In 1978, 35-year-old Rodney Alcala was accepted as a contestant on ABC’s The Dating Game.

Contestants compete on an episode of The Dating Game
Contestants compete on an episode of “the Dating Game” which aired on Aug. 14, 1972. (Getty Images)

The host of the show introduced Alcala as a “successful photographer who got his start when his father found him in the dark room at the age of 13 fully developed. Between takes you might find him skydiving or motorbiking.”

Little did everyone expect, skydiving and motorbiking weren’t half of it.

Unbeknownst to the game show’s producers, Alcala was secretly a registered sex offender in the midst of a prolific spree of rape and murder spanning across New York, California, and Wyoming.

The husband-and-wife producing team, Mike and Ellen Metzger, initially disagreed about casting Alcala.

Ellen found the man to be attractive and charming, while Mike was feeling uneasy about the situation.

“He had a mystique about him that I found uncomfortable,” Mike told ABC’s “20/20.”

Rodney Alcala
Rodney Alcala. (Orange County District Attorneys Office)

Although Alcala won the contest, the “bachelorette” Cheryl Bradshaw refused to go out with him multiple times because she found Alcala creepy.

“She said, ‘Ellen, I can’t go out with this guy,” producer Ellen Metzger recalled. “There’s weird vibes that are coming off of him. He’s very strange. I am not comfortable. Is that going to be a problem?’

Bradshaw wasn’t the only person who felt that something about Alcala was off.

Fellow “bachelor” contestant Jed Mills said he had an almost immediate aversion to Alcala.

Rodney Alcala's Wanted Poster
Rodney Alcala’s FBI wanted poster. (FBI)

If Alcala appeared likable to viewers at home, Mills said he was the complete opposite when they sat together in the show’s green room.

“He was quiet, but at the same time he would interrupt and impose when he felt like it,” Mills said.

“And he was very obnoxious and creepy — he became very unlikable and rude and imposing as though he was trying to intimidate. I wound up not only not liking this guy … not wanting to be near him … he got creepier and more negative. He was a standout creepy guy in my life.”

Rodney Alcala died of natural causes on July 24, 2021, at age 77 while on death row in California.

Although his true death toll remains unknown, authorities believe Alcala may have killed up to 130 people.

This story originally appeared in this year’s biggest true-crime hit 365 Days of Crime.
From the death row inmate who sued the state for botching his execution, to a bank robber who gave the cashier his full name and address, 365 Days of Crime is the ULTIMATE true crime treat.