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The Police Department reached out to the public in an effort to identify the subjects of the photographs, and to determine if they might be unconfirmed victims of Alcala’s murder spree.
That is something he would not take too well.” After the disappearance of 12-year-old Robin Samsoe in Huntington Beach, CA led to a search of Alcala’s apartment, police found receipts for Alcala’s storage locker in Seattle.
Even now, more than 35 years since he went to prison, Alcala’s reign of terror still casts a dark shadow: In 2010, the Huntington Beach Police Department released a series of photographs discovered among Alcala’s belongings in his Seattle storage locker.
The collection includes 120 portraits of unknown women and men taken by Alcala — only a fraction of the photographs the police discovered, as most were deemed too sexually explicit to release.
Some experts estimate his death count might be anywhere between 50 and 150.
Looking back on Alcala’s meandering journey to justice, it has become painfully clear that luck wasn’t the only thing on Alcala’s side — he benefitted in equal parts from his innate intelligence and charm, and from a lax legal system.
He studied fine art at UCLA after being discharged from the Army for a personality disorder.
The year of his graduation, 1968, was also the year of his first known act of sexual violence — the brutal rape and beating of 8-year-old Tali Shapiro.
The discovery of Samsoe’s earrings in the locker, along with jewelry belonging to other missing women, led to Alcala’s arrest.
Though he was convicted of Samsoe’s murder and sentenced to death, another lucky break came Alcala’s way when his conviction was overturned by the California Supreme Court’s ruling that jurors should not have been informed of his prior crimes during his trial.
Within two months, another encounter with an underage girl sent him back to jail, where he served a two year stint before being released again.
Coincidentally, after he regained his freedom, police questioned him and ruled him out as another infamous serial killer, the Hillside Strangler.
In a morbidly appropriate twist of fate, he studied film under Roman Polanski at NYU, where he discovered his passion for fashion photography.