Terror in Napa Valley: The Murders of Adriane Insogna & Leslie Mazzara

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In early 2004, two young women met & decided to live together in the heart of California’s idyllic wine country in the town of Napa Valley. The town, of course, is known for its gorgeous views, comfortable weather  and had also been considered a very safe place to live. Before Halloween 2004, there hadn’t been a single homicide in over two years. 27-year-old Lauren Meanza, an all-state athlete with a political science degree, working as a volleyball coach at a community college &  26-year-old Adriane Insogna, a civil engineer with the city’s sanitation district. Lauren would describe Adriane as mellow, a smart, good friend. Adriane had been described as a very tough girl. She had survived a near fatal car accident in 1994 while she was in HS & had to overcome a lot of physical & emotional obstacles after the accident.  The two rented a house on the west side of town on Dorset Street not far from downtown. On move-in day, the two recruited help from Adriane’s friend Ben Katz; two other friends, Lily Prudhomme & Eric Copple came over for a last-minute celebration. Lily Prudhomme knew both women though was closer with Adriane; they would see each other after work & at the gym. 

In June of 2004, Leslie Mazzara, an out-going former beauty queen from South Carolina  became the third roommate.  Leslie had broken up with a boyfriend & moved to Napa about 6 months before Halloween 2004. She began working as a greeter at the Niebaum-Coppola winery run by Francis Ford Coppola. Her mom recalled that as a younger girl, she wanted to be a mother, a teacher and Miss America before she was 21. Lauren described her as out-going & spunky, warm & filled with southern hospitality & someone people were just drawn to.

The girls were very well liked, social  with plenty of friends & no obvious enemies.The trio were getting along really well until a small hitch in the road on October 28th when Leslie brought a boyfriend home in the middle of the night. Adriane & Lauren were kept up that night with the sounds of Leslie having sex. They had never discussed the rules when bringing home a gentleman caller but after a discussion, agreed that it would be okay. 

On Halloween night of 2004, the three girls stayed home to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters. By 11pm, the three headed to bed; Adriane & Leslie to their upstairs bedrooms & Lauren to her downstairs room. All was quiet until 1:30 and 2am when a security light was tripped behind the garage. Lauren heard her dog Chloe give a “warning bark”, but she dismissed the light, thinking it was from one of Adriane’s cats. Lauren quieted her dog & began to fall back to sleep when she heard someone enter the house & head upstairs. She assumed it was Leslie’s boyfriend. She remembers thinking at the time, “Oh no. Not again.” Assuming it would be a repeat of three nights earlier. Lauren again began to drift back to sleep when she heard a terrifying commotion of a blood curdling scream. Lauren said that Adriane kept screaming, “Oh my God, please help. Please help!” Lauren knew by the scream that something awful had happened.

In the pitch darkness of the house, Lauren crept out of her bedroom. Overcome with fear, she froze in the darkness in her doorway under the stairs, listening until the intruder came bounding down the stairs. “He was just flying down the stairs, breaking stuff as he came around.” She assumed at this point that she would be the next target. In response, Lauren ran from her room. In a panic, she headed toward the back door where the yard was enclosed in a 6’ fence, preventing her from fleeing from the area. She said she felt like she was in a horror movie & was sure she was going to die. Lauren hid as she heard what she thought was the intruder leaving the house. When things quieted down, she could hear Adriane calling for help.

Unsure if the intruder had actually left, Lauren went back into the house to check on her roommate. From there, she crept up the stairs toward Adriane’s room where she was met with a horrifying sight. The entire room was covered in blood & Adraine was lying down, next to her bed, she was still alive though Lauren could tell that she was essentially gone/dying. Leslie laid face down in a pile of clothes with stab wounds covering her upper body & arms. 

Lauren ran back downstairs, slipping on the blood from Leslie & Adriane & attempted to call 911 on the kitchen phone but found that it was dead.  She got her cellphone to call 911. She gave the operator information until her phone also went dead. Scared that the intruder was still near, she headed to her car & called 911 as she drove. In a matter of minutes, Lauren’s life changed, losing both her roommates & friends. By the time the police had arrived, both women were dead. The scene was so horrific that a female officer became ill & had to leave. There was blood covering the staircase so the detective entered the house through the upstairs window in order to preserve the crime scene. 

Adriane’s mom heard the tragic news from Australia & Leslie’s mother was in her Michigan home when she got the news. Both were obviously devastated.

Being the sole survivor, police relied on Lauren for answers; who would possibly want to kill her roommates? Lauren became suspicious of everyone, unsure who the killer was or if he had intended to kill her too. She couldn’t possibly imagine knowing someone who would do this to her friends.  She believes that the only reason she was spared that night was that she just happened to have her door closed that night. She tortures herself with questions; had she let her dog out, would she also be dead? What if she had confronted the intruder?

Police spend days at the crime scene investigating. Fibers & blood were found on the window the killer had come in & gone out of. No fingerprints & no weapon was left behind.  DNA workup found three individuals’ blood; Leslie, Adriane & what police said was the killer. The third sample was from a white male of likely European descent.

The town of Napa was terrified that this was the work of what could be a serial killer on the loose. But it seemed to investigators that the intruder had known the victims & suspected it could be a crime of passion. The pattern of blood at the crime scene & the autopsy indicated that whoever did this was very angry based on the multiple stab wounds.  It was suspected that Leslie was the target; she was new to the area & had met a lot of people on blind dates. Lauren indicated that Leslie attracted a lot of males & had a lot of men that were interested in her. Napa detective Dan Lonergan believed that the killer likely entered Leslie’s room first. It was speculated that she was attacked while she was sleeping & Adriane likely woke up & heard what was happening. The intruder likely then entered Adriane’s room where they both struggled greatly in a vicious fight since the killer was injured/his blood was found at the scene.

The investigation started with those close to the girls. The police collected 266 items for possible evidence; from microscopic fibers to cigarette butts. The cigarretees hadn’t appeared to be there for a long time & none of the girls were smokers. 1300 people had been interviewed & 200 DNA samples had been collected though none were a match. After 3 weeks, the police were hitting a dead end. A medium ended up even getting involved who was channeling information from Leslie & Adriane. The police were open to this idea & met with Lauren at the station; they sketched a picture of a man with a goatee based on the description Leslie & Adriane gave the medium; it was added to the case file. Michael Perry, one of the mediums was especially connecting with Adriane who seemed to be the main voice. He asked Lauren who Lily was. Lauren could only think of Adriane’s best friend, Lily & couldn’t understand how she could be correlated. She dismissed the idea, as did the police. Instead they focused on those closer to Leslie. Later the medium came to the home which was now empty. He was able to point out where the girls were found & who was attacked first. Michael Perry then said that he strongly felt that the killer was someone they knew. Because Lily had been brought up, 26 year old Eric Copple was added to the detective’s checklist to be interviewed & have his DNA sampled. When he saw Eric’s picture, he noticed the goatee similar to what the medium had sketched. Before interviewing Copple, the detective was taken off the case & rotated out of investigations. He passed the list to the incoming detective, but it fell through the cracks & Eric was never contacted.

Speaking of Adriane’s best friend Lily & her boyfriend Eric.. the couple decided to get married after dating for 8 years. They had originally planned to get married on November 1, which was the day Adriane ended up dying though this had been put on hold because of relationship issues. Lily & Adriane had planned to travel to Australia instead. Lily was tormented by this thought, knowing that Lauren & Adriane would have been in Hawaii for the wedding had it happened. Arlene, Adriene’s mom, was invited to attend the wedding in January & read from the Bible in memory of her daughter.

By the following summer, police remained unable to identify the killer. At this time they began to look more closely at 2 cigarette butts that had been found outside the house. After DNA had been extracted from them, they matched the DNA from the blood sample in the kitchen. It was speculated that the intruder stood outside, nervously smoking both cigarettes down to their filters as he worked up the courage or maybe just to go over his literal plan of attack. 

By mid-August, Lauren was clued into the fact that the killer was likely a smoker so she began to reevaluate people she might know. This brought 26 year-old Eric Copple to her mind, recalling that he was a smoker. She described Eric  as a “very shy, very quiet guy.” Someone who was not very social. Eric had been at the candlelight vigil held two weeks after the murders. He worked as a land surveyor, and had never been in trouble with the law, not even for a traffic violation.  She gave his name to homicide detectives & found that Eric’s DNA had not yet been checked; even after this, another month passed with no results.  On September 22, 2005, police released photos of the brand of cigarettes the killer smoked; Camel Turkish Gold which had only been on the market for only four months at the time of the murders..  During this time, Eric heard the information about the cigarette butts & found himself under intense pressure.  He wrote his family suicide notes though didn’t carry through on his threats. His family confronted him & convinced him to turn himself in to the Napa Police.

Arlene was devastated with the news; comparable to the pain she felt when she learned of Adrian’s murder. She never felt any negative, dangerous or sinister vibes from Eric. Ben Katz who was a close friend of Adriane’s & often hung out with Lily & Eric remembers that Lily would do most of the talking & Eric would just be there, just figuring he was shy. 

People wondered how Lily went nearly a year without suspecting a thing. She had spoken with 48 Hours not long after her wedding & said she couldn’t imagine the killer would go unnoticed. “Somebody must have seen something. Somebody out there knows something. Somebody would have to notice a friend of theirs acting strange.”  As she spoke these words, Eric sat right there in the room with the 48 Hours team during the interview. She also said, “It’s important. It’s important to find out who did this and to find out why. In some sick way I want to know. I want to know how it happened. I mean this is my friend, I want to know what happened to her.” Arlene believed that Lily couldn’t have suspected her husband as the two were like sisters.  There was no proof that Lily knew Eric was responsible. The biggest question was how Eric had not been discovered sooner. Somehow he had been skipped over despite living & working in Napa & being in Adriane’s circle of friends.

The big question that remained was, why would Eric have done this. D.A. Gary Lieberstein feels that Eric was resentful of Lily’s other friendships & relationships that took time away from him. On Halloween night he had gotten extremely drunk & angry that Lily refused to spend the night with him at their apartment. He feared  his relationship with Lily was slipping away. He was all alone on what was supposed to be his wedding day. His memory from there is spotty from what he tells cops. He claimed he had some memory of leaving his house & taking a knife but didn’t know how he ended up at the house on Dorset. He remembers smoking a cigarette out front, going in the window but not much else. He would not admit that he knew what he did. He knew he was responsible but claimed his eyes were closed.

He recalls going home & starting a fire pit where he burned his bloodied clothes & shoes. He told investigators that he didn’t remember what he did with the knife he used to stab Adriane & Leslie. He had no motive as to why he killed Leslie.

Copple & the district attorney struck a deal to spare the families the ordeal of a trial. He plead guilty to two counts of first degree murder & was spared the death penalty

Arlene was able to confront Eric at this sentencing, saying, “Eric, you knew Adriane, you know me and Eric, I know you. You are a man who violently stabbed to death the best friend of the woman you loved. That is not love, Eric. You cannot love Lily & bring a knife into Adriane’s home & stab her again & again and again and again & again & again & again & yet again.  Eric sat stone-faced during this. 

Lily was given the opportunity to speak on Eric’s behalf & said, “I wish with all my heart these events had been avoided.” “Eric there is nothing you could do to make me love you any less. These words are just as true today as they were on that afternoon.”

Arlene was stung by Lily’s words. When Eric was given the opportunity to speak, he said, “I am a broken man. A man splintered by a penetrating awareness of my own potential for wickedness. While I cannot fathom the full extent of the anguish that I have caused, I recognize that my sinful deeds have inflicted terrific agony on a number of people. The words evade me to articulate the depths of my sorrow. I was afraid my relationship with Lily, the singular ray of light in my black world, was in peril of collapsing.

In his demented mind, Eric thought Adriane was trying to convince Lily to leave him. As Lauren said, he was deathly afraid of losing Lily. But now he will be in jail for life without the possibility for parole & never spend another night under the same roof as his wife. 

Leslie’s mother refuses to dwell on her grief, saying, “Her 26 years were full & rich and productive & she was a gift. I’m so grateful that I got to be her mom and that she brightened our lives. I miss her a lot.” 

Arlene says of Adriane, “I sometimes expect to see her walking in the door. I see her face clearly beside me and then I understand just what a loss is.”


  1. ABC News: Sole Survivor of Napa Killings Speaks
  2. Murderpedia Facebook
  3. CBS News: Nightmare in Napa
  4. 2004 Halloween Napa Valley: YouTube uploaded by Captain Black from Psychic Investigators 

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