(CBS/WCBS/AP) The killings made headlines, spurred extensive investigations and frustrated authorities for decades: A flight attendant found raped and strangled with a pair of stockings in her Manhattan apartment in 1971; a Hollywood nightspot owner's daughter whose remains were found in the woods in 1978 after she disappeared in Manhattan the previous year.
Long after the investigations went cold, convicted California serial killer Rodney Alcala, who had been suspected for years, has been indicted in both New York City cases, prosecutors said Thursday.Though he remains on California's death row for now, Alcala is expected to be brought to New York to face murder charges in the deaths of Cornelia Crilley and Ellen Hover. Alcala, 67, was convicted last year of strangling four women and a 12-year-old girl in California in the 1970s, in killings prosecutors said were laced with sexual abuse and torture.
The New York charges open a new chapter in the convoluted, sometimes bizarre bi-coastal saga of authorities' pursuit of Alcala, a former amateur photographer and TV dating-show contestant with an IQ said to top 160. His third conviction last year came after a series of trials and reversed convictions that spanned 30 years and culminated in a trial in which he acted as his own lawyer.
"Cold cases are never, ever forgotten cases," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said at a news conference Thursday. "We do not ever give up."
When reached Thursday, Hover's cousin, Sheila Weller, said was gratified by the news, but she did not want to comment further.
Crilley and Hover were both 23, living in Manhattan apartments. Crilley worked for Trans World Airlines.
Hover, who had gotten a college degree in biology with a minor in music, was looking for work as a research analyst, a private investigator for her family said at the time. Her father, comedy writer Herman Hover, had been an owner of the one-time Hollywood hotspot Ciro's.
Alcala had been eyed as a suspect in Hover's death since at least 1979. Prosecutors in Orange County, Calif., even sought unsuccessfully to mention her killing in the first of Alcala's several trials in 1980 in the death of 12-year-old Robin Samsoe. His name also has been floated in connection with Crilley's killing for at least a few years.
After the verdict against Alcala last year, authorities released more than 100 photos of young women and girls found in the amateur photographer's storage locker, and prosecutors said authorities were exploring the possibility of tying Alcala to cases in several other states including New York. Prosecutors in Orange County have helped New York authorities with their case for the last few months, deputy district attorney Matt Murphy said.
The most recent Rodney Alcala trial was featured in an episode of 48 Hours|Mystery.