Dean On Accused Serial Killer Joseph Nasso: A Connection To The Hillside Strangler


Dean On Accused Serial Killer Joseph Nasso: A Connection To The Hillside Strangler

Accused serial killer Joseph Nasso is expected to plea not guilty to multiple murder charges today.

Here is some background that I found to be interesting (to say the least):

The case has drawn a great deal of attention because the four murders of which Nasso is accused appear to have a unique signature. All the victims have “double initial” names. Thus, some people have referred to Nasso as the “alphabet killer” or the “alliteration killer.”

Nasso spent his early life in Rochester, N.Y. and returned there frequently during the ’70’s. In the early 1970’s, there were three “double initial” murders in Rochester. Because of the Rochester connection and the unique signature, Rochester police have looked at Nasso as a suspect in those unsolved murders.

In 1936, the mystery writer Agatha Christie published a novel called The ABC Murders. In the novel, a serial killer commits three murders. All three victims have double initials. The victim’s bodies were left in cities whose names started with the same letter as the victims’ initials. Thus, Alice Ascher’s body was left in Andover, Betty Barnard’s body was found at Bexhill-on-Sea, and Sir Carmichael Clarke was found at Churston.

In the Rochester murders, the killer followed Christie’s scenario “to the letter.” Thus:

-Carmen Colon, 10, was found strangled in November of 1971 in Churchville

–Wanda Walkowicz, 11, was found in April, 1973 in Webster and

-Michelle Maenza, 11, was in Macedon.

The first two California murders in which Nasso is a suspect follow the same scenario:

-Carmen Colon (whose name is identical to the one of the Rochester victims) was found in 1978 in Port Costa, in Contra Costa County.

-Roxene Roggasch was found in 1977. The press usually report that her body was found in Fairfax, but, in fact, the location of the body was just outside Fairfax in an area known as Ross Valley.

The last two California murders do not entirely fit the scenario:

-Pamela Parsons was found in 1993 in Yuba County. I have not been able to find any information indicating that the name of the town or location where she was found began with a “P.”.

-Tracy Tafoya was found in 1994 in Marysville. Again, I have found no indication that the location where she was found started with a “T.”

The Rochester police have another suspect in the Rochester killings. This person was a native of Rochester who lived in Rochester at the time of the alphabet murders. He worked as an ice cream vendor, and, so, had ready access to young children. He sold ice cream from two sites that were close to the scene of the first two alphabet murders. This same person moved to California in 1977, the year of the first California alphabet murder. He was arrested and put in prison in 1978. The alphabet murders in California stopped in 1978, and did not begin again until nearly 20 years later.

The person’s name is Kenneth Bianchi. When he moved to California he teamed up with his cousin, Angelo Buono. Together, they were known as the Hillside Stranglers. The victims in the alphabet murders in both Rochester and California were girls or young women. They were sexually abused and strangled. The Hillside Stranglers’ victims were girls and young women with ages ranging from 12-28. They were sexually abused and, as the killers’ names suggest, their victims were strangled.

Bianchi remains as a suspect in the Rochester killings. He has repeatedly denied responsibility for the killings and has demanded that he be taken off the list of suspects.

According to the Rochester police, Joseph Nasso has been eliminated as a suspect in at least one of the Rochester murders, that of Wanda Walkowicz. It is reported that there was nothing found during searches of Nasso’s home that would link him to the Rochester murders.

Bianchi could not have committed the most recent California murders, those of Tafoya and Parsons, because he was in prison when these crimes occurred.

The bottom line is that, from what we presently know, it appears that no one person could be responsible for all seven murders. But, the connection seems to be too much for coincidence. Bianchi was practically unique as a serial killer in that he worked with another man as a part of a team. Could Nasso have been his original partner? Could one have been a mentor for the other? Is one a copycat killer?

Only time will tell. We are at the very early stages of this case. Law enforcement is, wisely, keeping the details of their evidence out of the media. Nasso is presumed innocent of all the charges unless and until prosecutors prove otherwise in court. But, expect this story to take some bizarre twists and turns before it is done.

One last thought: in The ABC Murders, Agatha Christie’s ace detective, Hercule Poirot, solved the crime and the killer was arrested and charged. The strongest evidence against the killer was evidence that had been found in the killer’s home. In the last chapter, it was revealed that Poirot, for the first and only time in his career, got the wrong guy.



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