Two Women Escaped Death at the Hands of Rodney Alcala — 'The Dating Game' Killer

The two known Rodney Alacala became friends decades after their separate attacks. They try to spread messages of support.

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

May 6 2024, Published 1:59 p.m. ET

'The Dating Game' logo and serial killer Rodney Alcala
Source: YouTube/ABC News; Getty Images

By the time Rodney Alcala appeared on a 1978 episode of the popular game show The Dating Game, he was already a serial killer. According to the New York Post, "between 1971 and 1979 he took the lives of at least eight people — including children and a pregnant woman — but authorities estimate the actual number of his victims to be more than 100."

Article continues below advertisement
Article continues below advertisement

Despite these overwhelming numbers, two women survived attacks from Alcala. Here's what we know about his survivors. They are working together to spread messages of support.

Morgan Rowan, one of two Rodney Alcala survivors, was saved by her friends.

Due to Alcala's unnerving appearance on The Dating Game, he was later known as the Dating Game Killer. Jed Mills was one of the contestants who appeared on the show with Acala. He told CNN in March 2010 that the secret killer was "definitely creepy." He would go on to win but the woman who picked him ended up canceling their date. Criminal profiler Pat Brown told the outlet this rebuff probably ended up fueling his murderous fire. True psychopaths don't handle rejection well.

Article continues below advertisement
(L-R): Tali Shapiro and Morgan Rowan
Source: YouTube/ABC News; YouTube/Investigation Discovery

(L-R): Tali Shapiro; Morgan Rowan

A decade before Acala was on the television sets of Americans across the country while hiding a dark secret, he assaulted two girls within weeks of each other. In 1968, Morgan Rowan was a typical 16-year-old girl living in Los Angeles. She and her friends often spent nights hanging out on the Sunset Strip. As she told the Washington Examiner, one night she and her friends ran into Alcala who was also a regular on the Strip.

Article continues below advertisement

He offered to give them a ride to IHOP, but instead took the group of girls to his apartment where he claimed a party was happening. While there, Alcala managed to separate Rowan from her friends then dragged her to his bedroom. Alcala then beat and raped the young girl. "He tied my hands and put a belt in my mouth and punched me in the stomach until I vomited blood, and it was filling my lungs," she said. "I was drowning, and his rage was so apparent I knew he would kill me."

When Rowan's friends couldn't find her, they grew concerned and searched the house. Upon seeing the barred door, they went around outside and broke into Alcala's bedroom through a window. Naked from the waist down and covered in Rowan's blood, he looked at her friends and said, "Take her." The fled and called the police but as it was during that time, the authorities blamed Rowan for going into Alcala's bedroom. A few weeks later, Acala attacked another girl but this one was even younger.

Article continues below advertisement

Tali Shapiro was kidnapped by Rodney Acala when she was only 8 years old.

Like Rowan, Tali Shapiro lived in Los Angeles although the eight-year-old was usually walking to school on Sunset Blvd., as opposed to goofing around with friends. On Sept. 25, 1969, she was doing just that when Acala pulled up and offered her a ride, per PEOPLE. After telling him she doesn't talk to strangers, Acala said he knew her parents. "I really didn’t want to get into the car but I was raised to respect my elders," she told the outlet. "I didn’t know to fear people."

Article continues below advertisement

A passerby took note of this strange interaction and followed Acala's car back to his apartment. From there, they called the police. When they arrived they knocked on Acala's door. He didn't answer so they broke and discovered an injured Shapiro on the floor. Unfortunately, Acala escaped through the back door. Alcala wouldn't be arrested for another decade.

As the only known survivors of the Dating Game Killer, Rowan and Shapiro have a unique bond and have grown quite close. Rowan told My San Antonio that for years she felt guilty about Shapiro's attack. She had convinced herself that if she had done more after her own assault, Alacala wouldn't have been able to get to Shapiro. After writing Shapiro a letter apologizing, Shapiro assured her that wasn't necessary as there was only one person to blame. "Tali and I both have a message of trusting your own instincts," said Rowan.

More from Distractify

Latest Human Interest News and Updates

    Opt-out of personalized ads

    © Copyright 2024 Distractify. Distractify is a registered trademark. All Rights Reserved. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.