Rodney Alcala, another name on the list of American psycho-serial killers, a Texan who was found guilty of torture, rape, serial killing and also for providing cannabis to a minor in the 70’s. Alcala was also referred to as the ‘Dating Game Killer’ as he appeared on one of America’s most popular dating shows while he was convicted of raping and beating an 8 year old girl, Tali Shapiro. Alcala not only appeared on the show but also won the heart of the contestant Cheryl Bradshaw, who later claimed to decline his offer to go on a date due to his ‘creepy’ demeanor.
The killer was sentenced to death in the year 2010 by the Californian court for the five murders he committed during 1977 and 1979 in the state. He is said to toy with his victims and to take pictures of attractive women and even teenage boys. Among his possessions, a collection of photographs was found that numbered over a thousand, but not all could be identified.
How did this suburb boy suffering at the hands of poverty turn out to be a dangerous serial killer?
Rodrigo Jacques Alcala Buquor, a Mexico-American born on the 23rd of August in 1943 in San Antonio, Texas, had two sisters and a brother. At the age of eleven, Alcala’s father abandoned their family and his mother then moved the family to the suburbs of Los Angeles. By the age of 17, Alcala served as a clerk in the U.S Army but went AWOL after four years but later arrived at his mother’s apartment. He was said to have had a nervous breakdown and was given a medical discharge by the psychiatrists in the military, for being diagnosed as having a severe antisocial personality disorder. Later he graduated from UCLA School of Fine Arts where he was a film student.
Rodney Alcala’s first known crime was at the age of 25 when he was convicted of raping the 8 year old, Tali Shapiro, but had fled to New Hampshire and changed his name to John Berger. In New Hampshire, Alcala took a job at an arts camp but was recognized by the camp’s children, as the FBI had added his photo to Ten Most Wanted Fugitives. He was caught but because Shapiro’s family refused to let her testify, Alcala got paroled after 17 months in prison for pleading guilty.
Rearrested for the assault of a 13-year old just two months after his release, he was paroled again after two years in prison serving an ‘indeterminate sentence’. A year after his second release he next victimized 23-year-old Ellen Jane Hover. By 1978 he was working as a typesetter for the Los Angeles Times, where he was interviewed by the Hillside Strangler’s task force who investigated sex offenders.
Alcala convinced hundreds of youngsters, girls, and boys alike that he was a professional fashion photographer who needed to develop a portfolio. He also knocked out and raped a 15-year old, Monique Hoyt, who modeled for him.
Another 12-year old, Robin Samsoe, disappeared from Huntington Beach. Her body was found in the Los Angeles foothills about twelve days later and her earrings were discovered in Alcala’s Seattle locker room.
There are still several unidentified photos of young men and women, and perhaps many other unidentified murders and rapes. Alcala sits imprisoned in the California State Prison, Corcoran, as he pleaded guilty in the year 2013 and has since been sentenced for 25-years to life.
Some of his other names that he used were Rod Alcala, John Burger, and John Berger.