DNA Connects Sex Offender to 1977 Murder

September 19, 2005

Los Angeles:  Los Angeles Police Department Cold Case detective’s efforts were rewarded with the identity of a suspect in the 28-year-old murder case of Jill Barcomb, who was 18 when her strangled, nearly nude body was found on Franklin Canyon Drive in West Los Angeles.
A grand jury indictment in this case, and for two other murders in 1977 and 1978, was announced in Orange County today against Rodney Alcala, 62, a convicted sex offender.  Alcala is in the Orange County Jail awaiting a third re-trial on the murder of a 12-year-old Huntington Beach girl in 1979.  The two prior convictions in the case have been overturned on appeal.
Cold Case detectives, working out of Robbery Homicide Division, assumed the Barcomb investigation, which was at one point part of the Hillside Strangler Task Force from the mid-1970s.  When the key suspects, Angelo Buono and Kenneth Bianchi were eliminated as suspects, the investigation hit a dead end for over two decades until LAPD detectives Jose Ramirez and Cliff Shepard retrieved biological evidence, preserved over the years, and submitted it for DNA testing.  When the DNA profile was uploaded to the California Offender DNA Index System database, known as CODIS, the comparison returned with a hit on Alcala.
Jill Barcomb had been in Los Angeles only a couple weeks when she was found murdered in a secluded area south of Mulholland Drive.  She had come from Oneida, New York, possibly by way of Las Vegas.  “Jill Barcomb was killed by a cold-blooded person, who violated and demeaned her,” said LAPD spokesman Lieutenant Paul Vernon.  “Thankfully, through science and persistence we can say a dangerous serial predator has been identified.” 
New York City cold case detectives are also investigating a murder where Alcala’s fingerprints were found at the scene.  They also suspect Alcala’s involvement in a New York missing person case of a young girl, with whom Alcala had contact. 
This is the fourth cold-case murder solved by Robbery Homicide Division in the last six weeks.
A photograph of Jill Barcomb is available from Media Relations Section, upon request.