'Dating Game Killer' Found Guilty

California jury finds Rodney Alcala guilty on five counts of murder.

ByABC News
February 23, 2010, 4:44 PM

Feb. 25, 2010 — -- A California man held on death row for three decades was convicted today of five murders by a Santa Ana, Calif., jury.

Rodney Alcala, known as "The Dating Game Killer" because he sought to use his 1978 appearance on the game show in his defense, was declared guilty of murdering 12-year-old Robin Samsoe and four young women.

Alcala previously had been convicted twice in the murder of the girl, but both times the verdict was overturned.

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He was charged with murdering the four women after new DNA evidence tied him to those crimes.

Investigators suspect him of additional murders in California, New York City and possibly elsewhere, although he has not been charged.

"This could easily be another Ted Bundy," said Steve Hodel, a retired detective with the Los Angeles Police Department. "It could be 20, 30 victims."

Alcala, 66, represented himself at his trial. The jury at Orange County Criminal Courthouse in Santa Ana, Calif., deliberated for less than two days.

The penalty phase of the case begins Tuesday. Alcala could face the death penalty.

Some investigators believe the five killings are just the tip of the iceberg.

"He's right up somewhere just below Hitler and right around Ted Bundy," said Det. Cliff Shepard, an LAPD cold case investigator. "There is no rhyme or reason for what he is doing. I mean it is not humane, whatever he does to these victims. It is a torturous, terrible murder."

By many accounts, Alcala was a man with a bright future. He had a Fine Arts degree from the University of California-Los Angeles, studied film at New York University and had worked for director Roman Polanski.

"I talked to his professor at UCLA and his professor came out and said this guy is a top honor student," said Hodel. "He is really a nice guy. He wouldn't hurt a fly. You've got the wrong man. ... I got this very smart, very polished guy and ... the acts he committed, you've got this monster inside of him."

Investigators said the slayings happened between late 1977 and mid-1979.

One of the victims, Jill Barcomb, was a free spirit. In 1977, when she was just 18, she traveled from her home in Oneida, N.Y., out to California with friends. She was in Hollywood for only a few weeks when she met Alcala.