CORCORAN, Calif. — Rodney James Alcala, the infamous “Dating Game Killer” sentenced to death for the kidnapping and murder of a 12-year-old in 1979, died of natural causes Saturday in a California prison, officials said. He was 77.
Alcala died at 1:43 a.m. PDT in a hospital near Corcoran State Prison in Central California, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a news release.
Alcala got his nickname from appearing on the popular television dating show on Sept. 13, 1978, KCBS reported.
“The Dating Game” host Jim Lange introduced Alcala as a “successful photographer who got his start when his father found him in the darkroom at the age of 13, fully developed.”
Alcala was sentenced to death in Orange County for the murder of Robin Samsoe, but that decision was reversed in 1984 by the California Supreme Court, according to The Orange County Register. The decision was overturned on the grounds that the jury had been improperly informed of previous sex crimes committed by Alcala, the newspaper reported.
Granted a new trial, Alcala was sentenced to death a second time for Samsoe’s murder in 1986, the CDCR said in its news release.
A federal appeals court overturned that sentence in 2003, and Alcala was given a third trial, the CDCR said.
According to KCBS, an Orange County jury convicted Alcala in 2010 of five counts of first-degree murder and he was sentenced to death for the killing of Samsoe, along with the 1977 deaths of 18-year-old Jill Barcomb and 27-year-old Georgia Wixted; the 1978 death of 32-year-old Charlotte Lamb, and the 1979 death of 21-year-old Jill Parenteau.
In 2012, Alcala was extradited to New York after he was indicted for the 1971 murder of Cornelia Crilley and the 1977 murder of Ellen Jane Hover, the CDCR said in its news release. He pleaded guilty and in 2013 was sentenced in New York to 25 years to life.
In 2016, prosecutors in Wyoming charged Alcala with the murder of Christine Ruth Thornton, 28, who disappeared in 1978 when she was six months pregnant, the CDCR said. Her body was found in 1982.
Investigators linked Alcala to other murders in Los Angeles, San Francisco, upstate New York, New Hampshire and Seattle, according to the Register.
Authorities believe he was also responsible for about 100 other killings, the newspaper reported.
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