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Members of The O’Jays are speaking out following news that their beloved bandmate was identified nearly 40 years later.
On Tuesday, the Twinsburg Police Department announced that partial human remains discovered in a garbage bag in Twinsburg, Ohio in 1982 have been identified as Frank “Frankie” Little Jr., guitarist for the R&B group.
“Frankie was a guitarist and songwriter in the very early O’Jays,” original lead singers Eddie Levert and Walter Williams told Fox News on Wednesday. “He was sentimental, loving and passionate.”
“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 who he missed so much that he soon returned to Cleveland after a short amount of time,” they shared. “That was in the mid-1960s, and we had not heard from him after then. Although this is a tragic ending, we wish his family and friends closure to what appears to be a very sad story.”
Authorities used DNA and genealogical research to identify the remains of Frank "Frankie" Little Jr., which were found in a garbage bag in a wooded area behind a business in Twinsburg in 1982, said Summit County Medical Examiner Lisa Kohler.
(Twinsburg Police Department)
Levert, 79, and Williams, 78, still perform today.
According to police, DNA from a close relative helped identify Little’s remains after they were analyzed by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation Crime Lab. His identity was “confirmed by Dr. Lisa Kohler of the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office.”
“Thanks to the genealogical research of the DNA Doe Project, unidentified remains discovered on February 18, 1982, have been identified as Frank ‘Frankie’ Little Jr., born in 1943, from Cleveland, Ohio,” read a press release from the Twinsburg Police Department. “His identity remained a mystery for almost 40 years.”
According to the press release, Little’s partial remains were first recovered in a garbage bag behind a now-closed business. The remains were that of an African-American male who was between 20 to 35 years old and approximately 5’6″ tall. He may have had adolescent kyphosis, which is described as a curvature of the spine. Dr. Kohler ruled Little’s manner of death as a homicide. The identity of the individual who killed him is unknown.
The O’Jays were formed in 1963.
(Photo by NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)
“[Little] served in the US Army for two years, which included a deployment to Vietnam during the Vietnam War,” the statement shared. “Frank had a daughter who passed away in 2012, and he has a son who has not yet been located or identified.”
It is believed Little was last alive in the mid-‘70s. Not much is known about his disappearance or death.
“Our sympathies to the family during this difficult time,” the statement added.
Little’s cousin Margaret O’Sullivan, who resides in Cleveland, told Akron Beacon Journal that the family is pleased to learn what happened to Little after all this time.
Musicians Eddie Levert, Eric Grant and Walter Williams from The O’Jays attend ‘A Conversation with The O’Jays’ at The GRAMMY Museum on August 29, 2019, in Los Angeles, California.
(Photo by Alison Buck/WireImage)
“We’re glad that we have closure now,” she said. “We know he’s deceased.”
People magazine reported that Little’s remains, which were not a complete set, were between two to four years old. The outlet noted that while investigators- initially had a few leads, the case went cold for more than 20 years.
Twinsburg detective Eric Hendershott, who helped revive the investigation into the remains, said Little’s final years are still shrouded in mystery.
“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.
Williams and Levert formed the band in Canton, Ohio, in 1963, alternating as lead singers. Hits from their peak in the 1970s and 1980s include “Backstabbers,” ″Love Train” and “Use Ta Be My Girl.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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