Christine Thornton Murder: In June 1977, 28-year-old Christine Thornton relocated from San Antonio, Texas, along with her partner. However, later reports indicated that the couple had parted ways in Biloxi, Mississippi. Tragically, Christine’s whereabouts remained a mystery shortly after her disappearance until her bones were discovered in April 1982. Her remains were properly identified only in July 2015.
The documentary ABC “20/20” Season 43, Episode 9, titled “The Dating Game Killer,” covers the details of Christine’s heinous murder and the subsequent police investigation leading to the perpetrator’s conviction. If you wish to delve further into the crime and the developments in Christine’s case, you’ve certainly come to the right place.
The Murder Plot of Christine Thornton
Growing up in San Antonio, Texas, Christine Ruth “Chris” Thornton had a close and special bond with her family, especially with her younger sister, Kathy Thornton. In June 1977, much to the surprise of her loved ones, Christine decided to leave with her partner for Biloxi, Mississippi, despite their disapproval. However, their relationship worsened, leading to a significant argument and, ultimately, a breakup.
Her family had hoped she would return to San Antonio from Biloxi, where she stayed alone. Unfortunately, Christine disappeared without a trace, leaving her family and friends deeply concerned. The police took charge of the investigation and conducted extensive search efforts in both Biloxi and San Antonio, but no leads emerged, causing even greater worry for her loved ones.
Nearly five years later, on April 6, 1982, a rancher in Granger, Wyoming, discovered human remains on his property. The police were immediately notified, and they sent the remains for identification. Tragically, the woman’s identity couldn’t be confirmed until July 2015 when stored DNA samples from the remains revealed that she was six months pregnant at the time of her death.
Despite launching a homicide investigation, the exact cause of Christine’s death remained unclear even after an autopsy. The circumstances surrounding her disappearance and tragic demise continue to be a haunting mystery for her family and those who knew her.
Investigation and Arrest in Christine Thornton Murder Case
Despite the initial challenges in identifying Christine’s body, law enforcement officials made significant progress in pursuing justice. Notorious serial killer Rodney Alcala came into the spotlight as a suspect, particularly in the case of 12-year-old Robin Samsoe’s murder in California. The police continued their investigation relentlessly and connected him to four more killings in Southern California during the 1970s. Rodney’s 1979 and 1986 convictions for Robin’s murder were overturned.
In 2010, the jury ultimately found Rodney guilty of all five murders, and after careful consideration, the judge handed down the death penalty. Later, investigators discovered that the serial killer had murdered two additional women in New York during the 1970s, bringing his total number of homicide convictions to seven. The police thoroughly searched Rodney’s belongings and decided to release about 200 images he had taken, anticipating that he would appeal his death sentence.
In 2015, Kathy, Christine’s sister, who had never given up hope of finding justice for her sister, came across these photographs and was shocked to find one featuring her missing sister. Without hesitation, she provided her DNA for testing, and the results confirmed a perfect match with the remains found in Granger back in 1982. Intriguingly, the investigation into Christine’s disappearance led investigators to notice that the region depicted in the photos was remarkably close by.
Drawing a connection between the evidence and Rodney Alcala, the police arrested him for Christine’s murder, strongly suspecting his involvement in the heinous crime.
What Happened to Rodney Alcala?
Rodney Alcala, the notorious serial killer, never faced trial for Christine’s murder as he passed away on July 24, 2021, while still on California’s death row for the crime. Prison officials reported that they never extradited him to Wyoming to face charges due to his inability to walk.
Following Rodney’s death, Sweetwater County Attorney Dan Erramouspe announced that he would drop the first-degree murder charges against Christine. Consequently, officially, Christine’s murder remains unsolved. However, her family, law enforcement, and the general public widely believe and agree that Rodney Alcala was responsible for Christine’s murder in 1977.
Despite the lack of a formal trial, the impact of Christine’s tragic death and the actions of her alleged killer continue to resonate, leaving a lasting mark on those affected by this heinous crime.