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Nephew of Manson Family Murder Victim Speaks Out After Leslie Van Houten's Release from Prison

The nephew of a man murdered by the Manson Family said that Van Houten's prison release "profoundly impacts" the victims' families, calling her "a cold-blooded killer in one of the most notorious murder rampages in U.S. history."

By Grace Jidoun
How Charles Manson Cultivated Relationships With Several Women

Following Tuesday's prison release of Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten on parole, the nephew of one of the Manson Family cult's murder victims has spoken out, saying her release "profoundly impacts" the families of all of the victims. 

In August of 1969, hairstylist-to-the-stars Jay Sebring was kicked, shot, and stabbed to death by Manson Family member Charles “Tex” Watson” during the horrific Sharon Tate massacre in the Hollywood Hills. After fellow Manson follower Van Houten was released on parole Tuesday, Sebring’s nephew, Anthony DiMaria, criticized her release.

RELATED: Leslie Van Houten, Follower of Cult Leader Charles Manson, Released from California Prison

“Leslie Van Houten has always kind of propped herself up as a Manson follower," DiMaria told CNN. "But she's anything but. She is a cold-blooded killer in one of the most notorious murder rampages in United States history. So with her release now, any other violent criminal or killer whose crimes fall beneath the bar of Leslie Van Houton's very extreme ... crimes that also have historical impact, that opens the door for them. And it is our fear that the floodgates in the California penal system will be unhinged."

Leslie Van Houten

While Van Houten was not directly involved in Sebring’s murder, just 24 hours later, she took part in a bloody ambush on married couple Rosemary and Leno LaBianca, who were targeted at random in the early morning hours in their home in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles.

During the murderous rampage, Van Houten, the youngest member of the Manson Family at age 19, held Rosemary down with a pillow over her head and reportedly inflicted 16 of the 40 stab wounds Rosemary suffered. She and other Manson Family members smeared the couple’s blood over the walls.

RELATED: Manson Family Member Leslie Van Houten Deserves Parole, Court Rules

“As Leslie collectively tortured, conspired, and killed her victims, so too our families are collectively bound by the loss and suffering of her crimes," DiMaria told CNN of the families of the multiple victims of the Manson Family. "Leslie Van Houten’s release profoundly impacts our families, but I fear that a very dangerous, pernicious precedent is established today that will impact millions of victims of violent crimes throughout the state of California today and in the years to come.”

After being convicted of first-degree murder in 1971 and sentenced to death, Van Houten's sentence was commuted to life in prison. Now, after serving more than five decades behind bars, Van Houten is the first member of the Manson Family to walk free (Charles Manson died in prison in 2017).

Leslie Van Houten

Van Houten had been recommended for parole five times since 2016, according to the Associated Press, with  California Gov. Gavin Newsom and his predecessor, Jerry Brown, denying recommendations each time. After Newsom blocked her release following a July 2020 hearing that found Van Houten suitable for parole, she filed an appeal with a trial court, where it was rejected. However, an appellate court reversed Newsom’s rejection of her parole in May.

Newsom was “disappointed by the Court of Appeal’s decision to release Ms. Van Houten,” according his communications director. However, the governor decided not to fight the state appeals court ruling to grant Van Houten parole, saying it was unlikely that the state Supreme Court would consider an appeal.

RELATED: Where Are The Members Of Charles Manson’s Killer Cult Family Now?

DiMaria told CNN that his family and other Manson Family victims’ kin “strongly, vehemently disagree” with Newsom’s decision to not fight the state appellate court’s decision to grant Van Houten parole. She had been denied parole more than 20 times in the past. 

Van Houten’s attorney, Nancy Tetreault, told CNN on Tuesday that her client has “gone through courses to confront what she did — to take responsibility for what she did,” along with “40 years of psych evaluation” to gain parole. She renounced Manson long ago.

DiMaria lost his uncle when he was just three years old, and still has fond memories of when Sebring visited his family in Las Vegas, Nevada.

DiMaria directed a 2020 documentary about his uncle’s life, Jay Sebring… Cutting to the Truth, in which he interviewed family, friends, and celebrities to share their remembrances, and memorialize his uncle as a pioneer in the men’s hairstyling industry.

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