This story of a suspected serial killer with roots in Monterey Park comes from Associated Press Staff Writer Gillian Flaccys:
SANTA ANA — A serial murder suspect and former Monterey Park resident accused of five slayings in the late 1970s acknowledged Wednesday that he planned to leave California in the weeks following the youngest victim’s death and lied to his employer and friends about where he was going.
Rodney James Alcala, 66, is charged with five counts of first-degree murder in the slayings of four Los Angeles County women and a 12-year-old Orange County girl between 1977 and 1979.
Prosecutors say he raped, tortured and robbed some of the women before killing them. He could face the death penalty if convicted.
Alcala, a photographer and UCLA graduate, has pleaded not guilty to all charges and is representing himself in the case.
Prosecutors began cross-examining Alcala on Wednesday after he wrapped up his defense a day earlier by showing a video of himself on a 1978 episode of “The Dating Game.” Alcala claims the video proves his innocence in the murder of one of the alleged victims, 12-year-old Robin Samsoe.
Samsoe disappeared on June 20, 1979, while riding a friend’s bike to ballet class in Huntington Beach in Orange County. Her body was found 12 days later, but investigators couldn’t determine the cause of death or if she had been sexually assaulted because of the condition of the remains.
Alcala says the game show clip proves that nearly a year before Samsoe’s death, he owned a pair of earrings prosecutors used to tie him to her.
Orange County prosecutor Matt Murphy questioned Alcala Wednesday about why he moved his belongings to Seattle after Samsoe’s murder and why he lied to his friends about where he was going.
Alcala said he quit his job typing classified ads for the Los Angeles Times and told them he was moving to Fremont. He told family and friends he was moving, too, but named four different locations, including Hawaii, New Mexico, Dallas and Chicago.
“Isn’t it true that you were telling people you were going to different places because you were going on the lam and you didn’t want them to be able to tell police where you were?” Murphy asked.
“I was thinking about going on the lam,” Alcala replied, adding that he intended to go to Chicago
for a photography conference and return to Los Angeles. He was arrested on July 24, 1979.
Earlier, Murphy asked Alcala why he “radically changed” his hairstyle several days after Samsoe disappeared.
Alcala had his naturally curly, shoulder-length hair straightened three days after the murder and then cut short several days later. Prosecutors have argued that he made the changes so he would not be recognized after a police sketch was published on TV and in newspapers.
Alcala acknowledged the changes, but said they were not radical and were not related to the murder.
Murphy also questioned Alcala about his conversation with a 15-year-old girl he photographed near the beach on the day Samsoe disappeared. Alcala told the girl, who was wearing a blue bikini and roller skates, that he was taking pictures for a contest.
Witnesses have testified that they later saw Alcala talking to Samsoe and her friend and trying to take their pictures as well, which Alcala denies.
Alcala has been sentenced to death twice for Samsoe’s slaying, but both convictions were overturned.
This case is the first to try Alcala in the deaths of four Los Angeles County women between 1977 and 1979. Prosecutors allege DNA testing and forensic evidence in 2005 linked him to those cases.
Also murdered were Jill Barcomb, 18, who had just moved to Los Angeles from Oneida, N.Y.; Georgia Wixted, 27, of Malibu; Charlotte Lamb, 32, of Santa Monica; and Jill Parenteau, 21, of Burbank.
During the trial, Alcala has focused almost entirely on Samsoe and did not testify about the other allegations when he took the stand.
The judge halted proceedings midmorning Wednesday because of a power outage.