Frank 'Frankie' Little, Jr., Guitarist of The O'Jays, Identified as Man Found in Garbage Bag in 1982: Police

A clay model of a skull found in 1982 in Twinsburg, Ohio (left) and a photo of Frank Little Jr. from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.
DNA Doe Project

Little's death was ruled a homicide, and now detectives are trying to find his killer. The O'Jays shot to fame in 1973 with their hit "Love Train."

Nearly 40 years after his mysterious disappearance, Frank “Frankie” Little, Jr., a guitarist and songwriter with the R&B group The O’Jays, has been identified through DNA and genealogical research, officials said.

The Twinsburg Police Department made the announcement on Tuesday, CBS affiliate-WOIO TV News reported.

Little’s death was ruled a homicide, according to Dr. Lisa Kohler of the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office, the Twinsburg police said in a press release.

Little’s partial remains were found in a garbage bag in a wooded area behind a business in Twinsburg, Ohio, on February 18, 1982. The business, which has since closed, was located on Cannon Road in Twinsburg.

The remains that were found were of an African-American male, 20 to 25 years of age, approximately 5 foot 6 inches tall. It also showed that Little may have had adolescent kyphosis, a curvature of the spine, the release said.

In October, the DNA Doe Project provided the name of potential living relatives, who were able to provide Little’s name. A close relative provided a DNA sample, which was analyzed by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation Crime Lab. 

"There were distant DNA matches that were from South Carolina that we reached out to and they were willing to help out and provide family trees," Detective Eric Hendershott of the Twinsburg Police told WOIO.

Hendershott said “not much is known about his disappearance and death.”

Little was raised in Cleveland, Ohio. He served two years in the U.S. Army, which included deployment to Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

According to police, Little never returned to California to rejoin the O’Jays, instead, he went back to Cleveland but never reconnected with his family either. Family members who were contacted by Twinsburg police said after that they lost track of Little and police said they could not find a paper trail of his life, WOIO reported.

Little had been a member of the band The O’Jays during the mid-1960s. In 1973, one of their hits, "Love Train" raced to the top of the charts, CBS reported.

His former bandmates with the O’Jays said they never heard from him after he disappeared, WOIO reported.

According to the Twinsburg police, Little had a daughter who passed away in 2012 and a son who has not yet been identified or located. His last known address was in the area of E. 105th and Superior Ave. in Cleveland. The authorities said he was last alive in the mid-1970s, the release said.

Hendershott said Walter Williams, one of the original members of the O'Jays, said Little wrote songs with Eddie Levert, another one of the band's founders.

In 2005, Little was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

"Part of the mystery is over with, but we have no idea how he got there, how he disappeared, or where he lived toward the end of his life," Hendershott said, CBS reported.

The police expressed their "sympathies to the family during this difficult time,” the statement said,

"If we get anyone who knew him in life, especially in the 70′s, who he was living with, who his associates were, that would be useful information in this case," Hendershott told WOIO News.

The authorities said the person who may be responsible may no longer be alive, but they will continue with their investigation, WOIO reported.

Anyone with information can contact Det. Eric Hendershott at 330-405-5679 or

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