Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Charles Manson and the Manson Family

The Crime Scene

LAPD Officer Jerry DeRosa arrived first. He walked up to the Rambler and found a young man slumped toward the passenger side, drenched in blood. At this point, Officer William Whisenhunt joined DeRosa. The two officers, with guns drawn searched the other automobiles and the garage, while a third officer Robert Burbridge caught up with them.

There on the beautifully manicured lawn with its magnificent panorama of Los Angeles lay two bodies. One was a white man that appeared to be in his thirties. Someone had battered in his head and face, while savagely puncturing the rest of his body with dozens of wounds.

The other body was that of a young woman with long brown hair lying in a full-length nightgown with multiple stab wounds.

The three officers cautiously approached the house. No telling what or who may be waiting in there for them. It would have been foolhardy for all of them to enter through the front door. However, as they went near the front door, they saw that one of the front window screens had been removed. Whisenhunt found an open window on the side of the house where he and Burbridge made their entry.

Once the other two officers were inside, DeRosa approached the front door. On the lower half of the door, he saw scrawled in blood the word "PIG." In the hallway they found two large steamer trunks, a pair of horned rimmed glasses and pieces of a broken gun grip.

Then when they reached the couch, they were in for a real shock. A young blond woman, very pregnant, was lying on the floor, smeared all over with blood, a rope around her neck that extended over a rafter in the ceiling. The other end of the rope was around the neck of a man lying nearby, also drenched in blood.

As they looked through the rest of the house they heard a man's voice and the sound of a dog. It was William Garretson the caretaker. The officers handcuffed him and put him under arrest.

Later that Saturday night, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca and Susan Struthers, Rosemary's 21-year-old daughter, drove back from vacation trailering their boat.    They dropped off Susan at her apartment and drove home to 3301 Waverly Drive in the Los Feliz area of   L.A.   They stopped to pick up a newspaper between 1 and 2 A.M.

It wasn't until the next day that anybody came to the house to see them.    Frank Struthers, Rosemary's son by a previous marriage, got a ride home.    Around 8:30 P.M., as he carried his camping equipment up the driveway, he noticed things that worried him.   First the speedboat was still in the driveway.   It was very unlike his stepfather not to put the boat in the garage.   Then Frank noticed that all the window shades were down — something his parents never did.

He knocked on the door, but got no answer, so he went to a pay phone and called, but again with no response. He finally got in touch with his sister, who came with her boyfriend to their parents' house.

Frank and the boyfriend found the back door open. They left Susan in the kitchen until they had a chance to look around. When the two young men walked into the living room, they saw Leno in his pajamas, lying with a pillow over his head and a cord around his neck. Something was sticking out from his stomach

They rushed out of the house, dragging Susan with them and called the police at the neighbors' house.

Soon an ambulance and police cars arrived. Leno was found with a blood-drenched pillowcase over his head and the cord of a large lamp tied tightly around his neck. His hands had been tied behind him with a leather thong. A carving fork protruded from his stomach and the word "WAR" had been carved in his flesh.

In the master bedroom, they found his wife Rosemary lying on the floor, her nightgown up over her head. She too had a pillowcase over her head and a lamp cord tied tightly around her neck.

In three places in the house, there was writing which appeared to be in the victims' blood: on the living room wall, "DEATH TO PIGS;" on another wall in the living room, the single word "RISE;" and in the refrigerator door, "HEALTHER SKELTER," misspelled.

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