Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Rodney Alcala: Extreme Serial Killer

Jill Barcomb

While New York was busy with the Son of Sam killings, Los Angeles endured the Hillside Strangler, which actually turned out to be two men who were killing young women and dumping their bodies in the wooded ravines around the city. And Los Angeles also had Rodney Alcala again.

The Los Angeles Police Department initially thought the murder of Jill Barcomb, 18, was the Hillside Strangler's work.

Jill Barcomb
Jill Barcomb

Jill Barcomb was a runaway originally from Brooklyn. One of 11 kids, she'd volunteered as a candy striper and played the trumpet in high school. She was barely five-feet tall and weighed less than 100 pounds when her abductor picked her up on Sunset Boulevard.

Her lifeless body showed up on a service road off Mulholland Drive, near Marlon Brando's home, in November 1977. The discovery of Barcomb's corpse interrupted a film shoot. She was nude, kneeling as if she'd been deliberately posed. Her skull had been crushed, probably with a bloodied rock found nearby. She'd been sexually assaulted and she'd been strangled three times — with a belt, with her pantyhose, and with one of her pants' legs.

Investigators now say that DNA evidence at the scene matches Alcala.

The Hillside Strangler Task Force eventually followed Alcala to his mother's home, interviewing him there in March 1978. They were questioning all sex offenders in the area. They didn't actually suspect him of the killings, but did charge him with possession of a small amount of marijuana.

He was out of jail on the drug charge by the end of June. Soon after, he appeared on The Dating Game. But Rodney Alcala had already claimed other victims.


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