Victim Studies 002: Joseph Nasoon October 11, 2011 in Serial Killers, Victim Studies, Victimology by Heather Whitney
Editor’s Note: Joseph Naso has not been found guilty of murder. This article is based upon what it known about his alleged victims as of October 2011.
Joseph Naso is suspected of having been involved in the murders of several women throughout the United States. His serial series is thought to have spanned from 1971 to 1994. He was arrested in 2011 for the murders of four women in California, but is also thought to have been involved in the Alphabet Murders. The Alphabet Murderer has been accused of murdering three girls.
All of the victims, which Naso has been accused of murdering, were females between the ages of 10 and 38. Although there are some major differences between the first four victims, and the victims of the Alphabet Murders, they do have one similarity: they all have the same first and last initials. The victims who he is suspected of killing are: Roxene Roggash, Carmen Colon, Pamela Parsons, Tracy Tafoya, Carmen Colon, Wanda Walkowicz and Michelle Maenza. It was because of this similarity that the police were able to determine that this serial killer had put a large amount of time and thought into researching his victims. Many serial killers choose their victims based on physical attributes such as hair color, height or weight, but Naso had to research into identities before selecting his victims.
The first four women Naso has been accused of murdering are all thought to have been prostitutes between the ages of 18 and 38. As with many serial killers, it is believed that Naso assumed these women would never be missed. Serial killers who target prostitutes believe not only that they are actually helping society by murdering them, but that no one would bother to look for them. In all four cases he was wrong. Since Naso only chose to murder those women who had the same beginning and last initials, he created an intriguing profile for himself, creating curiosity from both police and the media.
In contrast to the first four victims Naso is accused of killing, who were between the ages of 18 and 38, are the victims of the Alphabet Murderer, who were little girls between the ages of 10 and 11. It has been noted by investigators that the girls all did poorly in school. In all three cases it is believed that Naso lured the girls into his car while they were running errands, possibly with the promise of a ride. All the girls are thought to have been seen during the day with their killer. This would make Naso a minority in serial killers, as most would prefer to attack their victims at night, ensuring that there would be few witnesses. After the murder of Carmen Colon had occurred, some drivers stated that they recalled witnessing a young semi-nude girl running down the side of a road with a car backing up along the shoulder towards her, but did nothing.
The murders of the three girls occurred prior to the murders of the four women. The Alphabet Murders occurred from 1971 though to 1973 while the murders Naso was originally charged with took place from 1977 through to 1994. Although it is not strange for serial killers to go on hiatus during their serial series, it is unusual for a serial killer to murder such strikingly different victims. As mentioned above, serial killers who target prostitutes believe that no one will care about their absence, however, this is very different from the murder of a child. When a child goes missing it will catch the attention of their parents, the police, the media, their school and friends. Immediately. This also shows that if Naso is found guilty on all counts of murder, he does not show a preference in victim type. Most serial killers demonstrate a preferred ethnicity, hair color or body type, and continue to murder that type of victim throughout their serial series.
Although there are differences between the ages and types of victims, the method of murder remained the same for all of them. All of the victims which Naso has been accused of murdering were found raped and strangled to death. The four women had been strangled with lingerie or pantyhose which the killer had brought to the scene. This is also part of the evidence that the police hold against Naso. Investigators found Naso’s and his ex-wife’s DNA on the pantyhose and the victims. It is believed that Naso would steal his wife’s pantyhose, go to his selected victims, and proceed to strangle and rape them. The person who committed these crimes not only had to discover the identity of his victims, but he had to bring a worn murder weapon with him. This shows just how much time and thought went into these murders. Not a lot of information has been given about the murder weapons in the Alphabet Murders. It is believed that the second victim was strangled with a belt.
All victims were located in unpopulated areas, but it did not appear that Naso attempted to bury or further dispose of the bodies. The women were all found nude with visible signs of abuse. The girls had been found partially nude, but it was also obvious that they had been abused prior to their deaths. Although all the women were found in Northern California, the children were found in more peculiar locations. Carmen Colon was found in Riga, where the village of Churchville is the town’s center, Michelle Maenza was located in Macedon and Wanda Walkowicz was found in Webster. The remains of all three girls were found in places where their initials matched the location.
It is because of this pattern with the alphabet and initials that police noticed how much effort the murderer had gone to, and began to question if there was a message hidden in their names as well. After putting together the first initials of the girls came an abbreviation of the words “come with me”. It is also noted that the letters “C”, “M”, and “W” are the third, thirteenth and twenty-third letters in the alphabet. It is not known to police if these patterns are of any significance.
Naso had originally been arrested due to probation violations, but upon a probation search in his house police found evidence which connected him to the murder victims. Police have discovered photographs of numerous women wearing pantyhose and lingerie who appear to be unconscious or possibly deceased. There was also a box with ten women listed, including the four victims. While these murders were occurring Naso was working as a photographer and had reason to travel to numerous locations in California. It is not known if Naso has committed additional murders, as he has not pleaded guilty to any of the murders.