SAN RAFAEL -- Septuagenarian serial killer Joseph Naso killed four prostitutes, including two with East Bay ties, and documented his crimes in a handwritten list, a Marin County jury found Tuesday.
The 79-year-old former freelance photographer -- who was arrested three years ago with an extensive collection of photographs of dead or unconscious women in various states of undress, incriminating writings and sadistic magazines -- represented himself in a bizarre trial in which he claimed he took artistic photos, but was no killer. The jury convicted him on all four murder counts and he now could face the death penalty when the sentencing phase begins Sept. 4.
Naso was convicted of four cold case murders: Carmen Colon, 22, who was found dumped near Port Costa in 1978; Roxene Roggasch, an 18-year-old Oakland prostitute, whose body was found west of Fairfax in 1977; Pamela Parsons, 38, who was found in Yuba County in 1993; and Tracy Tafoya, 31, who was found in Yuba County in 1994.
And there could be more Naso victims, said a Contra Costa senior deputy district attorney who investigated the case.
"There were other women on that list that we're still looking for," John Cope said. The Contra Costa office investigated Naso's case, along with many other law enforcement agencies, before handing prosecutorial duties to Marin County because the Roggasch case had the strongest evidence. "Maybe as time goes by and with more investigation and people hearing this news we'll locate more of them," Cope said.
The cold cases stalled until 2010, when a routine probation check at Naso's Reno home and a safe-deposit box revealed a trove of photos and other suspicious documents, including his list of 10 women and 10 locations. Not all the women on the list have been located.
"Even though these murders happened a long time ago, they were horrific crimes and we're grateful and give all the credit to the deputy DAs in Marin County," Cope said.
On Tuesday, Judge Andrew Sweet denied a request from Naso to address the jury just before it rendered its verdict, and Naso showed no emotion as the clerk read the decision.
Larry Roggasch, the brother of murder victim Roxene Roggasch, was the only victim family member who attended the trial and had mixed emotions.
"There is some peace," said Roggasch. "I wanted to get him right there. I wanted to take him out right now and finish him. ... It's hard. It's going to take awhile."
He hopes Naso will discuss other possible victims. "There are a lot of families that haven't gotten the closure I've gotten," he said.
Prosecutors have alleged that Naso is also responsible for the murder of a traveling Bob Dylan groupie whose skull was found in Nevada County, but they did not file a murder charge because the evidence did not come together until his trial was almost ready to begin.
The one Contra Costa homicide was a cold case mystery for decades before the Naso connection was discovered.
On Aug. 13, 1978, a CHP officer found Colon's naked, decomposed body below Carquinez Scenic Drive just outside Port Costa. DNA evidence found on the fingernail clippings taken from Colon's body revealed a "partial, foreign DNA profile" that included Naso as a possible contributor.
Shortly before her death, Colon told her sister that she was having her photo taken, investigators said. On Naso's handwritten list of women, investigators believe Colon was No. 2: "Girl near Port Costa."
"As far as we know there was just one victim found in our county, but it's very important to us that we finally wrap up our investigation and find out who was responsible for her death," Cope said. "Hopefully, it brings closure to her family members knowing this was the man who did that."
Investigators believe Roggasch was girl No. 3 on Naso's list -- identified as "Girl near Loganitas," a misspelling of the Marin County town of Lagunitas. The Oakland woman's body was found along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard four miles east of the small west Marin town. At the time of her death on Jan. 11, 1977, Roggasch had been working as a prostitute in Oakland, near where Naso and his family lived at the time.
Cold-case investigators began looking at her case because she was strangled and bound with pantyhose, which was consistent with Naso's fetish. Investigators found DNA from Naso's wife Judith on the pantyhose.
Contact Matthias Gafni at 925-952-5026. Follow him at Twitter.com/mgafni.