He was raised in relative obscurity in Cleveland, but his unique talent with the guitar helped legendary R&B group The O’Jays ultimately make it into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
But Frankie Little Jr. didn’t live long enough to see fellow bandmates Eddie Levert, Bobby Massey, Sammy Strain, Walter Williams and William Powell leap into music immortality.
But what happened to Little had remained a mystery for nearly 40 years.
On Wednesday, Ohio authorities identified partial human remains found in a garbage bag in 1982 as those of Little.
The Twinsburg Police Department released a statement noting that a worker discovered a skull inside a bag discarded behind a now-closed business.
Investigators said the bones found with the skull showed signs of blunt force trauma and have ruled Little’s death a homicide.
“The remains belonged to an African-American male, 20 to 35 years of age, approximately 5’6″ tall, and that he may have had adolescent kyphosis, a curvature of the spine,” the statement read.
The DNA Doe Project, which provided names of potential relatives, gave police Little’s name and a DNA sample.
That sample was analyzed by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation crime lab, and Little’s identity was then confirmed by Dr. Lisa Kohler of the Summit County Medical Examiner Office.
“It’s definitely nice that we can give some answers to the family, and hopefully, they have some sense of closure,” Twinsburg Detective Eric Hendershott told WEWS. “He had a life, and ultimately he ended up here in Twinsburg, with his life taken by another.”
Little was last known to be alive in the mid-1970s, according to police.
He resided in Cleveland, about 24 miles away from where his remains were discovered.
Police are continuing to investigate the case to determine what happened to Little. After that, authorities will turn his remains over to relatives for burial.
In a statement, The O’Jays said they hadn’t heard from Little long before his death.
“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,” the group wrote. “We wish his family and friends closure to what appears to be a very sad story.”
According to various reports about Little’s life, he served two years in the U.S. Army, including deployment during the Vietnam War.
He had a daughter who died in 2012 and a son who has not yet been located or identified.