Serial murder suspect Rodney Alcala delivers his final arguments during...

Serial murder suspect Rodney Alcala delivers his final arguments during his 2010 trial in Santa Ana, Calif. (Feb. 22, 2010) Credit: AP

Convicted serial murderer Rodney Alcala pleaded not guilty to two long-unsolved 1970s New York City homicides at a brief appearance in Manhattan state court Thursday after being flown here from California to face the charges.

In court filings, prosecutors revealed Alcala, 68, already on death row in California for killing five women, made potentially incriminating statements when he was visited in Los Angeles in 2005 by an NYPD detective probing the New York killings of Cornelia Crilley in 1971 and Ellen Hovey in 1977.

"You're from New York? What took you so long?" Alcala allegedly said. Police said the detective visited him in jail to take dental impressions.

In yesterday's court appearance before Judge Bonnie Wittner, Alcala was dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit and wore his graying hair in a ponytail. He spoke only two words -- "not guilty" -- and was held without bail.

A part-time photographer named the "Dating Game Killer" for a 1978 appearance as an eligible bachelor on that TV show, Alcala is accused of strangling and raping stewardess Crilley, 23, in her Manhattan apartment. Hovey, 23, also lived in Manhattan, but her body was found in Westchester County.

"After more than three decades, the defendant will finally face the justice system in New York for the murder of two victims," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said. "All crime victims and their families deserve closure, no matter how long ago the crime occurred."

Alcala was transported to New York by the U.S. Marshals Service. The cost of transporting and prosecuting him has not been released.

Although Alcala has been jailed in California since 1980, Vance's office says bringing the case is worthwhile because all victims deserve justice, and because it is insurance if he avoids the California sentence on appeal.

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