California ‘Alphabet Murders’ Serial Killer Sentenced to Death

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Serial Killer Joseph Naso, 79, was found guilty of the labeled “Alphabet” murders last month and has now been given the death sentence in San Rafael, California.   His crimes received the nickname due to the matching initials of the four names of the victims in this case: Carmen Colon, 22, Pamela Parsons, 38, Roxene Toggasch, 18 and Tracy Tafoya, 31.

Jurors in the case had recommended the death penalty.  Marin County Superior Court Judge, Andrew Sweet, referred to Naso as an “evil and disturbed man,” when he gave out the death sentence on Friday.  All four of the women were sexually assaulted, strangled and dumped along rural roads.

According to Sweet, the murders were “vicious, brutal and committed with a high degree of cruelty.”  He further said that Naso’s motive for the killings “sexual in nature, planned and deliberate” and that the women had experienced “an abhorrent degree of suffering and indignity.”

Sweet also said that Naso had shown no remorse whatsoever for his crimes.

Investigations have been going on for some time, as Roggasch and Colon were murdered in the 1970s.  Reportedly Parsons and Tafoya were both killed in the 1990s. It was Naso who was named, and the California court has sentenced the serial killer to death for what has been dubbed the “Alphabet Murders.”

Naso also remains a suspect in at least two more murders of women in California.

During the court case, Naso, a former commercial photographer, represented himself, and often appeared to be ornery or confused.  While Naso called five witnesses to the stand, he did not actually testify himself.

The only statement Naso did make was in his final closing argument, where he told the jury that he was not a monster and that he did not kill the four women.

Naso also made a motion for a new trial, which the judge denied.

While Naso pleaded that he was innocent, the prosecution presented a large amount of evidence which they had collected from Naso’s Reno, Nev. home.

This evidence included photos of dead or unconscious, partially clothed women and a journal in which he described raping several young women and juvenile girls, which dated back to the 1950s. Referring to the rapes in the 1950s, Naso insisted there was no connection and that what he did 50 years ago has noting to do with the current case.

Investigations had also revealed a list, including descriptions and references to killings and also the rural areas in which bodies have been dumped. In the case of Roggasch’s killing, Naso’s DNA also linked him to the crime.

Despite the death sentence imposed on him, it is unlikely that Naso will visit the state’s death chamber, apparently, as there are currently 745 inmates on the Death Row wait list in California and executions are on hold since around 2006.

Apparently, back then a federal judge requested an overhaul be performed of California’s current  execution protocol, thus delaying the executions.

It is thought that it will be at least another year before prisons adopt the new single-drug execution method in the state, so while Naso has been sentenced to death as a serial killer in the “Alphabet Murders,”  he is more likely to die of natural causes in jail.

By Anne Sewell


San Francisco Appeal
USA Today

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