Serial killer Rodney Alcala was once a contestant on The Dating Game, just one more terrifying detail in this sick man's life of horrific crime. Last month, Alcala pleaded guilty to the murders of two New York City women, and Justice Bonnie G. Wittner -- a person who has seen her share of horrific crime -- was moved to sobbing during his sentencing.
It's no wonder. Alcala's crimes include the rape and murder of young flight attendant Cornelia Crilley and the 1977 murder of Ellen Hover. Crilley was raped and strangled in her new apartment on the Upper East Side. Hover, a painter and pianist, disappeared and her body was found one year later.
Alcala destroyed the lives of both these women and their families. Having already been sentenced to death in California for five other murders, the murders in New York City were just another 25 years to life. But for the victims' families, the sentencing was important to see.
Kaitie Stigell, Crilley's sister, thanked the judge and said to Alcala: "I want you to know you broke my parents' heart."
Even Judge Whittner was not immune. "This kind of case is something I've never experienced -- hope to never again," she said, crying. After she read the sentence, she put her head in her hand and sobbed.
It's hard to imagine crimes so vicious they make a hardened judge cry. But then it's hard to imagine that we live in a world where a woman who has just moved to a new apartment and is proud of her newfound independence can't feel safe from rape and murder. It's hard to imagine this woman's poor parents having to live decades after losing their beloved daughter.
It's horrifying and tragic, and even though he already had a death sentence in California, it's important -- vital, even -- that he own up to every single one of the murders he committed. Every single one of those victims mattered and counts. Their families made that clear.
It's impossible to know what makes someone like Alcala tick and frightening that the now long scraggly-haired old man was once a contestant on The Dating Game, maybe even seeking new victims.
There will always be people like him in our world, which is just a scary truth. But at least this one won't be able to harm any more women or children.
Are you surprised the judge cried at sentencing?
Image via U.S. Naval War College/Flickr