Dorothy Clitheroe

In the late summer of 1973, Dorothy Mildred Clitheroe, then fourteen, lived in Phoenix, Arizona. She was there and then suddenly vanished, so very little is known about her life in the years prior to her disappearance or the circumstances surrounding it in general. On September 20, 1973, around 6:30 p.m., Dorothy was last seen heading towards Cortez Park’s restrooms near Dunlap Road and 35th Avenue. She was dressed in blue bell bottom jeans and a white tank top with an upside-down tear drop pattern in various colors. She was described as having brown eyes and brown hair, standing 5’3″ and weighing 130 pounds. Dorothy had pierced ears and large glasses.

Rodney Alcala was committing murderous crimes and bouncing in and out of prison during the same time period that Dorothy vanished. Due to his appearance on The Dating Game in 1978, Rodney earned the nickname “Dating Game Killer.” He was a serial killer and rapist who was found guilty of 5 murders as well as a number of other offenses like rape and assault and battery. Although Rodney was only found guilty of 5 murders in Wyoming and California, the number of murders he is believed to have committed is much higher, between 8 and 130.

Rodney would frequently pose as a fashion photographer to find his victims and ask them to be the subjects of his photographs. Over 1,000 pictures of women, girls, and boys in lewd poses were captured by Rodney in total. He is thought to have frequently strangled his victims until they passed out, then waited until they came to before repeating the process several times before killing them.

In an effort to get the public’s assistance in identifying the 120 unidentified people who had posed for Rodney Alcala, police released the images in 2010. Over 900 of the more than 1,000 photos, according to the police, could not be made public because they contained too much sexual content.

Within a few weeks, 21 women identified themselves, and at least 6 families found loved ones who had vanished and never returned. The family of twenty-eight-year-old pregnant Christine Thornton, whose body was found in Wyoming in 1982, came forward in 2013 to confirm that she was one of the people in Rodney’s photographs. Rodney was accused of killing Christine in 1977 in 2016. He had acknowledged photographing Christine, but not murdering her.

Strangely, Dorothy can be clearly seen in 3 of the 120 unidentified photos that have been made public. On the top left is a picture of Dorothy, and the other three pictures are of the unknown woman. Many people had thought that Dorothy may have left Arizona on her own accord and had gone to either Oregon or Texas, despite Rodney being imprisoned until 1974. Is it conceivable that she had been away from home for a while and had met Rodney before posing for his pictures in the future?

The similarities between Dorothy’s photos and the unidentified woman are unmistakable–the brows, nose shape, hairline, and part all appear identical. In all four photographs, her smile upturns more on the left side. The volume of the cheeks. Personally, I think the unidentified woman resembles Dorothy Mildred Clitheroe. Could Dorothy be one of Rodney Alcala’s many unidentified victims? Did Dorothy flee her home before encountering foul play, or was she kidnapped and harmed somewhere in the Phoenix valley? Dorothy’s family will be 50 years without answers this year.

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