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'Dating Game Killer' Rodney Alcala dies at California hospital

July 24 (UPI) -- Rodney James Alcala, a convicted serial killer known as the "Dating Game Killer," died of natural causes early Saturday morning in a California prison, corrections officials said.

The California Department of Corrections said Alcala, 77, died of natural causes at 1:43 a.m. Saturday at a hospital near the Corcoran State Prison, where he was being held on death for the murders of four women and a 12-year-old girl.

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Alcala, who was dubbed "Dating Game Killer" due to his 1978 appearance as a contestant on TV series The Dating Game, was originally sentenced in death in 1980 for the kidnapping and murder of Robin Samsoe, 12, a year earlier.

The California Supreme Court reversed the judgment in 1984, and Alcala was granted a new trial that again resulted in a death sentence being handed down in 1986.

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A Federal Appeals court overturned the sentence in 2003, but during his new trial prosecutors presented DNA evidence that tied him to the 1977 murders of Jill Barcomb, 18, and Georgia Wixted, 27; the 1978 murder of Charlotte Lamb, 32; and the 1979 slaying of Jill Parenteau, 21.

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Alcala was convicted in 2010 of five counts of first-degree murder and was sentenced to death.

He pleaded guilty in 2013 to the 1971 murder of Cornelia Crilley and the 1977 murder of Ellen Jane Hanover. He was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

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

Investigators have linked Alcala to other deaths in California, Washington state, New York, New Hampshire and Arizona.

Prosecutors said Alcala, a photographer, would use his camera to lure victims.

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