Two young women killed for no discernible reason. Their families would then realize their daughter?s killer had been with them all along.
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Halloween night 2004 brought Eric Copple and his ex-fiance Lily Prudhomme together at the same party, but it didn?t go as Copple had hoped for. Instead of reconciliation, they argued. He had been depressed since Lily broke off their engagement a short while before.
After not getting what he wanted that night, Copple would let his rage build up in him, and target who he thought was keeping him and Lily apart. Her best friend, Adriane Insogna.
Not only were Adriane and Lily best friends, but they also worked together at the Napa Sanitation District. And since Lily broke off the engagement, she and Adriane had started to plan a trip together to Australia.
Copple had helped Adriane move into her new place, which she shared with two other roommates, so he knew right where to go. He arrived at the house on Dorset Street in Napa, California, and waited.
That night the three roommates Adriane Insogna, Leslie Mazzara, and Lauren Meanza, had spent the night passing out candy to neighborhood trick-or-treaters and went to bed around 10:30pm.
They had no idea a deranged man was watching the house outside, chain-smoking, and waiting for them to go to bed.
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Copple climbed through a downstairs kitchen window and quickly made his way upstairs. With efficiency, he went into Leslie Massara?s bedroom and stabbed her to death. Then he attacked Adriane Insogna leaving both women butchered and bloody.
Both women reportedly woke up during their attack and screamed. Causing Lauren Meanza?s dog to growl, in her downstairs bedroom. She left her room to check on the noise when she heard footsteps running down the stairs.
Lauren ran towards the back of the house and escaped through a door and hid in the back yard. Then she saw a man crawling out of their kitchen window. After he left, she went back in to check on her roommates.
She first saw Leslie, lying face down in the doorway to her bedroom, with blood pooling around her. Looking around, she spotted Adriane hiding behind Leslie?s bed, she was alive, but bleeding from multiple stab wounds.
Lauren ran to the landline and tried to call 911, but found the line dead. Still fearing for her life, she grabbed her cell phone and took off in her car, calling the authorities as she drove away.
Police and emergency services arrived, finding Leslie dead, and Adriane still clinging to life. Paramedics did everything they could to try and stabilize her, but Adriane passed away before arriving at the hospital.
Investigators looking at the scene noticed that neither victim was sexually assaulted, and it didn?t appear anything was missing from the house.
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When people think of California and crime, they usually believe the worse. But this double murder was the first the town had seen in over four years. Napa is a quiet, peaceful area known for wine, not a hotbed for killings.
The police gathered 218 DNA samples and interviewed over 1,300 people, and they still were no closer to finding a killer or the motive for the crime.
The one clue they hoped paid off was the unusual cigarette they had found outside the house. It was a Camel Turkish Gold butt that had DNA on it.
After determining none of the roommates smoked, and neither did any of their visitors. Investigators believed there was a good chance this cigarette belonged to the killer.
By this time, both Leslie and Adriane had been buried, and Lily had not only reconciled with Copple, but they had gotten married.
So when investigators once again started quizzing Lauren about who could have been smoking near their place. She mentioned Eric Copple, but she said she had no reason to suspect him of the crime.
After all, he was involved with Lily, none of the women who lived there. And after the murders, he attended the funerals. He had even asked Arlene Allen ? Adriane?s mother, to speak at his wedding.
In court, Arlene Allen read a statement, this is a part of that statement. ?You are a man who is so cruel as to invite me, the mother of the woman you murdered, to stand up for you at your wedding to read scripture to you of love and death and to bless your union. Throughout that weekend, you brought me into the heart of your family, knowing all the while it was you who destroyed mine.?
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But before it made its way into court, this case would drag on. With the police not being able to find a match to the cigarette butt, so they ran it through a DNA type site that tells you information about the subject, just not their identity. Which would match the family background on Copple.
Police released a statement on September 22, 2005, nearly 11 months after the murders. They said they had found DNA on a unique brand of cigarettes ? Camel Turkish Gold, at the scene. Then they hoped someone would come forward with more information.
As Copple no doubt felt the walls closing in on him, he told everything to his family, including his wife, Lily. With them at his side, he agreed to turn himself in on September 27.
In court, all those who gathered hoped that the man who took two lives would try and explain himself. But he didn?t. ?I?m a broken man. I cannot fathom an explanation for my sinful deeds . . . the terrible agony inflicted upon a great number of people. Words evade me.?
In the end, he said he had been depressed and used alcohol to cope, which only made things worse. He said he should have gotten help. ?There was a rage inside me. If I had only listened to those, who pleaded with me to get the help I needed.?
?I was going to end my life. But I didn?t want to take the answers to my grave.? Followed by ?When I talked to the police, I told the truth, as God is my witness.?
Whether he told the police the reason he killed the two women, and they chose not to release it, or Copple has kept it to himself. We might never know.
The theory as to why Copple killed that night that seems to make the most sense. Is that Copple resented Lily?s friendship with Adriane and thought it was interfering with him and Lily getting back together.
It?s been said that even though Copple knew Adriane and had met Lauren, that he and Leslie had never met. So you have to wonder why he killed her. Did Copple plan to kill all three women, and only Lauren escaped. Or did he attack Leslie by mistake, thinking she was Adriane?
Police believe that Adriane had been attacked second. That she woke up hearing Leslie screaming and went to help her. There is evidence that Adriane was able to scratch Copple before he got control of the situation. That?s when Copple subdued her with stabs.
Lily Prudhomme Copple has stuck by her husband?s side, even speaking about his trouble with depression and alcohol in court.
?It sent Eric into a violent explosion. But he has paid his debt through Jesus Christ.?
?In the days before he confessed, I knew something was terribly bothering him. I told him, ?Eric, there is nothing in this world that you could do to make me love you less.? Those words are just as true today as they were that afternoon.?
Instead of having a trial, and facing the death penalty. Copple pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, in exchange for a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Whether or not he has made amends with God, doesn?t change the fact that he took two young women from this world, nothing can undo that evil.
Come back all month for new Halloween True Crime Stories!