Guest Author - Vance R. Rowe
Imagine that you are a woman on a nationally televised dating program. You have to choose between three single men without ever seeing them until the end. You have to make your choice by the answers they give to your questions to them. Finally, at the end of the show, you make your choice. He seems nice enough at first, is a good-looking man and you think you have done all right. The host of the television show tells you where you will be going on your date and you get excited.
Then backstage, after the show, the gentleman suddenly seems different. He becomes imposing, rude, and you believe now he is down right creepy. When the television show calls you and tells you when you will be going on your date, you decline to go at all because you donít want to spend another minute with the creepy, overbearing man ever again. What if that decision had possibly saved your life? What if later on that same year, you open the newspaper or turn on the television news and you see that the man you declined to go on a date with has been arrested for murder and later find out that he was actually a prolific serial killer?
This happened to Cheryl Bradshaw in 1978. She was a contestant on televisionís The Dating Game. The man she picked was Rodney Alcala. A man who would be arrested a couple of years later for the murder of seven women. A man who had already committed murder before appearing on the television dating show. Bradshaw had gotten a bad vibe from Alcala backstage after the show and when the show called her at home to arrange the date, she declined to go and that decision probably saved her life.
Rodney Alcala had strangled a 23-year-old flight attendant to death in 1971 and used the same method to kill three more women in 1977; a year before he appeared on the Dating Game. However, his very first known crime was in 1968 after he graduated from UCLA with a Fine Arts degree. A motorist had spotted Alcala luring an eight year old girl into his car and the motorist followed them to his apartment and by the time the police had arrived, they found the little girl raped, beaten, and barely alive and Alcala was gone. He fled to New York where he changed his name and enrolled in NYU and studied film under Roman Polanski. Ironically, Roman Polanskiís wife would be killed a year later by Charles Manson.
Rodney Alcala used his photography to lure young women and take pictures of them. Some were proven to have been killed by him. Alcala eventually moved back to California where his killing spree continued and in 1979, police raided his apartment after a twelve-year-old girl girl was murdered and was seen talking to Alcala just a month earlier. There they found a receipt for a storage locker in Seattle, Washington. When police opened the locker, they had found photographs of hundreds of unidentified women along with a picture of the twelve-year-old girl and her earrings. In his 1980 trial, he was proven to have killed seven women and received the death penalty. However, that conviction was overturned in 1984 due to a technicality. After being found guilty in a 1986 trial and sentenced to death, that conviction was also overturned by a judge.
His most recent trial was in 2010 and was once again convicted and once again he has received the death penalty. Huntington Beach police had posted all of the pictures they had found on their website in 2010 at the end of the trial in hopes someone would recognize them. About thirty women had called in and said they were in the pictures and less than ten said they knew him personally. The Huntington Beach police department has since removed the photos of the women who have verified that they were in the pictures. They have left the remaining pictures up and the case still remains partially opened. Rodney Alcala still remains in San Quentin prison.
You can see his appearance on the Dating Game television show on Youtube.