Rodney Alcala

From Real Life Villains Wiki

Rodney Alcala
Rodney Alcala.jpg
Full Name: Rodrigo Jacques Alcala Buquor
Alias: The Dating Game Killer
John Berger
John Burger
Rod Alcala
Rodney Alcala
Rodney James Alcala
Origin: San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
Occupation: Photographer
Hobby: Killing and raping people
Goals: Get away with his crimes (failed)
Crimes: Serial Murder
Type of Villain: Serial Killer

The best time is at night, nighttime. Morning and afternoon are okay, but nighttime is when it really gets good. Then you are really ready.
~ One of Rodney Alcala's answers during The Dating Game, hinting at his true nature.

Rodney James Alcala (born Rodrigo Jacques Alcala Buquor; August 23, 1943 - July 24, 2021) was an American convicted rapist and serial killer. He was considered to be one of America's most prolific serial killers. Though he was only convicted of 8 murders, Alcala has claimed to be responsible for around 30 murders. His true victim count remains unknown, but police believe that it could possibly be as high as 130.

He was known as the Dating Game Killer because of his 1978 appearance on the television show The Dating Game in the midst of his murder spree.


Alcala was born Rodrigo Jacques Alcala-Buquor in San Antonio, Texas to Raoul Alcala Buquor and Anna Maria Gutierrez. He and his sisters were raised by his mother in suburban Los Angeles. His father abandoned the family.

He joined the United States Army in 1960, where he served as a clerk. In 1964, after what was described as a "nervous breakdown", he was diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder by a military psychiatrist and discharged on medical grounds.

Alcala, who claims to have a "genius-level" IQ, graduated from the UCLA School of Fine Arts after his medical discharge from the Army, and later attended New York University using the alias "John Berger", where he studied film under Roman Polanski.

Alcala committed his first known crime in 1968: A motorist in Los Angeles witnessed him luring an eight-year-old girl named Tali Shapiro into his Hollywood apartment and called police. The girl was found in the apartment raped and beaten with a steel bar, but Alcala escaped. He fled to the east coast and enrolled in the NYU film school using the name "John Berger." During the summer months he also obtained a counseling job at a New Hampshire arts camp for children, using a slightly different alias, "John Burger." In 1971, after two campers noticed Alcala's FBI wanted poster at the post office and notified camp directors, he was arrested and extradited back to California. By then, however, Tali Shapiro's parents had relocated her family to Mexico, and refused to allow her to testify at Alcala's trial. Unable to convict him of rape and attempted murder without their primary witness, prosecutors were forced to permit Alcala to plead guilty to a lesser charge.

Prosecutors said that Alcala "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. One police detective described Alcala as "a killing machine", and others have compared him to Ted Bundy.

Alcala compiled a collection of more than 1,000 photographs of women and teenage boys, many in sexually explicit poses. In 2016, he was charged with the 1977 murder of a woman identified in one of his photos. He is known to have assaulted one other photographic subject, and police have speculated that others could be rape or murder victims as well.

Alcala was arrested in late 1979 and held without bail. In 1980 he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death for the murder of 12-year old Robin Samsoe, but the verdict was overturned by the California Supreme Court because jurors had been improperly informed of his prior sex crimes. In 1986, after a second trial virtually identical to the first except for omission of the prior criminal record testimony, he was again convicted and sentenced to death. A Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel nullified the second conviction, in part because a witness was not allowed to support Alcala's contention that the park ranger who found Samsoe's body had been "hypnotized by police investigators".

In 2003, prosecutors entered a motion to join the Samsoe charges with those of four newly discovered victims. Alcala's attorneys contested it; as one of them explained, "If you're a juror and you hear one murder case, you may be able to have reasonable doubt. But it's very hard to say you have reasonable doubt on all five, especially when four of the five aren't alleged by eyewitnesses but are proven by DNA matches."

In 2006, the California Supreme Court ruled in the prosecution's favor, and in February 2010, Alcala stood trial on the five joined charges. After less than two days' deliberation the jury convicted him on all five counts of first-degree murder. A surprise witness during the penalty phase of the trial was Tali Shapiro, Alcala's first known victim. Psychiatrist Richard Rappaport, the only defense witness, testified that Alcala's borderline personality disorder could explain his testimony that he had no memory of committing the murders. The prosecutor argued that Alcala was a "sexual predator" who "knew what he was doing was wrong and didn't care". In March 2010, Alcala was sentenced to death for a third time.

Alcala died of unspecified "natural causes" in Corcoran, California, on July 24, 2021, at the age of 77 while still sitting on death row.

Confirmed victims

  • Robin Samsoe, 12
  • Jill Parenteau, 21
  • Charlotte Lamb, 31
  • Jill Barcomb, 18
  • Georgia Wixted, 27
  • Cornelia Crilley, 23
  • Ellen Jane Hover, 23
  • Christine Ruth Thornton, 28