Rodney Alcala, ‘The Dating Game’ Serial Killer, Dies

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A longhaired lensman who lured women by offering to instrumentality their picture, Mr. Alcala, 77, had been convicted of 5 murders successful Orange County, Calif., and 2 successful New York, each successful the 1970s.

Rodney Alcala astatine  Manhattan Supreme Court successful  2012.
Credit...Pool photograph by Jefferson Siegel

July 24, 2021, 8:28 p.m. ET

Rodney Alcala, who was known arsenic “The Dating Game Killer” and was convicted successful the murders of six women and 1 miss successful the 1970s, died connected Saturday astatine a infirmary successful Kings County, Calif. He was 77.

Mr. Alcala, who was connected California’s decease row, died of earthy causes, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

A longhaired lensman who lured women by offering to instrumentality their pictures, Mr. Alcala was convicted of sidesplitting a 12-year-old miss and 4 women successful Orange County, Calif., and 2 women successful New York, each betwixt 1971 and 1979, the authorities said.

Investigators had besides suspected him of, oregon had linked him to, different murders successful Los Angeles, Seattle, Arizona, New Hampshire and Marin County, Calif., the section said.

In 2016, prosecutors successful Wyoming charged Mr. Alcala with the execution of Christine Ruth Thornton, 28, who disappeared successful 1978 and whose assemblage was recovered successful 1982, the section said. She had been six months pregnant. Prosecutors yet decided that Mr. Alcala was too ill to beryllium extradited to Wyoming to look the charge.

Many of Mr. Alcala’s victims were sexually assaulted and strangled oregon beaten to death.

“The satellite is simply a amended spot without him, that’s for sure,” said Tali Shapiro, 61, of Palm Springs, Calif., who was 8 years aged successful September 1968, erstwhile she was beaten and sexually assaulted by Mr. Alcala.

Ms. Shapiro said she had been walking to schoolhouse connected a sunny time successful Los Angeles erstwhile Mr. Alcala lured her into his car and took her to his apartment, wherever the authorities would aboriginal find her nude and covered successful blood.

“I cognize it’s atrocious what happened to me, but I’ve ne'er identified with it,” Ms. Shapiro said successful an interrogation connected Saturday. “I’ve moved connected with my life, truthful this doesn’t truly impact me. It’s a agelong clip coming, but he’s got his karma.”

Jeff Sheaman, an researcher with the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office successful Wyoming, interviewed Mr. Alcala portion moving connected a acold lawsuit successful 2013 regarding the disappearance of Ms. Thornton.

“He’s wherever helium needs to be, and I’m definite that’s successful hell,” Mr. Sheaman said successful an interrogation connected Saturday. “When I interviewed him backmost successful 2016, helium was the astir acold person. Everything astir that feline conscionable gives maine the creeps.”

During his interviews with the police, Mr. Alcala would unreal to beryllium dormant and hint his scale digit on photographs of the victims, trying to irritate investigators, Mr. Sheaman recalled.

He said it was hard to cognize however galore different murders Mr. Alcala mightiness beryllium linked to, adding: “Hell, determination mightiness beryllium a ton of different victims retired there. I person nary idea.”

In 1978, six years aft helium was convicted of molesting Ms. Shapiro, Mr. Alcala appeared successful a brownish bell-bottom suit and a garment with a butterfly collar arsenic “Bachelor No. 1” connected an occurrence of “The Dating Game.”

The big described him arsenic “a palmy photographer,” according to a YouTube video. “Between takes, you mightiness find him sky-diving oregon motorcycling.”

Mr. Alcala won the contest, charming the bachelorette with intersexual innuendo. The pistillate aboriginal decided not to spell connected a day with him due to the fact that she recovered him disturbing, according to respective quality reports.



Mr. Alcala became a campy counsellor successful New Hampshire but was arrested aft idiosyncratic noticed his representation connected a flyer astatine a station office, indicating that helium was wanted by instrumentality enforcement officials. He was turned implicit to the constabulary successful Los Angeles, and was convicted of molesting Ms. Shapiro successful 1972. He was paroled aft 34 months.

In 1980, Mr. Alcala was sentenced to decease successful Orange County, Calif., for kidnapping and murdering Robin Samsoe, a 12-year-old miss who had disappeared successful 1979 portion riding her motorcycle to a ballet lesson. A wood work idiosyncratic had recovered Robin’s assemblage successful a distant upland ravine. A room weapon was recovered nearby.

Mr. Alcala’s condemnation was reversed successful 1984 by the California Supreme Court. The tribunal said the lawsuit had been tainted by grounds of Mr. Alcala’s anterior crimes, which had been introduced astatine trial. Mr. Alcala was granted a caller trial.

In 1986, Mr. Alcala was sentenced to decease again for Robin’s execution earlier a national appeals tribunal overturned the condemnation successful 2003, and granted Mr. Alcala different caller trial, the section said.

Investigators yet utilized DNA to nexus Mr. Alcala to 4 different homicides, which led to charges that helium had murdered Jill Barcomb, 18, and Georgia Wixted, 27, successful 1977; Charlotte Lamb, 32, successful 1978; and Jill Parenteau, 21, successful 1979.

In 2010, an Orange County assemblage convicted Mr. Alcala of murdering those 4 women, and Robin.

At immoderate point, the cold-case squads from the New York Police Department and the Manhattan territory attorney’s bureau began looking into connections betwixt Mr. Alcala and the decades-old killings of 2 23-year-old women.

Cornelia M. Crilley, a Trans World Airlines formation attendant, had been raped and strangled successful her Upper East Side flat successful 1971. Ellen Jane Hover was an aspiring orchestra conductor whose remains were recovered successful Westchester County astir a twelvemonth aft she disappeared successful 1977.

New York City investigators learned that Mr. Alcala had utilized the sanction John Berger arsenic an alias erstwhile helium was surviving successful New York. They aboriginal recovered that sanction successful the record folder for Ms. Hover’s case.

In 2010, the constabulary released dozens of photographs of young women that had been recovered successful a retention locker that Mr. Alcala kept successful Seattle successful 1979. Several women came forward, claiming that a lensman named John Berger had taken their representation successful New York successful the 1970s.

In 2012, Mr. Alcala was extradited to New York, wherever helium pleaded guilty to murdering Ms. Hover and Ms. Crilley, and successful 2013 was sentenced to 25 years to life.

At the sentencing successful New York State Supreme Court successful Manhattan, Justice Bonnie G. Wittner sobbed arsenic Mr. Alcala’s convulsive crimes were recounted.

“This benignant of lawsuit is thing I’ve ne'er experienced, anticipation to ne'er again,” she said.

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