When one thinks of serial killers, one imagines someone who lurks in the shadows of the night. Maybe it’s deep narcissism or maybe it’s sheer stupidity, but many have sought the limelight rather than obscurity.
Rodney Alcala, The Dating Game Killer
Rodney Alcala is one such narcissist. In 1978, in the middle of his killing years, he appeared on The Dating Game. By this point, Alcala had already done time for rape and was a registered sex offender. Both things the show never knew because they never vetted him before his appearance. And he won the date for his segment. But the date never happened when Cheryl Bradshaw refused to go, her instincts warning her against him. Years later, a copy working a homicide case saw a rerun of the show and recognized Alcala from a sketch. Now he’s a resident on death row at San Quentin, convicted of rape and murder. You can watch the, in retrospect, rather creepy footage here.
John William Cooper, The Bullseye Killer
Cooper was another who sought the limelight rather than the shadows. He appeared on the Welsh darts-themed game show Bullseye just four years after he’d burgarlized a home. The burgarly went south when he realized that the owners were home. So he tied them up, finished the burglary, and then left the house… but not before setting the house on fire and burning them alive. And a month after his appearance on the show, he assaulted and robbed another couple, this time shooting them both. Like Alcala, his fifteen minutes of fame cost him his freedom. Police were able to match him to eyewitness descriptions from his appearance on the show. You can watch his appearance here.
Edward Wayne Edwards
Ed Edwards appeared on not one but two TV shows. After writing a book about his supposed reformation from a lifetime of crime to the straight-and-narrow, he appeared on both To Tell the Truth and What’s My Line. On the first show, the two “liar” contestants were both pretending to be Edwards in his newfound fame. A fun aside… Alan Alda of M*A*S*H fame was one of the celebrity panelists. He went on to kill at least five more people after his appearances. You can watch his To Tell the Truth appearance here.