Manson Family Member Tells of Shea Killing
Thursday, August 12th, 1971
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 12 — The plaintive words, “Why? Why?” were the last uttered by cowboy actor Donald J. (Shorty) Shea before dying at the hands of the Charles Manson “family,” according to bizarre and gruesome testimony given Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Paul A, Watkins, 21, told a jury in Judge Joseph L. Call’s court that the account of the death was given him by Steve (Clem) Grogan, 20, now on trial for murder.
The conversation, Watkins testified, occurred about Sept. 7. 1969, at the Spabn Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif., with one of the Manson girls, Brenda McCann, present. Watkins said he had expressed curiosity why Shea, 35, a frequent visitor at the ranch which had become the family headquarters, was no longer about.
“Clem,” the witness testified “said, ‘Me and Tex and Bruce and Charlie took him for a ride and we hit him on the head with some sort of big something and it stunned him, and then we took him out and away from the road and he started saying, ‘Why, Charlie, why?’ And Charlie said, ‘You know why,’ and he stabbed him.”
Los Angeles County Dep. Atty. Burton S. Katz interrupted long enough to establish that the references apparently were to Charles (Tex) Watson, Bruce Davis and Manson.
“Who stabbed Shorty, according to Clem?” the prosecutor then asked.
“Charlie did,” the witness replied. “And then he said that Charlie had all of them stab him, and then Shorty started going, ‘Why, Steve, why?’ and Clem said that he didn’t pay any attention to him.
“They knew it was just his ego. So he kept right on stabbing him. And then he said it was real groovy, blood was spurting all over his arms.”
“Who was that?” the judge inquired.
“Clem,” the witness replied. “And then he said, ‘Shorty kept saying Why, Steve, why, and Clem wouldn’t let him in his head. He just kept his attention right there on stabbing him.”
The witness testified that at this point Grogan said that he had been ordered by Manson to cut off Shea’s head.
“So I had this big machete,” Watkins continued quoting Grogan, “and I chopped his head off and it went bloop, bloop, and rolled over out of the way.”
Watkins further recalled that Grogan had told him that he had blood spattered all over him but that “It was real groovy.” Grogan, the witness continued, told him that the body had been hidden under some leaves.
The prosecution contends that the Manson group brought about Shea’s death because Shea had been employed to evict them from the ranch, because they believed him a police informer, and because he had married a black woman. His body has never been found.