Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Rodney Alcala: Extreme Serial Killer

More and More Victims

Album cover: Alice's Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie (pictured).
Album cover: Alice's Restaurant by
Arlo Guthrie (pictured).

In his closing arguments Alcala told jurors that if they gave him the death penalty, they would be killers themselves. He then played them an extract from Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant Massacree," a sprawling anti-Vietnam epic: "I want to kill. I mean, I wanna, I wanna kill. Kill. I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth. I mean kill, Kill, KILL, KILL."

Alcala reminded the jury that he would fight a death sentence, and it would be automatically appealed. He suggested that a life sentence would be easiest for everyone.

The families of the victims spoke at the sentencing. In 2005, Jill Barcomb's brother Bruce had sent Alcala a present: a copy of Out of the Shadows, a book on sex addiction. With the book he had sent a letter in which he begged Alcala to spare the families the pain of a trial, and confess to any murders he'd committed. Clearly, Bruce Barcomb hadn't persuaded this brutal killer to come clean.

After Alcala was convicted, Huntington Beach detectives released photos from the Shoreline, Wash., storage locker where Alcala had squirreled away "trophies" from his attacks, including photos of many of his victims as well as earrings that linked him to Robin Samsoe and Charlotte Lamb. The suburban Seattle locker also held hundreds of photos of women and children — both boys and girls — often at the beach or park, sometimes nude.

Some of those photos had addresses scrawled on the back. Police have tracked down those families and were able to confirm that their loved ones were still alive. Authorities continue to hope people who recognize the other photographs will come forward.

Seattle police requested DNA samples so they can determine whether Alcala was behind the deaths of two teenagers killed in Seattle in the 1970s. Antionette Witaker, 13, was found dead in a vacant lot in northeast Seattle's Lake City in July 1977. Joyce Gaunt, 17, was found dead in south Seattle's Seward Park in February 1978. Witaker had not been sexually assaulted, but the developmentally disabled Gaunt had been. Detectives have requested a DNA comparison to see whether Alcala is a match.

The King County sheriff's office is also looking into whether Alcala may have been responsible for deaths in the surrounding area, including that of Cherry Greenman, who disappeared from Waterville, Wash., at the age of 19 in 1976. Just as the Los Angeles Police Department originally attributed Jill Barcomb's death to the Hillside Strangler, authorities at one time had looked for a link between Greenman and the Green River Killer.

New Hampshire investigators are looking into whether Alcala may have been responsible for any crimes when he worked, as John Berger, as a camp counselor in the area between 1969 and 1971.

Rodney Alcala also remains a person of interest in the deaths of heiress Ellen Hover and TWA stewardess Cornelia "Michael" Crilley in New York in the 1970s.

 

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