Joseph Nissensohn

Joseph Nissensohn was convicted in 2013 of the 1981 murders of Tammy Jarschke, 13, and Tanya Jones, 14, along with the 1989 murder of a South Lake Tahoe girl, 15-year-old Kathy Graves.

On Sept. 9, 1981, a team of woodcutters found Tanya’s decomposed body tied with electrical wire to a tree about a mile off Tassajara Road on Chews Ridge, Monterey County, California. Sheriff’s deputies combing the area for evidence found Tammy’s remains nearby.

Nine years later, Nissensohn’s estranged wife, Cheryl Rose, showed up in a Florida battered women’s shelter. She told police her husband had killed a woman in Tacoma, Wash. She agreed to testify in exchange for immunity. The next year, Nissensohn was convicted of killing Sally Jo Tsaggaris, 46, during drug-fueled, bondage-style sex in a van.

Rose testified that she believed Nissensohn was responsible for many earlier murders, including two in Oklahoma and one in Nevada. She described the disappearance of Kathy Graves in South Lake Tahoe three months after the Tacoma murder.

Rose also told investigators about a killing that matched details of the Chews Ridge slayings. Nissensohn was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the Tacoma murder, but in 2008, after serving 15 years, he was about to be let out with credits for good behavior.

Monterey and South Lake Tahoe’s El Dorado County filed charges and combined all three murders to be tried at the same time. Authorities found Jessie Prieto, Nissensohn’s best friend. Prieto agreed to cooperate and said he and his friend were with Tammy and Tanya on June 25, 1981, and that Nissensohn told him he wanted to take the girls to Chews Ridge and rape them. But Prieto died before the case ever made it to trial. Cheryl Rose, who was in poor health, was barely able to testify in a 2010 preliminary hearing, and died five months later. However,  prosecutor Dale Gomes was able to submit Rose’s testimony transcript as evidence at trial. A jailhouse informant informant testified that Nissensohn confessed to killing Tammy and Tanya.

Just before Nissensohn was sentenced in 1991, he contacted police, and told them  in an interview that he did not kill Sally Jo Tsaggaris or Kathy Graves, claiming that his wife, Cheryl Rose, killed them, and he just hid the body of Tsaggaris. The long interview, which was taped, was played for the jury. Nissensohn told two offices that he was a scapegoat for Rose, who had killed Sally. He only helped get rid of the body, he said. The first murder trial was a conspiracy against him, he said, involving Rose, who testified in exchange for immunity, and his defense counsel, who offered no defense and simply rested their case without so much as calling a witness. Because he was about to be sentenced and likely extradited to California for the murder of Graves, he wanted to strike a deal himself. Nissensohn said on the tape that he met Rose in a motel and of their wild life of drugs and sex, with Rose bringing home “beautiful women” to “party” with and play “sexual games,” while he brought in drugs. One day, he came back from getting drugs to find Tsaggaris stabbed to death, but didn’t go to the police. Instead, he helped get rid of the body. “I know Cheryl did it,” Nissensohn said on the tape. “I came back to that van and that girl was dead. Cheryl did it. I had nothing to worry about … I sat there and heard it for a day and a half after my lawyer stuck it to me by going, ‘Defense rests.’ Guilty of second-degree murder. And all I did was help get rid of the body. Guilty of second-degree murder. I didn’t do it.

The defense called a witness who testified that her ex-husband killed Tammy and Tanya.

The defense called Brian Jarvis of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office to the stand. Jarvis, now retired, was part of interviews with Rose, which were played via audio and shown on video. Though the interviews from 1990 were nearly unintelligible, the jury was provided a transcript, and Jarvis was questioned after each segment.

The defense asked questions concerning answers Rose had given, showing she changed answers over time. Between the 1990 interviews and a 2007 interview, she changed her story of the last time she saw Kathy Graves, a South Lake Tahoe teenager Nissensohn is accused of killing. First, she said she saw the girl leaving to hitchhike to find a job; then, she last saw the girl as Nissensohn led her into the hills of the forest, after they had stopped their van. Nissensohn allegedly wanted sex, and when denied by the girl, killed her.

She also changed her story of what Nissensohn had carried into the woods. Originally, she said it was a quilt. Then, she changed her story to a bag of sex toys that also had a kitchen knife — what she said Nissensohn used to kill Graves and Tsaggaris.

News Reports


6 thoughts on “Joseph Nissensohn”

  1. Ira Gilmore told me he killed two girls at Chews Ridge in Carmel Valley, California. He told me he raped & murdered them with a man named Jesse Prieto who Ira didn’t even know that I knew. Jesse was friends with my Uncle Charles Wesley Rider. Jesse raped my Cousin Tosha Djirbandee.& he also sold drugs and would hang out in my Grandmothers Mary Rider’s back yard & in the garage. Ira raped me and he choked me to death and he did mouth to mouth resuscitation on me to bring me back to life. When I came back he had his mouth open over my mouth and nose completely and was blowing extremely hard into me and it hurt badly He must have beat hard on my left breast as it was completely black and my neck had bruises from his hands choking me. The next time he choked me and put a pillow over my face. Two weeks later the bruises remained and I went to an appointment and a professional with another professional witnessed this while one measured the bruises with a special instrument. This is the person I went to the police department with to tell them. I never saw Jesse come to the Ira’s house when I lived with Ira & his Mother Mary Dee Gilmore. He also said they tied the girls to a tree and he told me how it’s easy to abduct people & how he does it! I know more!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi this is my uncle who I have never met or spoken to. I constantly do research on him because I can’t fathom how someone from family could be such a monster but if this is true what you say I would like to speak with you please reply to this if you receive this notification thank you

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m sorry Adam, this must be hard for you to accept. I can’t imagine the feeling. Please read my post below for some actual personal observations. You aren’t responsible for your family.


  2. His wife killed the girls? Really? Did she rape them too with her female penis? Give me a break. This guy is as guilty as the day is long. You would have to be a moron to think Joseph Nissensohn is not your guy. Add to it that his only alibi was to blame it on his dying wife…which is a classic move by most psychopaths. Joe never took the blame, pawned it off on others his whole life and then got caught. End of story. He is precisely where he needs to be with the rest of the lot on DR.


  3. His name showing on this site sickens me. I had the “pleasure” of working with Joe, and I remember Cheryl as well. I worked with him in Lake Tahoe, the summer he killed Kathy Graves.

    They were both (Joe & Cheryl) complete dirtbags, often trying to recruit other co-workers to join them in their van for drugs and group sex.

    This was at a restaurant that I worked for many years, sometimes seasonally. That particular summer I arrived and the GM asked me to be night shift manager. This meant Joe was on my shift. My immediate reaction to the guy was that he made my skin crawl. Some other employees seemed to be ok with him and the customers seemed to actually like him. He was very much an ass kisser. I could see through him from the start. Our drawers were $50-100 short virtually every shift he worked and generally balanced when he did not.

    He quickly left town before summer ended, without notice. I remember shortly after he left town I went into Grand Auto, and noticed a big sign above the register “Do NOT accept checks from Joseph Nissenshon!!!”

    I know none of these things alone is enough to prove or indicate that he is a murderer, let alone serial killer. But I can tell you everything about the guy was sleazy. Cheryl seemed to not be all there, I think he kept her as a useful tool. Joe was dark, very dark. When the stories started hitting the news, I was not the least bit surprised. He fit the sociopath profile to a T.


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