Sunday, April 10, 2011

Court Transcript Part II - Donald Jerome Shea

People v. Manson , 71 Cal.App.3d 1
B. The Murder of Shea 
Shea took care of horses and was a handyman who lived most of the time at the Spahn Ranch. Although he sometimes obtained temporary employment elsewhere, he always seemed to return to the Spahn Ranch. His ambition was to be an actor and stuntman in motion pictures. Shea owned a matched set of Colt .45's which he carried in an attache case bearing the lettering "Reverend Donald Shea." Shea was very proud of the Colt .45's stating that he would never sell them. However, when he needed money (which was frequently) he would pawn the guns but always for a small sum so that he would always be able to redeem them. Shea's wife testified that she last saw Shea on August 16, 1969 (when they separated), and that that night at 7 or 8 p.m. he telephoned her and said he was at the Spahn Ranch and that he was going to stay there for a while. On August 17, 1969, Shea's wife observed that Shea's possessions including two suitcases and a footlocker had been removed from the hotel where they had previously stayed together. The footlocker had the words "Donald Jerome" stamped on the top. In a letter Shea told his wife if she wanted to contact him to call his long-time friends, the Babcocks, because they would always know where to reach him. Thereafter, Mrs. Shea called the Babcocks three times and as a result tried to telephone Shea at the Spahn Ranch several times during the period August 27, 1969, through September 1, 1969. On two occasions a female answered the telephone and said Shea had gone to San [71 Cal.App.3d 19] Francisco. Sharon Babcock testified that she attempted to telephone Shea at the Spahn Ranch three times. A female answered the telephone on each occasion.

Robert Bickston testified that in May of 1969, he talked to Shea about employment in a motion picture which was to start around July 15, 1969. Bickston talked to Shea about the motion picture again in June of 1969 and told him they were getting close to the starting date and to keep in touch with Mrs. Bickston. The starting date was eventually postponed to September 15, 1969. That from 1957 (when Bickston first met Shea) through June 1969, they kept in periodic touch with each other about every three weeks, never longer than six weeks. Bickston last saw Shea between the middle and end of June 1969, and had not seen nor heard from him since.

Although Shea had previously worked for the Leslie Salt Company near San Francisco, he had not been employed by that company since September 5, 1968. Lance Victor who worked with Shea at the Leslie Salt Company and frequently visited him at the Spahn Ranch testified that he spoke to Shea at the Spahn Ranch in August 1969. Shea said he wanted to borrow money, that he wanted to return to work at the Leslie Salt Company. Shea was more nervous than usual. Shea was "kind of afraid." Victor returned to the Spahn Ranch a few weeks later. Shea was not there.

Jerry Binder, a close friend of Shea who frequently loaned him money which Shea always repaid, testified that he loaned Shea money in July 1969, which Shea never repaid, that prior to July or August 1969, Binder heard from Shea at least once a month and if Shea were going out of town, Binder was the first one he would tell. fn. 9 Binder last talked to Shea (who was staying at that time at Binder's home) at the end of July 1969. [71 Cal.App.3d 20]

Frank Retz testified that he purchased a portion of the Spahn Ranch in 1967 or 1968 and thereafter negotiated with Spahn for the purchase of the remainder of the ranch. In June 1969, Retz arranged to purchase the Kelly Ranch adjoining the Spahn Ranch and on June 30, 1969, Retz entered the farmhouse and saw Manson and about 20 people lying on the floor. Retz ordered Manson off of his property. Retz called the sheriff. Retz saw Manson on the Kelly property frequently after June 30, 1969, and ordered him off the property. After June 30, 1969, Retz had several conversations with Spahn, many of which were overheard by "Squeaky" Fromme (a Manson family member) about getting Manson and his family off of the Spahn Ranch. Retz told Manson to leave the ranch because Spahn asked Retz to clean up the ranch of the Manson family and he gave Retz a power of attorney. Retz had conversations with Spahn about the presence of the Manson family on the Spahn Ranch in the presence of Fromme. About one week prior to August 16, 1969, Manson threw a knife at Shea which stuck in a door directly in front of where Shea was walking.

Because of the activities of the Manson family, deputy sheriffs raided the Spahn Ranch on August 16, 1969. Retz told Spahn several times, four or five times, he wanted to hire a guard and on more than one occasion Fromme was present. Spahn told him to hire Shea, which Retz agreed to do. Retz told Spahn in the presence of Fromme that he wanted to keep "Manson and everyone" off of the property. Retz never saw Shea after he talked to Spahn about hiring him as a guard.

Shortly after deputy sheriffs raided the Spahn Ranch on August 16, 1969, and arrested Manson, Manson was released from jail and returned to the Spahn Ranch.

Barbara Hoyt, a member of the Manson family, testified that after his release from jail, Manson, in the presence of various people, said that Shea was responsible for the sheriff's raid, that Shea was an expoliceman, that Shea was trying to get the Manson family kicked off of the Spahn Ranch and that Shea was an informant. Manson also said that Retz was trying to take over the Spahn Ranch, that when he did he would bring up a bunch of "Nazis" and kick the family off the Spahn Ranch, and that he got his information from Fromme. [71 Cal.App.3d 21]
John Swartz, who was employed on the Spahn Ranch, testified that Manson told him after the August 16, 1969, raid by the deputy sheriffs that Retz had purchased one-half of the ranch from Spahn and had offered Shea a job as watchman, and that Shea was going down that night to see about it. Ten days or two weeks later Swartz asked Manson if he had seen Shea and Manson said Shea had gone to San Francisco.

Manson and others were arrested again on Retz' property on August 24, 1969, for possession of marijuana.
Ruby Pearl worked on the Spahn Ranch. Pearl had known Spahn for 18 years and Shea for 15 years. She testified that Manson and members of his family came to the Spahn Ranch in the spring of 1969. In June of 1969, Shea told Pearl he had a part coming up in a motion picture which he was anxious to do. In the latter part of August 1969, "a couple of weeks" after August 16, 1969, Shea asked if he could come and stay at Pearl's home. He was very nervous. Pearl had no place for Shea to stay except in a shed. Shea did not want to stay there. Pearl drove slowly away. As she drove away Pearl saw a car drive up "real suddenly." Several Manson family members got out of the car. Pearl saw Manson, Watson, Grogan and Davis get out of the car and they spread out and approached Shea with Shea in the middle. When they were about five feet from Shea, Pearl drove out of sight. Pearl never saw or heard from Shea again.

Hoyt testified that late one night in the latter part of August 1969, when she was going to sleep in the "parachute room," she heard screaming. She heard many loud screams coming from down by the creek. She recognized the screams as coming from Shea. The screams occurred later that night. Hoyt never saw Shea again. The next afternoon when she was down by the creek, Hoyt overheard a conversation between Manson and Danny DeCarlo, in which Manson said "Shorty [Shea] committed suicide, with a little help from us. And we buried him under some leaves." Manson said they cut him up in nine pieces and buried him under some leaves. Manson pointed down the creek with his thumb over his shoulder. Manson asked DeCarlo if lye or lime would get rid of the body. DeCarlo said lye would get rid of it; lime would preserve it. Manson asked DeCarlo where he could get some lye. That night Hoyt, Manson and most of the members of the Manson family left the Spahn Ranch and went to Barker Ranch and Meyers' Ranch in the desert. Hoyt described their route of travel as through Ballarat and Goler Wash. At the Meyers' Ranch, Manson in the presence of several members of the Manson family, told about the killing of Shea.
Hoyt testified:  "Charlie [Manson] said that they had killed Shorty [Shea]. Uh, they cut him up in nine pieces.
"And first they asked him -- oh, they -- they asked him if he would like to see something and, uh, that they had something that they wanted to show him. And then, he got into the dune buggy and they took him away. And then, they hit him in the head with a pipe. Uh, they pulled him out of the car, and they started stabbing him. And then, umm, they kept stabbing him and stabbing him. "And Charlie said -- or Shorty said, 'Why, Charlie, why?'

"And Charlie said, 'Why? This is why.' And then, he stabbed him again.
"And, uh, he said that it was -- it was very hard to kill him until they brought him to now. And when they brought him to now, he said that Clem [Grogan] cut his head off."

Brooks Poston testified that in September of 1969 at the Barker Ranch and Meyers' Ranch, Manson in the presence of Davis, Watson and other members of the family said:  "... You remember Shorty, don't you? You know, we had to do him in. He was bad-mouthing the ranch and calling the Man [police] on us, and scheming with Frank Retz to get the ranch. And we warned him two or three times to stop, but he didn't.

"So we hit him on the head, took him for a ride. And when he started to come to, we stuck him with knives. And when he started to get to now, he was really hard to kill, because he wouldn't give it up.

"So Clem [Grogan] had to cut his head off."

Paul Watkins testified that on September 1, 1969, at the Barker Ranch, "He [Manson] said we had to kill Shorty. He said Clem [Grogan] cut his head off. And he said that he's been bad-mouthing the ranch and that he knew too much about the Fountain of the World and so -- that he was messing things up, up there. ... He's been calling the Man [police] on the ranch." Manson said Clem cut Shea's head off with a machete.

Circumstantial evidence was produced by the prosecution to prove the murder of Shea because Shea's body was never recovered. Such evidence [71 Cal.App.3d 23] consisted, inter alia, of the following: that Shea's car was found on December 9, 1969, parked on a street in Chatsworth with Shea's foot locker in the trunk of the car, keys underneath the front seat; shoes and papers were in the car; picture negatives were in the foot locker which Shea had agreed to return to Pearl; a fingerprint from Davis was on the foot locker; DeCarlo had redeemed Shea's pair of Colt .45's which Shea had pawned with Sam Launer, a Hollywood pawnbroker; DeCarlo had sold the guns to Delma Eugene Baker in Culver City.   John Swartz testified that he had seen Vance and DeCarlo at the Spahn Ranch in possession of Shea's attache case containing the Colt .45's.

In February 1970, Richard Davis Barber found Shea's suitcase and briefcase under some brush in Goler Wash.  A great mass of evidence was presented regarding efforts by law enforcement to locate Shea or his body. None of the efforts were productive.


LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Shak El posted the following comment several threads back, under the book discussion thread.

I'm gonna paste it here, so folks will see it.

Welcome Shal El!

Shak El said>>>
"Just because Bruce Davis was in the area does not mean he killed or "suicided" anyone. Joel's family believed from the beginning it was a suicide and went to the area/talked to authorities and was satisfied. They didn't even know about the homicide angle til H.S. came out in 74. If you read the Simon Wells bio of CM he really settles this issue.

I'm gonna try to respond in two parts.

"Joel's family believed from the beginning it was a suicide and went to the area/talked to authorities and was satisfied".

I've read this point, almost word-for-word myself from reputable sources... that Joel's parents visited the area, talked to authorities, and were satisfied is was a suicide.
I'll agree with you 100% there.

Having said that... I don't think Joel's parents being un-aware of the homicide angle until '74, is really here nor there.

"If you read the Simon Wells bio of CM he really settles this issue".

Shak, I've never read Wells' book, so, I can't comment on this section, until or unless I do so.

Based on what I have read... I don't think the murder theory regarding Davis is a slam dunk. But, I do think it's worthy of note. It's very suspicious.
"Very suspicious" is as far, as I'd be willing to take, or support the murder theory... without further research.
For me the jury is still out.

When I get a chance, I'll check-out the Wells book.
Maybe the contents will convince me, beyond the shadow of a doubt, it was suicide as well.
Thanks for your input Shak.


katie8753 said...

Hi guys. Welcome Shak El.

I know that Joel's parents were convinced it was a suicide, which I find odd.

I think naturally as a parent, you would try to think of any other reason your child died violently.

I'm wondering if the parents were presented with all the evidence.

I kind of lean toward this being a murder, because it's just not typical of a suicide. Most suicides don't cut their throats. And coupling this with Zero's death, I think it highly suspicious.

On to Shorty Shea:

I'm really surprised they didn't off Frank Retz. He was the one who wanted them off. And Squeaky heard it all.

Boy that Ruby Pearl must have been one tough broad!! I wonder what happened to her. I'll bet she's got some tales to spin.

katie8753 said...

As usual, when the story is retold, it gets bigger and better, and most of all - different.

In this thread, it says that Charlie said Clem cut his head off. Also, Ruby says they all rushed Shorty when she drove off.

According to Clem, he approached Shorty about driving into town to get something. He says that Shorty was driving the car, Tex was in the front seat and he was in the back.

Tex came up with some ruse about pulling over in a clearing to get something, and Tex had already told Clem that when he gave the signal, to hit Shorty on the head. Shorty says Tex gave him the signal when he got out, he hit Shorty on the back of the head with a tire iron, but Shorty wasn't knocked unconcious. Evidently the car was still in drive and started moving. He said he jumped toward the front seat to put the car in park.

Then he says that Charlie and Bruce showed up outta nowhere, they dragged Shorty out and they all started stabbing him.

Bruce says, at his parole hearing, that Charlie told him to stab Shorty, and he did so because he was scared. He says he stabbed him in the shoulder area but not very deep.

Course we all know what a liar Bruce is.

Then, Clem is the one who told people they cut Shorty's head off, and cut him into pieces, which was a lie.

He later says he did this to scare people.

Anonymous said...

I read Simon Wells book- who cares what his family thinks- he was a strange dude- and if they cared about him so much they wouldn't have let him go on such a major trip as going abroad in the mental condition they knew he was in...

Wells is not much better than Sanders...

I am not sure Bruce killed Joel- but it was a weird way to die, and alot of people around Bruce, or who knew Bruce- died in very weird ways...

Including Shorty...

katie8753 said...

>>>Circumstance said: I am not sure Bruce killed Joel- but it was a weird way to die, and alot of people around Bruce, or who knew Bruce- died in very weird ways...

Including Shorty...>>

I've not read the Wells book either, but I don't believe that Joel killed himself. There's too much evidence that it was more than that.

Most suicides who cut, cut their wrists. If you cut your throat, you would die of asphyxiation. A much more horrifiying death than cutting your wrists and just bleeding out until your heart stops.

I agree Circumstance that if the family was that concerned about Joel's state of mind, they would have tried to stop him leaving the country.

But, from what I've read, he was trying to find peace on his journey and was getting better.

I really think it was murder...did Bruce do it? I find it very coincidental that he was in London at the time......and I think Bruce would do anything Charlie said.

He came back out of hiding because Charlie said and faced the death penalty. What more can I say?

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Seems we're discussing both Gary and Joel. Cool with me.

Katie said>>>>
"I'm wondering if the parents (Joel's) were presented with all the evidence".

I know Bugliosi's opinion is not held in too high of esteem in these circles... but, at any rate... I've seen footage of Bug, and he explains just that... that the parents were not presented with all the evidence... in fact, little evidence.
Bug explains that much evidence was over-looked, and he comes across quite convincing.

Katie said>>>>
"I'm really surprised they didn't off Frank Retz. He was the one who wanted them off. And Squeaky heard it all".

Makes some sense.
Retz ordered Manson off the property on June 30, 1969, and called the sheriff to accomplish that. Retz According to this document, had several conversations with Spahn, within ear-shot of Squeaky, regarding getting rid of the family.
Spahn and Retz conspired, and decided to hire Shea, as a watchman of sorts.
Retz could easily have been the target.
So why Shea?
According to this… at least a couple of the family members believed Shea was responsible for calling the police… and setting-up the August 16th raid… and the Aug. 24th arrests for marijuana.
I’m sure the family wasn’t too keen on Retz or Shea.

The whole cut his head off Lie:
I think Manson was a “bang for ya buck” kinda guy. And, it makes some sense.
Shea’s already dead, so why not milk it for all it’s worth, in regards to keeping any other defactors in-line?
The more gruesome the story, the more powerful the message.
It’s the old… “you better watch it… or you’ll be next” tactic.

Saint said>>>>
"I am not sure Bruce killed Joel- but it was a weird way to die, and alot of people around Bruce, or who knew Bruce- died in very weird ways"…

Bruce is like the grim reaper. Folks seem to disappear in weird ways, when he’s around.

katie8753 said...

HI BOBBY!! Where ya been boy???

>>>Bobby said: Micheal on BPT's has a interesting video on Frank Retz. He tells about Frank yelling at him & kicking off the property & also shows news cast about franks death. I think Manson may have feared Frank.>>>

Interesting stuff! Can you send us a link?

katie8753 said...

Thanks for the link Bobby. That was interesting about Frank Retz.

If he was a Nazi German officer in WWII, I'm surprised he wasn't imprisoned after the war.

I can't imagine Charlie being afraid of anyone, but that Frank probably made him stop and think a little. HA HA.

How ironic that Frank died going off a cliff on the way to the ranch!!

>>>Bobby said: Thanks Katie, I missed the blog for a couple days , but i'm all caught up now.>>>

I'm glad you're back Bobby. We should be doing more required reading soon, as soon as Lynyrd has time, and I love your input. :)

katie8753 said...

Bobby it seems that Frank was very aggressive about protecting his property. I'm sure he viewed the Manson hippies as a detriment to his plans to build an equestrian empire on that land.

He viewed them as squatters, which is what they were.

You know, I've never considered the "Frank Retz" angle as a reason Charlie was trying to get to the desert, but you're probably right. Charlie didn't want ANY extra attention drawn to him at that time, and the hubbub Frank was causing probably didn't set well with him at all.

katie8753 said...

>>>Bobby said: I have never heard of anyone else brag that they removed a knife from Manson in a fight.>>>

So true Bobby! I've never heard of it either.

I know that Manson worked on abolishing fear, within himself and his "children".

I don't think he understood "fear" like normal people do.

And I don't attribute it to self confidence, but more to "reckless abandon".

Frank was probably on the list of victims to be disposed of. But of course, they didn't get around to it.

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Hi Bob!

Great Stuff!

I was actually, reading the article on your second link suggestion, before I came to the blog.
How ironic is that??

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

This guy Retz, was a tough customer.

He died at 84, at 1:30AM after a night of dancing. LOL

katie8753 said...

>>>Bobby said: lol. some how i dont think he tried that one on Frank.>>>

No I don't think even Charlie was crazy enough to put a knife in the hand of a german World World II fighter.

He probably would have said "glad to oblige you". HA HA.

Speaking of Germans, wasn't Jay Sebring German?

Thomas John Kummer a/k/a Jay Sebring. I'll bet that stuck in Roman's and Voytek's craw. LOL.

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