What happened to Rodney James Alcala? ‘Dating Game Killer’ dies in prison after killing 5
ORANGE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: A convicted serial killer known as the 'Dating Game Killer' because of his appearance on a reality TV show as a contestant back in 1978, has died of natural causes, California prison officials confirmed on Saturday, July 24.
Rodney James Alcala, 77, was sent to death row for killing five people, including 12-year-old Robin Samsoe in 1979. Alcala died at 1.43 am on Saturday, July 24, at a hospital, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a statement. He was twice given a new trial in Orange County for kidnapping and killing of Samsoe but was convicted of her murder, as well as that of four women, by an Orange County jury in 2010. He was sentenced to death.
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The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation released a statement saying: "Alcala was sentenced to death in Orange County in 1980 for the 1979 kidnapping and murder of 12-year-old Robin Samsoe. That judgment was reversed in 1984 by the California Supreme Court and Alcala was granted a new trial. In 1986, Alcala was sentenced to death a second time for Samsoe’s murder; however, a federal appeals court in 2003 overturned the sentence and Alcala were given a new trial. His DNA matched evidence in other murders and Orange County prosecutors indicted Alcala for the murders of four other women."
It continued: "In 2010, an Orange County jury convicted Alcala of five counts of first-degree murder and he was sentenced to death for the killing of Samsoe as well as the 1977 deaths of 18-year-old Jill Barcomb and 27-year-old Georgia Wixted; the 1978 death of 32-year-old Charlotte Lamb, and the 1979 death of 21-year-old Jill Parenteau."
The reason behind Alcala's 'Dating Game Killer' nickname was because he previously participated in the 1978 TV show 'The Dating Game'. He was introduced on the show as a "successful photographer," but despite bachelorette Cheryl Bradshaw winning a date with him she refused to go out with him because she thought he was "creepy". "In 2012, Alcala was extradited to New York after he was indicted for the 1971 murder of Cornelia Crilley and the 1977 murder of Ellen Jane Hover. He pleaded guilty and in 2013 was sentenced in New York to 25 years to life," the July 24 news release added.
In 2016, Alcala was charged with the killing of 28-year-old Christine Ruth Thornton. At the time of her disappearance, Thornton was six months pregnant. Her body was eventually found four years later. "Investigators have either suspected Alcala of or linked him to other murders in Los Angeles and Marin County in California; Seattle, Washington; New York; New Hampshire and Arizona," the news release concluded. Alcala was on death row in San Quentin State Prison, however, he had been placed in Corcoran State Prison for medical reasons.
In addition to getting sentenced to death for a handful of killings in the 1970s, police suspect Alcala possibly killed up to 130 people across the US. His known victims are Robin Samsoe, 12; Jill Barcom, 18; Georgia Wixted, 27; Charlotte Lamb, 32; Jill Parenteau, 21; Cornelia Crilley, Jane Hover, and Christine Ruth Thornton, 28.
In 2020, a six-part podcast, 'The Dating Game Killer' became a must-listen for true-crime fans. Alcala sometimes took trophies as jewelry and he repeatedly raped, strangled, and revived his victims before killing them. The bodies of the women he killed were carefully posed and photographed. Retired LAPD detective Bob Souza once called the killer "a psychopath of the first order."
During his trial, Matt Murphy, an Orange County, California, prosecutor, said: "You’re talking about a guy who is hunting through Southern California looking for people to kill because he enjoys it." Before getting convicted of murder, Alcala spent around five years behind bars on other charges, including furnishing marijuana to a minor and kidnapping and trying to kill an 8-year-old girl.