LaBianca Stepson Tells of Discovering Murder Victim
Thursday, August 27th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 27 – The 16-year-old son of one of the Tate-LaBianca murder victims yesterday dispassionately described how he found the body of his stepfather.
The youth also disclosed that two dogs — a Labrador retriever and a miniature poodle — were inside the home when his mother and stepfather were stabbed to death.
The testimony from Frank L. Struthers came at the mass murder trial of Charles Manson 35, and three female followers.
They are accused in connection with the stagings a year ago of actress Sharon Tate and six others, in eluding market owner Leno LaBianca and his wife.
Mrs. Rosemary LaBianca 38, was the youth’s mother. LaBianca, her 44-year-old second husband, was the owner of a chain of four markets.
Young Struthers said he discovered LaBianca’s body in the living room of their home in the Los Feliz area soon after 9:30p.m. Aug. 10, 1969, when he returned from a water skiing vacation.
He said he had been water skiing with friends at Lake Isabella, north of Los Angeles, and had last seen his mother and stepfather alive the day before, when they visited the area and brought back their power boat.
Struthers testified he had planned to return to Los Angeles with his parents, but decided to stay
with the friends and come back the next day.
Struthers, a dark-haired young man wearing a blue shirt and tie and a tan jacket, said that when he arrived home, the door was locked and the house was dark.
He called his 23-year-old sister, Susan Struthers, from a pay phone nearby and she arrived a short time later with her former boyfriend.
Struthers said he and the other man found the house keys on his mother’s key ring, which was in her car.
They went into the house and found LaBianca’s body in the living room, the youth said.
He showed no sign of emotion as he testified that LaBianca was in a “type of crouch position.”
Chief Prosecutor Aaron H. Stovitz asked the Marshall High School grader if it appeared LaBianca was “injured.”
“We didn’t stay long enough, but that’s what it was,” Struthers replied.
He said he, his sister and her former boyfriend went to a neighbor’s home and called police.
Struthers did not testify about the condition of LaBianca’s body, but police have said a knife and a carving fork were protruding from the corpse.
Mrs. LaBianca’s body was found in the bedroom by police. Both she and her husband reportedly were tied and apparently could not ward off their killers.
The prosecution also has said the words “Death to Pigs,” “Helter Skelter” and “Rise” were written in blood on the walls and refrigerator door in the LaBianca home.
Struthers’ testimony followed earlier statements from Los Angeles Police criminalist M. Joseph Granado, who described blood samples found at the Benedict Canyon home of Miss Tate.
Miss Tate 26, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, also 26, men’s hairstylist Jay Sebring 35, Polish playboy Voityck Frykowsky 37, and Steven Parent 18 were slain at the actress’ estate the day before.
Officer Granado testified earlier in the day that the blood used to write the word “Pig” on Miss Tate’s front door came from the actress.
He also described in detail the way a white nylon rope was looped around Miss Tate’s and Sebring’s necks, then tossed over a living room beam.
The witness said the rope was first looped around the necks, then tossed over the beam with one end hanging loose.
Officer Granado added if someone pulled the loose end, Miss Tate would be brought to a standing position, but Sebring would not.
County Coroner Thomas T. Noguchi said earlier this week Miss Tate was partially hanged as she was dying from 16 stab wounds.
Granado also testified that some of the dark clothing found tossed over a hillside about two and one-half miles from Miss Tate’s home, was stained with human blood.
The prosecution contends that was the clothing worn by the killers.
Manson, leader of a group of nomads called “the family” has been accused by the prosecution of masterminding the murders.
The prosecution has admitted Manson apparently did not commit any of the slayings and was not at Miss Tate’s home, but it has contended the cult chief tied up the LaBiancas before they were slain.
On trial with Manson are Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkel, both 22, who are accused of all seven murders, and Leslie Van Houten 20, on trial for the LaBianca slayings
All four defendants additionally are charged with conspiracy to commit murder.
Granado said he received samples from the county coroner’s office of blood of each of the five victims slain at the Tate estate last Aug. 9.
He said he determined who had the following blood types, and subtypes:
Sharon Tate — “O” type, “M” subtype.
Jay Sebring — “O” type, “MN” subtype.
Abigail Folger — “B” type. “MN” subtype.
Voityck Frykowsky — “B” type, “MN” subtype.
Stephen Parent — “B” type, “MN” subtype.
Granado explained that the subtypes are a special category for dried blood.
He then, step by step, testified about what types and subtypes of blood stains he found at various locations at the Tate estate.
The prosecution called Granado for the purpose of showing which of the victims were at what locations and also to corroborate, to a certain extent, the previous testimony of the trial’s star witness, Mrs. Kasabian.
Mrs. Kasabian had testified she saw Manson cultist Charles “Tex” Watson 24, shoot Parent and later follow Frykowsky out the front door and stab him.
Watson is still fighting extradition from Texas.
Mrs. Kasabian also testified that she saw one of Manson’s co-defendants, Miss Krenwinkel, wielding a knife, chase Miss Folger across the lawn.
Granado gave jurors a picture of blood stains on the control switch to the estate gate, on Parent’s car parked in front of the house, on the front porch, on carpets inside, on two trunks, on a broken gun grip, on a towel between Miss Tate’s and Sebring’s bodies, on doors, on stairs, on a pathway to the pool, on the grass and on a violet scarf.
A second witness testifying today was Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff Helen A. Tebbe, who testified about taking hair samples last Feb. 17 from codefendant Susan Atkins.
By SANDI METTETAL