You know a true crime tale is genuinely intriguing when it is constantly evolving and new evidence is being uncovered, even after the focal point of the story has been in prison for decades.
That is certainly what’s happened in the case of serial killer Rodney Alcala, also known as the “Dating Game Killer.” Alcala has been behind bars in California since 1979, but, as recently as September 2016, the sordid story of his crimes was still unfolding.
In September 2016, authorities in Wyoming charged Alcala with the 1977 murder of Christine Thornton, a 28-year-old Texas woman who was killed and buried while she was on a road trip almost 40 years ago. Thornton was six months pregnant at the time of her murder. She is the latest victim to be linked to Alcala, nicknamed the “Dating Game Killer” because he appeared on TV’s The Dating Game in 1978. (He actually won, too).
Alcala has been in prison since 1979 for the murder of a 12-year-old girl in California. In the years since his incarceration, he has been linked to seven additional murders, including this most recent case in Wyoming.
Investigators believe, however, that the 73-year-old Alcala is responsible for many more deaths than even the eight he has been charged with so far. In fact, it is estimated that the serial killer may be responsible for up to 130 murders.
Alcala worked as a photographer in the 1970s, and, when he was arrested, authorities discovered hundreds of photos of unidentified women in a storage locker he rented in Seattle. While some of the photos were undoubtedly of models Alcala worked with, police believe that he used his profession to lure unsuspecting victims to their deaths as well.
In 2010, police released over 100 of Alcala’s photos and asked for the public’s assistance in identifying the women pictured. More than 900 additional photos have not been released because they contain sexually graphic material. Since then, over 20 women have come forward and identified themselves from the old photos. Several families also believe they recognized loved ones who disappeared and were never found.
But it wasn’t until very recently that Alcala was actually charged with a crime related to the photographs the police released. In 2013, Christine Thornton’s family approached police about a photo they believed showed Christine on a motorcycle in a desert.
Authorities dug into Thornton’s 1977 missing person case and eventually identified a previously anonymous body discovered in Wyoming as Christine Thornton. Alcala was then charged with her murder.
How many more women will be identified as victims of Rodney Alcala, as more and more people view the photographs from his storage locker? We can only hope that Alcala’s photos will be key to solving more cold cases, and that more families with missing loved ones will be able to find closure.
Want more? Check out the articles below:
The “Co-Ed Killer”: The Twisted Life of Edmund Kemper
4 Unsolved Murder Cases That Will Give You The Creeps
This Man Thinks He Knows Who The Zodiac Killer Is – His Father
“Born To Raise Hell:” Richard Speck and the 1966 Chicago Nurse Murders
This Real-Life Murderous Couple Inspired Bruce Springsteen’s “Nebraska”
Sentenced to Life, but the Bodies Were Never Found: A True Crime Tale from Kansas
The Real Life Inspiration for Pigman in “American Horror Story: Roanoke”
Can You Guess Which President of the United States is a Murderer?
Amelia Earhart May Not Have Died in a Plane Crash After All