• The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Shorty Shea Files

Monthly Archives: February 2014

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Shorty Shea Files

Friday, February 21st, 2014

Feb. 21 – Donald Jerome Shea, aka Shorty (born 9/18/33 in Massachusetts, male Caucasian, 5-11, 190 pounds, brown hair and brown eyes) grew up in the Boston area. Shorty is the son of John and Elizabeth Shea. Records indicate that Shorty has four other brothers, John J. (1927), Robert L. (1929), Dennis G. (1935) and Francis (1937)

Shea enters the service and is sent to Korea where his military career is cut short after a parachute accident in 1951 crushes his pelvis and hips.

Back in the States, Shea, 25, marries Phyllis Gaston, 19, in Los Angeles County in May of 1959. In November of the same year, Shorty becomes a first time father when Phyllis gives birth to their daughter, Karen Arline Shea. The marriage, however, ends shortly thereafter.

In February of 1961, Shea now 27, marries Sandra L. Adams, 16, again in Los Angeles County. In September of the same year, the couple has their first child, Elizabet M. Shea.

In October of 1962, Sandra gives birth to Shorty’s first son, William J. Shea. Around this time, Shea and his family move to the Spahn Ranch where they live and work training horses. Sandra gives birth to the couple’s third child, another daughter.

In 1965, Donald moves his family to Massachusetts, moving in with his youngest brother, Francis. The following year, Sandra divorces Donald and moves to Ohio with the couple’s three children.

Shorty moves back west, and in March of 1969, takes a job at the Cab Inn Beer Bar in Carson, California. There he meets, Magdalene Velma Fuery, a topless dancer also known as Nicki. The two marry in Las Vegas in July.

In the early morning hours of August 16, 1969, Shorty and Magdalene have a fight and he leaves their Hollywood apartment. He calls her later that day to tell her that everyone at Spahn Ranch has been arrested and he needs to look after it for George. Magdalene never sees Shorty again.

That summer, Shorty, is reportedly hired by Frank Retz to run the Manson family off of the Spahn Ranch property. Retz owns the neighboring property and is in negotiations to purchase a portion of Spahn Ranch. Retz doesn’t like the family on either of the properties and calls the police on them on several occasions. Charles Manson reportedly places blame on Shorty and is convinced he has been working with the police.

Sometime around the end of August, or early September, Charles “Tex” Watson, along with Manson family members Bruce Davis and Steve Grogan, take a ride with Donald Shea. Shea is driving, with Watson sitting beside him. Watson instructs him to pull over, but Shea refuses. Watson stabs Shea and he finally pulls over. From the backseat, Grogan strikes Shea with a pipe wrench. Another car containing Bill Vance, Larry Bailey, and Charles Manson pulls up behind them. The group takes Shorty out of the car, bring him down a hill behind Spahn’s Ranch and stab him to death.

During the course of investigating the murder of Gary Hinman, witnesses tell homicide detectives from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department that several persons within the Manson family have spoken about the murder of Shorty.

After the Tate-LaBianca murders are connected to the Manson family in December of 1969, Magdalene Shea officially files a missing person report on Shorty.

In December, authorities begin conducting searches at Spahn Ranch, trying to find Shorty’s remains. Although their searches are unsuccessful, the county charges and successfully convicts Bruce Davis, Steve Grogan and Charles Manson on first degree murder counts for Shorty’s slaying.

Donald Jerome Shea’s body isn’t found until December of 1977. From prison, Steve Grogan draws a map leading authorities to Shortys remains in an effort to prove to them that Shea hadn’t been, as previously rumored, cut into nine pieces.

12/09/69Car Photographed
12/12/69Latent Prints Check
01/22/70Prints Matched to Bruce Davis
10/21/70Suspicious Circumstances – Possible Homicide
11/07/70Evidence held; Investigation made
11/09/70Laboratory Examination
12/19/70Grand Jury Indictment; Suspect Arraigned