Joseph Naso, who is believed to have moved to Reno in the 1990s, was on probation for theft at a Raley’s in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., when he was arrested for a probation violation in April 2010. The arrest came after Washoe County parole and probation officer Wes Jackson found contraband in Naso’s home that violated the terms of his sentence. According to Department of Public Safety (DPS) Acting Director Chris Perry, Naso was in possession of ammunition and an advertisement for a firearm.
A subsequent search of the home uncovered evidence that linked Naso to the California murders of Roxene Roggash in Marin County in 1977; Carmen Colon in Contra Costa County in 1978; Pamela Ruth Parsons in Yuba County in 1993; and Tracy McKinney Tofoya in Yuba County in 1994. California law allows one agency to charge a suspect for murders committed in more than one jurisdiction. As such, Naso is being charged and tried for all four murders in Marin County.
During a press conference held at the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday morning, Perry said specific evidence was found in the search of Naso’s home that connected him with the four murders, but could not reveal at this time what that evidence was.
“For the sake of these four cases, we can’t release that,” Perry said, but 10,000 potential evidentiary items were found that linked Naso to the California murders.
Perry said that although no victims have been identified in Nevada, law enforcement has reason to believe Naso committed additional murders.
“We think there are other victims out there,” Perry said. “This is a criminal that has had a history of violent crime since 1955.”
Naso was charged with rape in the 1950s, but Perry said he was not sure if Naso served any time for that offense.
Perry said a task force comprised of DPS parole, probation and investigation units, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, Washoe County District Attorney’s office, the FBI and California law enforcement agencies and prosecutorial bodies is engaged in an ongoing investigation into Naso’s criminal activity.
Washoe County Sheriff Mike Haley said task force members are working with agencies across the country and opening cold cases to determine if Naso is a suspect in any of those.
“There are probably more (victims),” Haley said. “We will pull up every cold case.”
Perry said Naso traveled around the United States for a number of years, and the task force has yet to determine where the suspect resided during all of that time. Naso was a commercial photographer who is believed to have been self-employed, he said.
The task force also has not yet determined any motives in the murders or if the victims had anything in common aside from being female adults.
Haley said a telephone tip line for information about Naso will be opened soon and members of the public are being urged to call if they believe they or a missing family member might have come into contact with Naso.
“The public needs to know who Joe Naso is,” Perry said. “Take a look at (his) photograph and see if he looks familiar … We will take a call anytime. If you have information, we want it.”
Washoe County District Attorney Dick Gammick said if Naso is convicted of the murders, it is unlikely he will live long enough to be released from prison.
“His age has to be considered,” Gammick said. “I doubt he’ll ever see freedom again, wherever he ends up.”