Investigators found no link between 'Dating Game Killer' and NH cold cases

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Jul. 29—One of the state's top prosecutors says while local investigators interviewed the so-called 'Dating Game Killer' regarding several unsolved murders in New Hampshire, any connection to those crimes was ruled out "years ago."

Benjamin Agati, a senior assistant attorney general, said investigators with the New Hampshire Cold Case Unit spoke with Rodney James Alcala, a convicted California serial killer and contestant on "The Dating Game" in 1978, in connection with cold cases that occurred in the mid-1970s in the Granite State. The interviews took place while Alcala was being held at Rikers Island prison in the Bronx in New York City.

Alcala died of natural causes on death row in California at the age of 77 early Saturday, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced. Published reports mentioned he was suspected in or linked to dozens of murders in California, Washington, New York, New Hampshire, Wyoming and Arizona.

"He was interviewed after investigators determined he was in the New England area and New Hampshire in the mid-70s," said Agati. "In talking with him, investigators found no evidence or connection to those local cases."

Alcala was initially arrested and sentenced to death in 1980 for the murder of 12-year-old Robin Samsoe in 1979. That sentence was reversed by the California Supreme Court in 1984, but Alcala was sentenced to death again in 1986 following a second trial.

In 2003, a federal appeals court overturned his sentence again, giving him another trial. By then, Alcala's DNA was matched to the murders of four other women and he was convicted on five counts of first-degree murder in 2010.

Alcala also pleaded guilty in 2013 to murdering two women in New York in the 1970s. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison for those deaths.

Prosecutors in Wyoming charged Alcala in 2016 in the 1978 murder of 28-year-old Christine Ruth Thornton, who was six months pregnant at the time of her death.

Alcala is suspected in up to 130 murders.

Thirty-five unsolved cases from the 1970s appear on the list of current cold cases posted online on the N.H. Department of Justice website. Of those, 28 are listed as homicides, and four are considered suspicious deaths.

Agati wouldn't say which cases Alcala was interviewed in connection with, saying only that they occurred in the mid-70s.

"They (the investigators) didn't go down to speak with him with any one case in mind," said Agati. "They interviewed him looking for any connection to cases during the time we think he was in New Hampshire."

Agati said officials believe Alcala worked at a camp during his time in the Granite State.

While a link between Alcala and these unsolved cases failed to materialize, Agati encourages anyone with information or tips on any of the more than 100 cold cases that remain unsolved.

"They (the members) of the cold case unit are willing to kick over any rock out there, so send along any tips," said Agati.

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