Yesterday, I went to the studios of Inside Edition to be interviewed. People want to know what it feels like to have been photographed by a serial killer. How does it feel know that my life could have easily ended in June of 1979 along with the other victims? Inquiring minds also want to know how I feel about Rodney Alcala.
Do a search on “stuck by lightning twice” and you will discover that the odds of being struck by lightning once are 1/3000. The odds of being struck twice are 1/9,000,000. Since there are 300,000,000 people in America this unusual event has happened.
What does a person who was nearly struck by lightning once, and then actually struck 23 years later say about the near miss in the distant past?
An Ohio man Larry Reynolds, was actually struck by lightning twice and he says he feels “glad to be alive!” (How surprising is that?) I too feel glad to be alive. But also feel the need to say genug* and to try to get more justice for the real victims.
Justice for the victims means doing something to reduce the dangerousness of known violent psychopaths.
It is not enough to dispose of or imprison Alcala, we must change the system that enables psychopaths to strike over and over again.
At the time Alcala photographed me he had already been convicted of two violent crimes**. When he was 24, Alcala kidnapped, sexually assaulted and tried to kill an 8 year old girl, hitting her over the head with a pipe. He escaped and was a fugitive for two years before he was arrested in Concord, N.H., living under the assumed name of “John Berger.” He was arrested in August, 1971 after someone saw his picture on a wanted poster.
He also assaulted a 15 year old girl he lured in the guise of wanting to take her picture.
After these two incidents, Alcala killed at least 5.
There is no doubt in 2010 that Alcala is a psychopath. In the 1970s we didn’t have any reliable method for diagnosing psychopathy, but today we do. The PCL-R when administered by trained professionals can diagnose psychopathy with excellent reliability.
I therefore propose that all individuals convicted of violent or sexual assault be evaluated with the PCL-R and thoroughly assessed by trained professionals not hired by the prosecution or defense, prior to sentencing. The purpose of this assessment would be to inform the judge and jury of the presence of psychopathy and other risk factors that indicate the offender will do the same thing or worse again.
Juries and judges should be able to sentence an offender to life-time supervision. We need to train forensic professionals to do the job of monitoring these individuals and we need to watch psychopaths closely if they are released into society. We should stop simply turning convicted psychopaths over to their families who haven’t the slightest idea what to do with them (more on that next week).
I made the above recommendation to Paul Boyd of Inside Edition. He impressed me as a real reporter who was interested in the issues; someone who takes the ethical implications of his job seriously. I just hope his editors give him the freedom to tell this story.
Please everyone get beyond the silliness of “OMG what does it feel like to be struck by lightning twice?” and instead tackle the real question of what to do about sociopaths/psychopaths.
At the end of March, I spoke with a reporter from People Magazine for over an hour and am sorry that I failed to convince him to do a real story and exercise real journalism- or maybe the tabloid editors just wouldn’t publish the real story. However, if you want to see pictures, I am in this weeks’ issue “OMG”!
*a Yiddish word that means ENOUGH, pronounced ganoog
**for more see http://www.ocregister.com/news/alcala-236499-phase-girl.html?pic=4