By | March 21, 2010 30 Comments

Rodney Alcala: The “sociopath next door”

Last Tuesday night, I woke up at about 2 AM unable to sleep. I turned on CNN and there was Rodney Alcala, a man who lived down the street from the house I grew up in, in Monterey Park, California. I was not surprised to see a story about him since I knew of his arrests and convictions for murder.

When Anderson Cooper said the police just released hundreds of photographs found in a Seattle storage locker belonging to Alcala, I sat up to take a closer look. Sure enough, at least 4 pictures of me at age 17 were among those found by police and released out of worry that they depict victims.

My initial reaction was one of embarrassment, and I eagerly awaited the hours to pass so I could telephone the police and ask them to please take those pictures down. I also worried that my mother would see them and feel frightened. I finally got through to the police late that afternoon. As I told the detective about my interactions with Alcala, I realized that this was one of those “teachable moments.” So when he asked me if his department could pass along my name to the press, I agreed.

I have given detailed information to a number of inquiring journalists. I am very disappointed with them so far. Isn’t it rather ironic that one of the people Rodney Alcala photographed and “spared” is now devoted to raising awareness of and preventing the disorder he has? Instead of sensationalizing a sociopath, shouldn’t the press (out of respect for the victims) be educating the public about sociopaths and sociopathy?

Members of the press, please use this moment to teach people about the sociopaths who live in the neighborhoods of America!

In subsequent weeks, I will share more details of my encounters and conversations with Alcala. He did leave a lasting impression on me for several reasons aside from his arrest and convictions for murder.

First and foremost, it was Alcala who told me about the organization Mensa. He was very proud of his own “genius” and wore jewelry with the Mensa logo. Initially, I thought I remembered a neck medallion on a silver chain but having looked at pictures of Mensa items, I can’t say for sure if there wasn’t also a ring. Knowing what I know now, I believe it is entirely possible that Alcala was never a member of Mensa and that his claims were an example of pathologic lying.

But, assuming that Alcala is a genius, how rare is he? How common are genius sociopaths? The numbers are actually staggering. There are 219 million adults living in America. Anywhere from 1-4 percent are sociopaths. That gives us an estimate of 2-8 million adult sociopaths in America. That also means that 1-4 of every one hundred people you meet or who live near you is a sociopath.

Since psychologists love to administer IQ tests, there has been quite a bit of research examining intelligence in sociopaths. In all, the results show that sociopaths do not score any differently on these tests than anyone else. If you look at a group of sociopaths, there are dull, average and very intelligent scoring people in the same frequency as the general population. Researchers have argued about this data because many clinicians believe the average sociopath is “of superior intelligence.” But I can explain why one might get that impression.

If it is true that a group of sociopaths scores the same as a group of non-sociopaths on an IQ test, then roughly 2-4 percent of sociopaths are geniuses, depending on how you define genius. That means there are between 40,000-320,000 genius sociopaths living in America. In other words, perhaps 1 of every 1,000 adults you meet is a genius sociopath!

Now also consider by the definition of average looks, there are between 20,000 and 160,000, average to good looking, genius sociopaths in America. That is not very rare. About 300,000 people die every year from heart attacks and we think that is a big number. Why aren’t we more concerned about the problem of sociopathy?

Everyone keeps asking me, “which of the pictures is you?” I am #s 123, 186, 194 and 197.

Liane Leedom, M.D. age 17

Photograph taken by serial killer Rodney Alcala

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Ox Drover

Dear Liane,

Thank you for sharing about this very personal experience. Though this happened to you, when I read Donna’s “news flash” and then heard your audio interview and saw the photograph that accompanied it, my heart SANK and my throat choked as if that could have been ME instead of you!

I kept imagining how frighted, how “freaked out,” or how embarassed you might feel—actually I guess I projected how I would have felt if it HAD been me. I finally decided that if it had been me, I probably would never have called the cops, and would have prayed no one would have recognized me—but actually, I guess that would have been too much to hope for.

Actually, I freaked out about YOUR close brush with the monster, and you did the calm, rational thing and tried to use it as a TEACHING moment!

Though the media haven’t taken the opportunity they had to use your “teaching moment” to “spread the word” more broadly about psychopaths, actually, Liane, it did become a “LEARNING MOMENT” for me.

What happened to you, is one of those things that really COULD happen to ANY of us at ANY time with some other monster. Or has happened, and we never knew the man was a monster.

I have no idea how MANY women, living or dead, are represented by the photographs in that locker. You were only one of the women who brushed up against this particular monster and lived.

What I did learn by all of this though, was what I would have felt if it had been ME, INSTEAD OF YOU…

Thanks for sharing, Liane.

kim frederick

Yes, Liane, Thank-you.
I’m curious. I know that you were only 17 when this happened and weren’t as knowledgable as you are now, but did you get a creepy feeling from him….any red-flags?
I am so grateful that you are here today with us, on LF.

Ox Drover

Someone brought up the article Donna wrote and published in January this year, about “why we don’t know about psychopaths” and how the media is soooooo VERY careful not to “label” someone with the “P-word” (or any variation of it) unless they are serial killer or worse and there is little or no likelyhood that even an UN-successful law suit for “ruining someone’s reputation” would be filed. Even defending against such a suit costs money!

Heck, even Joey Butaffuco threatened to sue MaryJo for calling him a sociopath, but didn’t of course, as you could call Joey just about ANY “not nice” name and it would not damage his “reputation,” which is already BELOW the gutter.

Maybe though, if “we” (the public and the media) can’t call ann individual the “P-word” maybe at least we can get some of the symptoms associated with it mentioned “in general.”


Dr. Leedom:
I am so very glad things turned out ‘differently’ for you! It’s almost like you were ‘lead’ into this path of learning and educating others by your past.
I believe all works out for a reason…..and it’s up to us to find that reason….
I also beleive all works out the way it should!
I’m glad your here!!!!!!

I say…….take this experience and use it to educate the media……they’ll listen to ya now…..find an outlet who won’t censor your views of educating peeps on Cluster B’s….and run with it!!!!

Get on the big news channels, the talk shows, the morning and evening shows…….and talk talk talk……do a media blitz and get the word out there……
You got the floor!

Twice Betrayed

Wow! I sent a link to his dating game appearance, but I never realized you, Dr. Leedom, were his neighbor, and especially photographed by him. Did anyone see him on the dating game video? He was chosen, of course!

Twice Betrayed

Where is the news flash/interview?

Ox Drover


Look on the “Bachelor #1 is Serial killer”—SEVERAL comments down, there is apost by DONNA that says “NEWS FLASH” and inserted in it is a LINK that takes you to the news report about Liane being one of the photographed women.

Twice Betrayed

Ok, Thanks, Oxy! I looked at it. Isn’t it strange what paths life takes us? Certainly makes one wonder, doesn’t it?
And why these people focus on certain people and not others. Why they kill some and with others behave graciously.

Dr. Leedom certainly is beautiful with an air of innocence. I would surmise this is what attracted him.

Ox Drover

What’s that thing, “six degrees of separation?” Yea, most of the time we never know when we were standing in line behind some serial killer at the grocery store, or sitting next to them in a stadium, or chatting with them in the park as our dogs sniffed nose to nose…but we have probably done it.

It is sure creepy for sure….


What a remarkable coincidence Dr Leedom – you have been encountering these dangerous types since a very young age. Thankyou for using this opportunity to teach people about this disorder. That is quite terrifying to find out all these years later.

I met a man once with a friend many years ago who just plain creeped me out – I pulled her away from him and we went home early much to his annoyance. I found out that ten yrs later he committed a mass slaying of eight people including his family members and family friends – you just never know who you are interacting with!

On another note – what a beautiful picture!


Dear Dr. Leedom,

Beautiful picture, and if pictures tell a story…I see a sweet doey faced girl with a hint of sadness and vulnerability in her eyes…It’s the look and stamp that Sociopaths look for in their vicitms.

What was going on in your life at that time? what compelled you to go with him to his house? was there anything he did that made you feel that “fight or flight” sensation?

Thank God you were not one of his vicitims!…how freightening to realize that you were so close….and got away.

Thank you for all your contributions to LF


Wow, they really ARE “the boy next door”. What are the chances? I’m curious to hear what he was like when you knew him. You are so lucky to be alive! The one I dated was certainly very down-to-earth, sweet, and like the boy next door. Amazing. On a scarier note, I am in the process of trying to join Mensa, ironically, as one more avenue to meet men and start dating. I’d really hate to think the the sociopathic population is overrepresented there. That would just make my heart sink.



I think N/S/P’s are some of the most intelligent people I’ve met….starting with my N father who is a well regarded and successfull business man and intellect, followed by the ex-S BF who is ” The boy next door” I loved. It was for me his intelligence and success that turned me on, allong of course with his oozing charm and sexuality.

So look out girl when you join Mensa.



I certainly will, but I’m not sure I did as well on the test as I need to anyway. Perhaps it is a blessing in disguise. I don’t think my ex-spath was particularly brilliant as he was crafty. In fact, he was stupid enough to cause his own demise in the end. (You probably don’t know the whole story, but some day I will tell it in its entirety here.) He definitely had the charm and oozing sexuality, but the first time I met him, he was overbearing and inappropriate, trying to get too physically close to me. I got the “ick” and joked around with my friends that he was stalking me. His craftiness was in the way he was able to assess my reactions and pull back, as though he were a totally different person. I’ve never seen any guy do that before.

Another guy I briefly “talked to” on my reptile site was another such predator. He was extremely charming and managed to get under my skin after a few phone conversations. But he was extremely stupid. I was amazed that I could fall for someone who could barely even spell his own name. Again, he busted himself as a player with his own stupidity.

They are crafty, but they usually end up bringing themselves down in the end. Sometimes you have to wait a little longer to see it, but it usually happens.



“They are crafty, but they usually end up bringing themselves down in the end. Sometimes you have to wait a little longer to see it, but it usually happens”….this story of Rodney Alcala certainly proves your point.

I’m sure your story is a good one….they usually are… they ALL have some of the SAME PATHOS!

The ex-S in my life was crafty too…came off as being earthy, sensitive and full of “self awareness” about who he is yet he would dismiss himself saying “you know how I am and I can’t change that, you just have to love me the way I am”…… still cant believe what a sucker I’ve been and worse how much I still miss him (the “good” illusions) at the same time.

Still waiting for him to bring himself down!

Twice Betrayed

I remember when I was about 15, my parents and I went to visit my sister in Albuquerque. My sister and her husband took us to a large corporate picnic [in a huge wooded state park] where there was much food/activity/people. I played baseball and enjoyed myself greatly. Afterwards, I sat down to drink and eat. I began to feel oddly and glanced up to see a male about 35, staring intently at me, from a distance. He kept trying to lock eyes with me and did for a minute. He motioned with his head for me to leave the group and come close to him, where he was offside from the area. He was handsome, mature and I was just beginning to grow up, so I was flattered, at first. Then, it freaked me and I told my brother in law, who saw him and said he was not part of their group. The man then moved quickly away and was lost in the crowd, while my brother in law tried to get to him. At any rate, he got away, and I’ve sometimes thought about this over the years and it always gives me a shudder!

kim frederick

TB, that is sooo scarey. These predators are everywhere. No one is safe. I wish science would hurry up and find out what causes it and how to prevent it.


Stargazer…when I first heard of you applying to Mensa I thought it a good idea for meeting men, and maybe it still is. But I am sure there are some there because of narcissistic and entitlement traits, even if not full blown sociopaths! But you know what to look out for!

Twice Betrayed

Kim: it is scary and I will bet most of us have had some sort of experience along these lines, if we think about it. Maybe not this open, but similar.


Aww you were beautiful Diane, such a lovely photo!
Interesting article as I always use the IQ thing as a reality check with people.
I was identified as a gifted child quite young, I was reading at 3 and my childhood IQ age 9 was 133.
My current adult IQ is 146 (I’m 31) This apparently puts me in roughly the top 2-2.5% of the population.
I use my IQ as a way of showing people just how common sociopaths are because of the way that most think they only belong in horror films.
I basically tell them that since roughly 2% of people have my IQ while sociopaths & psychopaths, according to current thought, make up as many as 4% of the population, people basically have at least double the chance of meeting a sociopath as they do of someone with my IQ score…!
“Go figure”, I say, “I’m standing right in front of you…” !!!
I love how I can use my IQ for that and I often wonder if that is why I was given it! xxx


I suspect more of the ‘successful sociopath’ types are found in Mensa actually but really they only consitute a very small part of the population (around 2%)
We have to worry about the rest too. I agree with you Stargazer when you say that they are not so much brilliant as crafty. They’re mostly cunning and excellent at manipulation because they have no conscience – my father always says that about the ones he has met.
An ex of mine who was ‘boy next door’ hurt me more than anyone else ever has. I firmly believe he had N and S traits – when we first met he was Mr Super Sensitive but my God did he grow colder as time went on. I wasn’t prepared for the ending. I won’t go into details (I may have already mentioned it on here actually) but suffice to say I got the shock of my life about who that guy really was. I saw him clearly and wow did I get a lucky escape!

kim frederick

Yeah, I would think that being a member of Mensa might work as narcissistic supply for the typicle arrogant, and Oh-so superior attitude of the P’s. A very attractive draw….But, I’m sure there are some very intelligent good guys there, too….
So again, I guess we just have to be aware, and listen to our guts, and learn to see red-flags, no matter where we are.

Quantum Solace

The author is surprised by the fact that the press is more interested in sensationalizing the gore details of this Psychopat’s blood trail than in educating people on the disorder. And I am surprised that she is surprised. The only thing the press is good for these days is sensationalism, misinformation and destruction of lives. The victims and their stories don’t count; what’s of relevance here is story. In fact, I’m surprised that 20/20 or one of those other corporate media shows hasn’t already done a one-hour interview with the killer from his jail cell.

Funny, I have a friend who works for NBC as a reporter, he also worked for the Miami Herald, News Week and Time Magazine at one time. I called him the other day and asked him why there weren’t more stories about the rapes, violence, murders, etc., going on in this country (USA). He flat out told me, “Because those type of stories don’t generate any ad revenue”. I said to him, “you’ve got to be kidding me”. He said, “No”, in a very non-chalant manner.

Anyway, these are our media representatives!


Yes….the world revolves around the old $$$$$$.

Look where it’s gotten us!!!



Dear Dr. Leedom, I remember back in the 80s saying to my best friend and co-worker Barbara after reading numerous texts on the anti-social personalities, as we tried to figure out and understand a logical explanation of what we were working with with (co-workers and the then lower level managers) … “there is a reason we are learning what these folks that lie so readily are all about with no remorse.” For our own self preservation, we had to figure out why they constantly had the need to cause chaos/problems to erupt among the ranks in our workplace. Why was there no peace and harmony. Why they always were the first to run up to the bosses and bad mouth individuals that had absolutely nothing to do with said destructions, as they acted innocent of any of the ruins spewing out. Destroying careers and reputations of those these anti-social personalities found threatening to their very existence in our agency. The anti-socials, of course, were always in charge behind those in charge and of course, pretended to be innocent of any damages they created. They were well oiled machines by their early 20s and perfected their craft of destruction over the years. They would start their venomous process weeks, months or even years before the hammer fell upon the targeted victim(s). They are all about destruction. Any kind of destruction.

It’s ironic how God gradually grooms us to our stations in life. You on the national stage, me and other survivors in the ranks.

Peace and God Bless.



I got a laugh from your Jan 09 (may have been 08) posting….the list of things to do in the New year…..
I copied it and reposted it because it really , really made me laugh……
We elected hens to be the one to buy the condoms and ask the clerk where the fitting room was…
thanks for brightening up my day!!!!!
See…..we just never know when our posts are gonna make someone laugh, even years later….whoduthunk!!!

good to see you again….I hope your doing well!!!

Ox Drover


Missed you gf!!! That is one of the BEST posts you ever did! and you are so ooooooooo RIGHT! DESTRUCTION! ((((huggies!!!))))


Oops I just realised Liane I called you Diane by accident in my posting yesterday. Sorry about that! =O xx
Wini you are so right about workplaces, I’ve experienced bullying at work and it’s awful, destroys lives. In the end it seems that the worst troublemaking people are left employed and all the good people are on the outside unable to work for fear of being abused again.
I’m still rebuilding my confidence several years on.
Namaste xx


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