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A California serial killer — who once appeared as “bachelor number one” on the 1970s dating show “Dating Game” — was in a Manhattan courtroom this morning where he pleaded not guilty to all charges stemming from the murders of two women more than 30 years ago.
In all, Rodney Alcala, 68, has been charged with one count each of felony murder, intentional murder, and second-degree murder after new evidence fingered him in the murders of two 23-year-old women — TWA flight attendant
Cornelia Crilley, and Ciro’s heiress Ellen Hover — in New York in 1971 and 1977.
“After more than three decades, the defendant will finally face the
justice system in New York for the murder of two victims,” Manhattan District Attorney Cy
Vance says. “My Office’s Forensic Sciences/Cold Case Unit was created because
all crime victims and their families deserve closure, no matter how
long ago the crime occurred. Today’s arraignment brings us a step closer
to obtaining justice for Ms. Crilley and Ms. Hover.”
Crilley was found raped and strangled inside her Upper East Side
apartment in June of 1971. Hover, who was living in Manhattan at the
time of her death, was found murdered in Westchester County in 1977.
On the day of her disappearance, Hover had an appointment with a photographer named “John
Berger,” which is an alias used by Alcala, according to court documents.
Alcala, who has been incarcerated in California since 1979 for the
murder of a 12-year-old girl, was sentenced to death in 2010 for four
Alcala came to New York in 1968 to escape authorities after an
8-year-old girl was found raped and beaten in his apartment. He enrolled
in film school at New York University under the name “John Berger,” and
studied under director Roman Polanski.
Alcala’s case is the latest in a collection of cold cases Vance has taken on since taking office in 2010.
At a press conference last year to announce the indictment of Alcala,
told reporters that “cold cases should not be forgotten cases.” Vance
also is responsible for reopening the case into the 1979 disappearance
of Etan Patz. In that case, 51-year-old Pedro Hernandez was arrested
last month — he confessed to killing Patz, but there is little evidence
to prove that he’s responsible for the boy’s murder other than his
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s Cold Case Unit — created by Vance in
2010 — currently is looking into more than 3,000 unsolved homicide
cases to see
if new scientific advancements, like DNA technology, will turn up
Since Vance took office, the Cold Case Unit has solved several
unsolved homicides, including the case of a pregnant mother of nine who
was raped and murdered on a Manhattan rooftop in 1989. In that case, the
victim’s head was cut off by her abusive boyfriend, Philip Ward — the
father of two of her children — who currently
is a guest of the state doing a life sentence for different rape and