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"If it wasn't for Christine's family continuing to look for her ... " "• Erramouspe says Thornton's family recognized a photo of her at six-months pregnant sitting on top of a Kawasaki motorcycle wearing a yellow top: Thornton's photo was one of hundreds released by the Huntington Beach Police Department in 2010 after Alcala was sentenced to death.
The photos were found in a Seattle storage locker owned by the convicted serial killer.
On Tuesday, prosecutors said Alcala is responsible for the murder of 28-year-old Texas native Christine Ruth Thornton.
Alcala met Thornton in San Antonio around August 1977 and then allegedly dumped her body on a ranch in Granger, Wyoming. "All of this was before the 1978 appearance on ," Sweetwater County and Prosecuting Attorney Danny Erramouspe tells PEOPLE.
Y.; Georgia Wixted, 27, of Malibu; Charlotte Lamb, 32, of Santa Monica; and Jill Parenteau, 21, of Burbank.
After the California convictions, Alcala was charged with murdering two 23-year-old women in New York City in the same decade.
Before that arrest, he also served a prison sentence on convictions of furnishing marijuana to a minor and kidnapping and trying to kill an 8-year-old girl.
After his 2010 conviction, California authorities released more than 100 photos, found in his storage locker, of young women and girls.
He was ordered held without bail and is due back in court Oct. A former photographer with an IQ said to top 160, Alcala was convicted in 2010 of killing four women, including Jill Barcomb of Oneida and a 12-year-old girl in Southern California in the 1970s. Marshals Service plane unsuccessfully fighting his extradition to New York."I think the last thing he would have guessed is that somewhere up in Wyoming a case like this would be solved." A rancher found Thornton's body in a field in 1982, but her identity remained a mystery for more than three decades.She was finally identified in 2014 after DNA linked her to her sister. Thornton's sisters had provided their DNA to the CODIS system and they were able to get an identification because her sisters never gave up looking for her," says Erramouspe.FILE - In this March 30, 2010 file photo, convicted serial killer Rodney Alcala listens as victim-impact statements are read in a Santa Ana, Calif. 20, 2012, Alcala was headed to New York to face charges of killing two young women, Cornelia Crilley and Ellen Hover, in the 1970s, the Manhattan district attorney's office said.Alcala, a photographer and former "Dating Game" contestant, has been on death row in California for the 1970s stranglings of four women and a 12-year-old girl. more NEW YORK -- A convicted California serial killer pleaded not guilty Thursday to murdering two women in New York City in the 1970s, charges lodged just last year after suspicion swirled around him for decades.(AP Photo/Michael Goulding, Pool, File) less FILE - In this March 30, 2010 file photo, convicted serial killer Rodney Alcala listens as victim-impact statements are read in a Santa Ana, Calif. Rodney Alcala, a former dating-show contestant who has spent the last 33 years tangling with authorities in a series of trials and overturned convictions, was arraigned Thursday in the deaths of Cornelia Crilley and Ellen Hover.Barcomb family still feeling loss Hands and feet shackled, Alcala looked thin and drawn as he said only "not guilty" in a steady voice.Watch 48 Hours Mystery: Rodney Alcala's Killing Game Rodney Alcala, 68, a former amateur photographer and TV dating-show contestant was sentenced to death in California in 2010 after being convicted of strangling and sexually torturing four women and a 12-year-old girl in the 1970s.The jury convicted Alcala on February 25, 2010 of killing Robyn Samsoe, 12, as well as Jill Barcomb, 18, who had just moved to Los Angeles from Oneida, N.A forensic dentist later found that a bite mark on Crilley's body was consistent with Alcala's impression, a law enforcement official has said.The official was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.