Rodney Alcala Biography

(American Serial Killer and Sex Offender)

Birthday: August 23, 1943 (Virgo)

Born In: San Antonio, Texas, United States

Rodney Alcala was an American rapist and serial killer who was sentenced to death in 2010 for murdering five people in the 1990s. One of the most prolific killers in American history, Rodney was once described as a “killing machine” by a detective. He is often compared with the deadliest killer of all time, Ted Bundy. He committed his first crime in the 1960s, when he took a girl to his apartment to kill her but could not do so, since the police arrived at the right moment. However, this was only the beginning. Rodney is said to have killed more than 130 people, including a nurse, a flight attendant, a pianist who dreamed of going to medical school, and a number of young girls, before he was sentenced to death. In 2013, 25 years of imprisonment were added to his punishment for committing two homicides, one in 1971 and the other in 1977. Interestingly, Rodney was at the peak of his stint as a serial killer when he appeared as a contestant on the TV matchmaking show ‘The Dating Game.’ Thus, he was also known as the “Dating Game Killer.”

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Rodrigo Jacques Alcala Buquor, Rodney James Alcala

Died At Age: 77


father: Raoul Alcala Buquor

mother: Anna Maria Gutierrez

Born Country: United States

Serial Killers American Men

Height: 1.79 m

Died on: July 24, 2021

place of death: Corcoran, California, United States

More Facts

education: University Of California, Los Angeles, New York University

Childhood & Early Life

Rodney James Alcala was born Rodrigo Jacques Alcala Buquor, on August 23, 1943, in San Antonio, Texas. He moved to Mexico with his family in 1951. However, he and his mother moved to Los Angeles in 1954, after his father abandoned his family.

Rodney has two sisters and a brother. At the age of 17, he joined the ‘US Army’ and worked as a clerk. In 1964, he was diagnosed with antisocial personal disorder, after a nervous breakdown and was discharged from the Army on medical grounds.

After leaving the army, he attended the ‘UCLA School of Fine Arts’ and later studied film at ‘New York University’ (NYU), where he was mentored by director Roman Polanski.

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Early Crimes
He committed his first crime in 1968, before joining film school at ‘NYU.’ He lured an 8-year-old girl, Tali Shapiro, to his apartment in Hollywood. However, he was seen by a passerby who informed the police about the incident. The police reached his apartment and rescued the girl. Unfortunately, she was found beaten and raped. Rodney fled before the police arrived.
He then joined ‘NYU’ under the alias “John Berger.” His next known murder was committed in 1971. He brutally raped and murdered a flight attendant named Cornelia Michel Crilley in her apartment in Manhattan.
The murder could not be solved, and it was not before 2011 that his criminal involvement came to the surface. He soon became one of ‘Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI’s) “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives.”
He was working as a counselor at a children’s art camp when two children spotted his photo on an ‘FBI’ poster, recognized him, and reported the same.
He was arrested an extradited to California but was not charged with rape or attempt to murder, since Tali’s family did not allow her to testify against Rodney. He was only charged for assault and was paroled after 17 months under a program named “indeterminate sentencing.”
However, he was soon arrested again for assaulting a 13-year-old girl named Julie J. She testified against him in the court, but he was again paroled after serving two years of an “indeterminate sentence.”
His next victim was the daughter of the owner of the Hollywood club ‘Ciro’s.’ Ellen Jane Hover, the goddaughter of Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr., was killed by Alcala in Manhattan. This happened after he was allowed by his parole officer to travel to New York.
Killing Spree
Around 1978–1980, he disguised himself as a fashion photographer and clicked sexually explicit photos of young women and teenage boys. Alcala also raped an unconscious 15-year-old girl after clicking her photos.
In 1978, Rodney participated in the matchmaking TV show ‘The Dating Game’ and even won a date with the “bachelorette” Cheryl Bradshaw. However, Cheryl found him creepy. She trusted her intuition and refused to go out with him.
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Rodney was on a killing spree during his time as a contestant on the show. It is believed that after Cheryl refused to go out with him, he killed two more women, perhaps, because he could not come to terms with Cheryl’s rejection.
One of his victims was Robin Samsoe, whose dead body was found 12 days after the announcement of her disappearance from Huntington Beach. Her friends told the police about a photographer approaching her before her disappearance and helped the police in drawing the sketch of the photographer.
The sketch was recognized by Alcala’s parole officer, and Alcala was arrested and held without bail in 1979. He got lucky when even after being tried, convicted, and sentenced to death, the ‘California Supreme Court’ changed its decision on the basis of the misinformation provided about his previous sex crimes.
Final Trial
He was convicted and sentenced. However, his sentence was nullified again by the ‘Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.’ Before his third trial, his DNA matched the semen found at two crime scenes in Los Angeles.
His DNA proved his involvement in the murders of four more women, namely, Georgia Wixted, Charlotte Lamb, Jill Parenteau, and Jill Barcomb. In 2003, he was tried for the third time, for the murders of these four women.
In a bizarre situation, Alcala represented himself as his attorney. He played both the witness as and the interrogator, questioning and answering himself.
Tali, Alcala’s first victim, was also present as a witness this time. About the murder of other four women, Alcala claimed that he did not remember killing them.
Death Sentence

Within three days of his trial, Alcala was held guilty for five murders. He was convicted and sentenced to death for the third time in March 2010.

Around the same time, the police released 120 photos clicked by Rodney Alcala during his killing spree, in order to find the whereabouts of the people in the pictures and to know if there were more victims. 21 women came forward to identify themselves. A few families recognized their loved ones who had disappeared years ago. There were about 900 more photos that were not released because of their explicit sexual content.

In 2013, Christine Thornton’s photo was recognized by her family. Christine’s remains had been found in Wyoming in 1982. Christine had disappeared in 1977 and was six months’ pregnant at the time of her murder.

Alcala admitted that he had clicked Christine’s photo but claimed that he had not killed her. However, his DNA matched with the one found on her remains.

Pamela Jean Lambson, a 19-year-old woman from San Francisco, was found dead and stripped naked in 1977, convincing the police that Alcala was behind her death.

Alcala was considered a suspect in the murders of Joyce Gaunt and Antoinette Wittaker from Washington. Soon, more photos were posted online for further recognition of the victims.

In 2013, he was sentenced to 25 years for killing two people, namely, Cornellia Michel Crilley and Ellen Hover, in New York in the 1970s.

Justice Bonnie G Wittner, the judge who sentenced him to 25 years of imprisonment, lost her composure after learning about his case. The judge cried while sentencing Rodney, considering the horrific and brutal things he had done to his victims.

Rodney Alcala died of unspecified natural causes in Corcoran, California on July 24, 2021

See the events in life of Rodney Alcala in Chronological Order

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