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Serial killer Rodney Alcala linked to unsolved 1977 slaying

March 7, 2011 |  4:27 pm

Rodney Alcala.

Investigators in the Bay Area believe they've linked the unsolved 1977 slaying of a young woman to convicted serial killer Rodney Alcala.

Pamela Jean Lambson, 19, went missing in 1977 after a trip to Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco to meet with a man who'd offered to photograph her. According to her mother, Jean Lambson, her daughter met the long unidentified photographer at an Oakland A's baseball game, where he gave the teen his business card.

Her body was found soon after near a Marin County trail. For more than 30 years, her killing went unsolved until last year, when Marin County sheriff's investigators reopened the case after getting word from authorities in Southern California about the prosecution of Alcala.

Alcala, a self-styled playboy who once appeared on "The Dating Game" and was described by one detective as a "killing machine," spent much of the 1970s eluding police by changing identities and locales. He was arrested in 1979 in connection with the slaying of a 12-year-old Huntington Beach girl.

Twice he was sent to death row for Robin Samsoe's murder, but both convictions were overturned on appeal. Last year he was convicted again for that killing and for the murder of four women in Los Angeles County. In January, investigators in New York said they believed he was linked to two other killings.

Lt. Barry Heying with the Marin County Sheriff's Department said Alcala's slayings matched the profile of Lambson's death -- and a decades-old police sketch from Fisherman's Wharf "matched Alcala to a T."

DNA evidence from Lambson's killing was no longer usable and no fingerprints were recovered, Heying said, so prosecuting Alcala won't be possible. However, he said that after reviewing evidence gathered by investigators in Southern California, they're "confident" Alcala killed Lambson.

The link was first reported by The Orange County Register.

In an interview Monday, Lambson's mother said she was relieved to hear the man believed to be responsible for her daughter's killing was behind bars "where he can't hurt any other young women."

"This kind of thing doesn't just hurt the young woman, but it cripples their family, such a terrible thing to happen to a family who's close," said 78-year-old Jean Lambson, who now lives in Utah. "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."


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-- Robert Faturechi

Photo: An Orange County sheriff's bailiff leads convicted serial killer Rodney Alcala into court for the penalty phase of his trial in March 2010. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times