When Joseph Naso was arrested at his apartment in Reno, Nevada, on 13 April 2010 for a probation violation, what police discovered inside his house will haunt them for the rest of their lives. This 76-year-old man had been stalking, raping and eventually killing young woman for more than 50 years and in order to relive his despicable crimes he had kept a diary, graphically recording each attack as if it was something to be proud of. Soon to be called the ‘rape diary’, it would feature heavily in his trial for capital murder six years later and go a long way to prove what a dark and twisted individual Joseph Naso really is.
“Girl in north Buffalo woods. She was real pretty. Had to knock her out first.”
Joseph Naso was born in Rochester, New York and joined the Air Force as soon as he was old enough. He married and had a son in a relationship which lasted 18 years before ending in divorce. It was at this time he began moving around the country, spending time in San Francisco Bay, California, Sacramento and finally Nevada where he was arrested. He portrayed himself as a professional photographer targeting young women who he could dress in lingerie and take their photos.
Clearly a sexual predator with dark fantasies about women, Naso had a number of charges against him for petty theft, mainly of women’s underwear, which resulted in a period of probation. After being left alone for months, parole officer Wes Jackson paid Naso an unexpected visit at his home in April 2010 and spotted boxes of firearm ammunition. In clear violation of the conditions of his probation, Joseph Naso was arrested and a full search of his home was carried out.
Along with the chilling rape journal, police found thousands of photographs of women in different positions and states of undress. Photographs Joseph Naso had taken himself over the years after luring women to his home under the guise of being a photographer. The photos were sinister featuring many women who did not appear conscious or even alive. The downfall of Joseph Naso was a handwritten list he had made with 10 items each referencing a nameless woman and a geographical location, a ‘list of 10’ which detectives soon believed was a list of murder victims and the areas in which he had dumped their lifeless bodies.
His egotistical need to have a log of his crimes sparked a chain of events which landed him in court fighting four charges of capital murder. While Naso sat in jail, held on charges of parole violation, police began checking the information found at his home and trying to identify the women in the diary and on his list.
These investigations led to Joseph Naso being charged with the murders of Roxene Roggasch in 1977, Carmen Colon in 1978, Pamela Parsons in 1993, and Tracy Tafoya in 1994. All four women were linked to his ‘list of 10’. He was also investigated for the murders of Sharieea Patton and Sara Dylan, believed to be a further two victims noted on his list but, to date, charges have not been brought against Naso for their murders. Joseph Naso was quickly dubbed the ‘Double Initial Killer’ due to four of his victims’ first names and surnames starting with the same letter. Links to the unsolved ‘Alphabet Murders’ in New York were also investigated, but DNA evidence found on the victims was not a match to Joseph Naso.
Choosing to represent himself rather than hire a trained and experienced lawyer, Joseph Naso through inappropriate comments and rambling rants, derogatory language against women and a flippant attitude to the crimes written down by his own hand, ensured his own conviction.
Entries in Naso’s diary date back to the 1950’s and provide details of how he targeted women, stalked them and then pounced in multiple attacks across the country including in California, Kansas, Buffalo and New York. “She fell for it….I forced her down on the back seat…she was scared,” one entry read. Another said “Rochester 1958. Picking up a gorgeous chick at a bus stop. Headed for the cemetery and started to kiss and molest her.” With each diary entry that was read out in court by the prosecution team, the jury’s opinion of Joseph Naso sank even further.
“He selects a specific type of victim. He isolates the victim, kills the victim by strangulation, transports her to a rural area, dumps her body, and then he documents his crimes.”
In his own defence he claimed his diary was simply “detailing his fantasies” with the word ‘rape’ used because that’s “how guys talk”. He dismissed his use of the word rape further, telling the jury “I sometimes use the term ‘rape’ to mean I scored, I made out.” he said. None of the six men and six women on the jury believed a word. In further attempts to get himself out of the murder charges, he told the jury “There is nothing in my journal about killing. The prosecution is based on opinions, theories, and so-called experts’ testimony.” His claims, however, did nothing to persuade the jury that he was an innocent man and he was unanimously found guilty on four counts of murder with a recommendation for the death penalty.
Joseph Naso was a narcissistic man who believed he was better than everyone around him. His decision to represent himself in a capital murder trial shows his arrogance. Today Joseph Naso is in his 80’s and is being held at San Quentin State Prison in California on death row. Four victims from his ‘list of 10’ are yet to be identified and Naso is showing no signs of providing detectives with their identities. It is unlikely due to his age and the current state of the death penalty in California that he will actually be executed but there is no doubt that Joseph Naso will die behind bars where he belongs.