In 1958, Leno LaBianca met Rosemary while she was working as a waitress. The two fell in love and were married in 1960 in Carmel, California. In 1968 Leno bought the home at 3301 Waverly Drive that he had grown up in from his mother and settled in with Rosemary and her son, Frank.
In the summer of 1969, a number of odd occurrences frightened the LaBiancas. The couple noticed when they returned from being away, items from their home were missing and their dogs were outside the house when they had been left inside. It was later learned that Manson and the Family had creepy-crawled several houses in the area while the residents were away.
Charles Manson’s Waverly Drive Backstory
1966. While incarcerated at Terminal Island Prison Charles Manson met flamboyant producer Phil Kaufman. After Kaufman’s release from prison he hooked up with Manson. Kaufman spent most of his time crashing at the house of his friend, Harold True. Manson regularly visited Kaufman there, Manson even stayed a week at Harold’s house. Harold lived at 3267 Waverly Drive. The next door neighbors at 3301 Waverly Drive were Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.
On August 9, 1969, the LaBiancas, along with Rosemary’s daughter, Suzan, drove to Lake Isabella to pick up Rosemary’s son Frank, who was spending a week vacationing with a friend. Frank was having such a good time that the LaBiancas decided to let him stay another day. At around 9 p.m., Leno, Rosemary and Suzan left Lake Isabella and headed back to Los Angeles. Around 1 p.m., the LaBiancas arrived in Los Angeles. After dropping off Suzan at her apartment, they stopped at a newsstand. Leno, a regular customer, was recognized by the newsstand owner, who readied a copy of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. They briefly discussed the Tate murders. Talk of the Tate murders disturbed Rosemary. After arriving home, Rosemary retired to her bedroom, while Leno fell asleep in the living room while reading the sports page.
In the early morning hours of August 10, 1969, Manson and Watson entered the LaBianca house. They awoke Leno LaBianca at gunpoint and tied his hands. Leno was then asked if there was anyone else in the house. He told them that his wife was in the bedroom. Manson went to the bedroom and awoke Rosemary. Manson and Watson reassured the couple that they wouldn’t be hurt, and were just being robbed. After collecting all the cash in the house, Manson ordered Watson to take Rosemary back to her bedroom where Watson placed a pillowcase over her head, wound a lamp cord around her head, and gagged her. He told her to stay quiet and remain in the room. Watson returned to the living room and Manson then left the house. Manson then send Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel to the residence.
Watson began stabbing Leno repeatedly, only stopping briefly when Leno started screaming. Rosemary, hearing her husband screams, began screaming and flailing around the room. Krenwinkel and Van Houten called Watson for help. Watson left the badly bleeding Leno in the living room and entered the bedroom to find Rosemary swinging the lamp still attached to the cord used to gag her. Watson, Krenwinkel and Van Houten then stabbed Rosemary to death. Rosemary was stabbed 41 times.
Leno was still alive when Watson came back to the living room and the stabbing resumed. After Watson finished stabbing Leno one of the family members carved the word “WAR” into Leno’s stomach. Krenwinkel then stabbed him a number of times and left a carving fork protruding from his stomach and a steak knife from his throat. The girls then wrote messages in Leno’s blood. “Death to pigs” and “Rise” were written on the living room wall, and “Healter Skelter” (they mispronounced Helter Skelter) was written on the refrigerator door.
After the murders the Family members remained at the house. Some ate food from the LaBianca’s refrigerator, played with the couple’s dogs and showered before hitchhiking back to Spahn Ranch.
Suzan LaBerge, Rosemary LaBianca’s daughter, has been one of Watson’s closest friends behind bars after bonding over their shared beliefs as born-again Christians. She visits, writes and has even advocated for his release.
Coincidence (or not)
Before the murders Suzan LaBerge and Watson lived an estimated 200 feet apart in nearby apartments in Los Angeles for six months prior to Watson’s move into Spahn Ranch. Suzan’s then boyfriend was a member of the motorcycle gang Straight Satans that often visited Spahn Ranch. Manson Family member Danny DeCarlo also was a member of the Straight Satans.
More on Suzan LaBerge: Flirt with danger (New York Post)