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The NYPD has released 215 photographs taken by convicted serial killer Rodney Alcala in an attempt to secure identifications and restart cold case inquiries.

Alcala was recently sentenced to death for three murders in California in the late seventies. In the early seventies, Alcala lived intermittently in New York; some of the photographs found in his storage upon his arrest are thought to be from his time in New York

“They should be in every newspaper, on TV and on the Internet,” Sheila Weller, cousin of victim Ellen Hover, said before the NYPD decided to release the pictures.

RESPONSE

The collection is one of the most discomfiting things I’ve been audience to. To look at these photographs is to ready oneself the very limited likelihood of recognizing someone. It is a very grave and uneasy type of involvement with the image and the serious context by which it has come to be viewed.

Usually, personal portraits have their story shared and history mutually written, but – in viewing these previously unknown images of unknown persons – the viewer potentially writes the story’s end.

The public release has already yielded results:

The photos were kept quiet until Alcala was sentenced to death last month. “We needed an unbiased jury,” said retired Huntington Beach Detective Steve Mack.

Last month, Huntington County cops posted 137 of the less graphic pictures online. So far, 21 have been identified, often by the women themselves.

Four families of missing women say they recognized their loved ones, but police have not yet been able to confirm a link.

Most of the photos sent to the NYPD were not among those posted online. They include details that suggest they were taken in New York, sources said.

View photographs here.

Found via Elizabeth Avedon

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NY Daily News coverage

NYPD not releasing pictures taken by sicko serial killer Rodney Alcala of possible victims (April 20th, 2010)

NYPD releases serial killer Rodney Alcala’s photos of women — seeks public’s help in ID’ing them (April 21st, 2010)

Gallery: NYPD seeks clues from photos taken by serial killer Rodney Alcala (April 21st, 2010)

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