Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Q&A: Bill Vances' role in Shorty Shea's murder

 David Lee Hamic
aka Bill Vance

Hello Liz,

Longtime lurker here with a question.

Has anyone ever discussed Bill Vances' role in Shorty Shea's murder?

In this link Bruce Davis places a bloody knife in his hands:

I don't think I've ever read anything about his role. I know in VB's Helter Skelter book he says Shorty's murder was a family affair with others cleaning up the scene, his burial and driving his car off but I don't remember Vance being accused of being an active participant in the murder. Am I wrong? The statement is about halfway through the proceedings when a Comminsoner calls BS on Bruce.



vic mars said...

Always thought this dude looked like Phil Phillips from the Manson documentary.
Wonder what happened to Phil Phillips? Anybody know?
He seemed like a coherent, interesting guy.

Schalke 07 said...

I think he looks like Kramer.

sunset77 said...

That was one long transcript, I read about 60% of it. I seen the part where Davis described various people standing around with bloody knives, including Bill Vance.

Apparently, Vance's real name was William Rex Cole. Another website lists his alias's as "Duane, Bill, Buck, Vance, Chuck,
William Joseph; Hamic, David Lee; Vansickle, WIlliam Joseph; Vansickl, Billy; Schwarm,"

About the only "evidence" the police investigated at the time of the Shea murder was various statements from the killers. The stories conflict and to this day I don't think they've even determined whether the murder occurred during the day or at night.

I think "Vance" met Manson in prison, he's about the same age as Manson, he's a very elusive character with many alias's, I'm sure that's not an accident.

To the best of my knowledge, "Bill Vance" was never charged with the murder of Shea. He was arrested in the Barker raid, I'm guessing he was released, changed his name and "split".

Farflung said...

Here’s a version where Vance was not at the scene according to Davis (4:16 – 4:55):

Bruce Davis Parole

Bruce says is was in the backseat with Grogan (5:16 – 5:25)

Here’s a version where just Grogan was in the backseat (12th paragraph down):

Grogan Parole Hearing

There are so many choices and a version to satisfy nearly every ethos. Who are you going to believe? They certainly can parse a phrase to the sub-atomic level where they really didn’t do that much and the victim just as likely died of natural causes. So I guess that excludes a Rousseau-ian ‘Social Contract’ viewpoint.

Cuntry Trash said...

Both Bruce and Clem say there were two cars of people at the Shea murder. Davis says Vance was there and I believe him. I remember once Lawrence Bailey was mentioned at the scene as well- forgot what book. Vance was never indicted, neither was Tex and Tex was never convicted. Tex stabbed Shea and ordered Clem to clunk him in the head with the wrench. So, this crime is not close to being resolved. And with misinformation coming from the mouth of Hamburger Hoyt, it will never be. It's odd how Clem and Bruce's stories are so different from Hoyt's, yet Hoyt's version is the accepted version.

Cuntry Trash said...

And I think Davis' memory is cloudy. There were two cars according to Clem, and Davis was in the second car but Davis says he was in the car with Clem. At any rate they were both there and there were two cars of people.

sunset77 said...

I ran across something although it's a bit of a stretch. On a website called "Spahn Ranch" there is a pic of Bob Bickston and "Jerry Vance". The person labeled "Jerry Vance" appears to me to look a lot like a cleaned up version of the person in the mug shot at the top of this post.

Jerry Vance

The next pic down on that page is a pic of Bickston and Donald Shea.

Also, Ruby Pearl can be seen talking about Shea's disappearance here:

Ruby Pearl

You can almost see the anxiety in her face.

Danny DeCarlo apparently retrieved Shea's revolvers with a pawn ticket DeCarlo said he got from Bruce Davis. Shea's car was found with a footlocker that had a palm print matching Bruce Davis.

Shea's death report said he died of "multiple stab and chop wounds". I'm guessing Watson was in the fore front of causing these wounds based on his work 2 weeks or so previous. Like the prosecutor said in a transcript, Shea was a big strong man and they probably ganged up on him like a bunch of wolves.

Charlie Higgins said...

What part if any , did Manson himself play in the killing of Shorty ?

The Surf Bat said...

Interesting. I've been to Spahn's several times and can't find that turn-off that Grogan speaks of where Tex got out and looked in the bushes for car parts.

Farflung said...

Having so many versions is frustrating on many levels.

You have Bruce Davis and Tex Watson who are both attached to religion and doing what is righteous, yet Tex never mentions Shorty in his book and Bruce can’t remember which car he was in, but does remember that when he stabbed Shorty, he did not bleed therefore Bruce stabbed a dead man. Just like Van Houten stabbed an already dead Rosemary. Trend?

This leaves Grogan who only gave Shorty a stunning blow before Shorty escaped long enough for Tex or Charlie to stab him. Grogan then develops a conscience and feels remorse, so he draws a map to Shorty’s grave, seven years after his conviction, and lectures kids on the dangers of criminal activities as a display of the good he can do on the outside. This lasts until Grogan is released then he dives into anonymity where he stays clear of the legal system until he hires a lawyer to taunt people who have ‘outed’ Mr. ‘Rehabilitated with a Different Name’ guy.

I believe (not sure here) it was Mary Brunner who tipped the police (First affidavit with immunity) about Shorty’s car being ditched by Atkins (?) along Independence Ave in Canoga Park. How would she know that if she was not long aware of Shorty’s murder?

Manson apparently roused and assembled this ‘A team’ hit squad, presumably because Squeaky told him that Retz wanted Shorty hired as a watchman to bounce the family off the property. Who knows for sure, but there are enough versions to make everyone happy. I remain amazed at how easy it appears NOT to get charged with anything like accessory to murder, perjury, conspiracy and if Atkins drove Shorty’s car…. then add driving without a license.

Farflung said...

Here ya go The Surf Bat:


Just copy and paste the above into ‘Google maps’ (into the search dialog on top of the screen) and zoom to taste.

Cuntry Trash said...

According to Clem, Tex was already stabbed before Manson/Davis/Vance/et al arrived.
Davis' version was he saw Tex stab Shorty (or assumed he stabbed him) and quickly after Shorty was taken town the embankment.
I don't see Manson stabbing him. I see him telling people to stab him...
As for the autopsy on Shea, since he was decomposed it was impossible to tell which stab took his life and which one(s) were postmortem. So, that's why it says "multiple." There was trauma to the head, but didn't Clem (or was it Bruce) say it was an attempt to remove his head after he was dead?

Farflung said...

Manson has been accused of delivering Bernard Crowe, aka Lotsa Poppa a small caliber gut shot.

Then Charlie got medieval on Hinman with a sword, according to numerous family members.

Plus Manson broke into La Bianca’s home and tied the two up so they would be less of a hassle to murder. That would take some ice water in the veins to do that to someone.

I could see Charlie taking a few swings or stabs at Shorty. I just don’t understand this parsing of who delivered the fatal blow to Shorty. Is that relevant when Manson, Watson, Davis, Grogan, Atkins, Vance and DeCarlo were active parts of the machinery to kill Shorty, hide his body, ditch his car and pawn his belongings? When people called the ranch looking for Shorty, they were told how he left for San Francisco for work. Same way Hinman left for Colorado according to some English woman who answered his phone. Same way James Willett split the scene but also managed to leave his car behind.

Why wasn’t Vance charged? Seems like someone facing a murder trial, and had little to do with the crime, would tell everything they knew. But then Grogan seems fine leaving the record opaque and behind him. Strange how this murder has so many lose ends and unknowns with a repentant and rehabilitated man who could make things a little better.

lman28 said...

Wow! Great points of view. Bruces statement sort of jumped off the page at me. I got to thinking if in the Tex/Boyd tapes if Tex implicates Vance does that constitue collaboration and if so what would LAPD do with it?
I can imagine Boyd saying to Tex if I'm going to help you I need to know everything (no surprises I can't defend when the trial rolls around). I mean Tex wasn't even prosecuted for Shortys murder so what do they think are on those tapes and what would they do with that information?

beauders said...

don't forget gypsy's fingerprint was found on shea's footlocker. there were many more complicent in the shea murder.

sunset77 said...

Farflung said...

"Same way Hinman left for Colorado according to some English woman who answered his phone."

"Some English woman" was almost certainly Susan Atkins. She admitted during interrogation to a cop that she answered the phone (I think twice) with a thick Cockney accent. The cop asked her to speak with that accent to him and she did.

Also, Ole J.C. said...

"I don't see Manson stabbing him. I see him telling people to stab him..."

I might have to disagree here. If this murder took place at night as Hoyt and Pearl seem to indicate, this could be a perfect opportunity for Manson to do some of the "chopping" himself. There were several others there with their hands "dirty" he could blame it on if necessary. No murder weapons were ever recovered I know of. Manson seemed to prefer edged weapons, (probably because that's what they use in prison). Manson had "chopped" Hinman about 1 month previous. The family thought Shea was responsible for the Aug 16 raid when the family lost much property and the kids were taken, I'm sure Manson was seething.

Of course it's all speculation though, because the only people that KNOW aren't likely to give the straight story, ever.

Farflung said...


It was Gypsy that ditched Shorty’s car and not Atkins. I probably just added to the fog of confusion. I’ll blame my tertiary syphilis to save some dignity on that misstatement.

It was Atkins who pulled a Mary Poppins with Hinman’s friends as Sunset77 pointed out. Strange thing her answering the phone with Gary sitting right there; all they had to do was threaten Hinman and have him talk to his friends. Unless, he was already dead.

Anonymous said...

Didnt Manson admit to stabbing Shorty with "Charlie why?" and manson said "this is why" and stabbed him

Terrapin said...

it seems to me that clem delievered the fatal blow. he said at one of his parole heardings (i think i read it on the old mansonfamilytoday website) that tex stabbed him a few times, clem hit him over the head with a pipe. clem then stabbed him twice in the chest. he also said that bruce 'cut' him but i cant remember whether that was before or after clem stabbed him.

The Surf Bat said...

Thanks Farflung. I've actually been there. Crazy....

andy said...

i think he looks just like kramer too

fiona1933 said...

Barbara said she heard screams coming from down the canyon and "knew they were Shorty's". This account has never been disputed by anyone in authority although it is flatly contradicted by all the perpetrators. To me, the obvious question is "How did you know the screams were Shorty's? Had you heard him scream before?" Even if by 'screams' she means screaming with words, how could she be so sure? It's never been asked. Authorities are keen to believe Barbara, because then they can believe the other plank in her program, that Bruce was Charlie's right-hand man, fearsome, dangerous and controlling. Bruce denies this. But they can keep him in jail for over 40 years for the most peripheral role in the murders, by declaring that he isn't telling the truth. Poor Bruce. What a catch-22. Disagree with Hoyt and be termed a liar, or agree and be termed Charlie's surrogate and therefore brutal killer. What a choice.

The fact that Barbara has an agenda, that she is still bitter and hurt and angry that the Family tried to kill or incapacitate her with acid to stop her from testifying, this is never addressed either.

But allowing that Barbara isn't outright lying. She heard someone's screams. Somebody was screaming in the dead of night, terrible, agonizing screams that went on a long time. Could have just been somebody tripping. Or maybe someone else was dying. This possibility isn't investigated, either.

fiona1933 said...

Jessie, Little Paul said that Shea's "whys" were addressed to Clem. "Steve, why?" and that rung true to me, as Steve was Clem's real name and that's how Shorty would have addressed him, given Clem was a ranch hand with Shorty before the Family arrived. Whether Charlie was there is debatable. No-one has ever cleared it up. Was Shea involved with drugs, especially the transport of them? He was said to have been seen with Charlie and Rosemary LaBianca, and Rosemary was said to be dealing acid. I've always inclined to believe that, given her financial status. And Shea was always dropping his work to 'chase after movie roles'. Running off frequently to Hollywood, in other words. For roles that did not exist. Look how sparsely he features, how hard it is to find him. Where is his portfolio? Any actor has a portfolio. Wasn't Shea a bit old to be running after stardom, but wasn't that a perfect cover for dropping off drugs to the stars that Manson knew, and we know he knew many. So when Shea was killed, it would likely be on the grounds of 'offing' a troublesome potential witness. If the Tate-la Bainca killings were a hit, carried out by Manson on someone else behalf for money he desperately needed to get away to the desert

fiona1933 said...

So altogether, the Tate-LaBianca-Shea killings look something like this:

Charlie comes out of jail, finds lovely gentle Haight-Ashbury, gathers his first followers, begins to develop a truly inspired philosophy of leaderless leading and self-discovery, etc, also discovers acid;

experiences first police harassment and also first bad drug dealers moving into the Haight;

violence seeps steadily into the hippy movement;
the re-arrangement of sensibilities, dropping out from society etc, primes young minds to find violent death acceptable and part of the flow;

Charlie moves to Spahn, naturally attracts many more followers, finds a need for more drugs, but has no income, bar occasional gifts;

in getting acquainted with hundreds of people of all walks of life, he encounters Rosemary La Bianca and Voytek Frykowski and Jay Sebring;

Sets up deals to transport Rosemary's LSD and Voytek's MDA to Hollywood, using Shea as a mule;

or possibly, Voytek tries to muscle in on Manson and Rosemary: it fits his psychopathic character, he is a very charming guy who lives on his girlfriend, keeping her enslaved through drugs and psychological undermining that has her in therapy daily, she is going to leave him, he'll have no income, he is involved in unsavoury things, whipping Billy Doyle, selling bad dope, etc, and seeing no consequences, classic psychopath,

Frykowski falls foul of serious dealers;

as do Charlie and Rosemary: it isn't permitted to just set up your own networks

Charlie gets a choice, to kill Voytek and Rosemary, or be killed himself, he will also get money for it;

having been involved separately in the Lotsapoppa and Hinman violence, Charlie is desperate to split for the desert anyway, plus endless harassment from the cops has turned him nasty, it's all on top;

the psychological setup is right: violence, anger, fear, his group becoming unwieldy, problems in every corner and the tension in the cities to boot, here is a clean-sweep answer, two simple massacres, take the money and go;

comes up with plan to have his followers, now convinced that 'there is no death, no right or wrong' and also of the Helter Skelter plan and who are also enraged by police harassment, do the killing;

chooses Tex for mission as he knows the Tate house, and is much damaged by psychedelics, (friends say he was totally transformed and he spoke at length of his derangement, especially the belladonna) also Linda who is angry at being burned by Voytek on MDA deal, this being in Voytek's psychopathic character, she also knows the house;

chooses Katie and Susan due to prolonged brainwashing and certainty they will obey, also doesn't like Susan anyway and possibly was in his heart repulsed by Katie's body hair (the expendables, Ouisch called them) certainly no favourite beauties like Ouisch, Cappy or Squeaky;

has LaBianca house creepy-crawled (who by?)

massacres are committed;

and a couple of weeks later, Charlie realizes that Shorty is the one person that could tie it all together, who could bring the names of Manson, LaBianca and Frykowski together, plus there is a $25,000 reward out;

and then the August 16th raid happens, plus Shorty is helping Frank Retz;

too dodgy to let him keep walking around, so he is 'offed' with no warning, hence his plaintive 'why?'

they leave for the desert, but it isn't as nice as they think, its pretty awful actually and they are out of drugs, people start drifting away;

Tex has gone, katie gone, Manson can't silence them

and after the Barker Ranch raid, Susan starts talking and the rest unfolds.

There. I reckon that covers all possible scenarios except for Squeaky and Sandy's environmental protest.


fiona1933 said...

No Katie wasn't gone. She split after Barker Ranch raid, my mistake. Also, I believe the killers were sent to do the job on a mixture of copycat-for-Bobby, which explains Leslie's involvement, as she wasn't really into Charlie, but more committed to the group as a whole and Bobby especially, and Helter Skelter, with the exception of Linda who had the personal motive of drug burn but who may have not known it was to be a killing, may have thought it was a creepy-crawl and stealing mission. Linda was so different to the other two on the first night it is so hard to figure her involvement.

Anonymous said...

Fiona, great analysis. Your idea explains HOW the Mafia got Charley to do the dirty deed. This is assuming Schreck is right about these massacres being analogous to the massacres of the 20's and 30's during prohibition, gang attacking gang for dominance of the alcohol market or in this case, the drug market in Los Angeles.

grimtraveller said...

Fiona 1933, back in 2012 you were thinking too hard !

David L. Seikel said...

He was Charlie's crime partner.

David L. Seikel said...

Kramer was arrested, Vance disappeared.