Jury Finds Accused "Alphabet Murders" Serial Killer Joseph Naso Guilty of Killing 4 Women - NBC Chicago
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

Jury Finds Accused "Alphabet Murders" Serial Killer Joseph Naso Guilty of Killing 4 Women

Naso now faces the death penalty



    A jury on Tuesday reached a verdict in the "alphabet murder" case. Jean Elle reports. (Published Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013)

    A California jury has found accused serial killer Joseph Naso guilty of killing four women in the Bay Area and Yuba County between 1977 and 1994, in a notorious series of killings known as the "alphabet murders."

    The Marin County jury deliberated for about seven hours over a two-day period, and agreed with prosecutors, convicting Naso of four counts of first-degree murder, as well as the special circumstance of committing multiple murders, which makes him eligible for the death penalty.

    Naso, 79, did not visibly react when the verdict was read at about 2:20 p.m.

    Naso insisted on representing himself in the trial, which began in mid-June, with the help of an advisory counsel.

    The jury convicted him of killing Roxene Roggasch, 18, of Oakland, and Carmen Colon, a 22-year-old East Bay resident. Roggasch was found dead off of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard west of Fairfax on Jan. 11, 1977.

    Roggasch's stepfather, Vern Ashby, told NBC Bay Area the family is relieved and elated by the verdict. He said the family has always wondered if they would ever find out who killed Roxene and if she would ever get justice. Ashby said the district attorney called him Tuesday afternoon to inform him of the verdict.

    Roggasch's mother, Beverly Ashby, said she hopes Naso will get the death penalty. "I think they ought to hang him by the balls," Beverly Ashby said.

    Colon's body was found near Carquinez Scenic Drive in Port Costa in Contra Costa County on Aug. 15, 1978. Naso, a former commercial photographer, was also found guilty of the murders of Pamela Parsons, 38, and Tracy Tafoya, 31, whose bodies were found in Yuba County in September 1993 and August 1994, respectively.

    All four victims are believed to have worked as prostitutes, and their murders became known as the "alphabet murders" because their first and last names all began with the same letter.

    The jury saw Naso, acting as his own attorney, smiling and wearing a suit and tie during the two-month trial--a far different demeanor than on his first day in a Marin County courtroom after his 2011 arrest at his home in Reno, Nevada. 

    Naso was arrested after visiting probation officers found disturbing photographs of nude women in unnatural positions. They appeared unconscious or dead.

    Naso called it art.

    Deputy District Attorney Rosemary Slote called it criminal, claiming Naso drugged and photographed his victims, strangled them, and dumped their naked bodies in rural areas of Marin and Contra Costa counties in the 1970s.

    Naso's DNA was found in semen collected from the pantyhose Roggasch was wearing when her body was found, prosecutors said.

    Evidence against Naso included a handwritten list that prosecutors allege refers to at least seven women, including the four victims and some of the locations where their bodies were found. During the trial, the prosecution presented 70 witnesses, and Naso called seven to the stand.

    The jury began deliberating on Monday afternoon. The sentencing phase of the trial, to begin next month, will determine whether Naso will face the death penalty.

    Even if Naso is sentenced to death, it is unlikely he will be executed. There are 725 inmates already on California's Death Row and executions have been on hold since 2006, when a federal judge ordered an overhaul of California's execution protocol.

    More Bay Area Stories:


    Bay City News contributed to this report.