Rodney Alcala, known as the “Dating Game Killer” and convicted of murdering six women and a girl in the 1970s, died in a hospital in Kings County, California on Saturday. He was 77 years old.
Mr. Alcala, who was on death row in California, has died of natural causes, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
A long-haired photographer who enticed women by offering to take their photos, Mr Alcala was convicted of killing a 12-year-old girl and four women in Orange County, Calif., And two women in New York, all between 1971 and 1979, authorities said.
Investigators had also suspected or linked to other murders in Los Angeles, Seattle, Arizona, New Hampshire and Marin County, California, the department said.
In 2016, Wyoming prosecutors charged Mr. Alcala with the murder of Christine Ruth Thornton, 28, who disappeared in 1978 and whose body was found in 1982, the department said. She was six months pregnant. Prosecutors ultimately decided Mr. Alcala was too ill to be extradited to Wyoming to face charge.
Many of Mr. Alcala’s victims were sexually assaulted and strangled or beaten to death.
“The planet is a better place without him for sure,” said Tali Shapiro, 61, of Palm Springs, Calif., Who was 8 in September 1968, when she was beaten and sexually assaulted by Mr. Alcala.
Ms Shapiro said she was walking to school on a sunny day in Los Angeles when Mr Alcala pulled her into his car and took her to her apartment, where authorities would later find her naked and covered in blood.
“I know it’s horrible what happened to me, but I never identified with it,” Ms. Shapiro said in an interview on Saturday. “I’ve grown in my life so it doesn’t really affect me. It’s a long time coming, but it has its karma.
Jeff Sheaman, an investigator with the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office in Wyoming, interviewed Mr Alcala while working on an unresolved case in 2013 regarding Ms Thornton’s disappearance.
“He’s where he needs to be, and I’m sure he’s hell,” Mr. Sheaman said in an interview on Saturday. “When I interviewed him in 2016, he was the coldest person. Everything about this guy gives me goosebumps.
During his interviews with the police, Mr Alcala pretended to be asleep and traced his index finger on photographs of the victims, trying to anger investigators, Mr Sheaman recalls.
He said it was unclear how many more killings Mr. Alcala might be linked to, adding: “Damn, there could be a ton of other victims. I have no idea.”
In 1978, six years after being convicted of sexually assaulting Ms. Shapiro, Mr. Alcala appeared in a brown elephant-legged suit and butterfly-collar shirt as “Bachelor # 1” in an episode. of “The Dating Game”.
The host described him as “a successful photographer,” according to a YouTube video. “Between takes, you might find him skydiving or motorcycling. “
Mr. Alcala won the contest, seducing the bachelor with sexual innuendos. The woman then decided not to date him because she found him disturbing, according to several news reports.
Mr Alcala became a camp counselor in New Hampshire but was arrested after someone noticed his photo on a flyer at a post office, indicating he was wanted by law enforcement. He was turned over to the Los Angeles Police Department and was convicted of sexually assaulting Ms. Shapiro in 1972. He was paroled after 34 months.
In 1980, Mr. Alcala was sentenced to death in Orange County, California, for the kidnapping and murder of Robin Samsoe, a 12-year-old girl who went missing in 1979 while riding a bicycle. at a ballet class. A forestry service worker found Robin’s body in a remote mountain ravine. A kitchen knife was found nearby.
Mr. Alcala’s conviction was overturned in 1984 by the California Supreme Court. The court said the case was marred by evidence of Mr. Alcala’s previous crimes, which had been presented at trial. Mr. Alcala was granted a new trial.
In 1986, Mr Alcala was again sentenced to death for Robin’s murder before a federal appeals court overturned the sentence in 2003, and granted Mr Alcala a new trial, the report said. department.
Investigators ultimately used DNA to link Mr. Alcala to four other homicides, which led to charges that he murdered Jill Barcomb, 18, and Georgia Wixted, 27, in 1977; Charlotte Lamb, 32, in 1978; and Jill Parenteau, 21, in 1979.
In 2010, an Orange County jury found Mr. Alcala guilty of murdering those four women and Robin.
At one point, the Cold Case teams from the New York Police Department and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office began investigating Mr. Alcala’s links to the decades-old murders of two 23-year-old women. .
Cornelia M. Crilley, a Trans World Airlines flight attendant, was raped and strangled in her Upper East Side apartment in 1971. Ellen Jane Hover was an aspiring conductor whose remains were found in Westchester County nearly a year after his demise in 1977.
New York City investigators learned that Mr. Alcala used John Berger’s name as a pseudonym while living in New York. They later found this name in Ms. Hover’s file folder.
In 2010, police released dozens of photographs of young women that were found in a storage locker Mr. Alcala kept in Seattle in 1979. Several women came forward, claiming that a photographer named John Berger had taken their photo in New York in the 1970s.
In 2012, Mr Alcala was extradited to New York City, where he pleaded guilty to the murder of Ms Hover and Ms Crilley, and in 2013 was sentenced to 25 years in life imprisonment.
During the conviction at the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, Justice Bonnie G. Wittner sobbed as Mr. Alcala’s violent crimes were recounted.
“This kind of case is something that I have never experienced, I hope I never again,” she said.