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Woman who was raped aged 8 by serial killer emotionally speaks out on surviving the traumatising ordeal

Woman who was raped aged 8 by serial killer emotionally speaks out on surviving the traumatising ordeal

He was dubbed the Dating Game Killer because he had appeared in an episode of the popular TV show.

Warning: This article contains discussion of rape which some readers may find distressing.

A woman has spoken out about surviving the brutal attack of a serial murderer known as the 'Dating Game Killer', having bravely teamed up with a fellow victim in a harrowing new documentary.

Tali Shapiro was just eight years old when she was raped and nearly killed by Rodney Alcala in 1968.

Just weeks beforehand, he had also attacked a then-16-year-old Morgan Rowan, who had thankfully managed to escape from the horrific ordeal.

It wasn't until 1979 that Alcala was arrested for the murder of 12-year-old Robin Samsoe, later being convicted of seven murders, although it is believed he killed dozens more.

Tali Shapiro (ABC)
Tali Shapiro (ABC)

Rowan and Shapiro have now opened up about their experiences in a new Investigation Discovery documentary, Surviving the Dating Game Killer, which is part of the People Magazine Investigates: Surviving a Serial Killer series.

Rowan, who had been lured into Alcala’s Los Angeles house with two friends can remember how she was convinced she was going to die.

“I wasn’t praying to live,” she said.

“I was praying to die.”

Morgan Rowan (Investigation Discovery)
Morgan Rowan (Investigation Discovery)

After being raped at knifepoint, she managed to escape to a nearby alley, hiding with her friends in a dumpster shed.

Her attacker turned out to be Alcala, who became known as the ‘Dating Game Killer’ because he once appeared on the 1970s TV show of the same name.

Weeks later, she saw in the newspaper that he was wanted by police for kidnapping and raping another girl, who was just eight years old.

Roger Alcala got his nickname because he had once appeared on The Dating Game (ABC)
Roger Alcala got his nickname because he had once appeared on The Dating Game (ABC)

Tali Shapiro had been walking on Sunset Boulevard when Alcala encouraged her to get into his car, before taking her to his house and knocking her unconscious.

He was still assaulting her as police arrived, having been tipped off by a bystander who saw Shapiro getting into the car.

“They made a choice of saving me or chasing him,” said Shapiro, who was found by police in a pool of blood, near death.

With no memory of what happened, she spent more than a month in the coma.

Shapiro testified at Alcala’s trial for the murders of five women in 2021, which was when Rowan realised the eight-year-old girl she’d read about in the newspaper had survived.

Alcala was arrested in 1979 (Huntington Beach Police)
Alcala was arrested in 1979 (Huntington Beach Police)

“I had always felt responsible for her,” Rowan said, having later reached out to Shapiro on Facebook.

“I just poured my heart out that I was sorry, and I should have done something.”

But Shapiro told her there was ‘nothing to forgive’, adding: “There’s only one person that’s responsible for this, and he’s pure evil.”

The pair now consider themselves ‘chosen family’, and are determined to not be ‘defined’ by the trauma they both share.

“Tali does not ever see herself as a victim, and I’m learning from her to see myself as strong also,” Rowan said.

Alcala died in prison in 2021.

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact the Rape Crisis England and Wales helpline on 0808 500 222, available 24/7. If you are currently in danger or need urgent medical attention, you should call 999.

Featured Image Credit: Warner Bros. Discovery/People Magazine

Topics: Documentaries, TV And Film, True Crime