Alphabet murders

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The Alphabet Killer
Other namesThe Double Initial Killer
Span of crimes
November 16, 1971–November 26, 1973
CountryUnited States
State(s)New York, California (possible)

The Alphabet murders (also known as the double initial murders) occurred in the 1970s in the Rochester, New York, area and possibly in Los Angeles, California.

New York alphabet murders[edit]

Three young girls were raped and strangled in the Rochester, New York area.

The case received its name from the fact that each of the girls' first and last names started with the same letter. Furthermore, each body was found in a town that had a name starting with the same letter as the victim's name:

Investigators have theorized that a series of killings with similar circumstances in California, in the late 1970s, is connected to these three murders.

Although hundreds of people were questioned, the killer was never caught. One man, considered to be a person of interest (he committed suicide six weeks after the last of the murders) was cleared in 2007 by DNA profiling.[1]

In the case of Carmen Colon, her uncle was also considered a suspect until his suicide in 1991.[2]

Another suspect was Kenneth Bianchi, who at the time was an ice cream vendor in Rochester, New York, vending from sites close to the first two murder scenes. He was a Rochester native who later moved to Los Angeles and, with his cousin Angelo Buono, Jr., committed the Hillside Strangler murders between 1977 and 1978.[3]

Bianchi was never charged with the alphabet murders, and he has repeatedly tried to have investigators officially clear him of suspicion. However, there is circumstantial evidence that his car may have been seen at two of the murder scenes.


  • Carmen Colon, 10, disappeared November 16, 1971. She was found two days later in Riga, New York, near Churchville, 12 miles from where she was last seen.[4]
  • Michelle Maenza, 11, disappeared November 26, 1973. She was found two days later in Macedon, New York, 15 miles from Rochester.
  • Wanda Walkowicz, 11, disappeared April 2, 1973. She was found the next day at a rest area off State Route 104 in Webster, New York, 7 miles from Rochester.

California alphabet murders[edit]

On April 11, 2011, 77-year-old Joseph Naso, a New York native who lived in Rochester, New York, during the 1970s, was arrested in Reno, Nevada, for four murders in California (in 1977, 1978, 1993, and 1994). He was a professional photographer who had traveled between New York and California extensively for decades.[5][6][7][8][9]

All four of the murdered women were described by authorities as sex workers.[5][6]

Naso was a person of interest in the Rochester, New York, alphabet murders, but his DNA did not match samples taken from those victims.[10]

During the investigation authorities discovered a "List of 10", which they believed to be the locations (nine in California and one in Florida) of where Naso had buried the victims' bodies.[11]

On January 12, 2012, in his preliminary hearing in Marin County, California, his alleged "rape diary" was entered into evidence. It mentioned the death of a girl in the "Buffalo woods," a possible allusion to Upstate New York.[12]

On June 18, 2013, Naso was tried for the murder of the four California alphabet murder victims.[13] On August 20, 2013, Naso was convicted by a Marin County jury of the murders. On November 22, 2013, Naso was sentenced to death for the murders.[14]


The California murder victims, like the New York victims, had double initials.

  • Carmen Colon (not the Rochester, New York, victim of the same name)
  • Pamela Parsons
  • Roxene Roggasch, 18, was found dead on January 11, 1977, on the side of a road near Fairfax, California
  • Tracy Tofoya

In the media[edit]

  • In 2001, the Discovery Channel aired a program revisiting the murders.[15]
  • A 2008 film titled The Alphabet Killer was very loosely based on the murders.[16]
  • In 2010, a book titled Alphabet Killer: The True Story of the Double Initial Murders was released by author Cheri Farnsworth.[17][18]
  • On April 1, 2011, the AMC network aired a short documentary titled Countdown to the Killing: The Alphabet Murders.[19]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Double Initial DNA Test Clears Man, R News, February 21, 2007. Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Cawthorne, Nigel (2007). The Mammoth Book of Killers at Large. UK: Robinson. p. 209. ISBN 978-1-84529-631-5.
  3. ^ Craig, Gary (March 2, 2009). "Serial killer Bianchi denies he is 'double initial' slayer". Democrat and Chronicle. Rochester: Gannett. p. 6A. Retrieved March 2, 2009. Bianchi was a suspect in the double initial killings because he lived in Rochester in the early 1970s and was a security guard.
  4. ^ Craig, Gary (March 1, 2009). "'Double initial' murders remain mystery after 35 years". Democrat and Chronicle. Rochester: Gannett. pp. 1A, 8A. Retrieved March 2, 2009. Two days later, her crumpled body was found in a gully, lying against a rock, along an infrequently traveled road in the town of Riga, near the Chili border.
  5. ^ a b Justin Berton (July 7, 2011). "Joseph Naso now wants an attorney for murder trial". Retrieved August 20, 2011.
  6. ^ a b Henry K. Lee (June 17, 2011). "Slaying suspect Joseph Naso kept notes on victims". Retrieved August 20, 2011.
  7. ^ Dearen, Jason; Scott Sonner (April 13, 2011). "What's in a name? It may link Calif, NY cold cases". The Salem News. A.P. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
  8. ^ CNN Wire Staff (April 12, 2011). "77-year-old man charged in four slayings dating to 1977". CNN Justice. CNN. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
  9. ^ Dearen, Jason; Scott Sonner. "Eerie similarites [sic] noted in NY, Calif. cold cases". NBC News. A.P. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
  10. ^ McGreal, Chris (May 26, 2012). "Has the alphabet murderer finally been caught?". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved October 5, 2017.
  11. ^ Strange, Hannah (November 23, 2013). "Joseph Naso sentenced to death for California's 'Alphabet Murders'". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
  12. ^ Dillon, Nancy (January 12, 2012). "Joseph Naso, suspected serial killer, kept rape diary: authorities". New York Times. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
  13. ^ "Accused 'Double Initial' serial killer Joseph Naso, on trial for killing four prostitutes, claims he is not the 'monster' prosecutors say he is". Daily News (New York). Mortimer Zuckerman. June 18, 2013. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
  14. ^ Klein, Gary (November 22, 2013). "Marin judge sentences Joseph Naso to death row for murders of six women". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
  15. ^ Murder Reopened—The Alphabet Killer @ Yahoo! TV
  16. ^ The Alphabet Killer on IMDb
  17. ^ Gary, Craig. "New book delves deeper into Rochester unsolved Double Initial murders". Democrat and Chronicle. Retrieved September 7, 2010.
  18. ^ Cheri, Farnsworth (2010). Alphabet Killer: The True Story of the Double Initial Murders. Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-0-8117-0632-2.
  19. ^ Countdown to The Killing: Alphabet Murders Archived April 12, 2011, at the Wayback Machine @ AMC (TV channel) TV

External links[edit]