News: Serial Killer Convicted For Two NYC Murders
(Long Island, N.Y.)Justice came nearly forty years later to the families of Cornelia Crilley and Ellen Hover as police indicted serial killer, Rodney Alcala, for their murders. Alcala is on death row in California for murdering a twelve year old girl. He is known as the “Dating Game Killer” for making an appearance on the Dating Game show while being a convicted rapist and registered sex offender. He was the chosen bachelor on an episode that aired during the time of his murders.
Crilley was a twenty-three year old flight attendant living in Manhattan when she was found raped and strangled in her East Side apartment with her nylon stocking in 1971. Years later Hover, a twenty-three year old daughter of a Hollywood nightclub owner, was found dead near her family’s estate in Westchester, New York. The heiress, who also lived in Manhattan, wrote down Alcala’s alias in her daily planner, making him a longtime suspect in the case.
The new Manhattan Cold Case Unit resumed interest in the girls’ cases after Alcala’s most recent trial, which sentenced him to death last March in Orange County. Patterns were seen between the cases against Alcala on both coasts that exceeded solitary evidence and developments, and included the 2003 match of dental records to teeth marks left on one of the bodies. Police talked to many new witnesses, adding to information that had been collected for over thirty years.
At the time of the murders, Alcala worked as a security guard and has been in prison in California since the 70’s. He had been a challenge for police due to his change of identities and locations, and because his tortured victims suffered similarly to those of the Hillside Stranglers. The men incarcerated for those crimes were cousins who were identified post-arrest by a woman whom they released upon realizing she was the daughter of Peter Lorre – an actor who played a child-killer in a popular forties flick.
Perhaps the difficulties of dealing with crimes committed from one coast to another hindered police throughout the forty year investigation. Since the Gilgo Beach murders, police may have had more incentive to reopen unsolved cases on Long Island. Many believe that since Alcala is currently on death row for the murder of twelve year old Robin Samsoe, a trial in New York would be nothing more than a waste of tax dollars and excitement for the killer.
California police maintain that a trial in New York won’t buy Alcala time before the appellate processes continue to pursue with the death penalty. Some are accusing the police of seeking glory at the expense of a timelier sentence of justice. Unlike the state of California, New York does not have the death penalty, and Alcala is able to receive all of the media attention and entertainment that coincides.
During his last trial, Alcala defended himself and played a clip from an Arlo Guthrie song that deals with a confession to a psychiatrist about desires to kill. Testimony was heard from his first known victim, who was an eight year old girl that was raped and beaten. Though she didn’t testify at the original trial for those crimes, she helped convict Alcala over thirty years later.
At the time of this first known incident, Alcala was sentenced to a lesser charge due to the lack of testimony. Months later, he was caught giving marijuana to a thirteen year old girl he kidnapped. While in jail he wrote a book maintaining his innocence in the Samsoe case and sued the prison for failing to provide him with a low fat diet. Though he was previously paroled, he is set to die in California in the San Quentin State Prison.
Alcala was convicted for the murder of Samsoe last February. The young girl from Huntington Beach was last seen on her way to ballet class and her body was discovered over a week later in the Sierra Madre foothills. Two previous death row convictions for her murder were overturned; the first was because the jury was told about Alcala’s history of sex crimes and the second was due to a mistake by a California Superior Court Judge.
Alcala was found guilty of killing a woman in Santa Monica by strangling her with shoe lace in the laundry room of an apartment complex. The rape of a fifteen year old girl in Riverside sentenced him to nine years in prison. A twenty-one year old woman was strangled in Burbank; police say that Alcala liked to torture his victims by strangling them unconscious and re-strangling them upon consciousness. Another one of his victims was found strangled with blue pants.
Alcala, a self-claimed genius, left the army in 1964 after being diagnosed with anti-social personality disorder and experiencing a breakdown. He graduated UCLA and attended NYU where he studied film under the teachings of Roman Polanski. When police were onto him, Alcala kept a storage locker in Seattle with thousands of photographs of women and children and the earrings of his twelve year old victim.
He allegedly lured women by claiming he was a fashion photographer. Over a hundred photos have been released in the hopes of identifying more victims; dozens of women have come forward claiming to be among the photos. Alcala worked as a counselor in a summer camp in New Hampshire until he was recognized as being wanted by the FBI. The women he won a date with on the game show later refused to go out with him because she found him unappealing and frightening.