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A Glimpse of Accused Serial Killer’s Life in Piedmont 30 Years Ago

Joe Naso was a sports fan, photographer and antique bottle collector, according to a friend of his son.

When he lived in Piedmont three decades ago, Joe Naso was a photographer and sports fan who would organize family trips to beaches to add to his family’s collection of antique bottles, according to someone who was childhood friends with accused serial killer's sons.

Naso, now accused of the murders of four Northern California women from the 1970s through the 1990s, lived in a house on Oakland Avenue, near the busy intersection of Grand Avenue in Piedmont, in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

One gets a sense of the family back then—Judy and Joe Naso and their sons, David and Charlie — in an interview with a childhood friend of David’s. That friend asked for anonymity in granting interviews with Piedmont Patch.

The childhood friend is troubled by the news he has heard this month about Joe Naso and troubled that he has fallen out of touch with the family over the years.

“I’m worried about the family,” said the source.

on four counts of murder of women with alliterative names (the same letter beginning the first and last names); their bodies were found in Fairfax, Marin County; Port Costa, Contra Costa County; and two in Yuba County. The Marin County case involved Roxene Roggasch, an 18-year-old Oakland woman whose body was found on Jan. 11, 1977, in Fairfax.

Marin County deputies arrested Naso April 11 at the El Dorado County Jail as he was being released on a probation violation in South Lake Tahoe. 

Naso apparently had no criminal record in Piedmont. Piedmont Police Chief John Hunt III said police had no record of contact with Naso. Hunt said the city had no unsolved homicides from that time.

The descriptions and quotes below come from a telephone and email interview of the Patch source, who lives out of state.

The source moved to a Piedmont house a couple of blocks away from the Nasos in the 1970s and was a classmate of David Naso at Beach Elementary School.

He said he never felt afraid of Joe Naso. “He was kind of passive … I never saw him lose his temper or yell at his kids … One thing that I remember that I thought was unusual is that David and Charlie would sometimes talk back to him and he would never discipline them.”

The source once accompanied the family on a trip to the beach (he thinks it was at Point Reyes) to dig for antique bottles for the family’s collection.

Joe Naso had a good sense of humor, the source remembers.

Joe Naso was not very athletic and would not play ball with the boys in the yard. However, they all liked to watch Oakland Raider games in the Naso home, and the source accompanied Joe and the boys to baseball card shows.

The source remembers Joe Naso showing him pictures he had taken of 1970s Oakland Raider running back Pete Banaszak and his family. The source did not know where Joe Naso had a photo studio.

Joe helped the boys film some scenes at Jack London Square in Oakland for a movie they were making.

Joe Naso had a bigger and stronger brother, Toby, who would come around occasionally and seemed to dominate Joe. The source thought Joe Naso had low self-esteem.

The Naso family used to attend St. Leo’s Roman Catholic Church near Piedmont Avenue.

The source thinks Joe and Judy got divorced around 1980. He remembers seeing Joe Naso in the parking lot of the Payless store in Rockridge around that time and Joe telling him that was working at Payless.

“I just can’t believe what I have been reading about him in the last week,” the source said.

Drew Lillie April 24, 2011 at 04:25 AM
Interesting that the first murder for which Joe Naso is charged took place right around the time of the Raiders' big win over the Vikings in Super Bowl XI on Jan. 9, 1977. Given the Nasos' apparent fondness for the Raiders, I wonder how that factored into what was going on with Joe Naso at the time. The body of the first woman he's accused of murdering was found just two days after the Super Bowl, on Jan. 11, 1977.
Debbi DiMaggio April 24, 2011 at 02:45 PM
I grew up with the Naso boys and my heart goes out to them.

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