DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (WREG) — A confessed serial killer linked to a Memphis killing was indicted for killing another woman in Florida.
In October 1991, Linda Little was spotted riding her bicycle. She stopped in the early morning hours at a convenience store to grab a doughnut and some chocolate milk and to read the paper.
When she didn’t show up for work, her family knew something was wrong.
“I don’t know the exact specifics, but that was what we knew at the time,” Little’s younger sister Wanda Hinson said.
The lack of information weighed heavily on Wanda Hinson. Little lived a few blocks away at the time in Daytona Beach. Hinson had just seen her.
“I went and gave her an early birthday present. We stood out in the yard and talked,” Hinson said.
That was the last time she saw Little.
A missing persons report was filed on October 14, 1991. The next three decades, there would be few leads in the case.
“Through the years it would get a lot easier, but I would just cry at a moment’s notice. You had no control over it when it was going to happen,” Hinson said.
Connection to Memphis cases
In 2019, WREG Investigators sat down with Michael Townson in a Florida prison, where he was spending a life sentence for killing his childhood friend in her Titusville, Florida home.
“On coke real bad, so I just started going around,” he said. “Something can trigger it to where I snap. I end up doing some dumb s**t.”
Townson told WREG in the late ’80s, while on a lot of drugs, he started traveling around the Southeast. He said his drug-obsessed lifestyle often ended with another person dead.
He admitted to killing nine people. They were mostly strangers. Two were in Memphis.
Townson also told a counselor at a prison about the Memphis killings. The counselor alerted the Memphis Police Department, and detectives with the cold case unit interviewed him.
Townson said he met one of the women near the Peabody, and they did drugs.
“We were just fooling around. Next thing you know (grunting noise). I just snapped,” he said.
MPD’s detectives said Townson gave details only the killer would know.
“I take her out of the car. Put her on the side of the road. Put her shoes by her,” Townson said.
Police identified the woman as Allean Michelle Branch. She was a loving mother.
She was killed in 1993, just nine days before Christmas.
“My intentions were not to hurt anyone. That’s not my intentions. Didn’t want to kill anyone. Just wanted to hang out, have some fun and get high,” he said.
The Shelby County District Attorney’s Office never filed in the charges in the Memphis case police linked him to since he was already spending life in prison, and MPD hasn’t identified the second woman.
Confession in Daytona Beach case
A few months after our interview, Townson spoke with Daytona Beach Police. He was in a prison in Daytona Beach at the time.
“The first time I spoke to him was January 8 of 2020,” Detective David Dinardi said. “He reached out to the inspector at the prison saying he wanted to speak to a Daytona Beach homicide detective.”
Dinardi says Townson gave details that lined up with Little’s disappearance. He said he was in Daytona Beach in 1991 celebrating his birthday, which is October 12th, when he met a woman at a hotel bar. Little’s sister, told WREG she frequented that bar for happy hour.
“I spent a couple of hours talking to him, and he was very honest, very forthcoming,” Dinardi said.
Dinardi reached out to WREG in 2020, a few months after he spoke to Townson.
On March 10, Townson sent us a message through the prison’s messaging system. He said, “talked to Daytona and confessed to the murder. Am waiting to hear from them. Will tell you all about it.”
We’ve followed up with Townson and are waiting to hear back.
‘I can tell you I did it, but I can’t tell you why.’
On October 24, Townson was indicted in the killing of Little.
“The next day, is really, it just felt — I was walking — like five pounds had been lifted off my shoulders,” Hinson said.
She says she still has questions, like exactly when Townson met her sister and where he left her body.
“Supposedly he took her into Georgia. They are in touch with departments up there to see if there were any remains throughout the years, because of construction up there,” Hinson said.
Townson had told us he never knew what made him snap, what drove him to kill, but he believed it had something to do with being abused during his childhood.
“I know these people have been living with why, why, why for years. I can’t explain why. I can tell you I did it, but I can’t tell you why. I don’t know why,” Townson said.
Prosecutors in Daytona Beach said they will continue with the criminal justice process.
Other agencies across the southeast have talked to Townson. He also told us he hit a woman with a stick in a cemetery in Mississippi around the same time he was reportedly in Memphis.
Around the same time, a woman was found dead in Rosedale. She was left in a cemetery next to the Mississippi River levee. Her case remains unsolved.
Townson told WREG investigators in Mississippi reached out to him at one point.
Dinardi believes Townson is connected to more cases.
“I know he told me it’s close to the 10. Unfortunately, I do believe him,” he said.
Little would have turned 75 in October. She would have been a great-grandmother.
“She lived her life more in the short period of time she lived than most people do in their whole lives,” said Hinson.
She said she misses her sister every day.
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