More than 34 years after Roxene Roggasch was murdered and dumped on White’s Hill near Fairfax, a 77-year-old Nevada man has been arrested and is being charged with that murder and three others, Marin County District Attorney Ed Berberian said Tuesday.
Marin County Sheriff’s investigators arrested Reno resident Joseph Naso on Monday at the El Dorado County Jail as he was being released on a probation violation in South Lake Tahoe.
In addition to the murder of Roggasch, Naso is also accused in three other cold case murders, including Carmen Colon, whose body was found in 1978 in Port Costa, Contra Costa County, as well as Pamela Parsons and Tracy Tofoya, who were killed in Yuba County in 1993 and 1994, respectively, Berberian said.
Berberian said his office will be prosecuting all four cases under an agreement with the district attorneys from the other two counties. Because of the special circumstance of multiple murders, Naso is eligible for the death penalty.
Naso, who is being held at Marin County Jail without bail, will be formally arraigned Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. in Marin Superior Court.
Berberian said the investigation launched on April 13, 2010, when a probation officer made an unannounced visit to Naso’s home in Reno – he was on probation for theft at a grocery store in 2009 – and found evidence that “implicated (Naso) in multiple murders of young women."
That included Roggasch, an 18-year-old Oakland woman whose body was found on Jan. 11, 1977 on the east side of White’s Hill off Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. According media reports at that time, Roggasch had been suffocated.
Berberian declined to release any information about the evidence that allegedly links Naso to the victims, but did say that an examination of the items seized along with a forensic analysis by the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office led them to connect Naso to all four murders.
"It was the Washoe County Sheriff's Office and Nevada Department of Public Safety that first found “the links in the chain of evidence that unlocked the gate and put into motion” the efforts of law enforcement agencies from Marin, Contra Costa and Yuba counties over the past year, Berberian said.
According to a Marin Independent Journal article from Jan. 11, 1977, the Marin County Sheriff’s Office found out about Roggasch’s murder from an anonymous caller who said he found an unidentified nude body at 7 p.m. the night before when he had pulled his car to the side of the road because of car trouble.
Roggasch was described as 5 feet, 2 inches tall and about 135 pounds, wearing nothing but white fabric that tied her feet together.
That “discovery marked the sixth time in the past 12 months that an unidentified body has been found in Marin County after an apparent murder,” the newspaper said at the time.
Naso’s arrest comes just one month after the Marin County Sheriff’s Office both identified a suspect in another cold case from 1977 and closed its investigation due to insufficient new evidence.
Sheriff’s Lt. Barry Heying said last month that detectives identified serial killer Rodney James Alcala, who is currently on death row at San Quentin State Prison, as a known suspect in the murder of Pamela Lambson, a computer assistant and aspiring actress and singer. Lambson’s body was discovered on Oct. 9, 1977 on the Boy Scout Trail on Mount Tam by a local doctor who was on an early morning run. Lambson had been raped, beaten and strangled.
Heying said that at the time of the murder, DNA analysis had yet to be discovered as a means of identifying criminal suspects. Detectives sought to match physical evidence obtained from where Lambson’s body was found to Alcala, but the samples were too degraded and no viable DNA profile could be produced. The investigation was closed.