June Leuenberger lost her mother, Julia Critchfield, when she was 15
For years, June Leuenberger wondered about the last moments of her mother, whose battered body was found at the bottom of a dirt pit in Saucier, Mississippi, in 1978.
“I wake up every single day of my life thinking of my mother,” the 57-year-old Gulfport, Mississippi, resident tells PEOPLE.
Her mother, Julia Critchfield, was strangled to death at the age of 36, when Leuenberger was just 15 and needed her mom so much.
Calling Critchfield her best friend, she says, “I was very, very, very close to my mother. Words can’t express the pain and anguish I’ve felt ever since the murder.”
Though Critchfield was killed more than 40 years ago, Leuenberger says, “I talk to her and will tell her, ‘I have dreams of the horrors you went through.’”
Ever since the horrible day she learned her mother had been killed, she’s also dreamt of the day she and her family would find out who ended Critchfield’s life, thinking that would ease some of the pain they’ve endured.
That day finally came in 2018 when Samuel Little confessed to the killing, giving authorities graphic details only the killer would know.
Her mother was one of 93 victims Little has confessed to murdering since he began opening up to Texas Ranger Jim Holland in 2018.
So far, authorities have verified 50 of Little’s confessions.
Now known as the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history, Little is serving three life sentences in a California prison for killing three Los Angeles women in the 1980s.
Along with the confessions, he has also produced a series of macabre drawings of more than 30 of his presumed victims, all of whom are women. The sketches are on the FBI’s website, and authorities are hoping the public can help make identifications.
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Little did not draw a picture of Critchfield, as far as Leuenberger knows. He has been charged with murder in connection with her death, local outlet WLOX reports.
But none of the events of the past two years have given Leuenberger the relief she’d imagined for so long.
“People said I would get closure when I found out who did it and that he couldn’t come do anything to me, etc.,” she says. “That’s so not true.”
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Leuenberger and her family agreed not to seek the death penalty for Little in exchange for learning the truth about the murders of their mother and other victims, she says.
But given the pain she is still going through, she says, “I want him dead now.”
“Now that I have this so-called peace when you find out who’s done it — now that I know what that feels like — it’s not doing me any favors by knowing,” she says.
“It opened up a whole other door of pain.”