SAN FRANCISCO — A man charged in four killings that have gained national attention because of similarities in the victim's initials had set his focus on an apartment neighbor 30 years ago, an upstate New York couple said Saturday.
Margaret Prisco and Thaddeus Iorizzo said a detective contacted them last fall saying that Joseph Naso — who lived downstairs from the couple in a San Francisco apartment building in the early 1980s — wrote in graphic detail about torturing a then 23-year-old Prisco.
"It's disconcerting. When you're that age, living in San Francisco, you don't have your guard up and thinking that someone is after you," Prisco, 53, told the Associated Press on Saturday from her home in New York.
"It never occurred that someone was stalking me," Prisco said.
Iorizzo, also, 53, added, "Well, I knew he was a whack job, but imagine someone wanting to kill your soul mate?"
The San Francisco Chronicle first reported Saturday that the couple said Det. William Thurston of the Nevada State Police told them Naso —whom they called "Crazy Joe" — had apparently filled three notebooks describing how he wanted to torment Prisco.
Iorizzo said the details were so graphic that Thurston didn't want to repeat them on the phone. He said the documents included a "to-do" list of women Naso wanted to kill. Prisco's name was No. 10. Iorizzo said Thurston also told him a copy of the couple's rental agreement was among Naso's documents.
Calls to Thurston were not immediately returned Saturday.
The evidence was among writings and photographs found in Naso's home in Reno, Nev., after he violated his probation for a theft conviction last April. It sparked a yearlong investigation leading authorities to charge Naso this week with murdering four women in Northern California from 1977 to 1994.
Naso, 77, did not enter a plea Wednesday as a Marin County judge postponed his arraignment until April 27 while the court determines who will represent him. Prosecutors noted that Naso has up to $1 million in assets, which could allow him to hire a private lawyer.
The four victims — Roxene Roggasch, Carmen Colon, Pamela Parsons and Tracy Tafoya — had identical first and last initials. Authorities have released few details about the cases, which all involve women whose bodies were found in Northern California with little trace of their assailant.
But their names alone already bear an eerie resemblance to the notorious "double initial murders" in the Rochester, N.Y., area in the 1970s. The victims there were three young girls with alliterative names. And one of them also was named Carmen Colon.
Prisco told the Associated Press on Saturday that she has always gone by Margaret and was sometimes called Maggie and Margo, but not Peggy.
The couple, now married with two teenage sons, has been following Naso's case on the Internet.
Prisco, now a computer programmer, said she didn't have much interaction with Naso, but that Iorizzo remembers clearly.
"Each time I crossed paths with him the hair on the back of my neck would stand up," Iorizzo said. "You'd get a real creepy feeling. He was pure evil.
"I'd say to myself, 'Stay away from this guy. He's nuts.' "
Iorizzo recalls one day at the trash bin when Naso was dumping two stacks of pornographic magazines featuring photos of women in bondage and being tortured.
"He kept saying, 'This isn't mine, this isn't mine,' " Iorizzo said. "So, after he left, I untied the bundles, looked at the photos and said, 'This is disgusting! Who would look at stuff like that?' "
Iorizzo also recalled practicing his bass guitar one afternoon. Iorizzo said Naso came out of the building dressed in his underwear, holding a bottle of tequila and screaming for whoever was playing to stop.
Iorizzo said he opened up his window and told him it was the middle of the day.
"He yelled, 'I'll kill you!' I'll kill you!" Iorizzo said. "I told him, 'Yeah, bring it on Joe! You'll be seeing stars!' I had a Louisville Slugger with Harmon Killebrew's autograph on it waiting for him."
Sergio Rangel, who has lived in the apartment building since the mid-1970s, told the Chronicle that he remembers the couple. Rangel told the newspaper that he also remembers Naso, whom he called "berserk" and said had a drinking problem.
Rangel declined to talk to the Associated Press on Saturday.
Iorizzo said Saturday he recalled telling Rangel back then that if he ever had any problems with Naso to, "Let me know. We'll take care of him."
"How can you forget a guy who's threatened your life?" Iorizzo said. "That's something that stays with you."
Prisco said she's curious to see the notebooks written by Naso and whether she can bear to read the alleged graphic details.
"It would set my mind more at ease to see if there was a threat," Prisco said. "Maybe it will offer some closure. You don't know the darkness of the human heart until you hear something like this."