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Authorities investigating California murder suspect in N.Y. deaths

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Joseph Naso is charged with four murders in California dating to 1977
  • New York police are investigating three deaths in Rochester in the 1970s
  • Naso's alleged victims all had the same first and last initial, as do the New York victims

New York (CNN) -- Authorities in New York are investigating whether a 77-year-old Nevada man charged with four murders in California could be responsible for the deaths of three young girls during the 1970s, officials said Thursday.

Joseph Naso, of Reno, was arrested Monday by authorities in Marin County, California. He is charged in the 1977 murder of Roxene Roggash in Marin County; Pamela Parsons and Tracy Tofoya of Yuba County, California, whose bodies were found in 1993 and 1994, respectively; and the death of Carmen Colon in Contra Costa County, California, whose body was found in 1978, according to Marin County District Attorney Ed Berberian said. The crimes make Naso eligible for the death penalty if convicted.

All four of those women had the same first and last initial. The three girls killed in Rochester, New York, also had the same first and last initial, New York State Police said Thursday.

That in itself doesn't automatically connect Naso to the crimes, and Senior Investigator Allan Dombrowski said a DNA sample does not match Naso. But the investigation of the slayings remains open, and Dombrowski urged anyone with helpful information about Naso to contact the New York State Police.

In Nevada, Roggash's murder was considered unsolved until Naso was arrested in April 2010 by parole and probation authorities, Berberian said. During that arrest, police found items that implicated Naso "in multiple murders of young women," he said.

CNN affiliate KGO said Naso, who had been convicted of grand theft at a grocery store, had a probation officer visit him at his home near Reno and found weapons. Naso spent a year in the El Dorado County Jail for the violation and was arrested upon his departure Monday, KGO said. A search of his home turned up photographs and writings tying him to the deaths, according to the station.

Although authorities have yet to link Naso to any slayings in Nevada, Chris Perry, acting director of the Nevada Department of Public Safety, left open the possibility of more victims.

"We're hoping that people who have missing relatives will take a look at this and maybe put a couple of the pieces together and get that information to us so we can follow up on it," he told reporters.

CNN's Rachel Garrett contributed to this report.