Key witness in case against an alleged serial killer dies |

Key witness in case against an alleged serial killer dies

Adam Jensen

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – The death of a key witness in the triple murder case against Joseph Nissensohn will not be a critical detriment to the prosecution, El Dorado County Deputy District Attorney Dale Gomes said Friday.

Cheryl Rose, 52, was found dead in her Ocala, Fla. home on July 6, according to an article in the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Rose had serious health problems and was prescribed numerous medications at the time of her death, according to the article. The Marion County Sheriff’s Office is awaiting toxicology results to determine whether she could have died from an overdose, according to the article.

Rose was one of the ex-wives of Joseph Nissensohn, the man El Dorado County prosecutors have charged with the 1989 killing of South Lake Tahoe 15-year-old Kathy Graves and the 1981 slayings of Seaside teenagers Tammy Jarschke and Tonya Jones.

Rose’s February testimony during a preliminary hearing in South Lake Tahoe will be read to the jury during an upcoming trial, Gomes said. A trial date has not yet been scheduled.

Rose was a compelling witness and “it would be much better if she was alive,” Gomes said.

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But the absence of Rose will not break the case against Nissensohn, Gomes added.

During the preliminary hearing, Rose testified she waited in a van while Nissensohn took Graves into the woods to smoke marijuana and have sex. Nissensohn returned alone, Rose said.

Hikers found a skull believed to be Graves’ near the intersection of Highway 89 and the road leading to Mt. Tallac Trailhead on Aug. 22, 1990.

Rose was also a witness to the stabbing of Sally Jo Tsaggaris in Washington state in 1989. Nissensohn was convicted of the 2nd degree murder of Tsaggaris in 1991.

Nissensohn has alleged Rose killed both Tsaggaris and Graves.

The District Attorney’s Office has yet to reach a decision on whether it will pursue the death penalty against Nissensohn, but the alleged serial killer has been assigned a second attorney in anticipation the matter will become a capital case, Gomes said.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 31.湵