W￼hen Rodney Alcala appeared on a TV dating show, he was charming and charismatic.
Given the choice between Rodney, 35, and two other men, bachelorette Cheryl Bradshaw chose him. Backstage, Rodney asked her out on a date, but she got a weird feeling.
‘He was acting really creepy. I turned down his offer. I didn’t want to see him again,’ Cheryl later said. What she didn’t realise was that Rodney was a serial killer.
With an IQ estimated at between 160-170, he was a dangerously intelligent predator.
Before appearing on the show, Rodney had already raped and killed at least four young women.
Seven years earlier, in 1971, he was arrested for the rape and attempted murder of eight-year-old Tali Shapiro. Tali and her family had left the country after her attack, so with no prime witness, Rodney was only charged with child molestation.
‘He received one year to life and the parole board let him go after 34 months,’ said Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy.
Free to commit more crimes, in 1977 Rodney was posing as a photographer when he lured Christine Thornton, 29, into his clutches. Christine was six months pregnant when Rodney killed her.
The next year Rodney appeared on the dating show described as a ‘successful photographer’.
In 1979, he used his camera to befriend Robin Samsoe and her best friend Bridget Wilvurt, both 12, as they played on a beach. Rodney made a hasty exit when they were interrupted.
However, Robin was later abducted and her body was found 12 days later. Brave Bridget provided a description to police.
After his parole officer recognised him in a police sketch, Rodney was arrested. Police found thousands of photos of women and girls in a storage unit.
In 2012, after decades of trials, DNA technology finally helped convict him of seven murders.
Rodney, now 75, is on death row, but detectives continue trying to identify his photos, wondering how many women fell victim to his charms.
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