In 1978, at the height of his killing spree, Rodney Alcala was accepted as a contestant on The Dating Game, despite his status as a convicted rapist and registered sex offender. Host Jim Lange introduced him as “…a successful photographer… Between takes you might find him skydiving or motorcycling.” He won a date with bachelorette Cheryl Bradshaw, who subsequently refused to go out with him, according to published reports, because she found him “creepy.”
Alcala was sentenced to death in California in 2010 for five murders committed in that state between 1977 and 1979, and is currently under indictment for two additional homicides in New York. He is thought to be responsible for other violent crimes as well. Alcala is also notable for exceptional demonstrations of cruelty: Prosecutors say he “toyed” with his victims, strangling them until they lost consciousness, then waiting until they revived, sometimes repeating this process several times before finally killing them.
Police have found a collection of more than one thousand photographs taken by Alcala, mostly of women and teenaged boys, most of them in sexually explicit poses. They speculate that some of his photographic subjects could be additional victims. A homicide investigator familiar with the evidence speculated that Alcala could have murdered as many as 130 women.
In March 2010, 120 photographs were released and approximately 900 additional photos could not be made public, police said, because they were too sexually explicit. In the first few weeks, police reported that approximately 21 women had come forward to identify themselves, and “at least 6 families” said they believed they recognized loved ones who “disappeared years ago and were never found.” As of March 2011 none of the photos had been unequivocally connected to a missing person’s case or an unsolved murder.
Some of the Dating Game Killer’s photos: