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Serial killing suspect kept photos, list of women

Serial killing suspect Joseph Naso kept a numbered list of 10 women, including four prostitutes he is charged with killing, plus photos and news clippings, court documents reveal.
Joesph Naso
Joseph Naso kept a handwritten list of 10 women along with photographs and news clippings related to the murders of the four victims for which he is charged.Alan Dep / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Serial killing suspect Joseph Naso kept a numbered list of 10 women — including the four prostitutes he is charged with killing — and kept news clippings of the killings in a safety deposit box, authorities said in documents released Thursday that shed new light on the bizarre case.

Detectives have been mum on details in this ongoing investigation of the 77-year-old photographer, charged with the murders of four Northern California women with matching initials in the 1970s and 1990s: Roxene Roggasch, Carmen Colon, Pamela Parsons and Tracy Tafoya. Authorities around the country are also looking at Naso as a suspect in more cold cases.

The probable cause statement released Thursday states that Naso may have used his then-wife's panty hose to strangle Roggasch, a prostitute whose 1977 murder has been unsolved for decades.

She was No. 3 on Naso's macabre list of 10 women, the documents state, referred to as "Girl near Loganitas," whose body was found about four miles east of Lagunitas, a small town in Marin County.

"DNA testing was done during which the DNA of Judith Naso ... was found on the panty hose around her neck," wrote Ryan Petersen, a Marin County sheriff's investigator.

Marin County District Attorney Ed Berberian, who is prosecuting the case, would not comment on whether investigators had made progress in looking at the six other women and locations mentioned on Naso's list.

The probable cause statement, used to hold Naso in jail after a warrantless arrest, was unsealed after a coalition of media groups led by The Associated Press challenged a judge's decision to seal them at his arraignment. Marin County prosecutors and Naso, who is representing himself at trial, both opposed unsealing the document.

In Naso's Reno, Nev., home and in a safety deposit box, investigators said they found numerous nude photos of women who appeared to be dead or passed out, along with logs and journals.

The documents also revealed that DNA collected from fingernail clippings of Colon could also tie Naso to her murder. She was No. 2 on his list, referred to as "Girl near Port Costa."

Colon's body was found naked and decomposed by a California Highway Patrol officer in 1978 in the Port Costa area of Contra Costa County. Authorities say she was also a prostitute, and that prior to her death she had told her sister she was having her photos taken.

Naso acknowledged in an interview with authorities that he photographed a number of women, including prostitutes.

The documents state that Naso had photographed at least one of the victims he is charged with killing: Parsons.

In 1993, Parson's body was found in Yuba City near where Naso was living at the time, the documents show. She was working as a prostitute in the area at the time and had been strangled.

Investigators said Parsons was No. 9 on the list, called "Girl from Linda," for the town in Yuba County where she was born. Detectives found photos of Parsons and articles about her murder in Naso's safety deposit box, among other items tying him to her killing.

"In addition to the photos, numerous writings, logs and a calendar from 1993 detailing his daily activity related to Parsons were found inside his residence as well as additional photos of Pamela Parsons," Petersen wrote.

Another Yuba City prostitute that prosecutors believe Naso killed was Tafoya, whose body was found on the side of Highway 70 near Marysville Cemetery in 1994. Investigators said they found writings, photos and news clippings of Tafoya and her murder in Naso's possession.

"The last entry on the list made reference to a girl from Marysville, with (cemetery) written next to it," the documents state.

Berberian said his office opposed releasing the probable cause statement because of the ongoing investigation, which he felt could be compromised by the document's release.