In 1979, Rodney Alcala, otherwise known as the "Dating Game Killer," was arrested after police suspected him to be linked to several murders in the California area. Nearly 40 years later, Alcala, now convicted, remains behind bars. But, the killer had a knack for photography, and the Huntington Beach Police Department is continuing its search to identify dozens of women photographed by the killer long before his first arrest, ABC News reported. Police hope to learn if there were more victims of his brutal killings or if these women and men unknowingly posed for a serial killer.
Alcala was considered an amateur photographer who studied fine arts at UCLA. He earned his name as the "Dating Game Killer" after he was the winning contestant on the TV game show "The Dating Game" in 1978, Rolling Stone reported.
Around the time of his arrest, investigators discovered hundreds of photos in a storage locker in Seattle rented by Alcala himself, ABC reported.
The photos reveal these unidentified women, donning hairdos, posing, some in intimate backdrops, others in a more public setting, and many even laughing at the camera lens.
Alcala, now 77, was convicted in 2010 of killing four women and a 12-year-old girl in Southern California in the 1970s, CBS News reported. He also pleaded guilty to killing two women in New York City during the same time. He was sentenced to death twice but the verdicts were overturned on appeal both times, CBS reported.
Following his conviction, police released photos of candid and posed shots of women, many of whom, to this day, have not been identified. Now, a decade later, authorities are asking, again, for the public's assistance.
"We'd like to locate the women in these pictures," prosecutor Matt Murphy told the Orange County Register back in 2010. "Did they simply pose for a serial killer, or did they become victims of his sadistic, murderous pattern?"
One of the photographs helped police link Alcala to the killing of a 28-year-old pregnant woman, Christine Ruth Thornton, CBS reported. Police believe Alcala killed Thornton in the summer of 1977 and left her body in a rural area of Wyoming. A relative of Thornton found the photos in 2013 and notified authorities. They were able to match her DNA to the remains discovered.
Prosecutors charged Alcala with the murder in September 2016, but due to his poor health, he was unable to be extradited to Wyoming for trial, KGAB reported. He has not entered a plea and denied killing Thornton, ABC reported. He is being held in Corcoran State Prison.
Police have estimated that his victim count can be as many as 130, according to Rolling Stone.
Contact HBPD Sgt. Sam Shepherd at (714) 536-5947 with any information.