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.