Murderous May: Dating Game Killer

In 1968, a 25 year old Rodney Alcala was convicted of the rape and attempted murder of an 8 year old girl in California. He had taken her off the street, brought her back to his apartment and sexually assaulted her.  Then he hit her over the head with a metal pipe, intending to kill her.  Luckily, before he could make sure the gruesome job was finished, the police came knocking at his door.  A concerned citizen had seen the young girl getting into a car with unmarked tags and had followed them to the apartment building and called the authorities.  Police found the child in a pool of blood.

Alcala was convicted of the crime, but ended up serving a scant three years in prison. Some say that his shortened sentence was due to the fact that his victim and her family moved to Mexico before his sentencing, which somehow allowed him to successfully plead guilty to a lesser charge of child molestation.

What he did between 1968 and 1977 remains (mostly) a mystery…undoubtedly a bloody one.  But in 1977 Alcala started murdering beautiful young women.  He was a charismatic man with long wavy hair and a talent for photography and film making.   (Ironically, at one time Alcala worked for Roman Polanski, another child rapist.) He used his charm, looks and talent to his advantage when picking up women.

His first known victim was 18 year old Jill Barcomb, who had just moved to California weeks earlier.  He didn’t only rape and sodomize the poor girl like a disgusting animal, but took turns choking her into unconciousness, allowing her to wake up and choking her out again.

He repeated the performance about a month later with 27 year old Georgia Wixted.  After following her home, he climbed through her window in the night and basically tortured and killed her.  With Wixted, he developed what would become sort of a calling card…he would pose the lifeless body of his victim with their arms behind them, so that their backs would arch and their breasts would be thrust upward.

In the midst of his killing spree, in 1978 Alcala was accepted as a contestant on the popular game show The Dating Game. This in spite of the fact that he had a rape conviction under his belt, no pun intended. Way to conduct a background check, producers!   The template the show followed was to have a bachelorette ask a series of questions to three mystery bachelors.  Then the bachelorette would chose the winner based on how she liked their answers. The bachelorette in this case was a young lady from Texas named Cheryl Bradshaw and shockingly, the winning bachelor was Alaca.  Ms. Bradshaw’s self-preserving instincts must have kicked in after the show, however, as she declined the show-sponsored date with Alcala and prize package that would have gone along with it.  (Always trust your instincts, ladies! Be rude and heartless if you must, but trust those instincts!!!)

Despite what we may assume was his disappointment, Alcala recovered enough from his rejection to go on to murder two more women, Charlotte Lamb and Jill Parenteau, and one twelve year old girl, Robin Samsoe, in California. The murder of the beautiful blonde child in 1979 was his downfall.  She was taken while riding her bike to her ballet class. Her body was discovered dumped like trash in the San Gabriel Mountains twelve days later.

Alcala was first convicted of  Samsoe’s murder in 1980, but in spite of the fact that there were eye witnesses to Alcala approaching Samsoe earlier the day she disappeared to ask her to pose for pictures for him, in spite of the fact that a locker was found filled with pictures of girls and young women in bikinis, as well as earrings that were (much) later linked by DNA to at least one of his victims…his case was overturned.  Not once, but twice on technicalities.  While the family of his victim had to parade their grief and pain in front of media each time the case was brought back to trial, Alcala got to relive the thrill of his depraved deeds.

Finally, after years of playing yo-yo with the system, Alcala was convicted after prosecutors used DNA technology to link him with all five of his known victims in California.  That conviction still stands.

Additionally, in 2013, Alcala was convicted of two more murders, those of Cornelia Crilley and Ellen Hover, also occurring in the 1970’s, but across the country in New York.

Again, he is working on further appeals, but with New York courts adding an additional 25 years to life on top of his California death penalty, I’m thinking luck is finally running out for Alcala…and it’s about time!