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Serial Killer

20051122: Accused Serial Killer Facing Third Trial Enters Plea CA Santa Ana Serial Killer News
A man facing a third trial for the murder of a 12-year-old Huntington Beach girl in 1979 pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of murdering four Los Angeles-area women in the 1970s.

Rodney James Alcala, 62, has spent much of the last 20 years on death row in connection with the slaying of Robin Samsoe. His two previous convictions in the case were overturned, and a date for the third trial has not yet been set.

Alcala was indicted Sept. 9 for the murders of Jill Barcomb, 18; Georgia Wixted, 27; Charlotte Lamb, 32;, and Jill Parenteau, 21. The slayings occurred between late-1977 and mid-1979.

The women were sexually assaulted, then beaten or strangled.

The indictment also alleges the special circumstance allegations of torture, multiple murder, robbery, rape, burglary and oral copulation.

Los Angeles County prosecutors already have announced they will seek the death penalty against Alcala on the four new cases if he is convicted.

Alcala has been in Orange County since 2003 while awaiting a new trial in the Samsoe case.

Los Angeles County prosecutors want to combine the Los Angeles County cases with the Orange County case, using prosecutors from both district attorney offices.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Francisco Briseno set a hearing on Jan. 13 to determine if the cases can be combined and tried in Orange County.

Defense attorney Richard Schwartzberg told Briseno he will oppose consolidation.

Mindful that the appeals court has twice tossed out Alcala's convictions for the Samsoe killing, defense attorney George Peters later told reporters that consolidation is an attempt to shore up a weak case with new charges that could bias a jury.

Schwartzberg told Briseno that the statute allowing consolidation is new and that there is no settled case law regarding it. If the ruling goes against his client, Schwartzberg indicated he would appeal the ruling while trial is still pending.

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas told reporters earlier that "by consolidating the charges, we will be able to pool our resources and give the public a clearer understanding of who Mr. Alcala is and what he did."

Prosecutors also said it will allow for judicial economy and for overlapping evidence to be presented.

Briseno also signed an order giving prosecutors access to Alcala's dental records from San Quentin.

According to the motion submitted by Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Gina Satriano, evidence of a bite mark was recovered from the body of Barcomb by the coroner in 1979 and prosecutors want to compare the evidence collected from the victim's body to Alcala's teeth impressions.

According to Satriano, the bite mark severed the victim's right breast nipple.

The records will be turned over to prosecutors on Dec. 16.

Samsoe disappeared near the Huntington Beach Pier in July 1979, and her remains were found 12 days later in the San Gabriel Mountain foothills.

Alcala was convicted in 1980 of murdering Samsoe. He won a second trial in 1984 when the California Supreme Court ruled that evidence of prior attacks against young girls should not have been allowed at trial.

Alcala served time for attacking an 8-year-old girl with a pipe in 1968, and completed another term for an attack on a 14-year-old girl.

In 1986, he was tried again and convicted in the Samsoe case, although a key prosecution witness -- a Forest Service firefighter who was among those who found the girl's body and later linked Alcala to the site -- did not testify again because she said she had amnesia.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld a trial judge's order that Alcala should be retried or released.

The retrial had been delayed by the death of attorney David A. Zimmerman, who had represented Alcala on his first appeal of the case.

After Peters was appointed, Alcala was set to go to trial on Oct. 3 but that date was vacated with the addition of the new charges.

Satriano could not estimate when trial would begin on the case, saying a lot has to do with the consolidation motion.


20050920: Defendant Is Now Called Serial Killer CA Los Angeles County Serial Killer News

Rodney Alcala, facing a second retrial in the abduction and death of an O.C. girl, allegedly killed four L.A. County women in the late 1970s.

A man behind bars for the last 25 years for allegedly killing a 12-year-old Huntington Beach girl is now accused of slaying four women in Los Angeles County in the late 1970s during a serial-killing spree, officials said Monday.

Rodney James Alcala, 62, who is in Orange County jail awaiting his second retrial in the 1979 kidnapping and killing of Robin Samsoe, made a court appearance Monday on charges of sexually assaulting and murdering four women, who were strangled in or near their homes. His arraignment was postponed until Oct. 6.

After uncovering the new cases through DNA and blood evidence, detectives said they were trying to connect Alcala with other unsolved missing-person and murder cases, including two killings in New York state.

"He belongs right up there" in a list of serial killers, said Los Angeles Police Det. Cliff Shepard, who is in the department's cold-case unit. "Him being behind bars since 1979 probably saved a lot of lives."

The killings occurred in an era when Southern California was being terrorized by serial killers such as the Hillside Strangler and the Freeway Killer. At the time, police suspected that at least one of the women now linked to Alcala was a victim in the string of deaths attributed to the Hillside Strangler.

The new charges against Alcala involve four slayings from 1977 to 1979. Authorities said the victims died under similar circumstances.

The body of Jill Barcomb, 18, was found in the Hollywood Hills on Nov. 10, 1977, three weeks after she moved to California from Oneida, N.Y. She was sexually assaulted, bludgeoned and strangled with a pair of blue pants. Coroner's officials found three bite marks on her right breast.

The nude body of Centinela Hospital nurse Georgia Wixted, 27, was found Dec. 16, 1977, in her Malibu apartment. Wixted had been beaten, sexually assaulted and strangled. A hammer was found next to her body.

Legal secretary Charlotte Lamb, 32, of Santa Monica was found June 24, 1978, in the laundry room of an El Segundo apartment complex. She had been sexually assaulted and strangled with a shoelace.

On June 13, 1979 a week before Robin Samsoe was abducted and killed Jill Parenteau was found sexually assaulted and strangled in her Burbank apartment, pillows propping up her nude body. Law enforcement sources said Alcala allegedly met the 21-year-old keypunch operator at a restaurant.

Police in New York suspect Alcala killed at least two women there, one of them Ellen Hover, 24, in 1977. She was last seen in her New York apartment July 15, and her body was found 11 months later in a shallow grave on the Rockefeller estate, about 100 feet from where another woman told police she had posed for Alcala, an amateur photographer.

"Mr. Alcala left a trail of evil in multiple states and multiple counties," said Los Angeles Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley.

Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas said Alcala's arrest in Robin Samsoe's death was "the only reason he stopped killing."

Alcala refused a jailhouse interview and his attorney declined to discuss the new charges.

Authorities said Alcala met the women in discos and other public places, flirted with them and then followed them home when they spurned his advances.

"The reality is he was running around Southern California in the '70s looking for prey," said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Capt. Ray Peavy, head of the homicide bureau. "He looked for innocent victims who couldn't put up much of a fight and caught them when they were home in bed and pretty much defenseless."

The Los Angeles County cases had stalled for decades until they were cracked with the help of a statewide DNA database. In each of the slayings, the killer left semen or other biological material on the objects he used to strangle his victims.

After a recent state law required Alcala to provide a DNA sample to be used in crime-solving efforts, the state Department of Justice connected him a year ago to the unsolved killings.

"The DNA hits were like turning a light on in a room," Peavy said. "Suddenly an unsolvable case is now solved."

Sheriff's Det. Cheryl Comstock has been investigating the cases since the DNA links were found, Peavy said. She interviewed Alcala in prison several times and was able to confirm that he was not behind bars at the time of the killings.


20050919: Rodney Alcala Indicted For Four Murders In LA County While On Trial In OC For Fifth CA Los Angeles Serial Killer News
Rodney Alcala is set to be retried for a third time in Orange County for the 1979 murder of a 12-year-old girl and today he was arraigned in LA on four other charges of murder dating back to the 1970's. Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley says in addition, Alcala will stand trial for those four murders in Orange County. Alcala is accused of killing four women in LA County between the ages of 18 and 32 from 1977 to 1979. All were sexually assaulted, strangled or beaten to death. Cooley says in three of the four cases they have DNA evidence that links Alcala to their killings. Alcala will be back in court October 6th. The case will be jointly prosecuted by OC Deputy DA Matt Murphy, and LA Deputy DA Gina Satriano.

Copyright 1995-2005 by Elisabeth Wetsch
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