Catastrophic Crime: Manipulated through emotion

Convicted in 2010, Rodney Alcala was charged with 25 years to life in front of the New York Supreme Court. Alcala is sentenced to death in the state of California and currently awaits his execution on death row.

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Convicted in 2010, Rodney Alcala was charged with 25 years to life in front of the New York Supreme Court. Alcala is sentenced to death in the state of California and currently awaits his execution on death row.

Zoe Werner

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  Often called the most remarkable traits of a human being, a person’s emotions and empathy can be manipulated and abused, especially in the case of homicides. One of the main tactics used by murderers involves manipulating emotion. This is a common tie between three notorious serial killers: Ted Bundy, Rodney Alcala, and Charles Sobhraj. These three men are known for their abuse of empathy, compassion, and attraction, manipulating their victims, especially young women, into trusting them, then harassing and often murdering the victim.  

  Ted Bundy confessed to a total of thirty murders, all young, attractive women. He is suspected to have a greater victim toll but refused to confess to some homicides, saying that they were too close to home, family, or involved victims that were very young. His first suspected murder took place when he was 14 years old and involved the kidnapping and disappearance of an 8 year-old girl, Ann Marie Burr. He denied this up until his execution on January 24, 1989. Bundy often used crutches to feign injury, gaining help from unsuspecting women whom he would bludgeon or stab once luring them to his trademark tan Volkswagen Beetle. He then sexually assaulted the bodies of the women, sometimes capturing polaroid pictures as “souvenirs.” His most famous murders include those at the Florida State University Chi Omega sorority house. After breaking into the house while the girls slept, he assaulted and murdered two young women and injured two others. Eight blocks away, he broke into another Florida State University student’s apartment and severely injured her, resulting in permanent deafness. Junior Dylan Kirke commented that  “Ted Bundy was a master manipulator, and he played into people’s weaknesses. He made stunts and loved the public eye. He was insane. If it weren’t for a fateful traffic stop, I don’t believe he would have been caught. He never left behind any evidence.” 

  Rodney Alcala was an attractive New York University film graduate, known as a photographer to many. This photography was a key component in his murders, Alcala using his “talent” to take advantage of young girls and women. Lured to the apartment with the promise of professional photographs, Alcala would photograph his victims, then rape and murder them, keeping the photographs.  The photographs totaled up to approximately 1,200 pictures, 900 of which were unable to be released due to explicit content. Alcala was also called the Dating Game Killer, due to his appearance on The Dating Game in the middle of his rampage. Following the television appearance, Alcala is believed to have killed at least three women, possibly resulting in their rejection of his advances. Alcala was found guilty of eight deaths but is suspected to have a victim count of up to 130 people over the span of 11 years. His most publicized murder was that of 12 year-old Robin Samsoe. Samsoe was abducted and killed as she was riding her bike near Huntington Beach Pier on her way to ballet lessons. 

  Charles Sobhraj, also known as the bikini killer, is responsible for the murders of at least twelve people. Sobhraj was a notorious thief and is also known for poisoning his victims and nursing them back to health in order to gain their trust and obedience. He often recruited them to join his criminal acts, and when denied, he murdered them. He is known as the bikini killer due to two of his victims being found in similar flowered bikinis. His main accomplice, Ajay Chowdhury, has still not been found.  

  Consistently among the three men, manipulation was key in the plotting and murder of their victims.

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