SAN RAFAEL, Calif. – A strange coincidence? Or a glimpse into the twisted mind of a serial killer?
Four California women who investigators believe were murdered by the same man all had alliterative names: Carmen Colon, Roxene Roggasch, Pamela Parsons and Tracy Tafoya.
The suspect, a 77-year-old petty thief and freelance photographer, was arrested this week, and now detectives are looking deeper into the deaths and whether the man had anything to do with New York’s “Double Initial Murders” – the killings in the early 1970s of three girls, each with matching initials.
For decades, Joseph Naso was known only for small-time thefts. Then a routine search of his Reno, Nev., home led to the unsolved slayings dating back to the 1970s.
On Wednesday, he made his first appearance in a California court to face four counts of murder, plus special circumstances that make him eligible for the death penalty.
Balding, bespectacled and slouched, Naso said nothing as the judge postponed his arraignment until April 27 while the court determines who will be his defense attorney. Prosecutors noted that he has up to $1 million in assets, which would allow him to hire a private lawyer.
Authorities have released few details about the cases, which all involve women whose bodies were found in Northern California with little trace of their assailant. But their names alone already bear an eerie resemblance to the notorious slayings in the Rochester, N.Y., area in the early 1970s. The victims there were three young girls with alliterative names. And one of them also was named Carmen Colon.
Naso, a New York native, traveled frequently between the Rochester area and the West during that time and has claimed at least a half-dozen addresses around the country, authorities said.
His name, however, never surfaced in the investigation until he came under suspicion in California, said Bob Hetzke, chief deputy at the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department in New York.
Authorities acknowledged, however, that a DNA sample taken from one of the New York victims didn’t match Naso.