• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Serial killer Rodney Alcala sentenced to death

March 30, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Serial killer Rodney Alcala was sentenced to death Tuesday for the murders of a 12-year-old Huntington Beach girl and four Los Angeles County women in the 1970s. Orange County Superior Court Judge Francisco Briseno told Alcala that his actions warranted the death penalty, and he sided with the jury in sentencing the 66-year-old to death for the five murders.

Alcala did not make a statement and showed no emotion as the judge handed down his sentence, saying "we would like to think we avoid evil in our lives, but the five persons here obviously did not."

About two dozen family members of victims filled the court to get their chance to address Alcala. Among the family members was the mother of 12-year-old Robin Samsoe, who disappeared in June 1979 on her way to ballet class.

"Losing my precious Robin was the worst tragedy of my life and knowing the defendant tortured the victims makes it even harder to accept," said Marianne Connelly, Robin Samsoe's mother.

"What I am grateful for is the fact that my little 12-year-old daughter stopped him from taking any more lives," she said. "She helped make it possible for law enforcement to put him behind bars where he belongs. I hate him for the pain he has caused me and so many people, but I have prayed about this and I'm giving my hatred all to God because I've let this feeling consume me for 31 years and I'm not giving (Alcala) this kind of power over me anymore."

The amateur photographer's killing spree stopped after his arrest in 1979 for the kidnapping and murder of Samsoe, whose remains were found not far from his Monterey Park home.

Along with Samsoe, Alcala was convicted of killing Barcomb, 18, who had just moved to Los Angeles from Oneida, N.Y.; Wixted, 27, of Malibu; Charlotte Lamb, 32, of Santa Monica; and Jill Parenteau, 21, of Burbank.

Alcala looked down and sat stoically in court as the victims' loved ones spoke during the hearing.

"I will never understand why my sister had to die that way," said Dedee Parenteau whose 21-year-old sister Jill was tortured and strangled in her apartment in June 1979.

"The terror she must have felt. It sickens me, it breaks my heart to know that his was the last face she saw in her life. The face of that monster... If there is a hell, I hope Rodney Alcala burns eternally. I wish he would experience the terror that he put his victims through."

After the sentencing, Bruce Barcomb, the brother of victim Jill Barcomb, begged Alcala to admit to the murders to help family members heal.

"There is murder and rape and then there is the unequivicable carnage of a Rodney Alcala-style murder," he said. "Give up your debt Rodney: all victims, all states, all occurences. Own your truth."

He told Alcala that his sister's murder changed his life forever, saying he had nightmares for the longest time after her disappearance.

"Her smile was always contagious," Barcomb said. "My sister died curled in a ball, beaten, breasts brutally bitten, raped, head bashed in with a rock, strangled, savagely sodomized."

Alcala acted as his own attorney during the trial 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."

According to investigators, there may be many more victims. More than 100 photos were released of young women and girls, found in Alcala's rented storage locker in Seattle, in hopes of linking him to other unsolved murders across the country.

Alcala has been sentenced to death twice before for the murder of Robin Samsoe, but those verdicts were overturned on appeal. This is the first time the other four murders were added in after DNA evidence linked him to those crimes.

City News Service contributed to this report.