It was the spring of 1979 -- Rodney Alcala had been back in California for almost two years and 12-year-old Robin Samsoe was enjoying the Southern California beach life. Marianne Connelly: She was probably the most loving child a mother could have. On June 20, 1979, Robin was going to start her first day of work answering phones at a ballet studio in exchange for lessons. Bridget Wilvurt: And Robin had thrown her beach towel and everything into her bag, and she's like, "Well, I'm going to get going." And I go, "Well, take my bike and don't stop." That was the last time anyone saw Robin alive.But first, she planned to play on the beach for a few hours with Bridget. " And man, he -- he took that camera, turned his head down, and you could almost see like smoke coming off his dress shoes. Robin's ballet teacher called when she did not arrive for her lesson later that day. Marianne Connelly: It was probably the most horrifying time of all, you know, not knowing.the Social Security Administration -- I contacted them asking if there was any employment record and there never had been an employment record.Kathy Thornton: I think the message was kind of clear.
The woman who won a date with him ended up backing out, saying she found him "creepy."Her intuition probably saved her life. Steve Braccini: We'll never know how many women are lucky …
Matt Murphy: Rodney Alcala after raping and -- and almost killing Tali Shapiro, he fled to New York. JUNE 1971 His next victim: Cornelia Michael Crilley, a 23-year-old flight attendant for TWA. Martha Bashford | Manhattan prosecutor: They had no real leads. There, he made a lasting impression on the campers. I get a phone call from the FBI saying we've got your man in custody. Police in California were eager to charge him for Tali Shapiro's brutal assault, but her family had left the country.
But finding Alcala was going to be no simple matter. Three years after his attack on Tali Shapiro, Alcala's dark side once again emerged. Steve Braccini: Obviously the cause of death is strangulation. The police focused in on Cornelia's murder, but with almost 2,000 killings in New York in 1971 investigators could not close the case. He landed a job as a counselor at an arts and drama camp for girls.
Former Los Angeles Police Officer Chris Camacho reached the location and knocked on the door. I will always remember that face at that door, very evil face. I got to get dressed." And I told him, "OK, you got 10 seconds." … Chris Camacho: She was gagging and trying to breathe, and I thought one for the good guys. We found a lot of ID, picture ID of a Rodney Alcala. The suspect, 25-year-old Rodney Alcala, had slipped through the officers' fingers. Matt Murphy: He was hired by the Los Angeles Times to work … Even worse, he was chosen to be a contestant on "The Dating Game" TV show -"The Bachelor" of its day.
Leon Borstein |Cornelia's boyfriend: She had a beautiful face. Leon Borstein: I was living with her temporarily while she was getting her own apartment -- right around the corner -- to share with another stewardess. When Borstein came home from work, he was surprised to find her door locked. Melissa Mourges | Manhattan prosecutor: When her boyfriend -- was trying to reach her, and was unable -- the police came. Prosecutor Melissa Mourges was struck by the ferocious nature of the killing. We didn't have the forensic tools that we have – today … Matt Murphy: Two girls went to their local post office and they looked and there was Rodney Alcala's photo on the FBI Ten Most Wanted list. With no main witness, prosecutors had no choice but to offer Alcala a deal: plead guilty to a lesser charge of child molestation and register as a sex offender.
Alcala, meanwhile, had left New York and was on his meandering road trip back to California. In the spring of 1977, Christine was heading to Montana with her boyfriend to pan for gold. Kathy Thornton: She let my mom know that she was going to be having a baby … She undertook a systematic effort to track Christine and her boyfriend's whereabouts that would last almost 40 years -- through marriage, motherhood, divorce and a career.