Investigation Discovery’s Dating Game Killer plunges viewers into the horrifying case of serial killer Rodney Alcala, who was convicted of seven murders and is suspected in as many as 130.
As both the show’s title and Alcala’s infamous nickname indicate, the diabolical slayer also competed on TV’s The Dating Game — and won — smack in the midst of a heinous spree.
Scarier still is that Alcala is not the only sicko to have had a go as a game-show contestant who’d later be revealed as a murderer. Read on.
1. RODNEY ALCALA: THE DATING GAME’S LITERAL LADY KILLER
On an otherwise typically bawdy 1978 episode of TV maven Chuck Barris’s The Dating Game, host Jim Lange introduced Bachelor Number One, Rodney Alcala as “a successful photographer who got his start when his father found him in the darkroom at the age of 13 — fully developed.”
On-air-talent screening 40 years ago was obviously not up to modern (or even sane) standards, as Alcala had already been convicted in 1969 for raping and beating up an eight-year-old girl.
After successfully hiding his record, the tall, longhaired, charismatic Alcala, 25, charmed Cheryl Bradshaw, the bachelorette picking from among the three competing suitors, and she named him the winner. Chillingly, Alacala smiled at the news and said, “We’re going to have a great time together, Cheryl.”
Fortunately, Alcala apparently alarmed Bradshaw enough off-camera that she refused to go out with him, declaring him to be “creepy.” That decision may well have saved Bradshaw’s life.
By the time Alcala sat in on The Dating Game, he had already slaughtered two female victims in Southern California and he would go on to kill at least five more — emphasis on the words “at least.”
A multitude of experts attest that between 1971 and when he got apprehended in 1979, Alcala actually killed dozens of women in numerous states. Some body count estimates reach as high as 130.
Rodney Alcala’s been on California’s Death Row since 1980. Evidence has continually piled up connecting him to other cases.
In 2016, Wyoming authorities charged him with the 1977 murder of Christine Thornton, but doctors deemed him “too ill” to travel for the indictment. Who knows what else time and technology will continue to reveal? [Criminal Minds Wiki]
2. EDWARD WAYNE EDWARDS: THE SERIAL KILLER WHO LIED ON TO TELL THE TRUTH
The fact that serial killer Edward Wayne Edwards appeared on To Tell the Truth in 1972 as himself — a “reformed” criminal — is just one astonishing aspect of his hair-raising life story.
Born in 1933 and having witnessed his mother commit suicide as toddler, Edwards suffered tragic abuse while growing up in orphanages. He acted out criminally as a teenager and took to drifting and theft as a young adult.
After getting arrested for burglary 1955, Edwards escaped from jail and lived on the lam for seven years until he got popped for multiple armed robberies. After serving five years at Leavenworth, Edwards received parole and became a writer and motivational speaker on the topic of offender rehabilitation. Under that guise, he landed as a subject on To Tell the Truth.
What Edwards didn’t tell was that he may have killed a number of people throughout the early 1960s. He also didn’t indicate that, in 1977, he’d embark on a murder run that took at least the five lives for which he was ultimately convicted — although most observers suspect Edwards’ death tally is frighteningly higher. In fact, numerous crime analysts have suggested that Edwards was the notorious Zodiac Killer who shot up California between 1968 and ’72.
Cold-case expert John Cameron further believes that not only did Edwards kill Teresa Halbach in 2005 — the case made famous by the documentary series Making a Murderer — but that he also attended the 1993 funerals of the three little Arkansas boys whose murders wrongly sent the “West Memphis Three” to prison.
In 2011, Edwards died behind bars in Columbus, Ohio. When it comes to the unsolved murders to which he remains connected, DNA evidence may still yet tell the truth [Murderpedia]
3. ANTHONY MORLEY: WHEN MR. GAY UK MET THE MAN HE CANNABILIZED ON GOD’S GIFT
In Leeds, England, on April 23, 2008, 36-year-old chef Anthony Morley — the first-ever holder of the “Mr. Gay UK” title — slaughtered, butchered, cooked, and ate pieces of Damian Oldfield, his 33-year-old lover. Afterward, Morley stumbled outside to a nearby business and said, “I have killed someone. Call the police.”
For all these various violations, Morley received a life sentence. He’ll be up for parole, though, in 2018.
Adding a particularly tasteless twist to this ultimate culinary offense, Morley and Oldfield had both previously competed in 1996 on God’s Gift, a “sexy man” game show in the UK.
In fact, they couple first met on the show’s set, as Morley sat cheering in the audience for the episode on which Oldfield played. One chilling camera shot even captured them both in a single frame. [CrimeFeed]
4. JOHN COOPER: THE BUTCHER OF BULLSEYE
In 1985, Wales native John Cooper murdered Richard Thomas, 58, and Helen Thomas, the victim’s 56-year-old sister, before torching their farmhouse and escaping. Had Cooper never killed again, he might have skated forever on the Thomas slayings.
On May 28, 1989, though, Cooper brazenly turned up on Bullseye, a decidedly British series that combines quizzes with throwing darts. That videotape would later prove crucial in bringing this psycho to justice.
Exactly one month to the day after the Bullseye shoot, Cooper ambushed Peter and Gwenda Dixon, a vacationing couple walking along a coastal path. Cooper tied up the Dixons, robbed them, and sexually assaulted Gwenda. He then executed the couple with a shotgun at point-blank range.
A witness enabled police to draw up a sketch of a suspect, but the trail went cold until 1998, when Cooper got sentenced to 14 years for a series of violent thefts. Investigators placed Cooper in the area of the Dixon murders, then compared his appearance on Bullseye with that of the sketch.
While that alone couldn’t convict him, in 2009, DNA evidence finally nailed Cooper for both the Thomas and Dixon murders. He also got convicted for two previous rapes of teenage girls. To date, Cooper has been implicated in five additional killings.
Understandably, John Cooper received the rare British sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. [Wales Online]
Watch Investigation Discovery’s Dating Game Killer on ID GO now!
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Main photo: Rodney Alcala [Huntington Beach Police Department]