate 95 and got off on the second exit in Georgia. The defendant then disposed of Little’s body behind a dumpster in a rural area.”
When investigators showed Townson a photograph of Little from just before she went missing, he told them that there was “no doubt” that she was the woman he murdered in 1991, prosecutors said. They also noted that Townson’s story lined up perfectly with the timeline and other facts in the case.
Investigators were never able to locate Little’s body, even after performing a “recent check” of unidentified bodies in the Camden County area.
A sworn charging affidavit obtained by Law&Crime provided additional details about Little’s murder from the detective with the Daytona Beach Police Department who led the investigation.
According to the document, Little’s friend contacted police on Oct. 14, 1991 to report Little missing, saying the last time that anybody had seen her was Oct. 11. The case remained opened and Little’s body was never located.
The detective who took over the case in 2016 said that there was “no evidence or leads of value” in the investigation until early January 2020, when he was contacted by an inspector at the Tomoka Correctional Institution in Daytona Beach. The inspector said Townson, an inmate at the facility, wanted to speak to the police regarding an unsolved murder.
Police said that Townson confessed to Little’s murder because he was “trying to get right with God.” He further told them that he was “not trying to get out of prison, as he knows he does not deserve to be,” according to the affidavit.
In regards to Little’s slaying, Townson said that after they left the club on Oct. 11, he and Little were driving in his car when he suggested “that she take a shower,” the affidavit states. Townson said Little did not take kindly to the suggestion and “freaked out,” yelling and screaming at him, which is when he choked her to death.
Townson explained to detectives that “‘things’ happened to him and that he has a hatred for women,” the affidavit states.
Police say that Townson also confessed to murdering two women in Memphis, Tennessee, telling prosecutors details about the killings that “only the murderer would know.”
Townson is currently behind bars serving a life sentence after being convicted of first-degree murder for beating Sherri Carmanto to death with a steel pipe inside of her Titusville home in 2007.
[images via Daytona Beach Police Department]
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