Friday, May 13, 2016

LaBianca Estate Question


I recently purchased this 1957 Mercedes 220S from a guy in Ohio. He said his late father told him it was Rosemary Labianca’s car and he bought it from the Estate auction. I’m hoping there is a way to verify this.

Do you know if there is a list of the items in her estate?

Regards, Ty


LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

That's a nice car...

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Does anyone have any specific information, regarding the contents of Rosemary's estate?



katie8753 said...

I thought she had a T-Bird.

louis365 said...

Abigail drove a yellow Camaro to Cielo. Doesn't mean anything really, she could have owned a Mercedes too.

That sure is a nice ride.

louis365 said...

My mistake Ms. Folger had a Firebird there.

katie8753 said...

Louis, LOL.

GhostOfMojoRisen said...

If you have the original title, her or Leno's name would be on it. Otherwise you can use the VIN number. Check for a plate under the windshield or check for it stamped on the engine block.This website can help. ''Everybody's talikin' at me, I can't hear a word they're sayin', just drivin' around in Jon Voight's car...''

katie8753 said...

MOJO!!!! Good to see you!!

Or if there's a pencil in the glove box, might check for teeth prints. LOL.

Kimchi said...

I'm with Katie on this one, all I know was a T-Bird (in the garage)...and a T-Bird (Leno's)towing the boat...

katie8753 said...

Thanks Kimchi. That was a FORD lovin' family.

But all kidding aside, I'm sure that VIN is traceable to find previous owners.

It would seem funny to me that Rosemary would have a 1957 model Mercedes. It was only 12 years old when she was killed and not considered a classic yet. And I would wonder why the vehicle would not be on the Waverly Drive property when she was killed, but maybe it was stored somewhere else?

Sorry Ty, I don't know. Trace the VIN if you can.

beauders said...

I have no idea if it was hers or not.

katie8753 said...

Thanks Beauders!!!

GhostOfMojoRisen said...


louis365 said...

Pls disregard my previous comments - I know you already have Katie - I was on a different planet at the time. :)

TomG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
FrankM said...

The first homicide investigation progress report (DR 69-586 381) contains the following text:

On August 10, 1969, at approximately 2030 hours, Frank Struthers, Jr. was driven home from Lake Isabella by the Saffie family and dropped off in front of 3301 Waverly Drive, his home. He noticed that the family car, a 1968 Thunderbird, was parked on the street directly west of the house, and that the speed boat was still attached to the car. He felt this was irregular because his stepfather, Leno LaBianca, never left the car and speedboat out on the street overnight.

The probate papers for Rosemary's estate were on Cats' site, which seems to have gone off line recently. They are presumably in the public domain, for a price.

If it helps.


katie8753 said...

Thanks Frank!! :)

sunset77 said...

Possibly a bit of info-->HERE.

katie8753 said...

Thanks Sunset! That does say it was purchased in 1975 at the Rosemary LaBianca estate sale, but it says it's a 1956 model, and it looks a different color to me.

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Bernie Sanders’ supporters caused a ruckus this weekend, at the Democratic Convention in Nevada.

A crowd of Bernie’s supporters heckled Democratic party officials throughout the day. The evening ended, with Bernie’s supporters throwing chairs and storming the stage.

Roberta Lange (the state party chair) has since received threatening voice messages and texts, from Sanders supporters.

As a result, the Nevada Democratic Party has filed a complaint against Bernie’s supporters (with the national rules and bylaws committee) citing Sanders‘ supporters as “violent“.

I’ve been talking about this situation for months. It‘s amazing, how people can ignore the truth, when it suits their needs.

Trump’s supporters have endured the torment of “Bernie protesters” for months. Yet astonishingly… no one noticed. No one cared.

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Hello Frank.

It's always a pleasure, having you on the blog.

sunset77 said...

I did a bit more checking, digging into the history of this "mystery" car might prove to be difficult, expensive and possibly a big headache. There is no connection between this car and Rosemary LaBianca that I know of other than a person that apparently claims to have purchased it at an estate sale in 1975. That may be true, but it could be difficult to find records to actually prove it.

From Wikipedia--"VINs were first used in 1954. From 1954 to 1981, there was no accepted standard for these numbers, so different manufacturers used different formats." It's quite possible this vehicle was imported from Germany and has no "VIN" number. In that case, department of motor vehicles often use other identification numbers like the chassis number for identification on the title. If this car was purchased without a title, any type of tracking could prove to be extremely difficult. If this car is the same car I found listed on Auto Trader in a previous comment, the $8,000 price seems pretty low. A 1956 220s in that condition should be around $25,000. A car being sold without a title would be worth significantly less.

This car appears to me to be a 1956 Mercedes "Ponton", the German word for pontoon. The front fenders appear to resemble the pontoons on a boat, Mercedes before 1956 had a different fender style I won't go into. The exact year this vehicle was manufactured along with a great deal of other data can be determined from the code numbers stamped into the metal identification plates on the vehicle if they are still in place. The location of the various metal ID plates can possibly be found-->HERE.

I would recommend getting a can of degreaser, rag, flashlight, pencil and piece of paper. Locate, clean off and write down all the words and numbers on the metal ID plates that still remain on the car. If the car has a title see if any of the numbers on the metal ID tags match any of ID numbers on the title. If there is a title and possibly the chassis number matches the ID number on the title, then you could possibly contact the motor vehicle department, I would guess in California. One word of warning, if there is no title for this car, and you contact a motor vehicle dept. and it comes back this car has been reported stolen at any point, it could turn into a nightmare. The police could show up and seize the car and the current "owner" be charged with receiving stolen property.

It's possible there may be no record of Rosemary LaBianca ever owing this car. If she did not buy it new and never had it registered in her name, no record may exist. If she had it licensed, then there should be a record of the title when she had it. There are probably companies that will do a title search although I don't know for sure or how expensive that might be. Also, I'm not sure if Rosemary LaBianca had children that are still living, but you might try to contact them. They might remember the car, or may not have ever heard of it.

sunset77 said...

If you have the numbers from the ID plates on the car, it may be possible to acquire a "data card" from Daimler-Benz.

"The vehicle's "Data Card" is the original build specification sheet (written in German) that lists the date of manufacture, and all standard or optional equipment installed at the factory. The data includes the interior and exterior colors, tire manufacturer, engine number, radio, and more."

This info is probably necessary somewhat frequently as people need to get original parts to maintain their cars. There is an e-mail address at the bottom of the page, I don't know if it's still active or not, I don't know if you can get a data card translated to English-->HERE.

This car reminds me of song I used to listen to in college by the German band Krafwerk.

Wir fahr'n fahr'n fahr'n auf der Autobahn
Vor uns liegt ein weites tal
Die sonne scheint mit glitzerstrahl
Die fahrbahn ist ein graues band
Weisse streifen, gruener rand
Jetzt schalten wir das radio an
Aus dem lautsprecher klingt es dann:
Wir fahr'n auf der Autobahn...

(We are driving on the Autobahn

In front of us is a wide valley
The sun is shining with glittering rays

The driving strip is a grey track
White stripes, green edge

We are switching the radio on
From the speaker it sounds:

We are driving on the Autobahn)

Wikipedia says:

The chorus was often mistaken for the English phrase "Fun fun fun on the Autobahn" and thought to be a reference to the 1964 Beach Boys' song "Fun, Fun, Fun". Band member Wolfgang Flür later commented:

No! Someone else told me that they [the misinterpreters] thought the way we speak in German, 'Fahren,' which means driving, sounds like the English word, 'fun.' 'Fahren fahren fahren,' 'fun fun fun.' That is wrong. But it works. Driving is fun. We had no speed limit on the autobahn, we could race through the highways, through the Alps, so yes, fahren fahren fahren, fun fun fun. But it wasn't anything to do with the Beach Boys! We used to drive a lot, we used to listen to the sound of driving, the wind, passing cars and lorries, the rain, every moment the sounds around you are changing, and the idea was to rebuild those sounds on the synth.

Ralf Hütter has said that The Beach Boys were an influence on the band, and seemed more open to the interpretation of the chorus as a homage to their song."

I listened to the song many times while driving and in college dorm rooms doing "other things". The original album version from 1974 was 22 minutes long, as it was meant to be-->Autobahn.

johnnyseattle said...

What's interesting to me is why anyone would claim to have bought it from the Rosemary LaBianca Estate. It just sounds so random that it has a ring of truth to it. This isn't like buying something from the James Dean or Marilyn Monroe Estate. It's unlikely to give it any added value. I doubt anyone wakes up in a cold sweat muttering 'i must get all the LaBianca collectables.'

That the car wasn't on the LaBianca property doesn't dissuade me that it was hers. After all, 'if' Rosemary was keeping her wealth on the downlow i.e. the supposed $2 million then she very well could have kept some of the tangible items such as a mercedes, etc away from the house. Just saying....who really knows.

She was someone accustomed to having a bit of a secret life (just reading through the police reports lays that out).

grimtraveller said...

johnnyseattle said...

She was someone accustomed to having a bit of a secret life (just reading through the police reports lays that out)

In many ways, she's in the same league as Steven Parent, someone who, because they were a nonentity {as opposed to a celebrity} that was murdered, had to have their life reconstructed from speculation rather than demonstrable fact. Her life as we suppose it may have been remind me of the original "Star Trek" pilot where the aliens {I think they were called the Thalosians or something that sounded like 'theolgians'} that forced humans to see illusions gave Captain Pike the illusion that the woman he was supposed to fall for was vivaciously beautiful when in actual fact, she was a reconstruction that had been put together after a rocket crash. The aliens only saw fragmented body parts and had never seen a human being before so they put the woman back together concluding this bit fitted there and that piece went there.........and when Captain Pike sees her through his own eyes rather than the illusion, she's utterly distorted. She looks like Quasimodo.
The LaBianca police reports don't really tell us anything concrete. We get much supposition from people that knew her such as her being suspected of lesbian affairs {which those reportedly involved in denied and the police couldn't prove otherwise} but apart from her seeing Charles LaBerge while she was married to Frank Struthers and while she dated Henry Martin, nothing mysterious. And all of that had ended at least 10 years before she was murdered.
The 40s and 50s seem like the 60s before the 60s if Rosemary {who lived with Henry martin as his wife even though she wasn't and whom she jilted} and Charles LaBerge {who married Rosemary in Mexico while he was still married to someone else in the US of A !!} are anything to go by. She had "been there, done that" before Charles Manson and the love generation even got started.

But if anything, it's Leno and other guys she had hooked up with in the past {like Charles LaBerge and Frank Struthers} that had alluring secret lives....

johnnyseattle said...

I like the points you make and its food for thought. Especially about the choice one makes in partners. However, from the police report it seems a number of police officers took a different view.

"Henry Martin
A construction business owner, was interviewed at Parker Center and will be polygraphed at a later date. Martin supplied officers with the above information on Rosemary's past. He knew Reba Gage as Ione Gage. Rosemary, at that time, was using the name Rosemary Harmon. Martin was aware of Rosemary's love affair with Charles Ray LeBerge prior to, and during the time he, Martin, and Rosemary, were dating. After the war, (1946), Martin supported Rosemary. A short time later, they broke up and Rosemary began going with LeBerge. Rosemary contacted Martin in 1948 and told him she was pregnant by LeBerge. Martin and Rosemary moved into an apartment and lived as man and wife until Suzan Struthers was born.


Martin left on business several months after Suzan's birth. He later learned that while away in Alaska, Rosemary left their apartment, taking all the furniture and two new vehicles which were jointly owned. Martin did not notify the police because he could afford the loss and was "still in love with Rosemary." Among other items taken by Rosemary was a $2,000 (face value) silver dollar collection.

Rosemary again contacted Martin in 1950 and asked forgiveness. Since he was still in love with her he offered her another apartment which they shared until 1951. Martin asked Rosemary to marry him. However, she declined and their relationship ended.

Four years ago (1965) Rosemary contacted Martin by telephone and informed him she had married Leno LaBianca. She invited him to her home to meet Leno; however, Martin declined. That was the last time he heard from Rosemary.

Martin supplied investigators with a list of Rosemary's female friends whom he suspected were lesbians. This list included Ione Reba Gage, aka Reba "Ski" Young; Beatrice Lee, aka "Pudgy"; "Marty" Martin; Charlene Abernathy, aka "Charlie" and Ellen Varney. Although Rosemary showed no evidence of lesbianism, Martin believed that she participated in affairs with Ione Gage and others.

Ellen Varney was contacted in Sacramento. She informed investigators that Ione Gage was deceased. When questioned about Rosemary's affection toward Ione Gage, Ellen Varney denied either were involved in that type of love affair. This denial, however, was contradictory to statements by Frank Martin, Charles LeBerge, Frank Struthers, and Jack Wynatt.

Ellen Varney, its appeared, was not truthful with investigators as to Rosemary's and Ione Gage's affair. This could be due to the fact that she, Varney, now a married woman, had herself been involved with a lesbian, Charlene Abernathy. A personal interview with Ellen Varney is planned in the future while investigators are in Sacramento obtaining statistical information from CII pertaining to suspects."

grimtraveller said...

johnnyseattle said...

from the police report it seems a number of police officers took a different view

The police certainly took a different view. Of course, aligned to that is that so did the Tate detectives. They were basically convinced there was a drug thing behind the Cielo murders and even when presented with something to check out 2 days after Tate, they still went down the drug route until all their avenues reached a dead end.
The police had to pursue their inclinations. Any of their suspicions could have resulted in the right result and we of course have the benefit of so much hindsight. Nonetheless, I don't see anything concrete in that police report. There again, unless anything concrete emerges, they had no choice but to put together their own picture of Rosemary which is partly why it so reminded me of that Star Trek pilot.
It's notable that each of the guys that made statements pertaining to Rosemary's lesbian affairs had reasons for sullying her name and that the report stated that there was no evidence of anything Rosemary had done in the regard of a secret life.

johnnyseattle said...

Police reports are not trials nor are they intended to be. As you know, these police reports are the culmination of their investigative notes, witness statements, interviews, etc etc. These investigators had a chance to meet these people face to face and drew their own conclusions as to veracity, etc. Sure, those involved with Rosemary all had reason to sully her name. I just wonder why each of them had such a reason. To the point that they were willing to lie to the cops about her which can land one in a mess of trouble. If they get caught in that act, they are essentially opening themselves into falsifying a witness statement and ultimately an obstruction of justice charge. A lot of trouble to step into, eh? I had an associate find that out the hard way and while she wasn't convicted she spent $5k in legal fees getting himself extricated.

grimtraveller said...

johnnyseattle said...

Police reports are not trials nor are they intended to be. As you know, these police reports are the culmination of their investigative notes, witness statements, interviews, etc etc. These investigators had a chance to meet these people face to face and drew their own conclusions as to veracity, etc

I agree with all you said there.

Sure, those involved with Rosemary all had reason to sully her name. I just wonder why each of them had such a reason

Well, Martin, LaBerge and Struthers all had experience of Rosemary's naughtiness while she was supposedly involved with them. Jack Wynatt felt that Rosemary supported his wife when he and she divorced. Suffice it say that she may not have been any of their favourite person.
There's a section in "Helter Skelter" when Bugliosi is commenting on the early parts of the case and he says something like "Hollywood can be a bitchy town." He hen goes on to say things were said about Sharon, the inference being that they wouldn't have been said if she was alive and also there being no proof of these things that were said.
With nothing to lose, people talk.

To the point that they were willing to lie to the cops about her

I wouldn't say any of the 4 men lied. They gave their opinions on whether or not she had lesbian affairs. But none of them had proof or were able to offer anything other than their suspicions. None of them even said definitively that Rosemary was that way inclined. No woman came out and said "yeah, I had a fling ting with Rosemary" but those that were lesbian didn't hide the fact that they were. So the police conclusions on that matter were and remain unsubstantiated.

johnnyseattle said...

Hey Grim
I appreciate your points. The picture we get of Rosemary is that with her 'naughtiness' she is less June Cleaver than she appears at first glance.

What I find interesting is that there was supposedly an estate sale in the mid 70's. Was there such a sale?

In all editions of his Book of Helter Skelter, not once did Vince Bugliosi correct his statement that Rosemary had an estate of over $2 million. He put it in the first edition and never once corrected it. Say what you will about Bug, from what I can tell, he is not the sort of guy to leave an incorrect fact -especially one that goes to raise doubts about Rosemary being a regular housewife/dress maker in a strip mall- in subsequent editions.

We always kick it around about her 'estate.' Sure would be good to get a final answer on that account.

katie8753 said...

And another piece of the "puzzle" drops into place. LOL.

James said...

Rosemary met Leno in 1959 if I understand my Tate-LaBianca history correctly. At the time of her death she had a prized 1957 Ford Thunderbird that Leno bought new then after their marriage gave to her because she loved it so much. She was working as a car hop when she met Leno and was a single mom. That Mercedes would have been beyond her means at the time so she could not have been the orig owner. You can always research a car by it's VIN number.

Jason Houston said...

MEMO: TO THOSE ON THIS THREAD INTERESTED IN RUNNING CALIFORNIA VIN #s: Prior to 1991 California maintained VIN records for a maximum of five years from the date of latest entry on a vehicle's record. For example, if your car's registration expired on May 7, 1982, it would be purged effective May 7, 1987, and not recoverable after that time. If this Mercedes car were sold in California at an estate sale in 1975 and left California and never came back, there would be no California record of it at this late date in time.

To correct the erroneous info someone copied from Wikipedia regarding VINs, cars built prior to the 1955 year model were registered by motor numbers, that is the engine block's serial number stamped at the factory. As car bodies became more of a theft problem than engines had been, the federal government mandated all US-built cars 1955 model-year and newer had to have a body serial # for registration purpose, and engine #s would no longer be used or tracked (exception: motorcycles). In 1968, all US-built cars had to have a uniform VIN plate visible through the windshield; most manufacturer's placed this on the right. Due to time expended by law enforcement to walk around the car to see the VIN, in 1969 they had to be placed on the left side. Vehicles built after the 1980 model-year had to conform by having 17 digits in their VINs, and this applied to both foreign and domestic passenger cars and light trucks.

Hope this helps!