The mystery of the disappearance of former O’Jays guitarist Frank “Frankie” Little Jr. has come to a close after the partial human remains of a body found in 1982 have been identified as the musician.
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On Dec. 14, the Twinsburg Police Department in Ohio revealed that remains discovered in a bag behind a now-closed business on Feb. 18, 1982, belonged to Little, following genealogical research with the DNA Doe Project.
Little’s living brother, who resides in Georgia, provided a DNA sample, which was analyzed by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation Crime Lab. Little’s identity was confirmed by Dr. Lisa Kohler of the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Though Little’s death is now ruled as a homicide, not much is known about his disappearance and death. Forensic anthropologists determined that Little’s remains had been sitting around for two to four years prior to their discovery in 1982.
“It’s definitely nice that we can give some answers to the family and hopefully they have some sense of closure,” said Twinsburg Detective Eric Hendershott in an interview. “He had a life, and ultimately he ended up here in Twinsburg, with his life taken by another.”
Born in 1943, Little, a Cleveland musician, and songwriter joined The O’Jays in the mid-1960s and worked on several of the group’s earlier songs, including “Do the Jerk” in 1964, “Pretty Words” from 1966, and the group’s 1967 song “Oh, How You Hurt Me.” Little also served two years in the U.S. Army, including a deployment in the Vietnam War. He had a daughter who passed away in 2012, according to the Twinsburg news release, and a son who has not been identified or located.
In a statement, O’Jays members Eddie Levert, Walter Williams, and Eric Grant elaborated on Little’s time with the group in the early days and his disappearance, from their perspective at the time.
“Frankie was a guitarist and songwriter in the very early O’Jays,” said the group in a joint statement. “He came with us when we first ventured out of Cleveland and traveled to Los Angeles, 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.”
Little’s cousin Margaret O’Sullivan confirmed to police that she had a cousin who went missing and that he had a living brother in Georgia, who shared his DNA to help identify Little.
“It’s amazing,” said O’Sullivan. “We’re glad that we have closure now. We know he’s deceased.”
Photo: Rock & Roll Hall of Fame