HAWTHORNE, Calif. — When Jeff Bailey read the name of his sister’s murderer among the list of inmates whose sentences Governor Newsom recently commuted, he was overwhelmed with emotions.
“This is heart wrenching,” Bailey said. “This is difficult, this is a betrayal of the legacy of my sister.”
Bailey’s sister, Deborah, was 26 years old when she was brutally murdered by her husband, Thomas Waterbury, on Christmas Eve night in 1980.
According to court records and published reports at the time, Waterbury shot her twice in the temple as she slept. Then he shot and injured himself, and called police to falsely claim there was an intruder. He had a mistress at the time who testified in court that Waterbury told her she could move in with him on Christmas Day.
Waterbury had also taken out a $100,000 insurance policy on his wife prior to the murder.
Bailey’s family saw the crime scene, and described it as unspeakably gruesome. “The Deputy District Attorney said he had never seen such a brutal killing that had been so planned out,” Bailey said.
Waterbury was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole and has spent the last 39 years serving behind bars. He lost an appeal to his conviction in 1983.
“He is manipulative, he is calculating, and I do not believe he should be released. Not only for what he did, but for the safety of the people living in California,” Bailey said.
Waterbury’s sentence was among 21 commuted by Governor Gavin Newsom on June 26. Several of those sentences involved murder convictions.
Newsom’s press team did not respond to requests for comment on this case, but in his commutation certification, Newsom said that during Waterbury’s incarceration, he dedicated himself to rehabilitation, had an exemplary disciplinary record, and obtained both a bachelor’s degree in Theology and a master’s degree in ministry.
Newsom wrote that he “concluded that Mr. Waterbury merits the opportunity to make his case to the board of parole hearings.”
“He speaks to his remorse and he speaks to how he has changed, but not once during the 39 years has he ever reached out to our family,” Bailey said. “I find that not to be truthful of feeling remorse.”
Bailey said he believes the commutation is a grave mistake and hopes the parole board reverses the governor’s decision. He has this sobering message for Newsom:
“I hope and pray that you never get a call that one of your children has been brutally killed," he said. "And perhaps if that happened, and I pray that it never does, you would understand the harm and the hurt you have caused our family.”