The True Story of “The Dating Game Killer,” Rodney Alcala

American true-crime lovers have a knack for finding bizarre serial killer stories and shocking twists. One that isn’t too sensational, like Jeffery Dahmer’s Giant Names, involves a reality TV show from the past and a woman’s very close call with the terrifying predator.

Rodney Alcalaalso known as The dating game Killer, actually won the reality game show in the 1970s when he was in the middle of his killing spree.

The dating game episode featuring Alcala as the number one bachelor aired in 1978. Alcala wooed the woman choosing his perfect match, Cheryl Bradshaw, and the prize was a date for the two. But Bradshaw lived to tell the story of his date with a serial killer after his instincts kicked in.

“I started to feel bad. He was acting really scary,” Bradshaw said. The Sunday Telegraph in 2012. “I declined his offer. I didn’t want to see him again.”

At the time of his television appearance, Alcala allegedly killed four women. He was accused of killing a total of seven women in the late 1970s. Now, however, it is believed he may have had over 100 victims. His first murder charge was barely a year later. The dating game aired, and it was for the death of a 12-year-old girl named Robin Samsoe.

The penalty phase of the People vs. Alcala trial begins in a Santa Ana, California courtroom in 2010.
Ted Soqui/Corbis/Getty

Alcala’s crime spree was odd to say the least, considering he decided to appear on national television in the middle of it. His time in court was also a little strange. Alcala’s first murder charge found him guilty, but the verdict was later thrown out due to unfair information presented to the jury. It wasn’t until 1986 that Alcala was charged with another murder.

So where is Alcala now? He is still alive and spending his life behind bars. He is 77 years old and is currently serving his sentence in a California prison.

Even though Alcala has been in prison for quite some time, there are still recent updates to his story. In 2016, Alcala was charged with another murder: that of a pregnant woman, Christine Ruth Thornton, in 1977.

The police are still investigating possible murders by Alcala. In 2010, a collection of photos that belonged to Alcala, a photographer, was made public. You can browse women here and help the police confirm their identity.

The dating game killera 20/20 special, airs Friday night at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

Looking for more true crime stories to binge? Take a look at our guide here.

About Jimmie P. Ricks

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