Judge Bonnie Witner couldn't help crying in 2013 when she sentenced Rodney Alcalá, known as
The Dating Game's
a popular television show from the 1970s. "I have never seen a case like this in 30 years," said the veteran magistrate of Manhattan, New York, shortly after she sentenced him to 25 years in prison for the murder of two women in 1971 and 1977. Alcalá had been extradited from the west coast a year earlier.
California was where he earned his rugged reputation and where he hunted several of his prey for decades.
At least four women and a 12-year-old girl were killed by this professional photographer who once crossed paths with Roman Polanski and who showed off his seductive skills on the ABC broadcast.
Alcalá died of natural causes this Saturday morning at Corcoran State Prison, where he had a death sentence.
He was 77 years old.
A sexual encounter, a hammer and a corpse in a suitcase
The young woman who wanted to go to Mars and ended up dead at the bottom of a ravine
The serial killer who made it big on television
Alcalá, a handsome man with long black hair, used to deceive his victims by inviting them to take pictures. Originally from Texas and the son of Mexican parents, he tried to pursue a military career, but was expelled from the service due to mental problems. He had an itinerant life that took him back and forth to cities on the west and east coast over several decades in which he was involved in criminal activity. He studied photography at New York University, where he had director Roman Polanski as one of his professors. In 1968 he kidnapped, beat and abused an 8-year-old girl in Los Angeles, a crime that landed him on the FBI's most wanted list, The Federal Bureau of Investigation. Alcalá was arrested for this crime when someone saw a photograph of him in a post office in New Hampshire, in the eastern United States,where he worked as a monitor in a youth camp. He was sentenced in 1972, but left prison almost three years later.
Alcala was a ruthless killer. The multiple trials that followed throughout his life, in different states and at various times, revealed an intelligent and cold-blooded murderer. He raped almost all the women he kidnapped and then beat them to death. "The world is a better place without him, without a doubt,"
one of his victims, Tali Shapiro, the minor kidnapped and beaten in 1968
The New York Times
The New York Times
after being kidnapped while walking to school.
No one knows exactly how many victims
The Dating Game
. In 2010, a jury in Orange County, California, found him guilty of five murders committed between 1977 and 1979. His victims were Jill Barcomb, 18, whose body was found in the Hollywood Hills in November 1977. Georgia Wixted, Aged 27, she was found dead in her Malibu home a month later. Charlotte Lamb, 32, was strangled with a cordon in June 1978. Jill Parentau, 21, died the same way in her Burbank apartment in 1979, and the body of 12-year-old Robin Samsoe was found in a
in June 1979 after he disappeared off the Huntington Beach Pier. DNA tests were decisive in connecting Alcalá with these women. The murderer was sentenced to death. More than 700 prisoners await the lethal injection in California, a state that was last executed in 2006.
The killer was extradited to New York in 2012, where other genetic tests helped convict him in two other homicides, Cornelia Crillet's in 1971 and Ellen Hover's in 1977. He pleaded guilty and received a 25-year sentence . "I hope the families find some peace and comfort after these horrible and inexplicably brutal events," said the judge who convicted him. Despite acknowledging these two crimes, detectives hoping to find answers by delving into the criminal mind instead found an arrogant subject who pretended to be asleep when questioned or who showed his ring finger when shown photographs of women who were murdered and whose cases have not been solved.Authorities believe that Alcalá was the author of other homicides in Los Angeles and Marine County (California), Seattle, Arizona and New Hamsphire. Wyoming authorities linked him to the murder of a 28-year-old pregnant woman who disappeared in 1978. However, they decided in 2016 not to initiate the extradition process to start a new trial.
Join EL PAÍS now to follow all the news and read without limits
In 1978, six years after sexually abusing a minor, Alcalá appeared on television screens as the number one bachelor.
His exchange with Cheryl Bradshaw, a drama teacher, on that broadcast has become a viral clip on YouTube.
The seductive photographer won the contest with a series of sexual advances.
Bradshaw, however, ultimately decided not to date him.
That could have saved his life.
That moment was the birth of a black legend that has been extinguished today.