A brutal serial killer sentenced to death for the murders of four woman and a 12-year-old girl died of natural causes before he was ever put to death, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced on Saturday.
Rodney James Alcala, 77, received the nickname “The Dating Game Killer” because of a 1977 appearance on a popular game show, was accused of murders across the country, including the killing of a pregnant woman. He was first put on death row in 1980, the department said in a statement.
Alcala was first sentenced to death in 1980 in California, after he was tried and convicted for the kidnapping and murder of 12-year old Robin Samsoe in 1977, according to the statement.
That decision was reversed in 1984 by the California Supreme Court, who granted Alcala another trial, according to the statement.
Alcala was convicted of murder and sentenced to death again in 1986 for Samsoe’s murder. In 2003, however, the sentence was overturned in federal appeals court, and Alcala was granted yet another trial, the CDCR said.
In 2010, Alcala was once again convicted of the girl’s murder in Orange County, along with the murder of four other women. The four other convictions were for the murders of 18-year old Jill Barcomb and 27-year old Georgia Wixted in 1977, 32-year-old Charlotte Lamb in 1978 and 21-year-old Jill Parenteau in 1979, according to the CDCR statement.
The serial killer also faced murder charges in New York, where he was extradited and indicted in 2012 on for raping and murder two 23-year-women – Cornelia Crilley, a flight attendant whom he strangled to death with pantyhose in 1971 and Ellen Jane Hover, a nightclub owner’s daughter whom he strangled in 1978.
Evidence from the murders in California, such as vicious bite marks found on the breasts of his victims, helped prosecutor’s charge Alcala for the New York murders.
Alcala pleaded guilty and was sentenced to an additional 25 years to life on those charges.
In 2016, Alcala was charged with the murder of a six-months pregnant woman, Christine Ruth Thornton, who went missing in 1978. Her body was discovered in 1982, according to the CDCR.
California’s death row inmates typically reside in San Quentin State Prison, however Alcala had been moved to a prison in Corcoran, California, to receive medical treatment, NBC News reported.
The statement says that Alcala may be linked to other murders in California, Washington, New York, New Hampshire and Arizona. According to the CDCR, there are currently over 700 inmates in the state on death row.