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California serial killer charged with New York murders

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York prosecutors on Thursday blamed two long-unsolved murders on a convicted killer on death row in California.

Rodney Alcala, 67, known as the "Dating Game" killer, was charged with slaying two New York women, both 23, whose deaths had been unsolved since the 1970s.

Investigators began taking a fresh look at the cases last year, and the investigation led to Alcala, who has been in prison in California since 1980 for the murders of a 12-year-old girl and four women.

A professional photographer, Alcala appeared on the television game show "The Dating Game" in 1978. He is thought to have lured his victims by offering to take their pictures.

The New York murders took place in 1971 and 1977 and had been designated as "cold cases."

Cornelia Crilley, the victim killed in 1971, was an airline flight attendant whose body was found in her Upper East Side apartment. The other victim, Ellen Hover, who was killed in 1977, was the daughter of a nightclub owner.

The indictment unsealed on Thursday charged Alcala with both of their murders.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance declined to say what specifically led investigators to suspect Alcala.

Prosecutors are seeking Alcala's extradition to New York to face the charges, Vance said.

If Alcala is convicted of the two additional murders in New York, he would likely be returned to death row in California on his previous convictions, because New York does not have the death penalty, said Erin Duggan, a spokeswoman for the Manhattan District Attorney's Office.

(Reporting by Bernd Debusmann Jr.; Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Jerry Norton)