Calif. Police Exhume Woman's Body Found In 1983

Published January 18, 2012 12:18AM (EST)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Police in a Northern California town said Tuesday they exhumed the body of a woman found dead decades ago to see if there was a connection to serial killing suspect Joseph Naso.

The unidentified woman's body was recovered from a local creek in 1983. The exhumation took place in April and was followed by a new autopsy and the collection of DNA, Healdsburg Police Chief Kevin Burke told The Associated Press.

So far there have been no results, he said.

Interest in the old case was sparked after investigators found a list describing 10 women in the Nevada home of Naso, who's charged with killing four women in the 1970s and 1990s. One of the entries on the list said "Girl near Healdsburg."

Burke said after that information came to light, his detectives found the 1983 case, which matched the time criteria for when prosecutors believe Naso was operating in the area.

"We looked at what we had and in 1983 there was a Jane Doe whose remains were found in Foss Creek in downtown Healdsburg," Burke said. "At that time they were unable to determine the cause of death due to extreme decomposition of the body."

"So, that's what we had in that period of time, and since it was a female and it was consistent with the time period, we had that body exhumed," he said.

While the body was exhumed in April, Burke said the autopsy results were inconclusive because of the condition of the body.

But detectives still hope DNA can help lead investigators to family members, who might be able to identify the body. The plan is to run the DNA sample through the Department of Justice's database to see if any relatives of the Jane Doe can be identified.

Four other women on the list have been identified by investigators as the homicide victims Naso is now charged with killing: Roxene Roggasch, 18, Carmen Colon, 22, were found dead in the late 1970s. Pamela Parsons, 38, and Tracy Tafoya, 31, were killed in the 1990s.

The case became known as the "Double Initial" killings because each of the victims had first and last names that began with the same letters.

The 78-year-old Naso is currently representing himself in his preliminary hearing in Marin County Superior Court. He has pleaded not guilty.

Detectives have focused on unsolved cases from other Northern California areas to try and identify the other six women on Naso's list.

Roggasch was found near the town of Lagunitas with a pair of nylons around her neck, and Colon in the east San Francisco Bay area. The other two victims' bodies were found in Yuba County.

Lead detective Richard Brown of the Nevada Department of Public Safety also testified that a safe deposit box belonging to Naso contained identification, business cards and other personal items belonging to Renee Shapiro, who has been missing since 1992.

Shapiro was a Bob Dylan fan, who was last seen May 4, 1992, heading to one of the singer's concerts in San Francisco.

Testimony at Naso's preliminary hearing has focused on journals, photographs and other items seized from the former photographer's Reno, Nev. home. The trove of photographs showed women who appear unconscious or dead, and among the dozens of photographs seized from Naso's home were images of two prostitutes Naso is charged with killing — Parsons and Tafoya.

Testimony resumed Tuesday, focusing on Roggasch's disappearance and death. At the end of the hearing, the judge will determine if enough evidence exists to send Naso to trial.

Detective Ryan Petersen of the Marin County Sheriff's Office, said Roggasch was working as a prostitute in Oakland, near where Naso lived with his wife at the time, Judith.

Prosecutors have said Judith Naso's DNA has been found on the nylons found wrapped around Roggasch's neck.

By Salon Staff

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