05/12/2012 09:16 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Rodney Alcala: 'The Dating Game Killer' To Face New York Murder Charges

Rodney Alcala can be extradited to New York to face charges in two killings, California's highest court has ruled.

The decision was handed down on Wednesday by the California Supreme Court. In making the decision, the justices rejected claims by the convicted serial killer that such a move would undermine his efforts to appeal his California conviction.

In August, California Gov. Jerry Brown and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed off on Alcala's transfer to New York to face charges of intentional murder, felony murder and murder in the second degree in connection with the killing of two New York women in 1970s. The women have been identified as Cornelia "Michel" Crilley and Ellen Hover.

Crilley, a TWA flight attendant, was raped and strangled in 1971. At the time, authorities initially suspected that the boyfriend of Crilley, then 23, was responsible. Authorities now claim to have forensic evidence that links Alcala to the scene.

Hover was a Manhattan socialite. In 1977, the body of the 23-year-old Hover was found on the Rockefeller estate in suburban Westchester County. Investigators found a datebook inside Hover's apartment that showed she had an appointment with a "John Berger" on the day she was killed. According to police, "John Berger" is an alias that Alcala has used before.

And Alcala's past includes a complex criminal record with incidents occurring decades ago, as early as the 1960s. A 'DATING GAME' CONTESTANT

Now 68, Alcala is a former U.S. Army clerk, Los Angeles Times typesetter, amateur photographer and University of California, Los Angeles fine arts grad who reportedly has a near-genius IQ of 135. In 1978, Alcala appeared in an episode of the ABC prime-time show "The Dating Game."

On the show, Alcala beat out two other bachelors to win a date with "bachelorette" Cheryl Bradshaw. The couple appeared to get along well on the program, but police said Bradshaw later decided against going on the date.

Alcala's criminal past is believed to have begun in Hollywood, Calif., in 1968, when he abducted, raped and nearly beat to death with a steel pipe an 8-year-old girl. It took investigators nearly three years to track down Alcala in New Hampshire, where he was living under the assumed name of John Berger and working as a teen counselor.

A teen who attended the camp told The Huffington Post that she clearly remembers Alcala, aka Berger, and said he was "creepy" and made her feel "uneasy."

On Aug. 12, 1971, Alcala was arrested and extradited to Los Angeles to face rape and attempted murder charges. Alcala was later convicted, but he did not stay behind bars long. He was released in 1974 after a state prison psychiatrist ruled that he was ready to be released.

In 1974, just two months after he was paroled, Alcala was arrested after a 13-year-old girl told police that he had kidnapped her in Huntington Beach, Calif. Alcala was later found guilty of violating parole and providing drugs to a minor. He served roughly two years before earning his release, then he traveled to New York. It was during Alcala's time in New York, authorities claim, that he murdered Crilley and Hover.


In early 1979 Alcala was again arrested in California, after a teen hitchhiker called police and reported that he had kidnapped and raped her. Alcala was released after his mother posted his $10,000 bond.

As Alcala awaited trial in that case, authorities received a report on June 20, 1979, that 12-year-old Robin Samsoe had disappeared en route to ballet class. Less than two weeks later, her body was found in a wooded area near Sierra Madre, Calif. Witnesses told police they had seen Robin talking to a photographer the day she had disappeared. When police questioned Alcala, he denied involvement, but during a search of his home authorities found a receipt for a storage locker in Seattle. When detectives opened the locker, they found several photos of young girls, as well as earrings that allegedly belonged to Robin.

Alcala was arrested on July 24, 1979, and charged with Robin's murder. He has been behind bars ever since.

In 1980, a jury found Alcala guilty of murdering Robin and sentenced him to death. Alcala filed an appeal and this conviction was overturned by the California Supreme Court, because the original trial judge had allowed the jury to hear about Alcala's child rape and kidnapping incidents.

Prosecutors retried the murder case in 1986 and won a conviction but in 2001 that decision was again overturned when a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled that the second trial judge had improperly not allowed the testimony of a defense witness who claimed the park ranger who had found Robin's body had been hypnotized by police.

View photos about Rodney Alcala and his criminal history, below.

Rodney Alcala


While preparing a third prosecution, Matt Murphy, an Orange County senior deputy district attorney, learned that a recent DNA test conducted on Alcala allegedly matched DNA evidence from two unsolved homicides from the 1970s.

The victims, Georgia Wixted, 27, and Charlotte Lamb, 32, had been slain in 1977 and 1978, respectively. Both victims had been raped and killed and set in poses. Semen was found at the scene, but detectives had been unable to match it to a possible suspect.

After receiving the DNA test results, prosecutors in Orange and Los Angeles counties began to examine other cold cases. The following year, they allegedly matched his DNA to evidence connected with the case of Jill Barcomb, an 18-year-old woman killed in 1977. Like Wixted and Lamb, Barcomb had also been posed and semen had been found on her body.

Not long after identifying Barcomb's case, prosecutors began to look at the unsolved murder of Jill Parenteau. The 21-year-old victim's body had been found inside her apartment in 1979. She had been sexually assaulted, beaten and strangled. The killer had also posed her body.

In Barcomb's case, a rape test had been performed, but the evidence was not preserved. Her killer did, however, cut himself while crawling through a broken window but analysis of that blood was unable to either rule out or confirm Alcala had been at the scene. Nevertheless, authorities did find a witness who could place Alcala as having been with Parenteau at a bar prior to her death.

Alcala was indicted for the murders of Barcomb, Wixted, Lamb and Parenteau. The indictment also alleged special circumstances of torture, multiple murder, robbery, rape, burglary and oral copulation.

Los Angeles and Orange County district attorneys decided that the best place to try the cases was in Orange County, where Alcala was already facing retrial for Robin's murder. They also decided to try the five murders in a single case.

Alcala pleaded not guilty to all charges and elected to represent himself.


In 2006, the California Supreme Court approved a motion by the prosecution to join Robin’s case with those of the four newly discovered victims. Alcala's trial in the California cases began on Jan. 11, 2010. During the six-week trial, DNA and other evidence was presented in each of the cases, but much of the trial centered on Robin's murder.

Murphy presented witnesses who testified that they had seen Alcala attempting to take photos of the girl before she disappeared. Murphy also called Marianne Connelly, Robin's mother, to the stand. She testified that the gold-ball earrings recovered from Alcala's rented storage locker belonged to her daughter.

In defending himself, Alcala also focused on Robin's death and did not offer testimony in regard to the other cases. Alcala did not deny photographing girls where Robin was last seen, but claimed he did not photograph her. He also claimed he was interviewing for a job at the time she went missing. He called several witnesses who he claimed could place him at the interview; none of them, however, was able to pinpoint the exact day he came in.

Alcala claimed the earrings found in his storage locker belonged to him. As evidence, he entered a video clip into evidence, taken during the 1978 episode of "The Dating Game" in which he appeared. Alcala instructed the jury to pay close attention to one particular shot, during which they would be able to see that he was wearing gold-ball earrings.

"You'll see a flash of my hair going up and a flash of gold," he testified. "Two little specks, you'll see that."

When Alcala played the video, he never paused it or attempted to point out the frame in question. Despite his intent, the evidence appeared to be lost on the jury.

Closing arguments in the trial began Feb. 22, 2010, with Murphy telling the jury that Alcala was a "hunter" with "no soul or feeling," who killed because he "enjoyed it."

"You will never see cases with more brutality," Murphy said. "All of these victims put up resistance and he punished them for it ... He tortured his victims because he enjoyed it."

When it came time to present his own closing arguments, Alcala told the jury that the evidence against him in Robin's case was based on "gimmicks" and "lies." He attacked Connelly's testimony and said she made up the story about her daughter's earrings in order to implicate him in the murder.

"I'm not trying to make Mrs. Connelly into a bad person," Alcala said. "She deserves your empathy and your sympathy because she lost her daughter ... but it does not give her the right to make up a story."

The jury found Alcala guilty of five counts of murder -- in connection with the killings of not only Robin, but also of Barcomb, Wixted, Lamb and Parenteau. According to police, each of the victims' bodies had been posed in “carefully chosen positions.”

Acala was later sentenced to death.


During the investigation of the Robin Samsoe case in 1979, detectives had located a Seattle storage locker rented by Alcala and found a cache of more than 1,000 photographs. Suspecting some of the women and children pictured could be additional victims, authorities in California and New York released hundreds of the photos on March 2010.

Dozens of women in the pictures have been identified but more than 100 remain posted online, as police continue to solicit the public's help with further identifications.

Speaking with the Orange County Register, Murphy said he was pleased with the California Supreme Court's decision to allow Alcala's extradition to New York. The deputy DA also said he intends to assist prosecutors in New York.

"I'm planning to go over there on my own dime and sit down with them to show them my PowerPoint [presentation] and give them all the history," Murphy told the Register.

It remains unclear when Alcala will arrive in Manhattan. District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr.'s office told The Huffington Post it had no immediate comment on the case Friday.

Alcala's attorney, Peter Arian, would not discuss the extradition. "I'm not going to comment on that," Arian told HuffPost.



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