At closing arguments today in the trial of suspected serial killer and former "The Dating Game" contestant Rodney Alcala in Santa Ana, an Orange County prosecutor likened the 66-year-old former Los Angeles Times typesetter and amateur photographer to a "hunter" who sadistically and savagely killed his victims because "he enjoyed it."
"He is not hunting deer or pheasants," said Orange County Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy. "He is hunting people."
The bespectacled, shaggy-haired Alcala is accused of the 1970s brutal rape-murders of 27-year-old Malibu nurse Georgia Wixted, 21-year-old Pasadena key punch operator Jill Parenteau, 32-year-old Santa Monica legal secretary Charlotte Lamb, 18-year-old New York runaway Jill Barcomb, and 12-year-old Huntington Beach ballet student Robin Samsoe. Twice, Alcala has been found guilty of murdering Samsoe, but both convictions were overturned on appeal.
Murphy told the packed courtroom that Alcala took his time terrorizing his victims by choking them with his bare hands, waiting for them to wake up at least once, then strangling them again -- sometimes using shoelaces or panty hose. "It is a staggeringly horrific way to die," exclaimed Murphy. "There is ample evidence the women put up some resistance....He gets off on it. It was fun."
Once they were dead, Alcala allegedly would then pose their bodies. Barcomb was strangled, her nipple almost ripped off, and so badly beaten on her head with a rock that a Los Angeles County coroner could not "distinguish what killed her," according to testimony.
Murphy said that Alcala probably saw Wixted at Brennan's Pub in Santa Monica, followed her home, then crawled in her window. In horrific testimony, Murphy said she had deep lacerations in her vagina caused by being raped with a hammer. "The coroner said that what she saw done to this woman she could count on one hand. That is quite a statement...That man raped that beautiful woman with a hammer and then he smashed her face with it." Not only did Alcala leave his DNA behind, said Murphy, but his palm print.
After Alcala brutally raped and murdered Lamb, Murphy said Alcala stole a pair of gold rose-shaped earrings she was wearing. Police say they later found those earrings along with other "trophies" in Alcala's storage locker in Seattle. DNA experts also found traces of Lamb's DNA on one of the earrings.
"He posed her body, spread her legs and I think he took photos," said Murphy. "He spread her legs and he propped her sitting up. He really did do it, and he really enjoyed it."
Murphy said Parenteau's ravaged body was also found similarly posed. "It is virtually the same method of death because he is getting off on it," said Murphy.
In Alcala's 1994 book, You, the Jury about the Samsoe case -- written before he was implicated in the Los Angeles County murders -- he wrote that he was hanging out at the Handlebar Saloon the same night Parenteau was found murdered on June 14, 1979.
Murphy asserted the Los Angeles County cases were a "slam dunk" and it would only take jurors a few minutes to convict Alcala on those killings. He said he needed the jurors to give justice to Robin Samsoe because that case is largely circumstantial while the other cases involve DNA and blood evidence. "It's obvious to everyone that this is the case he wants to fight," said Murphy. "He's living to get away with this murder.''
Murphy said that student ballerina Samsoe most likely got into Alcala's car voluntarily because she was in a rush to get to her ballet class. "At one point that little girl knew she wasn't going to get out of that car."
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"His biggest lie of all," said Murphy about Alcala's stack of lies, was: "I will drive you to ballet." Samsoe's animal-ravaged body was found 12 days after she disappeared.
On Monday afternoon, Alcala got off to a poor start as he began his closing arguments, which at times appeared to have little to do with the alleged murders. He told the jurors that the Samsoe murder case was based on poor premises, magical thinking, lies and irrational belief. One such lie, he said, was that police said he told friends he was moving to Dallas after Samsoe disappeared. He told the jurors that he only told his ex-girlfriend that he was moving to Dallas. He told his other friends he was moving to Seattle or Fremont. He said police also lied when they said they found his camera in a case. It was, in fact, wrapped in a towel, he complained.
In one of the strangest moments, he referred to the rose earring that police alleged belonged to victim Lamb. Alcala said the earring wasn't Lamb's. Instead, "It was an earring with Charlotte Lamb's DNA" on it.
The jury should begin deliberating on Tuesday.