The True Story Of Rodney Alcala, The Dating Game Serial Killer

“And he was able to charm psychiatrists just like he charmed his victims. This guy should’ve never been released based on the crime itself.” “He ultimately was convicted of child molest,” Murphy tells Harold Dow. “He received one year to life in the old indeterminate sentencing laws. One year to life and the parole board let him go after 34 months. … after what he did to Tali Shapiro.” No one knows if there are any more victims of Alcala that have yet to be identified. HBPD still hopes that the hundreds of photos they’ve released will help families find missing loved ones.

Autopsies of some Alcala victims revealed that he would strangle women, then wait for them to regain consciousness before the final kill. Alcala also sometimes arranged the corpses of women he’d murdered in poses. In 2010, photos taken by Alcala decades earlier were made public to try to identify other victims.

Alcala wins ‘The Dating Game’: 1978

On Feb. 25, 2010, Alcala was found guilty of five counts of murder, four counts of rape, and one count of kidnapping. Alcala remains in a California holding facility as of February 2021, “allegedly in the throes of deep dementia,” says Thought Catalog. In the 1970s, Alcala killed Cornelia Crilley, 23, and Ellen Hover, 23, both residents of New York City. Crilley was raped and strangled with her own stockings in her apartment in June 1971. Hover disappeared on July 15, 1977, leaving behind a calendar that stated she was meeting with “John Berger.” Her remains were discovered in New York’s Westchester County in 1978. He received a sentence of 25 to life, though it will only be served if California releases him from custody.

He was granted permission and returned to New York City. On June 24, 1971, Crilley’s boyfriend Leon Bornstein, received a call from her mother in which she said she hadn’t heard from her daughter. He was faced with a decision — chase the suspect out the back and catch him, or render lifesaving aid to the girl. Former Los Angeles police officer Chris Camacho went to Alcala’s house and found Tali Shapiro.

Between the sketch, Alcala’s criminal past, and the discovery of Samsoe’s earrings in Alcala’s Seattle storage locker, police felt confident that they had their man. Prosecutors continued to uncover further murders, with authorities revealing Alcala used to stalk women like prey and would take ‘trophies’ from his victims such as jewellery. Eventually authorities caught up with Alcala and he was sentenced to death in Orange County in 1980 for kidnapping and murdering 12-year-old Robin Samsoe the previous year.

The California State Supreme Court ultimately ruled for the prosecution. In January 2010, almost 31 years after Robin Samsoe’s murder, Rodney Alcala went on trial again. “Having them together really paints the true picture of who Rodney Alcala is and gives the jury a realistic vision of how he commits his crimes,” says Satriano.

The majority of the photos are sexually explicit and include images of both women and men. One of Rodney Alcala’s sisters came to visit him in jail, and during their visit, police heard him ask her to clear out a storage locker in Seattle. Arriving before she had the chance to, police found hundreds of “graphic and disturbing” photos, along with a bag of earrings. Once Robin Samsoe’s mother identified that the earrings had belonged to her daughter, Alcala was charged. On April 30, 1980, Alcala was found guilty of first-degree murder and forced kidnapping. In the autumn of 1980, Alcala was also convicted for assaulting Monique Hoyt.

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Perhaps unbelievably, both his murder conviction and death sentence were overturned on appeals, in 1984 and 2001, respectively. According to LA Weekly, police would eventually track Alcala down in California and question him about the case, but never charged him since Hover’s body still hadn’t been found. Her bones were discovered 11 months after her disappearance in Westchester County, New York.

In September 1978, Alcala appeared as Bachelor No. 1 on The Dating Game, a TV show that had men and women cheekily interview prospective dates, sight unseen. At the time he was a convicted child molester but the show did not run a background check. Alcalas presence on The Dating Game highlights the dangers of meeting people online or through televised programs. Although Alcala was able to charm and manipulate his way onto the show, viewers had no way of knowing that he was a serial killer. This incident highlights the importance of being cautious when meeting someone through media outlets, as it can be difficult to vet potential dates and ensure that they are safe. Two days later, detectives from the Huntington Beach Police Department went north and cracked it open.

Police are still investigating possible murders by Alcala. In 2010, a collection of photos that belonged to Alcala, a photographer, were released to the public. You can browse through the women here and help police to confirm their identities. Despite being on death row for decades, Rodney Alcala was never executed. His convictions were thrown out on two separate occasions, the first because the jury was told he was a sex offender and the second because a witness was disallowed during the second trial.

Convicted three times for murder, Alcala repeatedly appealed his death sentences. This is the crazy true story of the serial killer who went on The Dating Game. Robin Samsoe, a 12-year-old girl from Huntington Beach, disappeared somewhere between the beach and her ballet class on June 20, 1979. Her decomposing body was found 12 days later in the Los Angeles foothills. Samsoe’s friends told police that a stranger had approached them on the beach, asking to take their pictures. Detectives circulated a sketch of the photographer, and Alcala’s parole officer recognized him.

At one point, he even questioned himself in the third-person, “changing his tone depending on if he was acting as his lawyer or as himself.” By the end of June, Alcala was considered a person of interest in the case, since detectives had compared his previous mugshot with the composite sketch. According to a documentary on the killer, between 1969 and 1971, Rodney Alcala was added onto the FBI’s Most Wanted list for the assault and attempted murder of Tali Shapiro. According to Groovy History, since background checks were limited during the 1970s, Alcala was able to roam free and live as “John Berger” or “John Burger” for years.

While he has been conclusively linked to eight murders, Alcala’s true number of victims remains unknown and could be much higher – authorities believe the actual number is as high as 130. The film tells the story of Rodney Alcala, a convicted serial killer believed to be responsible for over 130 murders. In 1971, he is caught after having raped and beaten 8-year-old Rosie Hoffman, but because her parents move her to Mexico, she does not testify at Alcala’s trial, and he is charged only with assault. He is repeatedly charged with abusing girls, but his good behavior and kind manners gain him preferable treatment and light sentences.

With Alcala’s long history as a photographer, in 2010 police made public hundreds of Alcala’s photographs found in a storage locker. Police said it was unclear if the people in the photos are victims but hope the public might be able to help identify the individuals in the pictures. He was convicted and sentenced to death three times for a 1979 murder, after twice having the verdict overturned in appeals. Now 77 years old and confined to a cell in a California prison, he refuses to disclose whether there are other victims. The FBI added Alcala to its list of Ten Most Wanted Fugitives in early 1971.