NOTE: THIS IS NOT MEANT TO BE A CHARACTER ASSASSINATION OF ROSEMARY LABIANCA OR ANY OF THE VICTIMS OF THIS TRAGEDY. BUT, LIKE ANY GOOD DETECTIVE, WE NEED TO BUILD A CASE TO GET TO THE BAD GUYS. THE NOTATIONS HERE ABOUT ROSEMARY ARE MERELY PRESENTED AS A MEANS TO THE END … AND HOPEFULLY, THE TRUTH.
DISCLAIMER: WE WILL DELETE ANY COMMENTS THAT ARE NOT SENSIBLY AND SENSITIVELY PRESENTED.
As we think about everyone we've ever known (relatives, friends, and work) do we know a single average American family who had any one of the following incidents happen in their lives? Yet, they all happened to the LaBianca family:
A son who was arrested for Grand Theft - the only crime he was caught for? Probably.
A daughter who was arrested for credit card fraud (again, probably more but the only thing she was caught at), terrorized her mother, and later her step-father's family to the point that after a phone call from her after the murders, they fled their family home and never returned - confirmed by Alice, Cory, and Anthony LaBianca.
A future son-in-law who was in a dangerous motorcycle club, Satan Slaves, dealt drugs, & had a lengthy rap sheet.
A father who was friends with the mafia, skimming money from his own company, gambled heavily, and had numerous dummy corps to hide his funds and tax shelters.
A mother who led a double life.
A family home that was burglarized on numerous occasions before and leading up to … murder.
Rosemary's Double Life:
From numerous close friends and ex-husbands, Rosemary was gay or at the very least, a bi-sexual who seemingly married the men in her life for capital gain (see the second Labianca homicide report).
From her first husband, Henry Martin, we know that while she was with him, she was also having an affair with Charles LaBerge. She becomes pregnant by LaBerge, but moves in with the wealthier Martin until Suzan is born.
While Martin is away on business in Alaska, Rosemary takes off with all of their possessions, their 2 cars, and a valuable coin collection - Martin doesn't file charges because he still loves her. Two years later (and probably broke) she contacts Martin and asks forgiveness. They move in together for the next year - but the whole time they're together she's having an affair with Reba Gage and Charles LaBerge - both of whom she continues having affairs with while married to Frank Struthers - AND, while still living with Martin, she starts having her affair with Struthers (see the second Labianca homicide report).
Rosemary jilts Martin at the last minute and moves in with Struthers and later marries him while still having an affair with Gage.
Then comes Leno who, at the time of their meeting was relatively wealthy and stood to inherit a great deal when his mother passed away.
While married to Leno, Rosemary is still sleeping with Frank Struthers and Reba Gage. After the murders, Frank Sr. tells police that Frank Jr will becoming into a large inheritance from his mother. Later, Frank Sr. accuses Suzan LaBerge of ripping off Frank Jr in his inheritance.
It is alleged that at the time Suzan had emptied out the house and, before the police could get to it, a safe at Gateway Markets and then threatened any of Leno's family members that got in her way. Some members of her family believe that Suzan had a hand in the murders.
While married to Leno, Rosemary seems to try a lot of get rich quick routes. She gets her real estate license, her insurance license, opens a dress shop, and eventually begins getting into real estate, stocks, and securities.
People assume that Leno's financial troubles were due to gambling. Others believe that Rosemary bled him dry by spending lavishly, buying a house that was beyond their means (Working Way) and eventually having him invest in real estate, stocks, and securities and forming dummy corps to hide their funds and avoid taxes (see the second Labianca homicide report).
While Leno's getting poorer, Rosemary may be getting richer and hiding the money from Leno in secret accounts.
To avoid financial ruin, Leno sells the house on Working Way at a large profit and buys the family home on Waverly. With that money he continues to make bad real estate investments - Myca Corp and a Riverside Parcel investment scam. And, begins skimming off money from Gateway.
Leno misappropriated $200,000 from Gateway. They had a combined debt of $30,000 "their properties were extensively mortgaged".
In the mean time, Rosemary is moving out of her truck boutique and into a real store front - and possibly opened at least 2 others and co-owned (good friend) Lucy Larsen's Pet Shop.
During her interview with the police, Lucy tells them that she is friends with another lesbian (Charlene Abernathy AKA Charlie) that Rosemary was probably having an affair with her while married to Leno (see the second Labianca homicide report).
Larsen tells the police that Rosemary was in the real estate and insurance business and played the stock market and had an exclusive interest in commodities.
And, finally, Larsen tells the police that she and Rosemary had long talks about her problems with Suzan and that Rosemary feels threatened by Suzan. Then, Rosemary tells Larsen that "someone has been coming into our house … things have been gone through and the dogs are inside the house when they should be outside and vice versa."
There were reported burglaries of the LaBianca home beginning in 1968. Larsen thinks that one of Rosemary's children were behind them. Rosemary says no.
December 1968 Leno pays off $15,000 of his $200,000 to Gateway and in June 1969 he pays another $30,000 (equivalent to $187,500 in today's standards.)
Yet on June 24, 1969 Leno takes out a $15,000 loan from Hollywood National Bank.
From Peter Desantis (Leno's brother-in-law and partner in Gateway Markets): For all his debt, Leno was about to buy a ranch in Vista, CA for $127,000 - equivalent to about $794,000 in 2012 - and go into the investment business.
Sometime between June & August of 1969, Leno tells his mother that he wants to leave the company and go into the stock business.
Suzan LaBerge moves in and becomes engaged to Joe Dorgan - known felon, drug dealer and a member of the Satan Slaves Motorcycle Club.
April 9, 1969 Letter from Leno to his daughter Cory: "No new burglaries to report here. No new clues either. There's been a plain clothes detective hanging around here occasionally, but I'm beginning to doubt as to whether the "culprits" will ever be caught … I would sure like to get a ranch of our own soon. LA is getting to be a pretty scary place. There are a group of hippies that have taken over Griffith Park and two pot parties have been broken up by the police just next door. That's a little too close for comfort. I have a place priced out in Escondido." - Did he put quotes around culprits because he believed LaBerge was behind them?
Bugliosi says that the LaBianca house on Waverly was vacant at the time Harold True was living next door, but there's possibly a misrepresentation here - the house was probably not vacant, it was still the family home and completely furnished with Leno's family items. It was often visited by Leno and possibly inhabited without consent by Suzan and Joe Dorgan. They possibly got to know the peeps next door (Harold True & friends).
May 21, 1969 Letter from Rosemary to Cory: "We haven't had any more robberies, but every time I come home I expect to either find someone in the house or something missing. I think the police have stopped working on the case and we haven't heard anything from the insurance company.
Conversation between Leno and Peter DeSantis - date unknown but it had to have been in late July or August since this was when Leno was forced to sell his shares of Gateway - "I've got to get out of this town and can't unless I can sell my shares. It's a matter of life and death. I'm asking for my life." Desantis later called him and said they would make arrangements as a "birthday present" (August 6th).
Conversation between Leno and his mother Corrine: "We can't live in that house any longer. We can't sleep and never know when it will be ransacked again. You're the only one who can help me."
Phone call from Cory LaBianca to Leno August 9, 1969 Cory wants to come to Waverly to give Leno his birthday present - Leno tells her: "I don't want any of you to come up to this house. Sue and Frankie are at Lake Isabella and we have to go bring the boat back. We probably won't get back until Sunday."
The above are just the recorded conversations about robberies, ransacking, and safety. Could there be a lot more going on - and an obvious ongoing fear?
Then we find neighbor and bookie, Edward Pierce, AKA Phantom was suspected of being involved in a $600,000 stock swindle. He disappeared from his residence, 2743 Waverly on August 18, 1969. During the IRS investigation into Pierce (he was $100,000 in tax arrears) they found in his residence a collection of foreign coins and off-set minted coins. What are the odds of finding two people on the same street with an extensive (and expensive) coin collection, eh???
Another interesting note in the neighborhood: Leonard Posella and Sharon Ransom: Posella's mother lived "next door" to the LaBianca's. Posella's wife, said that on several occasions Posella visited Leno. Each time he came back with money or liquor and said, "It's okay. I know them and they better give it to me or else." (see the second Labianca homicide report). Posella hooks up with Sharon Ransom. Ransom and her former boyfriend Zorba are Satan Slaves.
Bill Nelson (God help us all) supposedly found proof that Watson and LaBerge lived less than 200' apart in apartments on Greenwood - much as we hate the guy, this is likely to be accurate.
A brief look at Watson: Before moving to Cali, Watson works for Braniff Air as a baggage handler. He leaves for Cali with over $4,000 in his pocket and a new car. Granted that could have been a lifetime savings, but that's equal to $25,000 by today's standards and considering he worked in his parents' store, how is this unachievable in the small town of Copeville, Texas. Did he started trafficking drugs while at Braniff and got an offer for bigger and better in Cali???
He arrives in Cali and immediately starts dealing drugs from his wig shop and rents a house in Malibu - not an easy thing to achieve so quickly for a small town Texas boy. He does well for a long time, but starts using, becomes sloppy, and begins burning people in his drug deals.
Tex's apt. at 2024 Darcena Dr.
Suzan's apt was across the street (this side) from the white structure.
They are about 200' apart.
Suzan's apt was across the street (this side) from the white structure.
They are about 200' apart.
Did Rosemary spend her entire life scamming? Did it rub off on Suzan??? Did LaBerge, Dorgan, Watson and eventually Manson start scheming to get at her mother's perceived hidden wealth - what exactly this is, who knows, an off shore bank account, stocks, securities, cash, maybe even drugs? And, so, do they start going to the house while Leno, Rosemary, and Frank are not there, looking (unsuccessfully) for … something?
It's interesting that whoever is ransacking the house knows exactly when it will be un-occupied.
Leno's first wife, Alice, initially told police that she thought the murders had to do with stocks and commodities. She also told them that someone had again broken into the house the weekend before the murders while Leno and Rosemary took Frank, Suzan and the boat to Lake Isabella. Another failed attempt?
They can't find what they're looking for on their own, so are they left with no choice but to go there while Rosemary and Leno are home and confront them?
August 9th, Rosemary and Leno go back to the Lake to pick up Frank and Suzan. It is alleged that Frank later says that Suzan talked him into staying and having a little more fun. IF she is involved (and we don't know that) she did this for one of two reasons-- A: she didn't know her mother would be killed and Frank had seen Watson so he could later identify him, or B: she knew they'd kill them and saved her brother's life.
No one, including Lucy Larsen, expects the LaBiancas to be home before 2AM - Rosemary guestimated between 2 and 4 AM.
That night, Manson et al, drive around aimlessly for hours supposedly looking for a house to hit. At approximately 1-1:30AM (same time LaBerge is dropped off by her parents), Manson goes into Pasadena and stops at a house. He tells the others in the car to circle the block while he scouts the house. Did Manson stop to make phone contact with LaBerge or Dorgan to see if her parents were home yet?
Manson comes back to the car stating they're not doing that house because he saw pictures of children. From there he suddenly has a specific destination and gives driving directions to Waverly Drive.
The killers arrive at Waverly within an hour of the time that the LaBianca's arrive home - they had time to pick up a paper, park the boat, change into their PJs, and begin reading the paper.
Manson and Watson go in first, tie up the LaBianca's at gunpoint, tell them they won't be hurt if they give up A B or C. They give it up, Manson leaves and sends up Van Houten and Krenwinkel to complete the perceived (by at least the women) Helter Skelter plan.
Unlike the night before, Watson seems very content to take his time in the house - they desecrate Leno, take time to take a tapestry from the wall to write in blood, shower, ransack the closets, change clothes and eat - as if he knows that no one else will be coming to the house.
8:30PM The next night, Frank Jr. is dropped off at home. He suspects something is wrong, goes to the phone booth and first calls his parents house and when no one answers, he calls Suzan's work and eventually connects with her at her apartment that's five minutes away. TWO HOURS LATER, LaBerge and Dorgan arrive at Waverly.
Shortly after the murders, Suzan is accused by LaBianca family members of arriving at Waverly with a truck or cargo van and emptying out the contents of the house - Cory LaBianca says that she didn't get so much as a photograph of her father.
Suzan refuses to testify at the trial.
Cut to 1989/90.
In her book Restless Souls, and in this article Alisa Statman alludes to a plot between Tex Watson and Suzan LaBerge. But lets take a look at what seems clearly obvious to us.
Out of over five hundred cities in California, Suzan LaBerge just so happens to end up in the small town of Carpentaria, CA, where Patti Tate and her 3 children reside. Out of a class of over 130 children, LaBerge's daughter, Rommi just so happens to befriend Patti's daughter.
And, it just so happens, that LaBerge is now friends with Watson who is due for parole that year and will once again come up against Doris Tate and her victim impact statement and one of the strongest reasons for his continued incarceration.
And, so begins what could be an elaborate, unbelievable plot. Is it possible that Watson either blackmailed or paid LaBerge to pull off a sure-fire plan to get him a parole date - befriend him as a born-again-Christian, keep Doris Tate (and her powerful impact statements) away from his parole hearing while another victim (LaBerge) makes a statement for his release?
Was that the plan - for LaBerge to gain the trust of both Patti and her daughter and that either the day of or the day before Watson's hearing, Patti's daughter would go missing - about the only thing that would keep Doris from attending that hearing? In Doris' absence LaBerge would give the parole board such a moving speech for his release that they would grant him a date.
Is it possible Suzan and Tex thought they were going to make a fortune with their story once he was released with shows like Dateline and 20/20 in a bidding war for an interview?
Is it possible that what they didn't count on was the fact that Doris would have an informant at CMC tattling on Watson and giving away his plan? Or, that the whole thing would backfire and blow up in their face by…
...Bill Nelson. He latched onto the LaBerge/Watson friendship like a Terrier and supposedly exposed LaBerge's dark side. He uncovered court documents showing her as an abusive mother. He got her ex-husband, Wok, to admit that he was scared of her, scared for his children that were in her custody, and he confirmed that she was a Satanist not a Christian. Then Nelson went on to expose Watson and his wife's Medi-Cal fraud and found proof that both, (good Christians that they were) were not only ripping off the government, ripping off donators to his ALMS, but both were having numerous affairs.
So much for the loving born-agains' story of forgiveness and healing?
All of this proves nothing. What it does show is an almost unbelievable set of circumstances and coincidences that lead to 2 people being brutally murdered in their home.
The reporter who initially said that Rosemary left a $2 Million estate? Could it be that he got the information from someone who was close to Rosemary who believed that to be her net worth? Was it embellished from $200,000 to $2,000,000? Possibly. But even at $200,000 (1.25 mil in todays standards) that's a bucket load of money for 2 people who were so far in debt.
You've seen the probate papers, the LaBianca's had no liquid cash and no investments on the books and yet Rosemary, by all accounts, was flourishing. Could even be that Rosemary bragged to friends (and Suzan) that she had more money or investments than she actually did? Something's not right. Something is hidden AND, they were murdered. Was it by someone close to them for a reason other than a black and white race war???
Suzan LaBerge had a spotless record - not even a traffic violation or parking ticket. Is she rich? No, but she has managed to support herself and her children for more than 40 years without a career in above average income neighborhoods. She has changed her name on numerous occasions and seldom uses a verifiable address.
All just idle speculation...