For Cheryl Bradshaw, the bachelorette on the TV matchmaking shows The Dating Game, September 13, 1978, will always be a day to remember. It was a day when Cheryl chose Rodney Alcala from a list of “eligible bachelors,” without knowing his serial killing escapades.

Rodney Alcala, or “The Dating Game Killer” as he is popularly known, killed at least four girls before his appearance — and would kill again soon after the show; he was an unrepentant serial killer.

After Rodney’s appearance on The Dating Game, Cheryl conversed with him backstage. According to her, Rodney offered her a date in a manner she’d never forget, but she felt that her potential suitor was a little off.

In an interview, with The Sydney Telegraph in 2012, Cheryl explained:

“I started to feel ill, he was acting really creepy. I turned down his offer. I didn’t want to see him again.”

It is safe to assume that Cheryl would almost certainly be remembered today as one of Alcala’s victims if not for a healthy jolt of women’s intuition. Jed Mills, an actor, and participant on the show recalled to LA Weekly that:

“Rodney was kind of quiet. I remember him because I told my brother about this one guy who was kind of good-looking but kind of creepy. He was always looking down and not making eye contact.”

Rodney Alcala Possibly Killed Between 50 And 100 People

For a guy like Rodney Alcala who had already spent three years in prison for raping and beating an eight-year-old girl (he’d done the same to a 13-year-old too), which landed him on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List, a quick background check by the popular dating show would have revealed his criminal record.

But sometimes a background check can’t even uncover the whole story. In Rodney Alcala’s case, the whole story consisted of at least four prior murders that he hadn’t been definitively linked to yet.

Experts believe that Cheryl Bradshaw’s rejection most likely fueled Alcala’s fire, as the sadistic “Dating Game Killer” claimed that he killed between 50 and 100 people before and after his television appearance.

Like Many Serial Killers, Rodney Alcala Had A Style

His signatures were biting, raping, beating, and strangling (usually choking victims until they lose consciousness).

His first victim Tali Shapiro, an eight-year-old girl he lured into his Hollywood apartment in 1968, Rodney was successful at only two of these things; rape and beating.

Shapiro’s life was saved by a passerby who’d reported a tip to police on a possible abduction.

Alcala fled his apartment when the police arrived and remained a fugitive for years afterward.

He moved to New York and used the alias John Berger to enroll in film school at New York University, where, ironically enough, he studied under Roman Polanski.

Roman Polanski was also a fugitive from the U.S. criminal justice system; he fled the country while awaiting sentencing in his s*xual abuse case on charges of drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl and after pleading guilty to statutory rape.

A Typist By Day, A Serial Rapist By Night

After his cover was blown by an FBI poster in 1971, Alcala identified as the perpetrator in the attempted murder and rape of Tali Shapiro.



He was arrested and sent to prison on charges of assault because Shapiro’s family kept her from testifying, making a rape conviction impossible.

His incarceration for three years was immediately followed by another two years in prison for assaulting a 13-year-old girl.

During his parole, Alcala was allowed to travel to New York to “visit relatives.” But investigators disclosed that within seven days of his arrival there, he killed Elaine Hover, a college student who was the daughter of a popular Hollywood nightclub owner and goddaughter of both Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.

Using his real name, Alcala managed to secure a job at the Los Angeles Times as a typesetter in 1978.

His new job gave him all the cover he needed to continue raping and murdering his victims.

He became a typist by day and by night, he lured young girls to be part of his professional photography portfolio — some of them never to be heard from again.

Now go back and listen to Alcala tell bachelorette Bradshaw, “The best time is at night.”

A year after his appearance on the Dating Game show, 17-year-old Liane Leedom was lucky enough to walk away unharmed from a photoshoot with Rodney Alcala.

She explained how he showed her his portfolio, which in addition to shots of women included spread after spread of naked teenage boys.

Investigators have since released Alcala’s “portfolio” to the public to aid in victim identification.

Over the years, a few have stepped forward to reveal their horrifying moment with this predator.

Rodney Alcala’s killing spree came to an end in June 1979 when Robin Samsoe, a 12-year-old, disappeared from Huntington Beach, California, on her way to ballet class.

Samsoe’s friends averred that a stranger approached them on the beach and asked if they’d want to do a photo shoot.

However, they declined, and Samsoe borrowed a friend’s bike and left hurriedly for her ballet class. At some point between the beach and class, Samsoe disappeared.

Her animal-ravaged bones were discovered in a forested area near the Pasadena foothills of the Sierra Madre nearly 12 days later by a park ranger.

A police sketch artist drew up a composite, and Alcala’s former parole officer recognized the face.

With Alcala’s criminal past, the sketch, and the discovery of Samsoe’s earrings in Alcala’s Seattle storage locker, police felt confident that they had the culprit.

Rodney Alcala’s Trial

Rodney’s trial began a year after he murdered Samsoe in what seemed to be a rather long and winding road to justice.

The jury found Alcala guilty of first-degree murder, and he received the death penalty.

In a dramatic turn of events, however, the California Supreme court overturned this verdict because they felt the jury was prejudiced by learning Alcala’s past s*x crimes. It took six years to put him back on trial.

Rodney was also sentenced to death in the second trial in 1986 by another jury. But like his first death sentence, this one didn’t stick either as a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel overturned it in 2001.

LA Weekly wrote:

“In part because the second trial judge did not allow a witness to back up the defense’s claim that the park ranger who found Robin Samsoe’s animal-ravaged body in the mountains had been hypnotized by police investigators.”

Just before the third trial in 2010, 31 years after the murder, Attorney Matt Murphy of Orange County District expressed his disappointment in the flawed trial proceedings, which has greatly benefited Rodney. He said:

“The ’70s in California was insane as far as treatment of s*xual predators. Rodney Alcala is a poster boy for this. It is a total comedy of outrageous stupidity.”

31 Years After, Rodney Was Sentenced To Death For The Third Time

In his third trial. Even though now, 31 years after Samsoe’s murder, investigators also had concrete evidence against him on four different murders from decades past — thanks to the prison’s DNA swabs.

The prosecution was able to combine these new murder charges along with Robin Samsoe in the 2010 trial.

During the 2010 trial, the jurors were in for a bizarre ride as Alcala opted to represent himself

For five hours, he asked himself questions (referring to himself as “Mr. Alcala”) in a deep voice, which he would then answer.

During this trial, Rodney denied all the charges against him, including Samsoe’s.

He played dumb on the other charges, claimed that he was at Knott’s Berry Farm at the time of Samsoe’s murder, and used an Arlo Guthrie song as part of his closing argument.

Not surprisingly, the jury found Alcala guilty of the four DNA-backed charges against him and Samsoe’s murder.

A surprise witness at his sentencing was Tali Shapiro, the girl that Alcala had raped and beaten within an inch of her life about 40 years before.

Shapiro was there to witness as justice for Robin Samsoe, 12; Georgia Wixted, 27; Charlotte Lamb, 31; Jill Barcomb, 18; and Jill Parenteau, 21, had finally been achieved. For the third time, the court handed Alcala the death penalty again.

In light of new evidence and discoveries, investigators have continued to link the “Dating Game Killer” to many other unsolved murders, including two to which he pled guilty in New York in 2013.

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