Alcala was sentenced to death in the murders of five people and suspected in additional killings. He had already murdered at least five women and raped an 8-year-old girl before his game show appearance.
Alcala’s story is being featured tonight on ABC 20/20 in a new episode, “The Dating Game Killer,” which airs at 9 p.m. Eastern time Friday, January 8, 2021.
Here’s what you need to know:
Alcala Had Already Murdered 5 Women Before He Appeared on the Game Show & Spent Time in Prison for Raping a Child
Rodney Alcala was at the height of his murderous spree in the 1970s when he put himself in the spotlight of primetime television — winning a date with a woman on the hit TV show “The Dating Game.” https://t.co/BmuUKSBkjo
— ABC News (@ABC) January 8, 2021
Alcala was a registered sex offender when he appeared on “The Dating Game.” He was convicted in the rape of an 8-year-old girl, Tali Shapiro, and spent 34 months in prison after pleading guilty to child molestation.
Retired LAPD Detective Steve Hodel, who investigated the rape case, told LA Weekly he thought society would be safe from Alcala.
“My impression was that it was his first sex crime, and we got him early — and society is relatively safe now. I had no idea in two years [he would be out] and continue his reign of terror and horror. I expected he was put away and society was safe. … It is such a tragedy that so much more came after that.”
Alcala was eventually convicted in the murders of five people in California, although he is suspected in additional cases. He is accused of killing TWA flight attendant Cornelia Crilley, 23, in 1978 and and Ellen Jane Hover, 23, in 1977, both in New York. Crilley was raped and strangled with her own stockings in her apartment. Hover disappeared, leaving behind a calendar that said she was meeting “John Berger,” an alias Alcala used to avoid imprisonment while he attended film school at New York University. Hover was the daughter of Herman Hover, the owner of the popular Hollywood nightclub Ciro’s, and goddaughter of Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. Her body was found in 1978, and Alcala pleaded guilty to the murders in 2012, according to Biography.
Also before his game show appearance, Alcala murder 18-year-old Jill Barcomb in November 1977 in California. Barcomb was a runaway whose body was found “carefully posed” on a dirt road, according to LA Weekly. He was sentenced to death in her murder in 2016. He is also suspected in the killing of Christine Ruth Thornton in Wyoming, although he was not charged in the crime because of degraded DNA evidence.
Bradshaw Said Alcala Was ‘Creepy’ After Meeting Him in Person & Passed on Their Date
Serial killer Rodney Alcala often used his good looks and charm to lure his victims. But perhaps his most brazen move came in 1978 when he made a chilling appearance as a contestant on the hit show “The Dating Game,” and won. Watch #ABC2020 Friday at 9/8c. https://t.co/kpxpKNrvxr pic.twitter.com/M2Qme59UZU
— 20/20 (@ABC2020) January 7, 2021
Alcala charmed Bradshaw briefly with his salacious answers to her questions on “The Dating Game.” But shortly after meeting him in person, she had a strong visceral reaction and decided not to go out on a date with him.
“I started to feel ill. He was acting really creepy,” she said, according to The Sun.
She wasn’t the only one to find his presence unsettling. “Bachelor No. 2,” Jed Mills, could barely stand to be next to him.
“He was creepy. Definitely creepy,” he told CNN.
“Something about him, I could not be near him,” he continued. “I am kind of bending toward the other guy to get away from him, and I don’t know if I did that consciously. But thinking back on that, I probably did.”
Mills said he disliked Alcala before they even went on the air. His disdain grew as they waited in the green room before the show started.
“He was quiet, but at the same time he would interrupt and impose when he felt like it,” Mills said. “And he was very obnoxious and creepy — he became very unlikable and rude and imposing as though he was trying to intimidate. I wound up not only not liking this guy … not wanting to be near him … he got creepier and more negative. He was a standout creepy guy in my life.”