Serial killer Rodney James Alcala, sentenced to death for the 1979 kidnapping and murder of 12-year-old Robin Christine Samsoe in Orange County, died of natural causes on Saturday morning, July 24, prison officials said. He was 77.
Alcala died at 1:43 a.m. in a hospital near Corcoran State Prison in Central California, said the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
He was convicted three times of killing Samsoe. The first two convictions were reversed on appeals.
His death brought some measures of relief and joy to those outraged by a predatory monster who not only sexually assaulted and killed women but also derived a sick pleasure out of watching them suffer.
“Father Time finally did what the courts wouldn’t,” Steve Mack, a Huntington Beach police detective who headed the case against one of the appeals, said on Saturday. “Let’s see him appeal this.”
Former Orange County Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy, who prosecuted Samsoe’s slaying, said Alcala’s death was “long overdue.”
“I can only hope that it brings some solace to the families of the women who he murdered,” Murphy said.
Alcala earned the moniker the “Dating Game Killer” because he appeared on the TV show during his deadly rampage in the 1970s.
Murphy described a man who fit much of the typical profile of the bachelor contestants hoping to win a date with a bachelorette: Alcala was handsome, “freakishly smart,” an excellent athlete and was raised in a good home.
“He had every opportunity in life and instead he enjoyed raping and murdering,” Murphy said.
So much so that Alcala would choke his victims unconscious, allow them to come to and then gleefully observe their fear and suffering before killing them. The torture would often last for hours, Murphy said.
“He was the cruelest and most sadistic murderer I ever prosecuted” in 17 years, he said.
Samsoe’s sister, Tarrane Mayes, said in a Facebook post on Saturday that Alcala’s death was the “best birthday present for my mom,” Marianne Connelly, who died in 2019. Her husband, Harry, died in 2011.
“Today we received the best news ever. Alcala died,” Mayes wrote. “I know my mom is dancing up in heaven! He can’t appeal this one!!! My sister can finally rest in heaven literally now!”
No prisoners have been executed in California since 2006. Gov. Newsom ordered a moratorium on the death penalty in 2019.
In addition to the Samsoe killing, Alcala was convicted of or pleaded guilty to killing six women. Authorities believe he was responsible for perhaps scores more homicides.
Though he had been in jail or prison since 1979, Alcala had been tried, convicted and retried for five sexual assault murders in Southern California.
In 1980, he was convicted of murdering Samsoe, a Huntington Beach girl raped and killed by Alcala after he lured her from the beach, as she rode her bicycle to ballet lessons, by promising to take her picture.
That conviction was overturned in 1986 on grounds that the jury had been improperly informed of previous sex crimes committed by Alcala. That year he was retried and again convicted in Orange County, but that conviction also was overturned, this time because a witness wasn’t allowed to substantiate Alcala’s contention that a park ranger who found Samsoe’s body had been hypnotized by investigators.
In 2010, Alcala was convicted of sexually assaulting and killing Samsoe as well as Jill Barcomb, 18, of Los Angeles; Georgia Wixted, 27, of Malibu; Charlotte Lamb, 31, of El Segundo; and Jill Parenteau, 21, of Burbank.
In 2012, Alcala was extradited to New York after he was indicted for the 1971 murder of Cornelia Crilley and the 1977 murder of Ellen Jane Hover. He pleaded guilty and in 2013 was sentenced in New York to 25 years to life. Over the decades, investigators linked Alcala to other homicides in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New Hampshire and Seattle.
Despite the passage of time, the community did not forget Samsoe. In a ceremony in 2014, 35 years after the little girl’s death, a plaque honoring her was unveiled at the Huntington Beach pier.
No one uttered her killer’s name.
Former Orange County Register reporter Larry Welborn contributed to this report.
Source: Orange County Register