Rodney Alcala: How Many Victims Did The Serial Killer Have?

Rodney Alcala is a serial killer whose first known attack was on an 8-year-old girl in Hollywood, California in 1969. According to People, Alcala was a 25-year-old UCLA student when he lured the child into his car, then took her to his apartment. Biography reported he raped her then beat her with a steel bar. Tali Shapiro survived because someone saw her get into the car and followed them, then called the police. When they showed up, she'd already been violated, but she was alive. Alcala escaped out a back door. 

Alcala fled east and started going by the name John Berger. In 1971 he was on the FBI's most-wanted list for the assault of Shapiro and girls at a New Hampshire art camp where he was working recognized him and turned him in, according to Biography. He pleaded guilty to child molestation and served 34 months in prison, but he was just getting started. 

Alcala, who is described as having a genius-level IQ of 170 by CBS News, spent the 1970s raping and brutally killing girls and women before being charged with the murder of 12-year-old Robin Samsoe in 1979. The serial killer even went on the TV show "The Dating Game" in 1978 and won, ABC News reported, later earning him the nickname, "The Dating Game Killer."

Part of Alcala's means for luring ladies was telling them he wanted to photograph them. On "The Dating Game", he was described as "a successful photographer," per ABC News. 

Rodney Alcala is suspected of more than 100 murders

It took several years, but Rodney Alcala was finally convicted of killing Samsoe and four other women in California and was sentenced to death row in 2010. In 2013 he was convicted by New York courts of the brutal murders of two more women, The New York Times reported. 

While Alcala is convicted of seven murders, he is believed to have killed anywhere from 50 to 140 women according to the Star Tribune and The East Bay Times. At least one more of those has been identified.

ABC News reported that after Alcala's arrest in 1979 investigators found hundreds of photographs in a Seattle storage locker that was rented by the killer. In 2010 police released the photos to the public to see if anyone could identify the people pictured in an effort to identify more victims. Those photos helped to solve the mystery of what happened to at least one pregnant woman who'd disappeared in 1977.

Christine Thornton went missing during a road trip that year, her remains only discovered outside of Granger, Wyoming five years later by a rancher, according to the Star Tribune. Her sister, Kathy Thornton, had never stopped looking for her though, and finally found Christine's photograph among Alcala's released photos. Alcala was ultimately charged with the killing, but prosecutors declined to extradite him from death row in California to stand trial in Wyoming. 

Alcala has only admitted to the 1971 murder of Cornelia Crilley and the 1977 murder of Ellen Hover, both in New York.