Joseph Naso

Convicted serial killer Joseph Naso appears for sentencing in Marin Superior Court in November 2013, in San Rafael.

A popular True Crime duo  that investigates cold cases has set sights on identifying women photographed by a Northern California serial killer with roots in Yuba County.

The Murder Squad – retired Contra Costa County investigator and Zodiac and Golden State Killer investigator Paul Holes, and True Crime journalist Billy Jensen – have teamed up and launched a podcast of the same name to solve cold cases. Their latest episode, titled “The Search for Victims of Joseph Naso,” looks at 85-year-old Naso, who in 2013 was convicted of the murders of four women, two in Yuba County. 

“He is possibly the most prolific predator in our nation in terms of sheer numbers,” Holes said during the 61-minute podcast. 

Naso, who is currently incarcerated in San Quentin State Prison, was arrested in 2010 after Nevada County parole authorities entered his home in search of evidence proving violation of probation (at the time, he was on probation for stealing women’s underwear, according to the podcast, and was accused of selling firearms). Police found mannequin legs dressed with fishnet stockings, posters of collages of women, and photos strewn about of women – some of whom appeared unconscious or dead. They also found a list of 10 unidentified woman and a journal recounting sexual assaults dating back to the 1950s. 

The list didn’t name his victims but instead used titles like “Girl from Linda (Yuba County)” and “Girl from Mrsv (cemetery).” 

After viewing the diary, Yuba County law enforcement was convinced Naso was the suspect in two cold cases, Holes said during the podcast, and they contacted Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office to alert them of a diary entry in their area. 

Naso was convicted of killing 38-year-old Pamela Parsons, a local waitress who worked near Cooper Avenue, where Naso was living at the time, according to the podcast. She was found Sept. 19, 1993, with ligature marks on her wrist and neck and a fractured throat bone. When Naso was arrested, police found photos of Parsons, including one taped to the top of a news article about her death.

Naso also had newspaper clipping for the murder of 31-year-old Tracy Tafoya, who he drugged, raped and strangled and dumped at the Marysville cemetery.

Of the 10 women on Naso’s list, only six have been identified and he could be responsible for more. Very little background information on Naso has been released, Holes said, but police know that the ruse he used was that of a photographer. He also went to clubs and would charm or flirt with women to get them into his car. In his diary, he bragged about stalking and raping women and included rough notes about their looks and the locations –which ranged from Rochester, New York, to Reno, Nev., to London, England, though he was mostly active in Northern California. Four of his victims were prostitutes, but he targeted a wide range of victims.

Holes and Jensen believe Naso sat down in recent years to write the diary entries as a memorialization of what he’d done; not one that he’s kept over the years. He’s suspected of hundreds of sexual assaults dating from the 1950s to his arrest in 2010. 

Holes and Jensen ask people to take a look at the photographs, which are newly released, to see if they recognize any of the women. The women may or may not have been victimized by Naso, they said, and many were willingly photographed by him. But others appear to have been unconscious or dead. Four of his known victims had double initials, though not all victims bore that resemblance. 

The photographs and some diary entries – which may be disturbing to some – can be found on the team’s website TheMurderSquad.com as well as their Facebook page by the same name. The investigators ask that people search databases like DoeNetwork.org, namus.gov, and CharleyProject.org for possible matches.

The photographs may range in date (back to the 1950s), and the pair ask people to consider friends or acquaintances who said they planned on meeting with a photographer and weren’t heard from again.

The pair also ask that the photographed women not be named publicly and instead sent to local law enforcement or submitted to their website: https://tinyurl.com/y6j5hnjg, which will then be forwarded to police.

A spokesperson for The Murder Squad said they don’t plan on a boots-on-the-ground investigation in Northern California, but instead are utilizing the crowdsourcing capability of social media to help in the case.

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