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Motorcycle club founder and ‘violent sociopath’ convicted of executing 3 people to be released from prison after terminal diagnosis

Thomas F. Maniscalco (Orange County DA's Office)

Thomas F. Maniscalco (Orange County District Attorney’s Office)

The 78-year-old founder of a motorcycle club in Southern California convicted of executing three people over 40 years ago will be released from prison this week due to a terminal cancer diagnosis despite staunch opposition from prosecutors who say he’s still a dangerously violent sociopath.

According to a Thursday news release from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, Thomas F. Maniscalco must be released from confinement within 48 hours due to the state’s compassionate release law.

Maniscalco, the co-founder of the Hessian Motorcycle Club, was serving a sentence of 46 years to life in prison for executing three people in what prosecutors called a “Memorial Day massacre.”

He was convicted in 1994 on three counts of second-degree murder in the shooting deaths of fellow Hessian member Richard “Rabbit” Rizzone, 36, Thomas Monahan, 28, who served as Rizzone’s bodyguard, and Rizzone’s girlfriend, Rena Miley, 19.

Prosecutors said that Miley, the daughter of a police officer, was found naked and had been mentally tortured and raped before she was murdered in the attack in Rizzone’s Westminster home.

Prosecutors emphasized that Maniscalco had never shown any remorse and said that even with a terminal diagnosis, he still presents a significant threat to public safety.

When he’s released, they say Maniscalco will be a free man with nothing to lose.

“He has taken no responsibility for the lives he destroyed,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a statement. “At every turn, the California state Legislature and Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has continued to show sympathy and concern for the murderer, but turned a blind eye to the murdered and their loved ones.”

According to prosecutors, Maniscalco and another Hessian member, Daniel “Shame” Duffy, executed Rizzone because Maniscalco believed that the man was ripping him off in his meth distribution and counterfeiting ring.

The brutal executions of Monahan and Miley followed because the duo wanted to make sure there were no witnesses.

Duffy was convicted in 1992 of special circumstances murders and was sentenced to life in prison.

At Maniscalco’s 1994 sentencing hearing, the judge described him as an extremely dangerous sociopath, adding that she did not think he would ever cease to present a danger to society, the news release states.

“Maniscalco didn’t care about the pain and suffering of his victims as they took their last breaths, and yet we are supposed to unleash a violent sociopath back into society so he can live out his final days out of custody,” Spitzer said. “State law handcuffs judges from exercising their discretion to keep sadistic murders like him behind bars where he belongs – and that has to change.”

Maniscalco has been denied parole twice, most recently in 2020.

Under the current compassionate release laws, discretion is largely removed from judges in determining an inmate’s suitability for release, prosecutors said. Judges can only consider an inmate’s current mental and physical condition and are prohibited from weighing the heinousness of an inmate’s crime.

The DA’s office was further incensed because they were only given 10 days’ notice of Maniscalco’s impending release.

To prevent the compassionate release of an inmate, prosecutors are required to show that the individual is likely to commit murder, mayhem, or a sexually violent offense.

Maniscalco will be released to his daughter, who prosecutors say lives in San Jose.

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.