Nearly 50 years ago, during a series of brutal murders that shook Los Angeles for weeks, Charles Manson and several members of his demented, drug-crazed “family” sneaked into the home and savagely killed a middle-aged couple, leaving a carving fork sticking out from the husband’s stomach.
The ad does not mention Manson or the fork.
“It’s just such a calm, peaceful, serene environment that I don’t think anybody cares about what happened a long time ago,” Robert Giambalvo, the listing agent for the house, told the Los Angeles Times, referring to the slayings as “the event that happened 50 years ago.”
For the sake of history and truth in advertising, the event at the home was the mostly forgotten second act of a killing rampage that began 11 miles away the previous night when, acting on Manson’s orders, four family members killed actress Sharon Tate and five others at a mansion on Cielo Drive.
Those murders instantly sent Hollywood into a tizzy. But Manson wasn’t finished.
The next night, Manson and several of his followers — Tex Watson, Susan Atkins and Leslie Van Houten — drove around in a Ford dreaming of more murders. Jeff Guinn, the author of “Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson,” recounted the eerie ride:
Charlie made a show of considering several potential victims—a priest at a church, a driver whose car briefly pulled alongside the Ford—and Linda did her best to follow his erratic directions. In the backseat, Susan and Leslie fell into fitful dozes. Then after more than an hour, Charlie’s instructions to Linda suddenly became specific. At his direction she drove into the residential area of Los Feliz, turning here and there until the Ford was slowly cruising up Waverly Drive.
Everyone knew where they were: on the street where Manson and the family had partied a few months back at the home of a man named Harold True. But everyone in the car knew True had moved. So why were they on his street?
To kill his neighbors, which none of them had even met. (With Manson, nothing ever adds up.)
Their names: Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.
The LaBianca’s were self-made. Leno owned a local grocery store chain. Rosemary, who grew up in an orphanage, co-owned a boutique. He gambled on race horses and collected coins. She dabbled in the stock market and collected friends. “Rosemary and Leno seemed very close,” Guinn said, “the kind of people who had no enemies.”
Like the rest of Southern California, the LaBiancas were spooked by the Tate murders. On the night of their deaths, Leno fell asleep on the couch reading the sports section, while Rosemary slept in the bedroom. Manson strolled up the driveway, peeked in the windows, then went back to fetch Tex.
They entered through an unlocked back door. Manson had a pistol, Tex a bayonet. Manson tapped Leno on the head with his gun, waking him up.
“Who are you?” Leno said, according to Guinn’s book, which relied on testimony and memoirs by Manson family members. “What do you want?”
Nothing to fear, Manson said. This was just a robbery.
This was not just a robbery.
Manson and Tex tied up Leno and Rosemary. Then Manson left, sending up two women in the car to help Tex with the this-is-not-a-robbery part of the event. Guinn’s book and other accounts of Manson’s madness of what came next are detailed and quite gory.
The Cliffs Notes version: Leno and Rosemary were stabbed dozen of times. The fork was left in Leno’s belly. On the walls, in blood, the killers wrote “Rise” and “Death to Pigs.” On the refrigerator door, someone scribbled “Healter Skelter,” incorrectly spelling the Beatles song name that became the title for Manson’s fantasy apocalyptic race war.
At first, Los Angeles police didn’t think the LaBianca killings were connected to the Tate murders. But clues left at the LaBianca murder scene — including the misspelled Beatles song title — eventually tied Manson and his family to both crime scenes. His family unraveled. Manson spent the rest of his life behind bars. He died in 2017 at age 83.
As for the house on Waverly, the Los Angeles Times reports that it “has changed hands several times since 1969 and last sold in 1998” and that the “current owners are looking to downsize as they prepare for retirement.”
Giambalvo, the listing agent, told the paper that the $1.98 million asking price was actually a bargain — below market value. This was an intentional sales ploy because of what Google reveals about the address.
“The event that happened 50 years ago,” Giambalvo said, “is going to eliminate some of the market."
But the views are still spectacular.
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