Donald Shea

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Donald "Shorty" Shea
Born (1933-09-18)September 18, 1933
California
Died August 26, 1969(1969-08-26) (aged 35)
Chatsworth, California
Nationality American
Occupation Actor
Stuntman
Ranch hand

Donald Shea (September 18, 1933 – August 26, 1969) was a Hollywood stuntman, actor and victim of the Charles Manson murders. The location of his body was not discovered until 1977, nearly a decade after his death. Manson family leader Charles Manson and family members Steve "Clem" Grogan and Bruce Davis were eventually convicted of murdering Shea. Tex Watson, Bill Vance and Larry Bailey (alias Larry Giddings) were unindicted participants of the murder.

Life[edit]

Shea was a former stuntman whose dream was to pursue a film career in Hollywood, a dream which, according to many friends, he never gave up. Donald Shea was a very tall man, standing at almost 6 feet 4 inches. He worked as a bouncer, a ranch hand at Spahn Ranch, an old Hollywood movie set that had become a horse riding stables.[citation needed] Shea reportedly got along with the other ranch employees. When the Manson family moved into Spahn Ranch, Shea initially co-existed with them peacefully, but in time, Charles Manson began to look down on Shorty because he had married a black woman by the name of Magdalena. Manson had a well-documented hatred and mistrust of black people and had been particularly disgusted when Magdalena's friends showed up at the ranch. She only stayed for a few weeks before leaving Shea and returning to Las Vegas.[1] Eventually Shorty planned to help George Spahn remove the Family from the Spahn Ranch when their brushes with the law grew out of control.[2]

Murder[edit]

Shea was murdered in 1969 on or around August 26.[citation needed] Manson had decided to have Shea killed because they believed he had reported them to the police resulting in a raid on the ranch on August 16 where the family were taken into custody on suspicion of car theft.[citation needed] Family member Bruce Davis claimed that the decision to kill Shea came from Manson because he considered Shorty to be a "snitch".[citation needed] Manson told Davis, Tex Watson and Steve Grogan to ask for a ride to a nearby car parts yard on the ranch.[citation needed] According to Davis, he sat in the back seat with Grogan, who then hit Shea with a pipe wrench and Watson stabbed him.[citation needed] They brought Shea down a hill behind the ranch and stabbed and brutally tortured him to death.[citation needed] Bruce Davis recalled at his parole hearings:

"I was in the car when Steve Grogan hit Shorty with the pipe wrench. Charles Watson stabbed him. I was in the backseat with...with Grogan. They took Shorty out. They had to go down the hill to a place. I stayed in the car for quite a while but what...then I went down the hill later on and that's when I cut Shorty on the shoulder with the knife, after he was...well, I don't know...I...I don't know if he was dead or not. He didn't bleed when I cut him on the shoulder."

"When I showed up, you know, he was...he was incapacitated. I don't know if...you asked if he was unconscious, I don't know. He may or may not have been. He didn't seem conscious. He wasn't moving or saying anything. And it started off Manson handed me a machete as if I was supposed to...I mean I know what he wanted. But you know I couldn't do that. And I...in fact I did touch Shorty Shea with a machete on the back of his neck, didn't break the skin. I mean I just couldn't do it. And then I threw the knife..and he handed me a bayonet and it...I just reached over and...I don't know which side it was on but I cut him right about here on the shoulder just with the tip of the blade. Sort of like saying 'Are you satisfied, Charlie?'.

"And I turned around and walked away. And I...I was sick for about two or three days. I mean I couldn't even think about what I...what I had done."

[citation needed][3]

Another motive for the murder could have stemmed from a fight between Charles Manson and Shea at the Gresham Street home in Conoga Park, California, that Manson shared with Bill Vance and several Manson Family Members. Windy Bucklee, the wife of Spahn Ranch ranch hand Randy Starr was beaten by Charles Manson for her refusal to loan her truck to Manson and Vance for robberies. In the prior days, law enforcement questioned Bucklee for a string of robberies that her truck had been identified in. She realized that Manson and Vance had been borrowing her truck to commit these robberies and decided to quit loaning it out to them.

When Shea found out about Manson assaulting Bucklee, he went to the Gresham Street home and assaulted both Manson and Vance with threats to stay away from Spahn Ranch.

After Manson moved into Spahn Ranch Larry Bailey, one of the newer members of the Manson Family, was spying on Shea for Manson and was quickly caught. As a result Shea, Bucklee, and others stripped Bailey naked and tied him to a tree facing the main road to send a message to the others.

According to Bruce Davis and Steve "Clem" Grogan, participants in Shea's murder, both Bill Vance and Larry Bailey were participants in Shea's murder. [4]

Cover-up and admission of murder[edit]

In grand jury testimony, Family member Barbara Hoyt recounted hearing the screams which terrified her so much that she left deciding to escape the family, frightened that she might be next.[citation needed] "It was about 10:00 pm when I heard a long, loud, blood curdling scream", she said, "Then it went quiet for a minute or so and the screams came again and again, it seemed to go on forever, I have no doubt that Shorty was being murdered at that time".[citation needed] When Shea was dead, Grogan buried him, and the rumor was that he had been "dismembered into nine pieces".[citation needed]

Hoyt's testimony of the approximate time of Shea's murder contradicts the official stories given by participants Davis and Grogan at their parole hearings. [5] Windy Bucklee was recently interviewed and confirmed that Shea was not the type of person who would scream and beg, and would have gone to his death fighting.

On December 9, 1969, Shea's 1962 Mercury was found with a footlocker of his possessions and a pair of bloodstained cowboy boots belonging to him.[citation needed] A palm print of Davis was found on the footlocker.[citation needed]

Remains located[edit]

Shea's remains were discovered in December 1977 when Steve Grogan, one of those convicted of the murder, agreed to tell authorities the location of the body.[citation needed] Sgt. Bill Gleason, LASO Homicide, Deputy Coroner John Mossberger and Deputy Sheriff Barry Jones, LASO Homicide, were on the site when Shea was exhumed in 1977.[citation needed] Gleason had been the officer who obtained the Spahn Ranch Raid search warrant in August 1969.[citation needed] Shea was 35 years old when he was murdered.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bucklee, Windy. "Interview on Tate LaBianca Radio". Tate/LaBianca Radio. 
  2. ^ Bugliosi, Vincent. Helter Skelter, 1974, pp. 179–180
  3. ^ "SUBSEQUENT PAROLE CONSIDERATION HEARING STATE OF CALIFORNIA BOARD OF PAROLE HEARINGS In the matter of the Life Term Parole Consideration Hearing of: CHARLES WATSON CDC Number: B-37999". Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  4. ^ Windy Bucklee interview, Tate/LaBianca Radio by Brian Davis
  5. ^ Steve Grogan 1980 parole hearing; Bruce Davis 1994 parole hearing
  6. ^ Sanders, Ed. The Family. pp. 272–276.

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