After he abandoned them three years later, his mother moved Rodney and his siblings to suburban Los Angeles when he was about 11 years old. In , after what was described as a nervous breakdown , during which he went AWOL and hitchhiked from Fort Bragg to his mother's house, he was diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder  by a military psychiatrist and discharged on medical grounds. A motorist in Los Angeles called police after watching him lure an eight-year-old girl named Tali Shapiro  into his Hollywood apartment.
The girl was found alive, raped and beaten with a steel bar, but Alcala had fled. In , he obtained a counseling job at a New Hampshire arts camp for children using a slightly different alias, "John Burger". Her murder went unsolved until it was connected to Alcala in Alcala was arrested and extradited to California. By then, Tali Shapiro's parents had relocated their entire family to Mexico and refused to allow her to testify at Alcala's trial.
Once again, he was paroled after serving two years of an "indeterminate sentence". Although Alcala was ruled out as the Hillside Strangler, he was arrested and served a brief sentence for marijuana possession. I remember the girls were naked. The portfolio also included " Police fear that some of the subjects may be additional cold-case victims. Host Jim Lange introduced him as a "successful photographer who got his start when his father found him in the darkroom at the age of 13, fully developed.
Between takes you might find him skydiving or motorcycling. They think that something is wrong with that girl: She played hard to get. Her decomposing body was found 12 days later in the Los Angeles foothills. Detectives circulated a sketch of the photographer, and Alcala's parole officer recognized him. In he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death for Samsoe's murder, but the verdict was overturned by the California Supreme Court because jurors had been improperly informed of his prior sex crimes.
A Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel nullified the second conviction, in part because a witness was not allowed to support Alcala's contention that the park ranger who found Samsoe's body had been "hypnotized by police investigators". Jill Barcomb, 18, a New York runaway found "rolled up like a ball" in a Los Angeles ravine in ,  and originally thought to have been a victim of the Hillside Strangler; Georgia Wixted, 27, bludgeoned in her Malibu apartment in ; Charlotte Lamb, 31, raped, strangled, and left in the laundry room of an El Segundo apartment complex in ; and Jill Parenteau, 21, killed in her Burbank apartment in He also filed two lawsuits against the California penal system, for a slip-and-fall incident and for refusing to provide him a low-fat diet.
Alcala's attorneys contested it; as one of them explained, "If you're a juror and you hear one murder case, you may be able to have reasonable doubt. But it's very hard to say you have reasonable doubt on all five, especially when four of the five aren't alleged by eyewitnesses but are proven by DNA matches. For the third trial Alcala elected to act as his own attorney. Alcala" in a deeper-than-normal voice , and then answering them.
A surprise witness during the penalty phase of the trial was Tali Shapiro, Alcala's first known victim. Alcala rented the Seattle-area storage locker in which investigators later found jewelry belonging to two of his California victims, in Her battered, naked body was subsequently found in Marin County near a hiking trail.
With no fingerprints or usable DNA, charges are unlikely to be filed, but police claimed that there is sufficient evidence to convince them that Alcala committed the crime.
Her body was found in Sweetwater County, Wyoming in , but was not identified until when DNA supplied by Thornton's relatives matched tissue samples from her remains.
Thornton is the first alleged murder victim linked to the Alcala photos made public in