Rodney Alcala

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Rodney Alcala, 1997

Rodney Alcala (* 23. August 1943 in San Antonio , Texas as Rodrigo Jacques Alcala-Buquor ) is an American convicted serial killer . He is also known as The Dating Game Killer and John Berger .

Early life

With his parents, Raoul Henri Alcala Buquor and Anna Maria Gutierrez and his two sisters and brother, Alcala moved to Mexico in 1951 . Three years later, in 1954, his father left the family. Therefore, in the same year, his mother and her children moved to the Los Angeles area .

At seventeen he worked in the US Army as a secretary. After having a panic attack in 1964, he was diagnosed with Dissocial Personality Disorder . He was later discovered to have narcissistic personality disorder and borderline personality disorder . He also showed signs of sexual sadism and psychopathy . Therefore he was discharged from the army and studied despite his mental disorders at the UCLA School of Fine Arts, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1968. A little later he studied directing at NYU , his teacher was Roman Polanski .

Deeds and Sacrifice

He committed his first serious crime in 1968, shortly before studying at NYU . He lured an eight-year-old girl, Tali Shapiro, who was walking on Sunset Boulevard, to his apartment on De Longpre Avenue, Hollywood. There he beat and raped her. After a motorcyclist who saw Alcala lure the girl into his apartment called the police, the police found the victim alive, but Alcala had already fled. In the spring of 1971 he was put on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list as a possible perpetrator .

After the crime, he enrolled on the run under the cover name John Berger at NYU, where he also received a degree. During this time he also used the name John Burger . He committed his next confirmed crime in 1971, when he then raped and then murdered the 23-year-old Trans-World Airlines flight attendant Cornelia Michel Crilley in her apartment on the Upper East Side , Manhattan . The police found her with a rope around her neck, she was strangled and her left chest was bitten. The police tried to reconstruct the dentition. The prime suspect was her life partner Leon Borstein, who was the assistant to Brooklyn District Attorney at the time. But the murder of Crilley remained unsolved for the time being.

Two girls attending the New Beginnings artistic summer camp in George Mills, New Hampshire , where Alcala was a supervisor, saw a wanted poster of his in 1971. Shortly thereafter, he was arrested in California for raping Tali Shapiro. The girl's parents did not allow her to testify against him, so he was only charged with assault. He was released after only 17 months for showing signs of rehabilitation according to current regulations.

After only two months, he committed his next act, he attacked 13-year-old Julie J. on the pretext of driving her to school. She then testified against him, which is why he was sentenced to an indefinite term, but was released after two years in prison.

In 1977 Alcala killed 23-year-old Ellen Jane Hover. He came into the sights of the investigators of the serial murders of the so-called Hillside Stranglers around Los Angeles and was imprisoned for marijuana possession.

At the end of the 1970s he photographed hundreds of young men and women on the pretext that they would later hire them for professional fashion shoots. The people, often minors, were naked. This resulted in a number of photos that he kept until his last arrest. In 1979 he raped the 15-year-old Monique Hoyt, who had previously been knocked out.

In mid-1979, twelve-year-old Robin Samsoe was found dead in Huntington Beach, twelve days after her disappearance, near Los Angeles. A companion of Robin later told the police that a stranger wanted to take photos and created a phantom image. The Alcala probation officer then identified Alcala on the wanted photo. Robin's earrings were then found in a locker rented from Alcala.


In late 1979, Alcala was arrested for the murder of Robin Samsoe and sentenced to death the following year. The judgment was annulled because of procedural errors. A second death sentence in 1986 was also overturned because a witness "was hypnotized by police investigators". Alcala wrote a book ("You the Jury") in which he protested his innocence; he also sued the prosecutors for what he believed to be unjust meals while in detention.

For the third attempt at conviction in 2003, DNA analysis linked four open rape and death cases from the late 1970s to him. In February 2010 he was indicted for the five known cases and defended himself. He also showed an appearance by him in 1978 on a dating show on American television ("The Dating Game") to show that the found Robin Samsoe earrings were worn by him. He said he couldn't remember any murders.

After convictions for all five murders, the sentence was changed to the death penalty in March 2010.

Alcala was sentenced to 25 years in prison by a judge in New York in 2013 for the murders of Cornelia Crilley and Ellen Hover (1971 and 1977).

In other cases from other states, Alcala is listed as the main suspect, but has not yet been charged due to a lack of evidence.

Identification of people photographed by Alcala

About 120 of the photos that Alcala had taken naked of numerous people in the late 1970s were published by the police for identification by the public. An identified person was then assigned to an open murder case. In September 2016, Alcala was charged with the murder of the photographed 28-year-old Christine Thonton, who disappeared in Wyoming in 1977, on the basis of DNA traces. Due to the health of Alcala, no legal proceedings have been carried out in this case.

Individual evidence