This attractive Italianate house poking through the trees, with the long ostentatious driveway leading up to it, is the site of one of the most horrific murders of all time. Forty-four years ago tonight, on the night of August 9-10, 1969, several of Charles Manson’s drone-like followers walked up this long driveway, entered the place, and tied up the residents, Leno LaBianca, owner of a chain of grocery stores, and his wife Rosemary. Manson himself was present for a short time, but then left. His minions, Charles “Tex” Watson and a few of the girls, proceeded to annihilate the innocent LaBianca couple with almost unimaginable savagery. The motive? To validate Manson’s bizarre apocalyptic philosophy of a coming race war, which he called “Helter Skelter.”
The Manson gang was busy that weekend. The night before they destroyed actress Sharon Tate and four of her friends at a mansion (since torn down) in the Hollywood hills. Although the LaBiancas were not movie stars, Manson chose them because their house was next door to a place he was aware of through his connection with various celebrities–Manson himself being a frustrated rock singer. The LaBiancas did nothing wrong, but their decision to live in this house–which in fact Leno had grown up in years before–proved fatal due to a completely random twist of fate.
Everything the Manson gang did was depraved and horrifying, but the murder of this couple set a new low even for them. Among the bizarre clues were writings in the wall in blood, the word “WAR” carved into Leno LaBianca’s flesh, and a carving fork stuck in his throat. I can’t look at the crime scene photos from this murder. They’re simply too awful.
How could human beings do something like this? And why? The various currents of the Manson case–cultural and counter-cultural, psychological, racial, political–are extremely complex. It’s now nearly 50 years since the events, and most of the Manson gang have spent almost all of that time in jail. (All of the killers who took place in the LaBianca butchery are, quite rightfully, still in prison). Yet despite the many books written on the case in the past 44 years, comprehension of them remains elusive.
This house is a common stop on “death tourist” junkets of Hollywood and the L.A. area. The house number was 3301 back in 1969; today it’s 3311 (the notation 3313 on this photo is just a result of Google Earth’s address function). Of all the Manson crime scenes, this one probably looks the most similar today to how it appeared that awful night in 1969 when the people who once lived here were so horribly struck down.