Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Rodney Alcala: Extreme Serial Killer


Rodney Alcala was twice found guilty of the kidnapping and murder of Robin Samsoe. Both convictions were overturned on technicalities, first by the California Supreme Court in 1984, then by a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2001.

In 1984, the California Supreme Court determined that the jury shouldn't have been allowed to hear about Alcala's other convictions. Furthermore, the judges believed that two of Alcala's inmates who testified against him had perjured themselves.

Robert Dove and Michael Herrera testified that Alcala had told Herrera that he had lured the girl into his car by offering her money for photos and promising to drive her to her ballet class. Dove had overheard the conversation, in which Alcala allegedly had told Herrera that he hadn't stabbed the girl, but beat her unconscious. Herrera also said that Alcala told him that he'd left the girl's bicycle behind a thrift store; the owner of a thrift store in El Monte testified that he had indeed found a child's yellow Schwinn behind his shop.

In 2001, the defense claimed that the prosecution hadn't properly handled Dana Crappa's statements. She had claimed amnesia and didn't testify during the second trial, but her previous testimony was presented in her absence.

Alcala has since remained in prison, and he's been keeping himself busy. He's tried to sue the California state prison system over a fall that he took — and over refusing to provide him with a low-fat diet. He's spoken out against the new state policy of routinely testing and comparing DNA, the practice that has tied him to the rapes or murders of Jill Barcomb, Georgia Wixted, Charlotte Lamb and Jill Parenteau. And in 1994 he wrote a book defending himself, You, the Jury.

He still denies that he killed Robin Samsoe. He's flip-flopped, first saying that an insanity defense exculpates him in the deaths of Barcomb, Wixted, Lamb and Parenteau, and then insisting that he didn't kill them either.

But now he's on trial for the deaths of the girl and all four women.


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