A prolific murderer, known as “The Dating Game Killer,” died on Saturday awaiting execution in California, authorities said.
Rodney James Alcala was 77 years old. He died of natural causes at a hospital in San Joaquin Valley, Calif., Prison officials said.
Alcala was sentenced to death in 2010 for five murders in California between 1977 and 1979, including that of a 12-year-old girl. Authorities estimate he may have killed as many as 130 people in the United States.
He was sentenced to another 25 years in life in 2013 after pleading guilty to two homicides in New York. He was charged again in 2016 after DNA evidence linked him to the 1977 death of a 28-year-old woman whose remains were found in a remote area of Wyoming. A prosecutor said Alcala was too ill to stand trial over the death of the woman, who was six months pregnant.
California’s death row is in San Quentin State Prison near San Francisco, but for years Alcala has been housed over 200 miles in a Corcoran prison where he could receive 24 medical attention. 24 hours a day. Governor Gavin Newsom has imposed a moratorium on executions while he is governor.
Prosecutors said Alcala stalked women and took earrings as trophies from some.
“You’re talking about a guy hunting in Southern California for people to kill because he likes it,” Orange County District Attorney Matt Murphy said during Alcala’s trial.
12-year-old Robin Samsoe’s mother said during Alcala’s murder trial that a pair of gold earrings found in her locker belonged to her daughter.
Alcala claimed that the earrings were his and that a clip from his 1978 appearance in The Dating Game showed him wearing the studs almost a year before Samsoe died. He denied the killings and cited inconsistencies in testimony.
California prosecutors said Alcala took the earrings of at least two of his adult victims as trophies. All have been strangled and resuscitated several times, they said. Investigators said a victim’s DNA was found on a rose-shaped earring in Alcala’s possession, and his DNA was found in his body.
He has been sentenced to death twice previously in the murder of Samsoe, but both sentences were overturned. More than two decades later, he was also charged with the murder of the four adult women, based on new DNA and other forensic evidence.
After the verdict, authorities released more than 100 photos of young women and girls found in Alcala’s possession, in an attempt to link him to unsolved murders in the United States.