Monday, May 23, 2022

Manson family specter looms over local mystery

Jen Lawson

Tuesday, May 18, 2004 | 9:12 a.m. | Las Vegas Sun

The last time anyone saw 78-year-old Ruby Dorman she was leaving the Flamingo Laughlin after finishing her shift as a buffet hostess.

More than a year later, Metro Police consider her a likely homicide victim, and they believe that her daughter, Juliann White, may know what happened to Dorman.

White, whom police haven't been able to find since January, has for years believed Dorman had followers of Charles Manson kill White's aunt in 1969, police said.

That strange twist is just one aspect of a disappearance that "has all of us puzzled," Metro Homicide Detective George Sherwood said. "We've never located what we believe to be a crime scene or what we believe to be her (Dorman's) body."

Police believe White could provide more information to police, if they could find her.

White, 46, had driven from Las Vegas to her mother's mobile home in Laughlin the morning of April 30, 2003, according to Dorman's roommate, Jane Rugge, police said.

Dorman had already left for work when White arrived, Rugge told police. Rugge then fell asleep and awoke just before 5 p.m. to see White pull into the driveway in her mother's white Honda. Rugge said White then drove away in her Jeep Cherokee without coming inside or saying goodbye, according to police reports.

About 2:30 p.m. that day, Dorman had punched out after her shift at the Flamingo Laughlin buffet, then went to the women's locker room and changed out of her uniform and into a black sweater, slacks and shoes, investigators determined.

Investigators believe something happened to Dorman between the time she left work and the time White dropped her Honda off at her home.

Police examined Dorman's car for evidence but found nothing pointing to foul play. Dorman's purse and keys were left in the car, Sherwood said.

Detectives interviewed White twice, and her statements were inconsistent, but she denied driving Dorman's car or seeing her that day, Sherwood said. Police haven't been able to find White since last speaking to her in January in Reno.

Police do not have an arrest warrant for White.

"We don't work in the theory business, but Juliann somehow got the Honda and Ruby somehow disappeared," Sherwood said. "Ruby was never seen after work. She just fell off the face of the earth."

White, described by Sherwood as "mentally troubled," had a history of arguing with Dorman and had threatened her in the past. Based upon interviews with people who knew the family and based upon White's statements and writings, she apparently held her mother accountable for everything that went wrong in her life, Sherwood said.

White's family told investigators that during her childhood and adult life White blamed her mother for the death of her aunt, Rosemary La Bianca, who was the sister of White's father.

Rosemary La Bianca and her husband, Leno, were stabbed to death in August 1969, in their Los Angeles home. Followers of Charles Manson were convicted of the murders.

In a letter to a Los Angeles investigator, White wrote that Dorman had sent her away to camp that summer so Dorman could plot the La Biancas' murders.

"Rosemary La Bianca let it be known that she wanted to adopt me so as to save me," White's letter read. "Ruby Dorman made the decision to get even with Rosemary La Bianca and sent ... her address to the Manson family."

When Dorman read about the murders the next day, "she let out a phony scream," the letter continued. "I knew that by tolerating her evil presence I would eventually get each and every detail about the day my aunt was slain."

Evidence didn't support White's allegations, however, and Dorman was never charged in connection with the La Biancas' deaths.

The Dorman case, meanwhile, can only be investigated as a missing person at the moment, but "we believe it to be a homicide because of the abruptness of her disappearance," Sherwood said. "She hadn't missed a day of work in 20 years."

Police searched the Laughlin area and they have checked with police in California and Arizona to see if they have any unidentified bodies. So far they've come up with nothing.

Complicating matters is the fact that Rugge, Dorman's roommate, who had been providing police with valuable information, has died of natural causes.

An 80-year-old Las Vegas woman, who asked that her name not be used, said White was staying with her during the time that Dorman went missing last spring.

The woman was like a second mother to White, who lived with the woman part-time when she was between the ages of 18 months and 6 years old. White, whose given name was Juanita and later changed it to Juliann, stayed with the woman in Las Vegas during the week while Dorman worked in Laughlin.

She said she remembers White rambling about the connection to the Manson family during her most recent stay but she tried not to pay attention.

"I just can't imagine her (harming Dorman), but the circumstances say otherwise," the woman said. "I'm sticking my head in the sand. I'm trying not to think about it."

Recalling April 30, 2003, the woman said she didn't notice White behaving any differently.

"She stayed in her bedroom so much and I finally told her she should get herself a job," the woman said.

Before long, White packed her bags and moved out. White visited the woman about a month or two ago to see if she had any mail and said she had gotten a job at a pickle factory.

"I wonder if we'll ever know about Ruby," the woman said.

White, who in 2002 wrote a book on Jimmy Page of the band Led Zeppelin, is divorced and believed to be moving around the country living off the profit of the sale of her home, Sherwood said.

Anyone with information about the case can call Sherwood at 229-3521.