March 30, 2010— -- Rodney Alcala, one of California's most vicious serial killers, has been sentenced to death.
The man known as the "Dating Game" killer, for his appearance on the 1970s television game show, will die for murdering 12-year-old Robin Samsoe and four Los Angeles women, a jury decided today, according to ABC's Los Angeles affiliate KABC. The jury had seven men and five women.
In addition to Samsoe, Alcala was convicted in the murders of Charlotte Lamb, 32, Jill Barcomb, 18, Georgia Wixted, 27, and Jill Parenteau, 21.
Before upholding the jury's recommendation, the judge denied Alcala's request for a new trial.
Earlier this month, police released a stash of photos three decades old in hope of finding closure for the families of dozens of missing persons who may have been murder victims.
Police are also hoping more families of loved ones come forward so they can link more killings to Alcala.
And they may never know exactly how many woman Alcala may have killed. Police have nearly 2,000 photos of possible victims and a lengthy investigation ahead for investigators who say they will solve as many cases as they can.
"They want to go at 110 mph after every lead they get," said Huntington Beach Police Department Capt. Chuck Thomas. "That's what we're here for and we'll do everything we can for these potential victims."
Woman's Brush With Serial Killer Alcala
The recent release of the photos have caused a flurry of activity as the families of the women in the pictures, and in some cases the women themselves, flood police with phone calls.
"We've received hundreds, literally hundreds and hundreds, of calls from all over the United States as well as numerous calls from western Europe," Thomas said. "We've gotten a number of calls from families who are still despondent. Your heart really goes out to them."
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said they already have six potential new cases they could pin on Alcala.
At the time of his appearance, where he was bachelor No. 1, he had already been convicted in the rape and brutal beating of an 8-year-old girl.
Alcala was convicted Feb. 25 in the 1979 rape and murder of Samsoe, a Huntington Beach ballet student, and the strangulation of four other women between 1970 and 1979.
The photos were found in 1979, in a Seattle storage locker that had been rented by Alcala, but not released until recently because of legal concerns.
Phone calls came flooding into authorities almost immediately.
"The calls are basically along two lines," Huntington Beach Police Detective Patrick Ellis told ABC's Seattle affiliate KOMO. "No. 1: 'Yes, that's my photograph. I am alive and well,' and giving us details of Mr. Alcala way back when, 30 years ago.
"Or, the calls saying, 'Hey, my sister, mother ... was reported missing back then, and I think her photograph is on the Web site,' and they're providing us with information as far as the person's name, where they were last seen alive," he said. "Some people aren't positive, but they're pretty sure.
"Until we talk to the victims' families, get other photographs for comparison purposes and more details on where their bodies were recovered -- if they were recovered at all -- we can't really say at this point," Ellis said. "We just don't know."
Rackauckas said each possible match to one of the photos is investigated first by looking at the whereabouts of the victims at the time and that of Alcala. In some cases, he said, DNA evidence is available for further confirmation.
Rodney Alcala Was 'Dating Game' Winner
Alcala, who had a fine arts degree from UCLA, took the photos before his first arrest in 1979.
Some show remote settings similar to the region where Samsoe's body was found. A few of the photos are of men.
Police say Alcala thought of himself as a skilled photographer and may have used the camera to lure his victims.
Alcala had traveled across the country several times when he was studying film at New York University in the 1970s, even working briefly with director Roman Polanski.
Steve Hodel, a retired detective with the Los Angeles Police Department, told ABC's Nightline that Alcala could have killed many more victims between the East and West Coasts.
If you know who these women are, contact Huntington Beach Police Detective Patrick Ellis, at 714-375-5066, or e-mail him at email@example.com.