I've watched the old clips 39 times, and I just can't find it-the clue, the red flag, even a shadow of a doubt that Bachelor Number One, with his teasing eyes and long, wavy hair, is a sexual monster.
His grin is a bit of a leer, true. But frankly the most disturbing thing about Rodney Alcala on the Dating Game 32 years ago are those '70s Superfly lapels.
Do you see anything here?
Well, maybe the "dirty old man" sex growl was a bit too convincing, but bachelorette Cheryl Bradshaw picked Alcala as the winner! Thankfully, their date never happened.
Now Alcala has gotten the death penalty for sexually torturing and murdering five young, beautiful victims-including an adorable 12-year-old girl. Based on the 2,000 photos of other women investigators found in his storage locker, he may have actually killed 20 or 30. When a cell phone went off in court, 48 Hours reported, the ringtone was an old Oingo Boingo song with the chorus, "It's a dead man's party, who could ask for more?"
I can't get this case out of my head. Here's another Ted Bundy, a Preppy Killer, a Scott Peterson-depraved humans conning the world as ladies men. When Matt Lauer interviewed Amber Frey on Dateline about her first date with Peterson-"at this point... how was it going? he asked in the middle of her blow-by-blow-she said, "if I had to put a number on it, I mean, it was maybe a 10."
Gael Strack has seen this many times. A domestic violence prosecutor for 17 years in the San Diego City Attorney's Office, and now CEO of The National Family Justice Center Alliance, she says, "After a domestic violence homicide neighbors so often say, 'He was the nicest guy you'd ever want to meet. And the defendants I prosecuted-they all were nice. At first. And they were all very good at charming women into believing they were good guys."
Now more than ever-as we hook up online, without even the benefit of neighbors-it's imperative to watch our own backs.
5 WAYS TO MAKE SURE YOU'RE NOT DATING A SEXUAL PREDATOR
* BACKGROUND CHECK: Before going on a date, Google him. Do a Facebook investigation, says Strack. Research him as thoroughly as if you were buying a used car.
* PRIOR VIOLENCE: Strack also suggests making sure he hasn't had a restraining order issued against him. Usually these records are available online, although where to find them, depends on your jurisdiction (here's San Diego's.) Try the web sites for your local police department, sheriff, district attorney, city, or county, says Strack. Sometimes a good local domestic violence council or program will also have them. A guide to getting free court records online may help you get oriented.
* DISAPPEARING ACT: Once you're dating, if he goes missing periodically, or calls erratically, and his explanations don't quite make sense, be suspicious. These guys are genius at lying to cover up a double life. One time, Frey called Peterson's cell phone to leave a message for when he arrived in Paris, as she knew he was on the plane. But to her surprise he picked up. (Unbeknownst to her, it was two days after he killed his wife Laci and the son she was about to give birth to.) He kept explaining away various events that didn't line up. Ultimately, she became uneasy enough to call a cop friend and have him checked out.
* HE HATES HIS PARENTS: According to forensic scientists, this is one of the observed traits of serial killers. Of course many people aren't close with their mothers or fathers, but if your guy loathes them, keep your eyes open.
* BE A PET DETECTIVE: Talk to him about any dogs, cats, or other animals he's had. If you find out that he's been cruel to them, even once, it's a huge red flag. Neon, flashing, start-running-now red. It means you're with someone who sees nothing wrong with inflicting pain on a vulnerable creature, which could be you if you stick around.
* HE TELLS YOU WHAT TO WEAR-and decides what to do when you're together, and criticizes you for flirting with others. You know to be wary of jealous, over-controlling men (Abuser 101). But it's hard enough to tease out a potentially dangerous guy from one who is so taken with you, he's concerned about every detail of your life, that it bears repeating-as do all the warning signs of domestic violence from the Red Flag Campaign.
To read more ...
Another red flag for murder
Rape on campus
Fame and domestic abuse
[Photo credit: Getty Images/Imagezoo]