UPDATE: The “Dating Game Killer” Too Ill To Be Extradited To Face New Murder Charge

UPDATE (NOVEMBER 1, 2016):

Despite having been charged with the 1977 murder of Christine Thornton, “Dating Game Killer” Rodney Alcala will not have to face the consequences for that crime.

The 73-year-old serial killer is reportedly too ill to make the journey from California to Wyoming to be charged. Alcala was eventually connected to the Thornton murder through DNA testing. It’s suspected that he may have killed many more people than he’s been accused of.

Read more:

Daily Progress

ORIGINAL STORY:

Rodney Alcala has been described as one of the most prolific serial killers to terrorize California. His first known crime was the brutal rape and beating of eight-year-old Tali Shapiro in 1968. Shapiro was found in Alcala’s apartment after someone who saw him pick up the child in his car had called authorities. Unfortunately, Alcala had vanished, fleeing to New York City, where he lived for four years and attended film school until the law caught up with him on the Shapiro case.

Shapiro’s family had relocated to Mexico by then, and didn’t want Tali to testify in the trial, so Alcala was charged with only assault and was out on parole after 34 months. He then began a five-year murder spree almost immediately, and was able to slay an absolutely unknown number before he was finally stopped in 1979. Thanks to a series of trials, convictions, appeals, and retrials, Alcala has basically spent the years since 1979 behind bars. His third trial, alleging the rape and murder of 31-year-old Charlotte Lamb, 27-year-old Georgia Wixted, 21-year-old Jill Parenteau, 18-year-old Jill Barcomb, and 12-year-old Robin Samsoe, began in 2005. During the decades he was jailed, DNA evidence processing had advanced to the point where law enforcement was able to use what they still had to build an even better case against him. In 2010, Alcala was sentenced to death for the third time.

Rodney Alcala via Wikimedia Commons

Rodney Alcala via Wikimedia Commons

Authorities have always been sure of one thing: these weren’t the only women and girls that Alcala had killed. Alcala is believed to possibly have killed as many as 130 people across the country, but authorities are still trying to get the evidence to connect him. In Alcala’s possessions when he was arrested was a large collection of photographs he’d taken of young women and men — some of whom were his victims, while most remained unidentified. It’s always been suspected that in those unidentified models were some additional victims, cold cases waiting to be solved. This week, those photos helped authorities add another name to his list: Christine Ruth Thornton of of San Antonio.

Those photos got into the hands of Thornton’s family in 2013, and Thornton’s sister recognized her sitting on a motorcycle in one photo. When authorities confronted Alcala about the photo, he admitted to being the photographer, but refused to admit to her murder. Dan Erramouspe, an attorney from Wyoming connected to the Thornton case, told reporters that some of the things Alcala had said when they tried to confront him did potentially help tie him to Thornton’s murder. Compounding the tragedy of Thornton’s murder was the fact that she was six months pregnant when she died.

Thornton’s body was found by a local rancher in rural Wyoming in 1978, but remained unidentified until two siblings of Thornton sent DNA samples to be checked against the national missing-person’s database in 2015. It took some time, but they finally connected the DNA from Thornton’s still-unidentified remains to that of her siblings. Thornton’s body has been recovered, and police are attempting to get as many viable DNA samples as they can obtain sent to the FBI to see if any of them connect to Alcala. Still, they have accumulated enough evidence on the Thornton murder to file first-degree murder charges against Alcala.

The question is whether or not he will even be extradited to Wyoming to stand trial. In 2012, Alcala was convicted of two murders in New York State and sentenced to a long jail term. Still, he remains jailed in California’s Corcoran State Prison.

For the curious, here is vintage video of Alcala’s 1978 appearance on “The Dating Game”, which earned him his nickname:

Read more:

CBS News
LA Weekly
KABC
LA Weekly (2)
KABC (2)
The Mercury News
Los Angeles Times
Wyoming Tribune Eagle

Main photo: Rodney Alcala on the Dating Game [screenshot]


  • sherri willis

    It would be best to keep his DNA in the database to be able to solve cold cases. Alcala can’t possibly live long enough to satisfy every sentence for every murder he’s convicted of and therefore he will live off of taxpayer’s money until he dies. But that is less expensive than the death penalty! (California Math!!??)

    • Davie Deckard

      Who really cares if it’s less expensive or not (to keep him alive)? He still needs to be executed…the sooner, the better.

      • sherri willis

        I agree but the hippies in California do not believe in the death penalty.

        • angela wainio

          Really where you from

          • angela wainio

            Peace , love , and love and death if you hurt anyone in a sick way but every state no statw barely kilks anyone do your home work . So I’ll take that you think we’re hippies as a good thing because at least we aren’t hiding behind are mommy’s skirts and not saying what we mean grow up

          • Sherri Willis

            You’ll laugh when I tell you but Arkansas.

        • angela wainio

          Let me tell you something we California’s hippies ir not don’t mistake us for fools most of us own guns I bet you think we’re still in the sixties guess what California is proud of our past and future we say what we mean and don’t behind stupidity, and trust me he needs to fry

          • Sherri Willis

            Should’ve fried him LONG ago. Your state has already spent a cool million on him. And ovèr a million on Manson. And that’s just 2.

          • Sherri Willis

            All I’m saying is your state and mine needs to speed up the death process because LWOP just wastes the taxpayer’s money and prison does NOT rehabilitate these criminals.