Rodney Alacala spends less than 3 years in prison, returns to NYC: Part 4

Alcala served 34 months in prison after pleading guilty to child molestation in Tali Shapiro’s case. He returned to New York City for vacation, during which time Ellen Hover went missing.
5:44 | 01/09/21

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Transcript for Rodney Alacala spends less than 3 years in prison, returns to NYC: Part 4
In 1971, Rodney Alcala is arrested in New Hampshire and brought back to L.A. To finally face charges for the rape and attempted murder of tali Shapiro. He was very low-key. Kind of came off a bit introverted, but I could see his mind functioning, and that's what made this guy so dangerous. He was able to read people very well, and stay a step or two or three ahead of them. For him it was all kind of a chess game. Rodney Alcala is charged with all the crimes against tali Shapiro, which included kidnapping, rape, child molestation, and torture. It turns out that because tali and her family were in Mexico, the only charge they could put on him was a plea deal for child molestation. No brutality, no bashing, no raping, no almost killing. And they wound up giving Rodney Alcala a plea deal where he plead to what's known as an indeterminate sentence. He had one year to life in California state prison. With an indeterminate sentence, it's sliding. It's not determined, and then the parole board has more flexibility in determining whether someone's been rehabilitated or whether they're a danger to the community. This meant that Rodney Alcala would have yearly parole reviews. And what's dangerous in the case of a sociopath is they're very persuasive. And he's getting therapy in prison, and they believe that he has shown enough progress that in 34 months, the California parole board released Rodney Alcala back into the world. Not even three years. Good behavior, they said. Model prisoner, they said. And he was out on the streets again. The heartbreaking part about this is that they could have kept him. But in those days, that was an era where they believed so strongly in the power of but when it comes to fixing psychopaths, it doesn't work. So, Alcala is the luckiest man in the world. He's out on parole, and he's having the best time. He's photographing people and he, one day, decides to take a ride and he starts trolling again. True to form, two months later, Rodney Alcala is caught smoking marijuana on the cliffs of sunset beach in Huntington Beach with a 13-year-old girl. And he was caught by park rangers. So, he gets arrested yet again, and this time, he gets 2 two and a half years and he's take ton prison. In June 1977, Rodney Alcala is released again from California state prison, and he goes in -- a different parole officer this time, and he asked for permission to go on some vacations. And the parole officer, miraculously, says sure, go ahead. So Rodney heads off to New York. July 1977 in New York was a difficult time for everyone. It was hot. It was steamy. The garbage wasn't being collected. When you used to read the newspapers, "The daily news" or "The post," the first 20 pages are just violence, violence, violence, every day. There were a lot of murders going on, including son of Sam. During the time son of Sam in 1977, the city was afraid. Look, you had a lunatic running around shooting men and women in cars. Police in New York are on special alert tonight for a psychopathic killer who calls himself son of Sam. His favorite targets, young white women with long, dark hair. And during that time, Alcala is taking a lot of photographs. He walks up and down the streets and asks people if he can take their picture -- young boys, older boys, young girls, older women. Doesn't matter. He just wants to take photographs. And a young woman says, sure, you can take my photograph. And they start talking and they get along. It's very nice. Her name is Ellen hover. Ellen was strikingly beautiful. She had long dark hair and long slender arms and legs and carried herself like a dancer. Her father was the owner of ciro's in Hollywood, a well-known nightclub where Sammy Davis Jr. And Dean martin and other people appeared. Ellen was very trusting of other people. She came from a Hollywood family. Grew up in Beverly hills, and then great neck and then Manhattan. Ellen loved people. On July 13th and 14th was the names New York City blackout. This is an ABC news special report. New York City went totally dark last night, and tonight large parts of the city still are without power. It was lawlessness. People loot. Crime goes through the roof. You know, people are afraid. No refrigeration, no water, no lights, on one of the hottest, steamiest nights of the year in New York City. It was a very unsettling, hard time for most people. On July 15th, Ellen hover, she goes missing. That evening, friends tried to get in touch with Ellen. Nobody could. The phone rang. It was Ellen's mother, Yvonne Schwartz. Mrs. Schwartz asked me if I had heard from Ellen since the weekend, and I said no. The next thing I knew, I was watching the 11:00 news, and there was Ellen's picture. "New York heiress missing." And the next day when the police showed up at her door, they looked inside, and they found in her calendar, there was an entry that said she was meeting John Berger.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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