’60s O’Jays Musician Frank Little Jr. Finally Identified From Remains Found 40 Years Ago
Investigators in Twinsburg, Ohio were finally able to identify a man whose remains were discovered in the early '80s. After nearly 40 years of searching, they revealed that the remains belonged to Frank "Frankie" Little Jr., who was once a songwriter and guitarist for R&B group The O'Jays.
The identification was made possible thanks to DNA and genealogical research. Twinsburg detective Eric Hendershott told the Akron Beacon Journal that he turned to the process after a failed attempt to identify the remains in 2018.
“It occurred to me that time’s ticking,” he said. “Soon enough, people won’t be alive to remember him.”
He collaborated with the DNA Doe Project in September 2019 and was able to begin putting together a family tree to help with identification. The results gave Hendershott a last name, and he worked from there.
Hendershott reached out to Little's cousin Margaret O'Sullivan, who put him in touch with Little's surviving brother. The detective was able to obtain a DNA sample and close the case after confirming a match.
O'Sullivan expressed gratitude for the finding and what it means to her family.
"We're glad that we have closure now," she said. "We know he's deceased."
Little Jr.'s skeletal remains were discovered in a garbage bag outside a Twinsburg business in 1982. Initial reports suggested that the remains belonged to a Black male between the ages of 20 and 35. It was estimated that he had been dead for two to four years by the time that the body was found.
Although the original cause of death was ruled "undetermined," it has now been ruled a homicide.
Hendershott said the next goal is to determine the killer.
Not much is known about Little Jr.'s disappearance. The Akron Beacon Journal reports that he was believed to still be alive in the mid-1970s.
Little Jr.'s brother remembered their final conversation but was not able to provide much else. Investigators will try to track down Little Jr.'s son to see if he knows more. The musician also had a daughter, who passed away in 2012.
Walter Williams, one of the original and remaining members of The O'Jays, confirmed that Little Jr. was part of the band in the '60s.
As a member of the group, he assisted with writing some of their material such as "Do the Jerk" and "Oh, How You Hurt Me." It is currently unclear exactly when or why he departed the group.
The group topped the Billboard Hot 100 with the release of their biggest hit to date, "Love Train," in 1973. They went on to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of fame in 2005, according to their biography on Spotify.
A full copy of the City of Twinsburg Police Department's press release about Little's identification can be found at Cleveland 19.