Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary LaBianca were victims of the Charles Manson murders.
Leno was a grocery store owner, and Rosemary was also a successful businesswoman. They lived in the Los Angeles suburb of Los Feliz. On August 9, 1969, they had vacationed for the day at Lake Isabella, and returned home the night following the Sharon Tate murders. They were last seen alive when they stopped on their way home to buy fuel. Rosemary also bought a newspaper, its front page detailing the murders on Cielo Drive at Roman Polanski's Beverly Hills residence. The attendant testified later that Rosemary particularly had been very concerned and anxious as she read about the murders and briefly discussed this with the attendant.
The following night, on August 10, 1969, Rosemary's 15 year old son Frank Struthers became concerned when neither his mother or step father answered the door. After contacting his older sister Suzanne Struthers and her boyfriend, the three, upon arriving at the home, became further worried by the fact that Leno's boat was parked on the street instead of the driveway. They felt this to be out of Leno's character, and entered the house. Inside the kitchen they saw the words "Healter Skealter" written in what appeared to be blood on the front of the refrigerator. In the living room they found Leno, bound and gagged, and stabbed to death. Rosemary was found, also stabbed to death, in the master bedroom.
Charles Manson, Charles 'Tex' Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten were charged with these murders after a lengthy investigation. Susan Atkins, charged with the Tate murders, provided testimony before a Grand Jury.
Her testimony, borne out by police investigations and corroborated by other "Family" members, stated that Manson had been critical of the way in the which the Cielo Drive murders had been carried out. The people were allowed to know they were to be murdered and this resulted in panic. He took personal charge of setting up the murders the following night, to ensure the victims would be easily restrained and compliant, and that there would be no panic.
Driving to Los Angeles, he stopped at several houses before considering each in turn to be unsuitable. Remembering a house in Los Feliz, where he had attended parties, he recalled that a neighboring house was somewhat isolated from the rest of the neighborhood. He directed Watson to drive there, and entered the house himself. He assured the two occupants that they were to be robbed but not harmed, and tied them up. He then came back to the remaining "Family" members waiting outside and instructed Watson, Krenwinkel and Van Houten to go inside and kill the couple.
The two females took Rosemary LaBianca into her bedroom, while Watson stayed in the living room with Leno. Rosemary began to scream when she heard her husband being killed and at that point, Krenwinkel and Van Houten stabbed her to death.
Manson, Watson, Krenwinkel and Van Houten were found guilty of these murders. Van Houten was not charged in connection to the Tate murders, but the remaining defendants, along with Susan Atkins (who had not entered the LaBianca residence) were found guilty of the Tate murders. Each received a death sentence, but this was commuted to life in prison for each person, when the State of California temporarily abolished the death penalty.
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