Let’s face it, people have had a more than morbid fascination for serial killers for centuries. As humans, we try to understand just how other humans can be so cruel. We are driven to understand the motivation for what he, or she, has done.
This was the case of Rodney Alcala, whom in the 1960’s to 1070’s was very much an active serial killer. His story had fascinated the public for decades, and to some extent still does. Rodney’s gruesome tale begins in 1968. After being discharged from the Army he went on to pursue photography at UCLA. However, it was shortly after his graduation that Rodney’s life would take a drastic turn. It was then that his first of many heinous crimes would be committed.
Rodney’s first reported victim was eight-year-old Tali Shapiro. Rodney tried to convince Tali to accompany him back to his Hollywood apartment, however a passing motorist saw what was happening and alerted the police. By the time they arrived at Rodney’s apartment he was long gone, however they found Tali had been beaten and assaulted. Rodney was then placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list and a nationwide manhunt began.
Rodney proceeded to change his name and acquired a job at a New Hampshire based children’s art camp. However, two of the children attending the camp recognized his face from a poster, informed their parents, who in turn alerted the police. Rodney was apprehended and stood trial. He ended up with only 17 months in prison and was paroled.
By 1977 he killed 23-year-old Ellen Jane Hover. He was then questioned in 1978, as a suspect in the LA Hillside Strangler case of the time but was never formally charged. Rodney continued to lure young women to his home and commit assault and battery all through 1978.
Then the unthinkable happened. Rodney auditioned for a spot on the popular show The Dating Game and won. Along with two other men, he competed for the chance to win a date with Cheryl Bradshaw. As fate would have it, he ended up winning. However, the date never happened as Bradshaw, leery of Rodney, backed out.
Not long after his appearance on The Dating Game, 12-year-old Robin Samsoe went missing. When her body was discovered, information implicating Rodney surfaced and he was arrested and sentenced to death. This sentence, along with another sentence was overturned due to mishandling of information. However, later when his semen matched the samples taken from two new crime scenes in LA, he was arrested a third time. The DNA evidence that linked him to the current murders, also served to link and convict him for two more murders decades earlier. With this new evidence, Rodney was convicted and sent prison, where he currently is waiting on appeals for his death sentences.