Frank Little was a former member of the R&B band known as The O’Jays who went missing in the 1970s. His remains were found in 1982, but he wasn’t positively identified until nearly 40 years later.
Frank Little, who also went by Frankie, was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1943. Frankie had 2 children, and he served in the U.S. Army and was deployed during the Vietnam War. After starting a career as a musician and songwriter, Frankie joined the band The O’Jays in the mid-1960s as a guitarist and songwriter. He is known for his assistance in writing some of the band’s earliest hits, like “Love Train”, “Pretty Words” and “Oh, How You Hurt Me”.
The remaining members of The O’Jays, Eddie Leveret, Walter Williams, and Eric Grant, described the time they had working with Frankie up until his disappearance, stating that after touring with the band to Los Angeles, he returned on his own to Cleveland to be with the woman he was in love with in the mid-1960s. That was the last his bandmates heard from him.
Frankie’s brother, Johnny Little, stated that the last time he saw his brother was in 1976. The family then spent decades wondering what happened to Frankie.
On February 18, 1982, workers at business in Twinsburg, Ohio discovered a scull and garbage bags with human remains near the back parking lot. The authorities were called, and it was determined that the skeletal remains were not complete and pathologists were unable to determine the cause of death. What they did know was that the victim was an African American male, between 20-35 years old, was approximately 5’6″, and possibly had adolescent kyphosis. Sketches of the victim were made and released to the public, but no one recognized the victim.
Some time after Frankie disappeared, his brother Johnny moved to Atlanta and continued living there for the next 40 years. In early 2021, Johnny’s cousin Ross Little decided to take DNA tests to trace back their ancestry. Only a short time later, the family received a call from a detective, claiming that they had discovered a John Doe years ago with a DNA match. The match determined that Johnny and the John Doe were 389 million times likely to be brothers. Detectives later obtained a DNA swab from Johnny to confirm the DNA match. Some weeks went by, and finally Johnny got the call confirming the the remains found in 1982 were in fact those of Frankie Little.
Because of the lack of information around Frankie’s disappearance and death, the investigation is still ongoing. It is unfortunate and saddening what happened to Frankie, but his case can still be solved, just like he was given his name back after all these years.