A California serial killer who has attracted the interest of Seattle-area detectives looking into two cold-case slayings and a missing woman was sentenced to death Tuesday.
SANTA ANA, Calif. — A California serial killer who has attracted the interest of Seattle-area detectives looking into two cold-case slayings and the disappearance of a woman was sentenced to death by a judge Tuesday.
Relatives of victims poured out their grief and anger before Rodney Alcala was sentenced to death in a packed courtroom in the 1970s strangling of four women and a 12-year-old girl in California.
The distraught family members and friends told Acala their lives had been torn apart by his crimes.
“There’s murder and rape, and then there’s the unequivocal carnage of a Rodney Alcala-style murder and rape,” said Bruce Barcomb, brother of victim Jill Barcomb. “Give up your dead, Rodney: all victims, all states, all occurrences. Own your truth.”
Most Read Local Stories
- With sobering center closed, King County is dropping homeless people off in ERs to sleep
- Seattle's weekend of violence stretched police thin, chief says
- State Court of Appeals rules Seattle’s wealth tax is unconstitutional, but gives cities new leeway
- Seattle Children’s hospital nurse diagnosed with measles
- Armed man attacking Tacoma's ICE detention center killed in officer-involved shooting
Alcala, 66, showed no emotion and kept his head down as families took turns condemning the amateur photographer and UCLA film-school graduate.
His death sentences will be automatically appealed. A jury had recommended death for Alcala after convicting him last month of five counts of first-degree murder in a bizarre and sometimes surreal trial.
He acted as his own attorney and unveiled a rambling defense that included questioning the mother of one of his victims, playing an Arlo Guthrie ballad and showing a clip from the 1970s TV show “The Dating Game” on which he appeared.
After the verdict, authorities released more than 100 photos of young women and girls found in Alcala’s Seattle-area storage locker in hopes of linking him to other unsolved murders around the country.
The King County Sheriff’s Office plans to review some of the photos found in Alcala’s Shoreline storage locker to see if they match any of its missing-persons cases, particularly that of Cherry Greenman, 19, who vanished from Waterville, Douglas County, in September 1976. The Sheriff’s Office looked into her disappearance during the investigation of Green River serial killer Gary L. Ridgway but failed to find a link.
Greenman has never been found.
Seattle police are looking into Alcala in two cold cases from the 1970s.
Seattle cold-case Detective Mike Ciesynski is requesting a DNA comparison between Antionette “Toni” Witaker, 13, and Joyce Gaunt, 17, to determine whether he can be ruled out as the killer.
The timing and circumstances around the Seattle slayings give Ciesynski reason to believe Alcala may be involved. The detective said he plans to talk with Alcala about the cases.
Authorities also are pursuing more than a half-dozen cases in New Hampshire, California, Arizona and New York, although those investigations are just beginning. None of the women in the photos have been confirmed as missing or murdered women, but some are “looking interesting,” a California prosecutor said.
Alcala has been sentenced to death twice before in the 1979 murder of 12-year-old Robin Samsoe, but both verdicts were overturned on appeal. Prosecutors refiled charges in the case and added the four other murder counts against Alcala in 2006 on the strength of DNA samples and other forensic evidence.
Those cases, which had gone unsolved for decades, went to trial for the first time this year.
During trial, prosecutors outlined Alcala’s penchant for torturing his victims.
Alcala was convicted of killing Samsoe, as well as Barcomb, 18, who had just moved to Los Angeles from Oneida, N.Y.; Georgia Wixted, 27, of Malibu, Calif.; Charlotte Lamb, 32, of Santa Monica, Calif.; and Jill Parenteau, 21, of Burbank, Calif.
Seattle Times staff reporter Jennifer Sullivan contributed to this report.