Updated: Apr 29
Please note that this, and all episodes of Thrice Cursed have been adapted from their original spoken form to text by myself, and some additional ad-libbed content may have been omitted. All content within is the sole property of Thrice Cursed Podcast. Please don't plagiarize. Plagiarism sucks.
Hello, I’m Rebekkah Rosewood. And this is Thrice Cursed.
-intro music plays-
Welcome back to the 3rd and final Halloween episode. In this episode, I attempt to answer the following question: What causes a “man” (and keep in mind that I use the term man here extremely loosely), who has no criminal record, to murder 2 women in cold blood?
October 31st 2004 was shaping up to be a good day for Napa Valley, CA trio Adriane Insogna, Leslie Ann Mazzara, and Lauren Meanza. The three women shared a home together on Dorset Street, and spent quite a bit of time together within. This wasn’t a “find a roommate on craigslist, and pretend they don’t exist until the lease is up” kind of situation. --Been there, done that, do not recommend. Craigslist people are a WEIRD brand of people.-- Rather, this was 3 girls who genuinely cared for one another, and enjoyed each other's company. Which is why it isn’t too shocking that the 3 women in their late 20s spent Halloween evening together at home. They handed out candy to the trick or treaters, then headed to their rooms for bed; Adrianne and Leslie on the second floor, and Lauren on the first. They were all asleep by 11.
This is where the night took a deadly turn. Between 1:30 and 2 am, a security light behind the garage switched on, and Lauren’s dog let out a bark. A bark Lauren described as a “warning bark.” Lauren dismissed this. Adriane had cats, and they would sometimes set off the motion sensor. So, she calmed her dog, and settled back into bed, when she heard someone entering the house and heading upstairs. She assumed this was Leslie’s boyfriend. The girls had all agreed overnight guests were fine, and this wouldn’t have been the first. So, in a decision that likely saved her life, Lauren stayed in bed, calming her dog once more, and drifted back to sleep.
Lauren awoke abruptly. She wasn’t certain why she’d woken up, but she knew that something didn’t feel right. She laid there a moment, disoriented, and trying to place what she was sensing, when she heard a scream. Lauren later described it as a “blood-curdling, terrified scream.” She jumped out of bed, and stepped just out her bedroom door, listening. She could hear her friend Adriane calling for help. It was then that she heard someone pounding down the stairs at a dead run. Right. Towards. Her.
Lauren took off, running out the back door in a panic. She was now in her backyard, which was surrounded by 6-foot fences. Realizing she was trapped, and that this person would very likely follow her, she did her best to hide. But to her surprise, they didn’t find her, didn’t even look. From her hiding spot, she heard the intruder struggling with the blinds in the kitchen. Then, silence, and soft cries for help coming from upstairs.
She never saw whomever the intruder had been, and they exited the home the same way they came-- through a ground floor window. Somehow, she either hadn’t been spotted, or wasn’t on the intruder’s radar to begin with. After gathering herself for a moment, she went back into the house. She made an attempt to call 911, but the line in the kitchen was dead.
Regardless of being unable to call for help, she began to ascend the stairs, heart pounding with each step. Adriane and Leslie were both in Adriane’s room, Lauren noticed. And as she went to move closer, she slipped on something. Blood. The entire bedroom appeared to be covered in it. Leslie Mazzara lay face down, her upper body covered in stab wounds. And just a few feet away, Adriane Insogna was hiding, crouched behind her bed. She was still alive, but unable to speak, and bleeding rapidly from multiple stab wounds.
Lauren had seen enough. She rushed downstairs, grabbed her cellphone, and got into her car. She was, understandably, terrified, as she drove away from the home and called the police.
She had thought that whatever had happened, it must have been some kind of horrible, tragic accident. This kind of thing only happened in horror movies, not in real life! Especially not in a place like Napa. But police revealed that this wasn’t the case. The two women had been stabbed violently, and repeatedly. Napa Detective Dan Lonergan said the killer likely attacked Leslie in her sleep, but that Adriane woke up and heard what was happening. It was clear that there had been an intense struggle between the two. One in which the murderer had been injured. A drop of blood, presumably the killer’s, had been found just outside the broken kitchen window.
Several cigarette butts had been found outside the home as well. They had all been smoked below the filter, causing Detective Todd Shulman to speculate between 2 theories, should the DNA on the cigarette butts match the blood sample. Theory one was that the murderer was inexperienced, and nervous, trying to work up the courage to go inside. Or, theory 2, which was that it could have been someone who was extremely deliberate and was thinking through their thoughts and plans about what they would do inside the home.
Before those theories could take off, however, the blood samples, and the cigarette butts had to be sent off to forensics to see if both the DNA sample from the blood, and that from the cigarette butts, matched. In total, 266 items of potential evidence had been taken from the home. A preliminary DNA analysis on the blood sample narrowed their suspect list to a white male, of probable north European descent. --RREEEAAALLLLY narrows that down when you consider the population of Napa.
Now, they had to build the suspect list. No one could think of anybody who would want to harm either of the girls, but as with all investigations, they began with those closest to the women. In Leslie’s case, that meant looking at the long list of those who admired her. Understandably, she had many admirers. She was beautiful, kind, and had a bright future ahead of her. There were several potential suspects on this long list of admirers.
One was a former college boyfriend, who after only months of dating had purchased a car for the woman, and had created a web page dedicated to her after they’d broken up. --I personally just created a webpage myself, and that is no simple task today. Worse in 2004. So, that’s some serious dedication. Not to mention the car.--
Another was the father of a former fiance. Emphasis on the former, here. During Leslie’s engagement to her fiance, his father began calling their home quite frequently. And I know what you’re thinking. It’s not too suspicious for a father to be calling his son… However, these phone calls were more often than not, while his son was away at work, and upon her answering and telling him as such, the man would insist on having a conversation with her. He’d call Leslie often enough that she began refusing to answer the phone. It seemed like the father had quite an obsession with her, which, honestly just gives me such Steven Powell vibes. Gross. Incidentally, that very same night, Father of the Fiance called Leslie. Twice. She no longer lived in the same state, and was no longer engaged to his son. So why on Earth would this man be calling her?
If that made all of the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, you’re definitely not alone. When I first read that I was internally screaming, “yepp! He did it! That’s the guy!” The investigating officers traveled to South Carolina to meet with the man, and question him. He denied any involvement in the murders, and stated that the calls were an… unfortunate coincidence. Which, understatement much? He also denied any and all accusations of infatuation. Both he and his son provided a DNA sample. Neither of which matched the DNA found at the crime scene. For this reason, I opted to leave their names out of the story. Many lives have been ruined in other cases due to, and I quote, unfortunate coincidences, and ties to crimes, and I’d rather not further perpetuate that here.
With both the boyfriend from college, and the fiance and father not panning out as suspects, investigators in Napa continued collecting DNA from other people the women had ties to. At home, Leslie had been dating 2 men. One friend of Leslie, Lily Prudholme, recalled finding one of the men strange. While hanging out at a bar one night with Leslie and this boyfriend, Leslie had been approached by a strictly platonic male friend. It became very apparent to Lily that the boyfriend had been uncomfortable with her talking with other men. Behavior like this is commonly an indicator of control and anger issues, which can have a tendency to become deadly. After the murders, Lily conveyed her concerns to the officers. Like all of the other suspects, however, this boyfriend’s DNA was not a match.
At this point, they turned the investigation around, now focusing on Adriane. She too had some problems with her relationship. Lily had stated that Adriane would often come to work crying, and being her friend, she would console Adriane. Towards the end of that relationship, Adriane’s friends could only see the negative side to the boyfriend. He was next in the line of questioning. Upon searching his home, a knife was collected from his bedroom, and blood samples were taken, along with his clothes, and the sheets off his bed. Once again though, this lead led nowhere, and the case was at a standstill.
By this point, rumors were circulating throughout the town about possible reasons for their murders. All of which were unsubstantiated by any sort of fact or evidence. But, they included a hit due to some kind of involvement with drugs, or that Leslie’s employer, winery owner, Francis Ford Coppola, had mob ties and the women were collateral damage in some kind of feud.
Ridiculous theories aside, by the following Summer, there were still no answers. Everyone remained baffled as ever. In that time, they’d conducted 1,300 interviews, and collected 218 DNA samples, ruling them out as suspects, and trying to gather more clues. They looked at friends, more ex boyfriends, friends of those boyfriends, friends of friends, and so on. The hunt for this killer spanned 8 states, and appeared to have no end in sight. It remained this way until September of 2005.
Almost a full year after the murders, the police finally had a new break. Evidence they had collected at the scene had finally been tested. --Which, don’t get me started on the amount of untested evidence that sits in evidence lockers for months, years, decades, etc.. We would be here all day. All month, even. It’s ridiculous.-- Anyways, the police now had a lead.
In mid-August, police informed Lauren that the killer was likely a smoker, and she began to search her mind for clues. She recalled a friend’s boyfriend, who had celebrated the night she and Adriane had moved into the house. He was a smoker. She immediately turned the man’s name over to police.
One month later, however, police still had not gotten into contact with the man. They’d been “unable to reach him.” --Like okay, CHAD. Two people have just been murdered, but let’s just try a phone call. No big deal. It’s fine.
All of those cigarette butts that had been found outside of the home were finally tested for DNA. And it was determined that the DNA on those cigarettes did in fact match the blood found outside of the broken window. The next day, police released photos of the brand smoked by the killer. The brand was Camel Turkish Gold. Today, that wouldn’t mean much. It’s a popular brand. But back in November 2004, Camel Turkish Gold had been on the market for only 4 months. Police were hopeful that this information would prompt someone to come forward with something they had seen that might have seemed like no big deal, otherwise.
Within 5 days of this information release, they had a suspect in custody.
26 year old Eric Matthew Copple had been keeping a close watch on the case, and when the information about the cigarettes came out, all of the tension he’d felt mounting since Halloween night seemed to reach a head. Just two days after, Copple’s parents received suicide notes in the mail.
Concerned, as any parent would be, they immediately got into contact with their son. At some point, and I was unable to determine exactly when, Copple admitted to his parents that he had been the one to murder the two women. His parents convinced him to turn himself in. On Tuesday, September 27th, 2005, Eric Matthew Copple entered the police station with his wife, Lily Prudholmme -- that’s right, Adriane’s best friend--, and his parents.
So, at this point, you’re probably wondering who the heck this guy even is, and why he was able to go undetected by police, even while living in the same county.
Well, at the time of the murders, Copple was the boyfriend of Adriane’s best friend, Lily. He seemed to be extremely shy, and worked as a land surveyor. He had no prior run-ins with the law, and aside from seeming a bit anti-social, as far as I could find, no one seemed to think anything of him. Negative or otherwise. Adriane’s own mother even said, “I never felt that he was dangerous. I never felt any kind of a negative --dangerous-- sinister vibe from him at all.” So why the senseless murder?
According to several sources, Lily and Eric had been engaged prior to that Halloween. And they had intended to be wed November 1st of that year in Hawaii. Had this happened, both Adriane and Leslie would have been in Hawaii with the couple, a fact that haunts Lily to this day.
However, for some reason or another --no sources could tell me-- the wedding had been called off. And that night, the couple found themselves fighting with one another. They did not spend that evening together. From there, you know the story. But after the murders, Lily had decided that life was too short, and married Eric, where Adriane’s mother actually spoke at the wedding.
Upon Copple’s arrest, heavy scrutiny fell upon the police department. Why had he not been questioned?
As I briefly mentioned earlier, the police had called Copple multiple times during their investigations, and left several voicemails. However, Copple returned none of these calls, and it seems as though he slipped through the cracks. According to the police chief, they would have EVENTUALLY spoken to Copple and obtained a DNA test. Which.. Sure bruv. I’m so certain of it.
To no one’s surprise, Copple’s DNA matched with that on the cigarettes, as well as the blood droplet left outside of the kitchen window.
In January of 2007, Eric Matthew Copple was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, after a plea deal was agreed upon, wherein Copple pleaded guilty to first degree murder in exchange for removing the death penalty from the realm of possibilities. At this trial both the women’s mothers spoke, as did Lily, Copple’s wife. Her speech honestly baffles the hell out of me.
Here’s what she had to say in court that day.
“Adriane and I were good friends. Arlene (Adriane’s mother) and I have grieved together. Our friendship bond was stressed when Eric confessed, but it was not broken,” she said. “I know a gentler Eric.” She spoke for a moment on the depression Copple suffered from, and his alcoholism, before saying, “It sent Eric into a violent explosion. But he has paid his debt through Jesus Christ,” she said. “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.”
I don’t know about you, but I’ve stopped loving people for a LOT less than murdering 2 innocent women, one of which being my best friend, for no reason other than you COULD. But cool cool cool.
Moving on though, Copple, too, spoke at his hearing. In his statement, he too, blamed his depression and suicidal tendencies… You can’t see me, but I’m rolling my eyes HARD on this one. He mentioned the death of his grandfather, which doesn’t tie in at all, his inability to secure gainful employment, and his relationship with Lily which was crashing. Direct quote here, “It was all like it fertilized the seed of anger in my heart. There was rage inside me. If I had only listened to those who pleaded with me to get the help I needed.”
“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.” He apologized to the families of the 2 women as well. He then told the court “I was going to end my life. But I didn’t want to take the answers to my grave.” --Which, let’s face it. Had it not been for his parents, this coward ABSOLUTELY would have taken the answers to his grave.
To this day, no official motive for the murders have been released, but it is speculated that Copple feared Adriane Insogna had been coming between his relationship with Lily, and out of jealousy, chose to end the woman’s life. Leslie Ann Mazzara appears to have been an unintended victim, as, according to one source, Copple has never even met the woman.
Lily Prudhomme Copple has since divorced Eric Matthew Copple, but the last I could find on her, she kept his name, and was working on a Master’s thesis in the UK. The subject of her thesis? Forgiveness. Vom.
Adriane Michelle Insogna worked as an assistant engineer at the Napa Sanitation District. She was a student athlete, and long-time girl scout with a love for her community. She played volleyball, softball, and volunteered for numerous charitable activities. She left behind loving parents, a stepmother, and 3 siblings.
Leslie Ann Mazzara was a sales coordinator with Neibaum-Coppola Winery in Rutherford, California. She was also a pageant winner, having been crowned Miss Williamston in 2002. She left behind her mother, grandmother, and 2 brothers.
Both women were said to be outgoing, and vivacious, with so much potential on their horizons. Only to be murdered by a piece of garbage who never learned how to share.
While I don’t believe that you need to have forgiveness to move on, I hope that the families of Adriane Insogna and Leslie Mazzara have found peace. Whether that be through forgiveness, rage, or… meditation? I don’t know, but.. Peace.
In addition to the families, I hope Lauren Meanza can move past that horrible night. She remains haunted by questions. What could she have done differently? What if she’d just let her dog out that night? Lauren has said that she still has fear in her heart, understandably, but with the help of good friends, and exercise, she is coping. About Adriane and Leslie, she says, “The girls added something to my life. I’ll never forget that. It’s just --having that chunk gone is hard to fill.”
This has been the cursed tale of one stupid asshole who murdered two beautiful women named Adriane Insogna and Leslie Ann Mazzara, simply because he was jealous, and felt inadequate.
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Until next time, keep your curses hexy, and your hexes sexy.
Sources: napavalleyregister, cbsnews.com, wistv.com, sfgate.com, medium.com, abcnews.go.com, timesheraldonline.com, heresthefuckingtwist.com, latimes.com, legacy.com