In early 1977, before returning to California, Alcala was studying at NYU and using the alias "John Berger," spelled like the English novelist.
Vanity Fair writer Sheila Weller's cousin, Ellen Jayne Hover, met a man calling himself John Berger at the time.
"He was a photographer," Weller recalled. "She wrote the name 'John Berger' in her address book and she disappeared." Hover was just 23 years old. She was a New York socialite whose father owned the nightclub Ciros and she was friends with Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin. Hover's disappearance and murder was front page news.
"It was heartbreaking to everybody in her family," said Weller. "People don't forget these things, even years later. They don't forget the loveliness of a young woman and the absolute awfulness of this kind of a murder."
What may be most shocking about Alcala is his apparent ability to manipulate the legal system and nearly every person he has ever contacted.
In 1968, Hodel brought Alcala, then 25, to justice for his first known crime: the vicious rape and attempted murder of an 8-year-old girl.
"It was horrific," said Hodel. "What had happened was that he'd picked her up off the street, taken her into his apartment, his residence in Hollywood, and basically raped her -- again she was 8 years old -- raped her and then hit her over the head with a steel bar, leaving her for dead."
Alcala was convicted of the crime, but released after only three years in prison.
Alcala now faces five murder charges, but spent his entire closing argument rambling on about only one case: Robin Samsoe.
"Magical thinking, magical thinking is an irrational belief one can bring about a circumstance by thinking about it or wishing for it," said Alcala.
The victim's brother was there.
"It's the one that took him down," said Tim Samsoe. "He doesn't want to admit the one that took him down. It's a fluke now ... to him that the other ones came up. He thought he had it all beat."
Alcala said he couldn't have killed Robin. His proof was his appearance on "The Dating Game."
Investigators found an earring belonging to Robin in Alcala's Seattle storage locker. They said it linked him to the crime.
Alcala claimed he wore the earring on the show a year before Robin was murdered -- but in the clip from the show, it's not at all clear that Alcala was wearing an earring.
"I'm having to go through burying Robin four times now," said Tim Samsoe. "Nobody should have to bury their sister four times."
Rodney Alcala may have many more days in court, despite the pain and suffering the victims' family members endure. The state of California now has spent more money prosecuting him than any inmate in history.
"There's never an end to it, you know," said Connely, Robin's mother. "One minute it's over with, the next minute we're back in court. ... I still look at little blond girls when they walk past me to see if they'll turn around. ... I forget a lot of things, except the most important thing I can't forget, and that's her and how she died."