Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Rodney Alcala: Extreme Serial Killer

Caught?

When investigators searched Rodney Alcala's mother's house, they found a receipt for a storage locker in Seattle. The locker held numerous photographs of young girls, including one of Lorrie Werts. They also found a pair of gold ball earrings allegedly worn by Robin Samsoe and belonging to her mother; Alcala still claims he'd long owned those himself. A second pair of earrings, with tiny roses, would, years later, reveal Charlotte Lamb's DNA. Police believe that Alcala was keeping the photos and earrings as trophies of his crimes.

Rodney Alcala
Rodney Alcala

Alcala apparently spent just a few days in Seattle that July. He told his girlfriend, Elizabeth Kelleher, that he'd been in Dallas, where he said he was planning to open a photography studio. He told other friends and acquaintances that he was moving to Chicago.

With the evidence from the storage locker and testimony from witnesses, prosecutors brought Alcala to trial for his crimes against Robin Samsoe.

Robin Samsoe's mother, Marianne Connelly, brought a .25-caliber pistol to the trial. She ultimately decided not to use it, believing that the legal system would deal justly with her daughter's killer.

Alcala had an alibi. He claimed that at the time of her abduction he was at Knott's Berry Farm, applying for a job to become a disco photographer. Alcala's sisters (Christine De La Cerda and Marie Troiano) and his mother insisted that Alcala had called both sisters from his mother's house around the time of Robin's abduction. While those calls do appear on phone bills, there's no way of confirming whether Alcala or his mother made them.

The jury found against him. In 1978 Rodney James Alcala was found guilty of first degree murder with a deadly weapon and kidnapping. The kidnapping charge qualified as a special circumstance that exposed him to the death penalty.

Marianne Connelly, though, never worked again, and she developed a drug problem. Robin's three siblings, Taranne, Tim and Robert were never the same.

Because Alcala's conviction was overturned.

Twice.

 

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