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When investigators in Wyoming saw the picture, they didn’t recognize the woman but they did notice the background looked like Wyoming.
After years of saying he was innocent of murder, Alcala pleaded guilty in 2013 to killing two young women in New York state.After Kathy Thornton saw the picture, in 2013, she called the source – Huntington Beach police.From there, investigations and DNA testing of Thornton’s family eventually tracked the remains to a federal database that included information about a then-unidentified body in Wyoming.That conviction was overturned in 1986 on grounds that the jury had been improperly informed of previous sex crimes committed by Alcala.That year he was retried and again convicted in Orange County, but that conviction also was overturned, this time because a witness wasn’t allowed to substantiate Alcala’s contention that a park ranger who found Samsoe’s body had been hypnotized by investigators.When Wyoming investigators spoke with Alcala this month in Corcoran, they showed him an aerial photo of the location where Thornton’s body was found, according to the warrant.
When asked if the land looked familiar, Alcala said, “It’s part of my area.” And when presented with the photo of Thornton on the motorcycle, Alcala told investigators that he knew Thornton and took the picture.In the years since the photos were released, Ellis said he and other detectives have taken hundreds of calls and emails from people looking for missing loved ones.The process has helped identify about 40 women in photos who are still alive and well, Ellis estimates.The man once nicknamed “The Dating Game Killer” because he appeared on that game show while in the midst of his killing rampage may have as many as 130 victims across the country, police in Wyoming said Tuesday, citing estimates by authorities.Some online news stories mention Alcala may have an estimated 50 to 130 victims, but the actual number is unknown.Convicted serial killer Rodney Alcala was charged with murder Tuesday in Wyoming in the killing of a woman reported missing in 1977 – a charge authorities credited, in part, to information from the Huntington Beach Police Department.