A sadistic serial killer who may have murdered over 100 victims charmed his way onto a TV dating game show — right in the middle of his killing spree.
Rodney Alcala was Bachelor Number One on a 1978 episode of “The Dating Game,” a campy game show in which three men compete for the attention of a woman by answering a series of questions.
Even without knowing the Alcala had already killed multiple women by then, his “performance” is unsettling to watch, as he seems to be leering at the woman, describing himself as a “banana” and directing her to “peel me.”
Still, the young woman chose Alcala — who reportedly has a genius-level IQ — over the other two contestants, though according to CNN, she backed out before they ever went on a date — possibly sparing her own life.
By then, Alcala had killed at least four victims; the next year, he was arrested for the murder of a 12-year-old girl. And though Alcala’s killing streak was unknown at the time of his game show appearance, he was a registered sex offender and had already been to jail.
Alcala is widely believed to have raped and strangled an 8-year-old girl in 1968, leaving her for dead. Though police confronted him at his home during the attack, Alcala escaped out the back door, and shortly after fled from California to New York and enrolled in film school, evading detectives for years before his arrest in 1974. Because the girl’s family moved her out of the country before she could testify, prosecutors didn’t have enough to convict him of rape or attempted murder, and he was able to plead to a lesser charge of assault, spending 17 months in jail before he was paroled.
Although has only been convicted of seven murders, Alcala’s body count could be in the dozens; possibly over 100. The murderer now sits on death row, and the full extent of his crimes may never be known. But investigators believe some clues may be found in a macabre photograph collection discovered after Alcala’s arrest.
As noted on the game show, Alcala was an avid photographer. Though he was a hobbyist, Alcala is believed to have posed as a professional photographer in order to convince women — and sometimes children — to pose for him. Earlier on the same day that Robin Samsoe disappeared in Huntington Beach, Alcala had reportedly approached her and a friend, asking to take photographs of them. Samsoe agreed, but before Alcala could take any photographs an adult who saw him talking to the 12-year-old girls interrupted to make sure they were ok, and Alcala ran off.
Shortly after his arrest for Samsoe’s murder, detectives found hundreds of photographs in a storage locker Alcala kept in Seattle. Hoping to identify more possible victims, police released some of the photographs in 2010, declining to make the more sexually explicit photographs public.
Still, many of the women seen in the haunting photographs appear to be topless; and a few of the photos are sexually charged. Some others are photos of children.
After the images were released, dozens of women came forward to identify themselves as Alcala’s former subjects. Those women escaped, but police believe that there are murder victims among the unidentified women in the collection.
Former Huntington Beach Police detective Steven Mack told VICE magazine that he believes “it’s highly likely” that some of the women in the photos were killed.
“I have absolutely no doubt that there are other victims.”