Rodney James Alcala, an American serial killer and rapist, who was sentenced to death in California for five murders committed in that state between 1977 and 1979 and received additional sentence of 25 years to life after pleading guilty to two homicides committed in New York in 1971 and 1977 died. According to investigators, Alcala, a prolific serial torture-slayer dubbed “The Dating Game Killer” had raped and murdered more than 135 girls and women across the US. At the same time, investigators said, his true victim count may never be known.
Prosecutors said Alcala stalked women like prey and took earrings as trophies from some of his victims.
“You’re talking about a guy who is hunting through Southern California looking for people to kill because he enjoys it,” Orange County, California, prosecutor Matt Murphy said during his trial.
The mother of 12-year-old Robin Samsoe testified at his murder trial that a pair of gold ball earrings found in a jewelry pouch in Alcala’s storage locker belonged to her daughter.
But Alcala claimed that the earrings were his and that a video clip from his 1978 appearance on “The Dating Game” shows him wearing the studs nearly a year before Samsoe died. He denied the slayings and cited inconsistencies in witness’ accounts and descriptions.
California prosecutors said Alcala also took earrings from at least two of his adult victims as trophies.
Two of the four women were posed nude after their deaths, one was raped with a claw hammer and all were repeatedly strangled and resuscitated to prolong their agony, prosecutors said.
Investigators said one victim’s DNA was found on a rose-shaped earring in Alcala’s possession, and his DNA was found in her body.
After the verdict, authorities released more than 100 photos of young women and girls found in Alcala’s possession in hopes of linking him to other unsolved murders around the country.
“There is murder and rape and then there is the unequivocal carnage of a Rodney Alcala-style murder,” Bruce Barcomb, the brother of 18-year-old victim Jill Barcomb, said as Alcala was sentenced to death.
According to Wikipedia, Alcala compiled a collection of more than 1,000 photographs of women and teenage girls and boys, many in sexually explicit poses. In 2016, he was charged with the 1977 murder of a woman identified in one of his photos. Alcala is known to have assaulted one other photographic subject, and police have speculated that others could be rape or murder victims as well.
Prosecutors have said that Alcala “toyed” with his victims, strangling them until they lost consciousness, then waiting until they revived, sometimes repeating this process several times before finally killing them. One police detective described Alcala as “a killing machine”, and others have compared him to Ted Bundy.
Rodney Alcala was born Rodrigo Jacques Alcala Buquor in San Antonio, Texas, to a Mexican-American couple, Raoul Alcala Buquor and Anna Maria Gutierrez. In 1951, Alcala’s father moved the family to Mexico, then abandoned them three years later. In 1954, when Alcala was about 11 years old, his mother moved him and his two sisters to suburban Los Angeles.
In 1961, at the age of 17, Alcala joined the United States Army and served as a clerk. In 1964, after what was described as a nervous breakdown—during which he went AWOL and hitchhiked from Fort Bragg to his mother’s house—he was diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder by a military psychiatrist and discharged on medical grounds. Other diagnoses later proposed by various psychiatric experts at his trials included narcissistic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and malignant narcissism with psychopathy and sexual sadism comorbidities.
After leaving the army, Alcala graduated from the UCLA School of Fine Arts and later studied film under Roman Polanski at New York University.
Alcala committed his first known crime in 1968: An eyewitness in Los Angeles called police after watching him lure an eight-year-old girl named Tali Shapiro into his Hollywood apartment. When police arrived, the girl was found alive, having been raped and beaten with a steel bar, but Alcala had fled. To evade the resulting arrest warrant, Alcala left the state and enrolled in the NYU film school, using the name “John Berger”. In 1971, he obtained a counseling job at a New Hampshire arts camp for children using a slightly different alias, “John Burger”. In June 1971, Cornelia Michel Crilley, a 23-year-old TWA flight attendant, was found raped and strangled in her Manhattan apartment. Her murder remained unsolved until 2011.
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