‘Dating Game Killer,’ who committed O.C. and L.A. murders, dies at 77

Local news

Death-row inmate Rodney James Alcala, also known as the “Dating Game Killer,” died Saturday of natural causes, according to a press release from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He was 77 years old.

Alcala, who earned his nickname due to a 1978 appearance on the television show “The Dating Game,” was sentenced to death in 1980 for the kidnapping and murder of Orange County 12-year-old Robin Samsoe a year earlier.

Though Alcala’s sentence was reversed and reinstated multiple times on appeal, he was sentenced to death again in 2010 after his DNA was linked to evidence in other murders.

Alcala was convicted of five counts of first-degree murder by an Orange County jury in 2010. Along with the killing of Samsoe, Alcala was convicted for the killings of Jill Barcomb, 18, and Georgia Wixted, 27, in 1977; Charlotte Lamb, 32, in 1978; and Jill Parenteau, 21, in 1979.

He was also connected to a pair of murders in New York, and he was extradited in 2012 to face trail for the murder of Cornelia Crilley in 1971 and Ellen Jane Hover in 1977. He pleaded guilty in 2012 and was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. Additionally, he was charged with another murder in 2016, this time for the killing of 28-year-old Christine Ruth Thornton, who disappeared in Wyoming in 1978 and who was six months pregnant at the time.

Law enforcement investigators connected or suspected Alcala in other cases, including in Los Angeles, Marin County, Seattle, New York, New Hampshire and Arizona, according to the CDCR release.

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