My dream date was a mon­ster

Se­rial killer went look­ing for love on a game show

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - World - LOS AN­GE­LES WARRENGIBB­S

TV Dat­ing Game con­tes­tant Cheryl Brad­shaw could barely con­tain her ex­cite­ment when the screen rolled back to re­veal her ‘‘ dream date’’— fash­ion pho­tog­ra­pher Rod­ney Al­cala.

She smiled as tall, tanned and hand­some Al­cala clasped her hand. Brad­shaw was look­ing for love and hoped the pop­u­lar US blind dat­ing game would lead her to hap­pi­ness.

But back­stage, when the cam­eras stopped rolling, Brad­shaw be­gan feel­ing ‘‘ un­easy’’ as smooth-talk­ing Al­cala promised her a date she would never for­get.

‘‘ I started to feel ill. He was act­ing re­ally creepy,’’ said Brad­shaw. ‘‘ I turned down his of­fer. I didn’t want to see him again.’’

It was a life-sav­ing de­ci­sion. For ‘‘ bach­e­lor num­ber one’’ Al­cala was a se­rial killer— a sadis­tic psy­chopath who had mur­dered four women in Cal­i­for­nia, in­clud­ing a girl, 12.

And, af­ter his ap­pear­ance on the ABC TV show in Septem­ber 1978, his death tally grew . . . with police be­liev­ing Brad­shaw’s re­jec­tion drove a new hunger to kill.

This week, Al­cala was back on prime-time telly. But this time he was wear­ing an orange jump­suit, shack­led by his wrists and an­kles. His hair un­kempt and the hard lines of life on death row etched on his face. Af­ter spend­ing decades be­hind bars, the man dubbed the ‘‘ dat­ing game killer’’ has been charged with the slay­ings of two Man­hat­tan beau­ties in the 1970s.

‘‘ Af­ter more than three decades, the de­fen­dant will fi­nally face the jus­tice sys­tem in New York for the mur­der of two vic­tims,’’ said Man­hat­tan District At­tor­ney Cyrus Vance.

Al­cala is ac­cused of cut­ting short the lives of 23-year-olds Cor­nelia Cril­ley and Ellen Hover— the god-daugh­ter of Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. He will ar­gue that he is not guilty when he stands trial in Oc­to­ber. ‘‘ My of­fice’s Foren­sic Sci­ences/cold Case Unit was cre­ated be­cause all crime vic­tims and their fam­i­lies de­serve clo­sure, no mat­ter how long ago the crime oc­curred,’’ Mr Vance said.

A TWA flight at­ten­dant, Cril­ley was raped inside her Up­per East Side apart­ment in 1971. She was stran­gled with her own panty­hose.

Cril­ley had just moved into that apart­ment within a day of her death. It is be­lieved Cril­ley met Al­cala on the street as she was lug­ging boxes up­stairs, sources said.

When Hover van­ished on July 15, 1977, she had an ap­point­ment with pho­tog­ra­pher ‘‘ John Berger’’, ac­cord­ing to her per­sonal cal­en­dar. Pros­e­cu­tors said that Al­cala used the alias ‘‘ John Berger’’.

Hover’s re­mains were found a year later at the vast Rock­e­feller es­tate near North Tar­ry­town, where Al­cala was known to take women for pho­tos, sources said. The once dash­ing ladies man and UCLA fine-arts grad was a film stu­dent of Ro­man Polan­ski and used his charm in the 1970s to en­trap and mur­der.

Al­cala, 66, has twice stood trial in Orange County for the mur­der of 12-year-old bal­let stu­dent Robin Sam­soe, of Hunt­ing­ton Beach.

He was twice con­victed of slay­ing the girl, who dis­ap­peared on her way to bal­let class while rid­ing a yel­low Sch­winn bi­cy­cle.

With a near-ge­nius IQ of 135, Al­cala wrote a 1994 book, You, The Jury, which claims his in­no­cence. He also killed four young Los An­ge­les-area women in the 1970s.

The bod­ies of Ge­or­gia Wixted, Jill Par­enteau, Char­lotte Lamb and Jill Bar­comb were found in care­fully ar­ranged poses; at one mur­der scene, a lamp shade had been re­moved, im­prov­ing bright­ness.

LAPD homi­cide police said that Al­cala took their pho­tos ‘‘ to de­file the vic­tims as best he can, in death’’.

Pic­tures: AP

Con­victed se­rial killer Rod­ney James Al­cala is es­corted into the court­room (top), rel­a­tives of the victims (above), and a young Al­cala on the Dat­in­gGameTV show in 1978

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