Joseph Naso possibly connected to 5th woman's death

Joseph Naso
June 17, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
In Marin County Monday, 79-year-old Joseph Naso got up in front of a jury and gave an opening statement, just like a lawyer might have done. Naso is representing himself, in the serial murders of four women -- all of them prostitutes, all with matching first and last initials.

"I'm not the monster who killed these women," Naso said. "I don't do that. I dated, I danced; I don't kill people."

I have been digging into the case for an exclusive ABC7 News I-Team report.

The prosecutor made a mention of the fifth victim during her opening statement Monday morning.

Over the past three weeks, I have traveled up and down the state, read more than 1,000 court documents and found people who can connect the new victim to Naso.

Tony Luis remembers Sept. 19, 1993 as if it were yesterday.

"And I said, 'What's the matter, fella?' He looked worried, shook up, and he says, 'My dog just found a dead person over there in the willows,'" Luis said.

Luis was the second person on the scene at an orchard near his Yuba County dairy farm, where a body had been dumped.

"And I walked over there and she was laying on her back, arms crossed in front of her," Luis said.

It was 38-year-old Pamela Parsons, one of four women Naso is charged with murdering. His other alleged victims include Tracy Tafoya, a year later, also in Yuba County; Roxene Roggasch, 1977 in Marin County; and Carmen Colon, 1978 in Contra Costa County. Because their first and last names begin with the same letter, investigators dubbed it the "Alphabet Killer" case.

And now, the I-Team has learned exclusive new details about a potential fifth victim.

"It's horrifying, I mean, you know, I mean you hear about that kind of stuff, but when it happens to someone you know, it's completely different," Keith Gubitz said.

Prosecutors believe Naso killed Keith Gubitz and Sonia Gilliam's friend.

Renee Shapiro changed her name to Sara Dylan because she was such a fan of Bob Dylan, the legendary singer/songwriter. The couple attended more than 100 shows and often saw Sara Dylan there, jockeying to get as close as possible to the stage.

"And I tell you as a beginner when I first met her, I thought she was way too much," Gilliam said. "Like, 'Gosh, Sara, you know, tone it down.'"

Bob Dylan even discussed Sara in a BBC interview from 1987.

"Well, there are people who follow me around and they have passports and they have driver's licenses and they all have Dylan as their name," Dylan said in the interview.

Keith Gubitz and Sonia Gilliam arranged to meet Sara Dylan for the west coast tour in spring of 1992, but she never showed up.

"I knew right then that she was either dead, being held a captive you know against her will or a vegetable somewhere that they couldn't identify," Gubitz said. "That's the only thing that would keep her from being there."

The couple never saw Sara Dylan again.

Six years later, a logger working along Zeibright Road near the Tahoe National Forest found a skull, bleached from the sun and missing the lower jaw. Sheriff's investigators concluded the victim had been dumped from a turnout on Highway 20, down a steep ravine.

The skull found in the ravine remained unidentified for 12 years until a big break -- a probation search of Naso's Reno home.

Along with four handguns, ammunition, handcuffs, law enforcement uniforms, and mannequins dressed in lingerie, prosecutors say police found a serial killer's trophies -- newspaper articles about his victims' deaths and photographs he took of some of them.

Naso earned a living as a photographer, and he had $150,000 in a safe deposit box, along with Sara Dylan's driver's license, passport, and what the prosecution believes are photos of Sara's dead body from the waist down.

After the search, investigators tracked down Sara's friends, including Gubitz.

"They didn't tell me anything about the guy, just that they found some of Sara's things in possession of someone they were investigating," he said.

Gubitz helped identify the evidence, including this Bob Dylan pin Sara kept in her makeup kit. With those leads, investigators performed DNA tests and concluded just this past April -- 15 years after she disappeared -- that the skull found off Highway 20 was Sara Dylan.

Prosecutors believe she was hitchhiking from the Bob Dylan concert in Red Bluff to his shows in Santa Rosa and San Francisco when Naso picked her up. The path would have taken her right by Naso's home at the time.

Naso also kept a "list of 10" -- what prosecutors call his "dump list" of where he put the bodies. They say Sara Dylan appears to be No. 8.

"List of 10"
1. Girl near Heldsburg Mendocino Co.
2. Girl near Port Costa
3. Girl near Loganitas
4. Girl on Mt. Tam
5. Girl from Miami near Down Peninsula
6. Girl from Berkeley
7. Lady from 839 Leavenworth
8. Girl in Woodland (near Nevada County)
9. Girl from Linda (Yuba County)
10. Girl from MRSV (Cemetery)

It's almost too much to handle for Sara's friends.

"It's more than sad though because it's a nightmare and horror story as well, you know, sad would be a relief," Gubitz said.

"She became part of my life at one point and she's gone already, it's like 'Blowing in the Wind,' you know," Gilliam said.

Gubitz is scheduled to testify for the prosecution in August. The district attorney in Nevada County says he's waiting to see how the Marin trial turns out, to decide whether to charge Naso with killing Sara Dylan.

Dylan's parents both died last year, before the DNA test. They never knew their daughter's remains were found 15 years ago.


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