[UPDATED] Rodney Alcala Tied to 1977 Murder of Bay Area Teen Whose Mother Long Ago Forgave the Killer

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UPDATE, MARCH 9, 10:58 A.M.: While the Marin County Sheriff's Department is convinced Rodney Alcala is responsible for the death of Pamela Jean Lambson, the 19-year-old whose body was found near a trail in 1977, the case was closed without trying the notorious serial killer.

The DNA samples from the case have degraded too much to produce enough evidence to win a conviction, the agency announced.

"Alcala, who isn't talking to investigators, will still sit on Death Row until he dies," blogs the San Francisco Chronicle's Kevin Fagan. "But he won't be dying for Lambson's death. It seems that nobody will."

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ORIGINAL POST, MARCH 8, 11:09 A.M.: A new addition has been made to the list of murder victims linked to serial killer Rodney Alcala, who is already rotting on California's death row for slaying 12-year-old Robin Samsoe in Huntington Beach and four women elsewhere.

But Jean Lambson, the mother of the 19-year-old woman found dead in Marin County in 1977, says she long ago forgave her daughter's killer.

"This kind of thing doesn't just hurt the young woman, but it [also] cripples the family, such a terrible thing to happen to a family who's close," Lambson, who now lives in Utah, tells the Los Angeles Times.

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Courtesy of Huntington Beach Police Department
A sketch based on a store clerk's memory of the photographer who met Pamela Lampson in 1977 and a photo of Rodney Alcala from the mid-'70s.
"I forgave the man a long time ago not knowing who he was, and that's where I got my closure. You can't really exist properly with anger and hate and resentment in your heart."

Pamela Jean Lambson was at an Oakland A's game in 1977 when a photographer offered to shoot modeling pictures of her and handed her a business card. The teen later made a trip to Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco to meet with the photographer. She disappeared after that.

Her body was found near a Marin County trail. Her death remained a cold case for more than 30 years. Marin County sheriff's deputies now claim a photo taken of Alcala in the mid-1970s matches a sketch based on a witness description of the photographer Lambson met.


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Dating gamer
A self-styled playboy who once appeared on TV's The Dating Game, Alcala spent much of the 1970s bouncing around the country, eluding police by changing identities and locales.

In 1980, he was tried, convicted and sentenced to die for killing Samsoe, but the California Supreme Court overturned the conviction because jurors had been improperly informed of his past sex crimes. He was convicted again in 1986, but that was overturned by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals because a witness was not allowed to support Alcala's contention that the park ranger who found Samsoe's body had been "hypnotized by police investigators."


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Robin Samsoe, Alcala's youngest victim (so far).
After representing himself in court last year, the now-67-year-old was convicted of the murder of the Huntington Beach girl as well as: Jill Barcomb, 18, who was killed in the Hollywood Hills on Nov. 10, 1977; Georgia Wixted, 27, a registered nurse killed on Dec. 16, 1978; Charlotte Lamb, 32, slain on June 24, 1978; and Jill Parenteau, 21, who was killed June 14, 1979. Alcala is now on death row at San Quentin.

Marin County investigators reopened the Lambson case last year as Alcala was being prosecuted. Other agencies around the country did the same. In January, Alcala was indicted for the strangling death of Cornelia Crilley in her Manhattan apartment in 1971 and the murder of Ellen Hover, whose remains were found outside New York City in 1977. He lived in New York at the time of their murders.

Police in New York and Huntington Beach, fearing there may be more victims of what one detective referred to as a "killing machine," released more than 100 photographs he shot. The photos--mostly of children, teen girls and young women--had been seized more than 30 years ago from a storage locker he rented.


While Jean Lambson long ago forgave the man who took her daughter away, the now-78-year-old says she's relieved Alcala is in prison, "where he can't hurt any other young women."

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