By Nicholas McEntyre
As Charles Manson’s follower Leslie Van Houten was released from a California prison Tuesday, one of the cult’s potential victims spoke out, calling it a “sad day.”
Ava Roosevelt, a former model, who had been invited to Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate’s mansion the night of the Manson murders on August 9, 1969, does not believe Van Houten is capable of rehabilitation, even after 53 years behind bars.
“I don’t believe a person that’s capable of committing such a heinous crime can ever be rehabilitated, that kind of thing is ingrained in your DNA,” Roosevelt told the US Sun.
“It’s a sad day for me, it really is, because I don’t think justice has been served for Sharon and the other victims at all.”
Van Houten, who was 19 years old at the time, was arrested and charged in the killings of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca the night after the murders of Tate and her guests.
She admitted to holding down Rosemary with a pillowcase and stabbing her victim multiple times.
Van Houten was originally sentenced to death, but the California Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional, which led to her sentence being commuted to life in prison.
Roosevelt believes Van Houten shouldn’t have been released since Tate’s life was taken away because of the cult killings and the convicted murder will now be able to live the life Tate couldn’t.
“Sharon didn’t get to live the full life she was supposed to, so why should any of them?” Roosevelt told the outlet.
“I’m angry. I think [Van Houten] should’ve stayed in there until her day comes and have to think about what she did, not just to the people who died but to the lives of their families and friends that they also destroyed,” Roosevelt said.
The killings of Abigail Folger, Wojciech Frykowski, Steven Parent and Jay Sebring were carried out by Charles “Tex” Watson, under the direction of Manson, with Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Linda Kasabian assisting Watson.
After her release, Van Houten was transported to transitional housing, where she will stay for a year, learning the basic skills of modern society and will have to adjust to a different world than the one she was a part of before her conviction.
Van Houten’s attorney believes her client has changed from the time she was in prison and was ready to be released.
“She was a model prisoner from the day she entered prison,” her attorney Nancy Tetreault said, according to Reuters. “She’s been involved in therapy for 40 years. She just, she’s really a different person.”
“It’s not right,” Roosevelt added to the US Sun. “I don’t know if she’s mentally prepared to be free at this point, but I think she definitely still poses a threat to society and I don’t think she should’ve been given a chance to even try to adjust to the outside world.”
“As a society, we have to set some standards about what you can’t get away with. I don’t care if she was in prison for 53 years,” Roosevelt continued. “She still has the ability to watch television, to talk to people, and this was not a privilege awarded to Sharon and those others who perished.”
Roosevelt said she wishes California Gov. Gavin Newsom “stuck to his guns.”
In 2016, Roosevelt wrote a letter to then-California Gov. Jerry Brown saying she feared for her life if Van Houten was released.
“If Leslie van Houten, a convicted killer, is set free, I fear for my life and those who I love,” the letter said. “As a survivor of the death spree, I beseech your office to deny any recommendation for parole.”