Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity
Surely some revelation is at hand
Surely the Second Coming is at hand…
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?
The House on the Hill, as I’d like to refer to the LaBianca residence, was very still that night, despite the curtains being wide open and a light on in the living room.
It was some time after 2a.m.
The day previous included a long two and a half drive, with Leno, Rosemary and her daughter Suzan returning to Los Angeles in Leno’s 1968 Ford Thunderbird, a pleasure boat in tow, from a short respite up at Lake Isabella.
It had been fairly cool and enjoyable at the lake but on entering the city, the heat hit all three in the car like a wall. Leno made stop number one, letting Suzan out at her
Leno then made stop number two and drove to the corner of Hillhurst and Franklin to gas-up at the Chevron station there and to get the day’s horse-racing form and a copy of the Sunday L.A. Times. Leno and Rosemary had listened to the radio all the way back from Lake Isabella, had heard all about the awful murders in Benedict Canyon and wanted to read the details in the morning paper.
As Leno pulled in, news-stand owner, John Fokianos walked over to the car.
“Hey, Leno, how are you and the Mrs. doing tonight?”
“Fine, just fine, a bit tired from the drive back into town.” said Leno.
“You been up to the lake again? It must be nice and cool up there right now.” said John.
“Yeah, but I can’t watch the ponies from the lake!” Leno quips.
“Ahhh, you bet! Say, you people here the awful news? About those killings in the hills?”
“Yeah, Rosemary’s all upset over it. They got a guy for the murders so why get upset, right?” asked Leno.
“Listen, I swear someone was in our house when we were up at Isabella last time.” added Rosemary, a look of deep concern evident on her face.
As Leno shook his head, he said, “Nah, look it’s late John. I’ll see ya tomorrow.”
“You two have yourself a good night, now.” John said as he waved at the LaBiancas as they drove on their way.
John Fokianos may have been the last person, other than the killers, to see Mr. & Mrs. LaBianca alive.
When Swartz’ trusty Ford, borrowed yet again for another night of untold adventures, motored up to the driveway of 3301 Waverly Drive, Charlie and some of the kids noticed a Thunderbird, with a pleasure boat, parked on the street, facing west towards Griffith Park, but no one was around to see the Slippies arrive.
It was especially quiet next door to the LaBiancas on this night, as the house to the east of them, at 3267, had been vacant for the last few months. Harold True, Al Swerdloff and Ernie Baltzell had rented 3267 prior to the LaBiancas moving into 3301 and had hosted many a LSD and peyote party there, with Charlie and Sadie and Linda and Bob Kasabian separately attending. (Kismet can be ironically brutal, huh?…Moral of this Story: Know your neighbours, past and present…and know their “friends”!)
But there was no party going on at either address this night, as Charlie pulled the Ford along side the grassy embankment that was the front lawn of the LaBianca residence.
“Charlie, you’re not planning on going to Harold’s house, are ya?” asked Linda, a look of panic on her face as she had considered True a friend of sorts.
“Nah, I’m heading up those line of trees there and checking out the place next door.” was all Charlie said as he put the Ford in “Park”, shut off the head lights and the engine. As he opened the driver’s side door, he bent down and retrieved an unidentified object (that Linda believed was a gun)from under the seat and tucked it into his belt.
Linda saw Charlie head up True’s old driveway but at some point well beyond her sight, Charlie crossed over to the east lawn of the LaBianca residence, his admitted destination. (But my queasy stomach is telling me that True’s old house had been Charlie’s real destination that night, only to find the house vacant when he walked up the driveway, forcing him to settled for the one next door.)
Charlie crossed the lawn and creepy-crawled to the front of the house to have a peek in the living room window. Slowly raising his head enough to look in but not be noticed, Charlie saw a heavy-set man asleep on the couch, an open newspaper and reading glasses laying on the nearby coffee-table.
Satisfied by what he saw, he creepy-crawled back to the Ford and leaning in the open front passenger window, he said,
“Okay, we got ourselves a great place here. Tex, get out and bring that cutlass with you. We got ourselves some real live ‘Pigs’!” Charlie whispered, grinning from ear to ear.
“Okay, Man, I got it. But what about the girls?” asked Tex.
“The girls will come later. Let’s me and you have some fun first, you dig!” Charlie said, snickering.
Tex just smiled back, probably thinking, yeah, sure Charlie, what ever you say, but I know killing ain’t tea party.
The duo headed straight up the LaBianca drive this time and creepy-crawled around to the east side of the house, facing True’s place, where they found a
white-painted French door just begging to be jimmied. When they checked the knob, there was just no need, as the door sprang open without force and without a sound. (Why do these doors not creak when you need’em too?!!! Geez!)
Charlie and Tex were met at the door by a large dog and two little ones, who instead of growling, barking or biting, licked Charlie on his hand. (Another “Dog Whisperer”, I’m sure.)
The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,
but I’m sure with a far more ghastlier goal than to steal Cindy Lou Who’s Roast Beast, the following dialogue, a mixture of MsBurb’s and from Manson’s book, “Manson In His Own Words”, began to unfold,
“Who_who are you? What are you doing here? What do you want?” asked Leno, startled out of his sleep and confused more than frightened at this point.
“Just relax, pal. We’re not going to hurt you, just be cool. Don’t be afraid.” was all Charlie said.
“That’s easy enough for you to say, but how can I help but be afraid when you’ve got a gun pointed at me?” was Leno’s retort.
“It’s all right man, nothin’s going to happen to you, all we want is your money. Is there anyone else in the house? asked Charlie.
“Yes, my wife’s in the bedroom, but don’t bother her. I’ll give you all I have.” answered Leno.
Charlie then removed two, 42 inch long leather thongs from around his neck and gave them to Tex to tie up Leno, as Charlie went to investigate the bedroom. Sure enough, he found Rosemary, and as he quietly walked around to her side of the bed, he pulled off the covers and nudged her shoulder, saying,
“Wake up lady, you got company.”
As her eyes finally focused on Charlie’s face, she sat up with a start and attempted to cover her body with the covers Charlie had removed. Charlie, amused at her plight but not the least interested in what she had to offer, handed to Rosemary a dress which had been laying over a bedside chair.
Rosemary reached over to switch on the side table lamp, to get a better view of her “visitor” when Charlie gently grabbed her hand to persuade her differently.
“What are you doing here? What do you want?” Rosemary asked, pulling back her arm and frantically pulling on that dress over her head.
“Don’t be alarmed lady, no one’s going to get hurt. We’re just after some dough.” answered Charlie, as he guided Rosemary into the living room to be seated next to her husband.
No one will ever know if Rosemary or Leno put two and two together this night and figured out that these Hippie-types were the killers from Benedict Canyon the previous night. One would hope not.
But somehow, I fear Rosemary did.
“Okay, where’s your money?” asked Charlie.
“In my wallet in the bedroom and some more in my wife’s purse.” said Leno, as Charlie nodded at Tex to go retrieve the two wallets, which contained less than $100.
“I can’t see shit. Can I turn a light on in here, or what?” Tex hollered out to Charlie.
“Hey lady, you got a smaller light in there other than those huge lamps?” asked Charlie of Rosemary.
“The closet. When you open the louvered doors, an interior light comes on.” Rosemary nervously said to her captor.
“Tex, open the closet, Man. She says a light will come on.”
And so he did.
Tex finally found the items, returned to the living room and handed both wallets over to Charlie. Charlie took Leno’s cash, dropped the empty bill-fold on the coffee table and pocketed Rosemary’s wallet, shaking his head as he said,
“That all you got, Man?” Charlie asked.
“Yes, that’s all we have here, but if you take me to my store, there’s more. All you want.” Leno offered.
Less than $100 again!, Charlie thought to himself.
Divided by two souls…
Ka-Ching! (Who said crime doesn’t pay?!)
Killing high-end “Pigs” for money just wasn’t working out as planned; either that, or Charlie, like Tex, forgot or was unwilling to properly search the place for the bail and Barker moving money Charlie claimed was so important. Expensive jewellery, collector’s coins and electronic items were at the LaBianca residence as well, all ignored or over-looked in a ghoulish game where all the rules kept changing.
Sensing a trap more than an offer, Charlie ignored Leno’s pleas and had Tex take Rosemary back to the bedroom to tie her up with whatever was available.
Tex pushed Rosemary down on the bed and looked around in the dimly lit room for something resembling a restraint, when he spied the outlet that held the electrical cord to Rosemary’s side table lamp. Tex yanked out the cord and wrapped it tightly around Rosemary’s wrists, choosing to tie them in the front and not behind her. (More on that later…)
Satisfied that Rosemary was properly confined, Tex left her alone in that room (To day-dream nightmares, no doubt!) and returned to the living room, pulling out the cord from the telephone that sat on a nearby hutch as he went. (Tex was great with telephone lines, wasn’t he?!)
Tex was on his game this night as he even thought to close the kitchen louvers and the living room drapes. (‘Cause you can’t be too careful, right Tex? )
“Guard them. I’ll send the girls back.” Charlie said, less that $100 richer as he skulked out the same way he had entered, the dogs meekly following him to the door as he left.
All he knew, or cared about, was that whatever was about to occur in that House on the Hill wouldn’t be by his own hands.
Charlie sauntered back down the drive to the kids who were still patiently waiting in the Ford.
“Sadie, Sadie, wake up, Man! Wake up!” hissed Charlie, as he leaned into the open window of the rear right passenger door this time.
But she didn’t, or wouldn’t, so Charlie didn’t push the issue.
“Katie, you and Lulu. Lulu, are you up for some “Piggy” fun tonight?” asked Charlie.
“You betcha, Charlie. Anything you want!” Leslie whispered back.
“Okay, out you two get. Linda, grab me them knives on the floor beside ya.” ordered Charlie.
And so she did.
Silently praying that she wouldn’t be called to duty ever again.
The girls exited the Ford and the trio stood beside the car while Charlie instructed the girls on what to do next.
“Do it good. Make sure it’s done so the Pigs will put it together with Hinman and that pad last night. The rest of us are splitting to find another house. (Funny, another house, huh? When all the weapons brought are already in use at the LaBiancas, except for Charlie’s “gun”? Hmmmm… If you say so.)When you finish up, hitch back to the ranch and we’ll see you there. And whatever you do, don’t f—kin’ lose those goddamned knives this time!” was his last instructions to Katie and Leslie as he handed each of them a
And Charlie watched as the two headed up the drive.
When Charlie got back into the driver’s seat and pulled away, he handed Rosemary’s leather wallet over to Linda, who was still very much apart of this ghoulish gang, as she obeyed all of Charlie’s orders from the front passenger seat that night, not the gilt-ridden victim she would later become in the witness chair.
It was sometime after 2:20 a.m., August 10, 1969, and although Charlie’s work was done at 3301 Waverly, the work of Tex, Katie and Lulu was just beginning…