This week Murder Made Me Famous spotlights serial killer and rapist Rodney Alcala, who became infamous after appearing on TV show The Dating Game in the middle of his murder spree.
Rodney Alcala was born in Texas, 1951, and at 17 he joined the army, though he went AWOL four years later in what was described as a nervous breakdown and was later discharged.
His first recorded crime was in 1968 when a driver reported him for luring an 8-year-old girl into his apartment. When police arrived they found the girl, Tali Shapiro, alive, but she’d been raped and beaten. Alcala had already fled the scene and moved to New York City to escape the arrest warrant against him.
There he enrolled in film school and was taught for a time by Roman Polanski, he also got a job counseling at an art camp for kids. By 1971 he’d also killed 23-year-old flight attendant Carnelia Michel Crilley, who was raped and strangled in her NYC apartment…though this crime would go unsolved for 40 years.
That same year Alcala made it to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list and he was arrested after some of the kids at the art camp recognised him. He was taken back to California but Shapiro’s parents had moved and did not want her to testify in the trial. He was allowed to plead guilty to assault and then released after less than three years.
Just over a month later he was arrested again, this time for assaulting a 13-year-old girl whom he offered a lift to. Again he was released after a few years on parole.
In 1977 he was allowed to travel to New York City where he is thought to have killed 23-year-old Ellen Jane HOber, who was the goddaughter of Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin. By 1978 he was back in Los Angeles and working as a typesetter and photographer.
Over the few years he convinced hundreds of girls and boys to let him photograph them naked, for ‘fashion shoots.’ He used to share these pictures with people and work and some of them found them quite disturbing and most of them explicit in nature.
In 1978 he was also accepted as a contestant on The Dating Game, even though he was a registered sex offender and had been convicted of rape. He went on to win the competition, though the bachelorette refused to go out with him as she thought he was creepy.
The next year Alcala murdered 12-year-old Robin Samsoe and his parole officer recognised him from the sketch police were circulating at the time. He was arrest and in 1980 was convicted and sentenced to death.
However, the conviction was overturned as his previous sex crimes had been disclosed to some jurors. This led to a second trial six years later and in 1986 he was found guilty for a second time.
By 2003 Alcala had been implicated in the rape and murder of another two women in Los Angeles and several other women around the country. In all he was found guilty of seven murders and rapes, though it is thought the actual number could even be as high as 130.
Murder Made Me Famous airs at,9:00 PM on REELZ.