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His father, Raoul Alcala Buquor, abandoned the family when he was young. In 1968, he graduated from the UCLA School of Fine Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and later studied film under Roman Polanski (whose wife would later become a victim of the Manson Family) at the New York University under the name "John Berger".
When he was 12, he, his mother Anna Maria Gutierrez, and his sisters, Christine and Marie, had moved to suburban Los Angeles. In the summer, he worked as a counselor at a drama camp for children in New Hampshire.
Alcala's first known victim was an eight-year-old girl named Tali Shapiro, whom he abducted as she was on her way to school.
After he lured her into his car, a witness followed him back to his apartment on De Longpre Avenue and called the police.
The official was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Alcala had been a suspect in Crilley's death for several years.
Though Alcala won the contest, the female contestant wouldn't go on a date with him because she thought he was "creepy".