Witness Claims Defendant Admitted Murder of Shea
Thursday, August 12th, 1971
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 12 — A young man who quit the Manson family in disillusionment, testified yesterday that Steve Grogan admitted to him that he (Grogan) killed movie stuntman Donald (Shorty) Shea.
Paul Watkins 21, quoted Grogan as saying he cut off Shea’s head.
Grogan, 20-year-old follower of condemned mass murderer Charles Manson, is on trial in Superior Court on a charge of murdering Shea 35, in 1969.
Manson and another member of the cult are also charged with Shea’s murder, but are being tried separately.
Watkins, a hippie-like youth with with shoulder-length hair, was called to the stand by prosecutor Burton Katz, and questioned about, a conversation Watkins said he had the night of Sept. 7, 1969 with Grogan.
The story which Watkins told the jury was some of the most grisly testimony yet given in the various murder trials involving Manson and his followers.
He quoted Grogan as saying, “Charlie told me to cut Shorty’s head off.”
According to the testimony from Watkins, Shea had been stabbed several times before by Manson and other cult members.
Shea, whose body has never been found, worked at the old Spahn movie ranch when it was the hangout for the Manson “family.”
Watkins said he quit the “family” in May 1969 when he became disillusioned with what he said was a growing emphasis on violence.
When he joined, he said, it was “free-flowing and (we) smoked grass and made love and just existed.”
But later, he said, the atmosphere changed to “helter-skelter.”
“They had a goal in mind — revolution. There was an air of violence and the love thing was gone.”
Although he drifted away in May 1969, he said, he visited the Spahn Ranch the night of Sept. 7, 1969, and it was then that Grogan told him about killing Shea, said Watkins.
Watkins said Grogan told him Manson, Bruce Davis, Charles (Tex) Watson and Grogan all participated in the slaying.
Grogan told Watkins that the body was left “under some leaves” and later women members of the cult came to bury it, according to the testimony.
During the afternoon session, Watkins testified, as he had during Manson’s trial in the Tate-LaBianca murders, that the “family” held more than 30 LSD orgies during the time he lived with them.
He said he did not notice the changes that came in the family’s attitudes until May 1969 when he “jumped up one day and said ‘hey, this is crazy’.”
But, he said, he thought the changes began after Manson heard a new Beatle album.
Watkins said he is now supporting himself as a musician in Las Vegas and also does occasional construction work.
Cross-examination of Watkins will continue today.