Decades-Old Human Remains Belong to 1960s Guitarist

Frank Little Jr. was a member of the O'Jays
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 14, 2021 3:06 PM CST
Updated Dec 18, 2021 5:00 PM CST
Bones Found in 1982 Belong to Guitarist for the O'Jays
Stock image.   (Getty Images)

The remains of a man have been identified almost 40 years after they were found—and it turns out he was once a member of an R&B group that has a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Frank "Frankie" Little Jr. was a guitarist for the O'Jays in their early years; the band is known for hits like "Love Train." The remains of the man now known to be Little were found in February 1982 in a garbage bag deposited behind a Twinsburg, Ohio, machine shop. Police found the bag after employees who were discarding shavings in the woods came upon a human skull.

As for how that timing syncs up with Little's last known whereabouts, the Akron Beacon Journal reports his last established place of residence was Cleveland, and it's thought he lived into the mid-1970s. News 5 Cleveland reports little is known about the circumstances of his disappearance. A forensic anthropologist thought the remains had likely been there for two to four years; the bones weren't accompanied by clothing or any other identifying materials. The cause of death at the time had been recorded as "undetermined," but that will now be changed to homicide. Cousin Margaret O'Sullivan tells the Beacon Journal, "It's amazing. We're glad that we have closure now. We know he's deceased."

The break came after Twinsburg detective Eric Hendershott contacted the DNA Doe Project in September 2019. A genetic genealogy effort ensued, which led Hendershott to Little's brother in Georgia. He supplied a DNA sample, allowing detectives to positively identify the remains. The O'Jays said in a statement to Rolling Stone that Little was a member of the band in its early years, but "he also was in love with a woman in Cleveland that he missed so much that he soon returned back to Cleveland after a short amount of time. That was in the mid 1960s and we had not heard from him after then. Although this sounds like a tragic ending, we wish his family and friends closure to what appears to be a very sad story." (More cold cases stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.