Read an excerpt of Paul LaRosa's true-crime book, "Nightmare In Napa." The book hits stores on April 24, 2007, and is published by Simon & Schuster's Pocket Books division, which like CBSNews.com is a unit of CBS Corp.
By 7:00 p.m. on Halloween night, 2004, Lauren Meanza was back home at 2631 Dorset Street in Napa, California. It had been a busy Sunday. She had played some so-cer—a game she loved—and then spent the rest of the day doing something she found not nearly as enjoyable: shopping. The shopping had been more exhausting than the soccer, and Lauren was happy to be home.
Greeting her as she pulled her car into the garage was the effigy of a luckless witch hanging from the front porch to let the local children know that, yes, this was a Hal-loween house where trick-or-treaters were more than welcome.
And they were. Lauren's two roommates, Adriane Insogna and Leslie Mazzara, were there at the front door, giggling, cooing, and feigning fright at the little ghosts and goblins coming to call in sometimes spooky, but mostly sweet, costumes. The house supply of candy was going fast, but Adriane and Leslie didn't mind; they couldn't hand it out fast enough.
Lauren wasn't quite as enthusiastic about the annual Halloween ritual. "It's not that I don't like kids or anything," she was quick to point out. Rather, it was that her aging dog, Chloe, a German shepherd mix, didn't like strangers coming to the door and let every-one know it by barking each and every time someone rang the bell. It cracked the room-mates up, and they looked at Chloe and laughed every time the doorbell rang.
It was a fun night, as it often was down on Dorset Street, just minutes from Napa's downtown. Lauren, Adriane, and Leslie—three single women—got along famously and without "all that drama" that's part of many roommate situations. All three were brunettes and twenty-six years old, but that's where the similarities ended.
Leslie Mazzara, a small-town beauty queen with stunning green eyes, had been in Napa for only six months. She grew up near Orlando, Florida, and later in Anderson, South Carolina, and went to college at the University of Georgia. Being a Southerner, Leslie was the most distinctive of the three roommates, simply because she was the outsider. New to town, Leslie was in a hurry to meet new people, and she did so with a vengeance. She was brimming with social energy, eating out, going to bars, and dancing till all hours of the night. Leslie loved dancing and had studied classical ballet for fifteen years. During the day, she worked at the Niebaum-Coppola winery in the sales department, where she used her well-honed people skills to good advantage.
Adriane Insogna (rhymes with lasagna) was an assistant engineer at the Napa Sani-tation District, having graduated from Cal Poly down the coast in beautiful San Luis Obispo. She was local and had been raised Up Valley in Calistoga, where she'd lived since she was nine years old. Adriane was a bit overweight, with a warm smile and an en-gaging personality. She was close to her mother, Arlene Allen, and made an effort to include Arlene, who was twice divorced, in some of her social activities. In short, she was the perfect daughter. She couldn't cook, friends said, but she loved to bake, and she and Leslie had made Halloween cupcakes that very day. Adriane also loved volleyball and volunteered as a scorekeeper at Napa Valley Community College.
Lauren Meanza was the quietest of the roommates. If you had to rate the three and pick the one who was the least social, Lauren, who spoke unemotionally and affected a blasé attitude, would win hands down. A jock and the most athletic of the three, she coached volleyball at the local community college and played volleyball and soccer in adult leagues every chance she got. This was her first apartment on her own, and she had brought along her dog, Chloe. Lauren was also the neat freak of the three and of-ten had to clean up after her buddies, but she didn't mind—not too much, anyway. They were both good roommates, kind and loving, and she knew they'd do anything for her.