Rodney Alcala is a convicted rapist and serial killer sometimes called “The Dating Game Killer.” He was born Rodrigo Jacques Alcala Buquor in San Antonio, Texas, in 1943. While he was convicted of murdering five people during the late 70s in 2010, some homicide investigators believe that has killed many more. At least one estimate hypothesizes that he has killed as many as 130 people.
Early life of Rodney Alcala
Alcala’s parents were Raoul Alcala Buquor and Anna Maria Gutierrez. His mother moved him and his sisters to Los Angeles when he was 12 after being abandoned by Buquor.
In 1960, he joined the Army. Four years later, he suffered a nervous breakdown. A military psychiatrist diagnosed him as having antisocial personality disorder, and Alcala was given a medical discharge. Alcala then studied at and graduated from the UCLA School of Fine Arts. He later studied film at New York University under the tutelage of Roman Polanski.
In 1968, Alcala committed his first known crime, when he lured an eight-year-old girl into his Hollywood apartment – and then raped and beat her with a steel bar. Alcala fled the state and rolled in the NYU film school under the alias of “John Berger.”
In 1971, the FBI added Alcala to its “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list. Alcala was working as a counselor at a children’s arts camp in New Hampshire, when two of the children saw his Wanted poster in the local post office and reported him. Alcala was soon arrested and sent back to California. By this time, the family of the girl he’d beaten and raped had moved to Mexico, and they refused to let her testify at the trial. The authorities could not convict Alcala of rape and attempted murder without her testimony, and they were forced to let him plead guilty to assault.
The Dating Game
In 1978, Alcala got a job as a typesetter for “The Los Angeles Times.” He also convinced many young people that he was a professional fashion photographer and thus got them to pose for him. Many of the poses were pornographic, and some investigators believe that Alcala killed some of the subjects.
Despite his criminal record, “The Dating Game” accepted Alcala as a contestant. By then, he had murdered at least four women. Alcala won – but Cheryl Bradshaw, the “bachelorette,” refused to go on a date with him, for she found him “creepy.” Shortly after his appearance on “The Dating Game, “Alcala killed three more people, including a 12-year-old girl named Robin Samsoe.
Robin Samsoe’s friends told police that a strange man had asked to take their pictures. They described the man for the police, and Alcala’s parole officer recognized him from the resultant sketch. Police arrested him on July 24, 1979 and then searched his mother’s house where they found a receipt for a storage locker in Seattle. That storage locker contained hundreds of photographs of young women and boys – and Samsoe’s earrings.
It took several trials to secure a conviction for Samsoe’s murder. The California Supreme Court threw out the conviction in 1980, because the jury had been told about Alcala’s earlier sexual offenses. In 1986, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals nullified another conviction and sentence claiming that police investigators had hypnotized a witness.
Alcala’s luck began to run out with the development of DNA technology. While he waited in prison for another trial, investigators collected samples of his DNA and matched it to that of some women that he had raped and murdered. In 2010, he was tried for five murders: Samsoe, Jill Parteneau, Charlotte Lamb, Georgia Wixted and Jill Barcomb. He was convicted and sentenced to death. He is currently on Death Row in San Quentin Prison.