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'Dating Game Killer' Rodney Alcala dies at 77

Alcala, who appeared on the TV show as a contestant in 1978, died at 1:43 a.m. Saturday at a hospital, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said.
Opening statements in the trial of accused serial killer Rodney Alcala begin in Orange County Super
Rodney Alcala during his trial in Orange County Superior Court on January 11, 2010.Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images file

Convicted serial killer Rodney Alcala, known as the 'Dating Game Killer' because of his appearance on the TV show as a contestant in 1978, has died of natural causes, California prison officials said Saturday.

Alcala, 77, was condemned to death row for murdering five people, including 12-year-old Robin Samsoe in 1979.

He died at 1:43 a.m. Saturday at a hospital, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a statement.

He was twice granted a new trial in the Orange County kidnapping and killing of Samsoe but was convicted of her murder, as well as that of four women, by an Orange County jury in 2010. He was sentenced to death.

Rodney James Alcala who was handed the death penalty for the slaying of 12 year-old Robin Samsoe in 1979.MediaNews Group / Orange County Register via Getty Images file

His other cases include the 1977 deaths of 18-year-old Jill Barcomb and 27-year-old Georgia Wixted; the 1978 death of 32-year-old Charlotte Lamb, and the 1979 death of 21-year-old Jill Parenteau.

In 2013 he was also sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for the 1970s murders of two young women in New York: Cornelia Crilley, in 1971, and Ellen Jane Hover, in 1977.

Alcala was also charged in the 1978 murder of 28-year-old Christine Ruth Thornton in Wyoming.

Investigators suspect Alcala of other killings in Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Seattle, New Hampshire and Arizona.

In 2010 authorities released photos of women and girls seized from Alcala and asked the public to identify any possible missing people or further victims. Police at the time said they were overwhelmed with tips.

Investigators said Alcala used his camera to lure his victims.

Eric Leonard contributed.