Secret ‘Manson Family’ Murder Indictments for 3
Thursday, December 17th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 17 – After less than five minutes of deliberation, the Los Angeles County Grand Jury late Wednesday returned secret indictments charging three persons with the death of movie stuntman ranch-hand Donald “Shorty” Shea.
The indictments which climaxed three days of secret hearings was labeled “secret” because of possible prejudicial effects on the Tate-LaBianca trial now under way.
Although no names were revealed, it had been indicated previously that cult chieftain Charles Manson and at least two of his “family” members were involved.
The other two believed to have been named in the indictments were Bruce Davis, 27, who surrendered two weeks ago on an indictment charging him with the death of Topanga Canyon musician Gary Hinman, and Steve Grogan, 19, now in Inyo County jail on a charge of possessing an illegal firearm.
Several witnesses at the 25-week-old trial of Manson and three of his girl followers testified t h a t the hippie leader told them about the killing of the Spahn Ranch worker.
Two of those named in the indictment will be arraigned at 11 a.m. today the third, at a date to be set later, newly-named Dist. Atty. Joseph Busch said.
Busch, in a hurriedly called press conference, said that the secret indictments came because of the appearance of Manson’s attorney Irving Kanarek before the grand jury. Busch said Kanarek requested that the indictments be kept secret.
“Mr. Kanarek is of the opinion that we were trying to prejudice his clients, which isn’t true,” Busch said.
Weighing his words carefully, Busch admitted that Shea’s body has not been found, adding “we can’t excuse murder because they’re clever enough to dispose of the body.”
The indictment by the 21-member grand jury came in an after-hours session in the courtroom of Los Angeles Superior Judge George Dell.
Kanarek and seven members of Manson’s ‘”family” who had kept vigil outside the hearing room for the past three days were in the courtroom when the indictment was read.
At one point, Kanarek, who had stationed himself at one of the attorney’s podiums, asked to speak.
“No,” Judge Dell answered quickly. “You have no standing in this court.” Several of the barefoot Manson “girls” giggled and were immediately warned by the judge to “please be silent…don’t want to lock up any more members of the tribe..it’s too late in the day.”
Forty-three witnesses had appeared before the grand jury, including three former members of Manson’s clan who admitted to newsmen as they emerged that they “had seen the light.”
Paul Watkins, 20, one of the most damaging witnesses against Manson in the Tate-LaBianca trial, told newsmen it, was “about time we looked at this false prophet Charlie Manson.”
“What he sold in the name of love was death,” Watkins said. “I realized that after looking around. In the name of Christ, Charlie was trying to do the same thing as Hitler and Genghis Khan.”
Kanarek, who also had kept vigil for several hours outside the grand jury hearing room, told newsmen he felt the district attorney was “deliberately and with calculation attempting to prejudice and influence the (Tate-LaBianca) jury.
By MARY NEISWENDER