But now, due to the dilligence of an unnamed blog reader, the biographies that Bret had compiled on four of the killers (Bruce Davis, Patricia Krenwinkel, Charles Watson and Susan Atkins) have been recovered. If memory serves me correctly Bret was working on Leslie's bio when he met his untimely demise.
The bios are long, dense and full of great info. Given the length of each, we will present one per week beginning with Bruce Davis.
Rest in peace, Bret. You are sorely missed...
Bruce Davis | Patricia Krenwinkel | Charles Watson | Susan Atkins
Bruce McGregor Davis was born on October 5, 1942, in the town of Monroe, Louisiana. Davis is the youngest of two children and the only son of what he describes as a typical middle-class family. His mother, Marguerite McKee Davis and father, Bert W. Davis are now deceased. Although born in Louisiana, the family moved to Mobile, Alabama where Davis, lived as a child. His father was a pipe fitter and welder, who died of a sudden aneurysm, when Davis was 25 years old. Davis' mother was a housewife and homemaker until Davis was approximately ten years old. His only sibling is a sister, Judith Davis, who is one year, his senior and was often called Judy by friends and family. When Davis was in the second grade the family moved to Kingston, Tennessee where he would later attend Roane High School.
When Davis was ten years old his mother went to school, became an accountant, and began a career as a working wife and mother. His father was an alcoholic who was physically and verbally abusive towards the other family members. Davis was the main subject of his father's anger and would receive beatings from him several times a month. Davis claims that his father was verbally abusive towards him almost daily, especially when he was drunk. His father would disappear for days, but when he returned the abuse would start all over again. Davis' sister, told him years later, that she believed that abuse stemmed from some kind of a resentment because his mother gave Davis so much attention, and their father felt he was taking the attention away from him.
Davis had severe medical problems when he was young but somehow managed to overcome them. When he was very young he was diagnosed with a hernia but was healed after a year or so. Then in c.a. 1952, he was diagnosed with an aneurysm in the internal carded artery which is a blood-filled dilation (balloon-like bulge) of a blood vessel caused by disease or weakening of the vessel wall. If left untreated, it can develop into a blood clot and kill you. Davis' parents were told that there was no cure and that he would die within months.
His parents learned of an experimental operation that was being developed by a doctor in New Orleans. When they spoke to him he told them that a few operations had been successful but most people never live longer than for 6 months after the operation. Davis was taken to New Orleans to undergo the surgery which was his only hope of life. According to Davis, the night before the operation, the doctor had a dream on how to perform the surgery differently and decided use it on Davis the following day. The surgery was a success. Davis maintains that in both of these instances it was God who healed him, because he had a calling upon him and a greater plan for his life.
Davis was very artistic and from an early age he would spend hours drawing and drafting sketches. His sister described him as extremely talented. He could draw flawless facial portraits and futuristic landscapes. When he was 13 he made an art rendering on the side of a wall near their house and people would come by and take pictures of it.
From a very early age, Davis was rather aimless and never developed any goals or a sense of who he wanted to become in life. He claims the constant abuse from his father left him ill equipped socially. He would constantly try to prove himself and seek acceptance from his peers. Although his mother was always affectionate and supportive to the kids she was also very controlling and protective of Davis. After his father would beat him he would seek solace with his mother. Davis claims his mother was afraid of his father and had a hard time standing up to him. Her objections were vocal and less than effective. In later years, Davis felt angry and betrayed by his parents, believing that he was never given the guidance and encouragement to the extent he felt he needed.
Davis and his sister Judith were fairly close when they were growing up. The family was very dysfunctional. They never discussed any of the family problems. She would periodically suffer similar verbal abuse from their father but, not as frequently as Davis did. Davis reports that he was molested at age 12 by an adult friend. Apparently this man, who was friendly and attentive to Davis, sodomized him on two occasions. Davis stated that he never told anyone about the molestation. It ended when Davis stopped spending time with this man. His name was Tinker Kirkland. He was an older man who lived in the neighborhood. Davis has also stated that when he was 13 years old, an English teacher raped him. Again he never told anyone but continued to harbor feelings of embarrassment and shame. This was back in 1954 and social awareness about sexual abuse wasn't like it is today. These things were usually not discussed.
When Davis was in the seventh grade he was expelled for stealing from fellow students. He was not overly active in school although his grades were good. Davis has said that he never felt close to anyone and that sort of left him open to dropping out. He had no goals or direction in his youth. He always went along with other kids and was a follower. He stated that being a follower was his way to ensure that people would like him. Davis had many hobbies like fishing, stamp collecting and reading historical books.
When Davis was 17 years old and attending Roane High School he became sexually involved with a girlfriend. This relationship lasted for approximately one year. In 1961 Davis graduated from High school and went to work over the summer in pipeline construction. The following fall he enrolled at the University of Tennessee. During this time Davis started drinking and lost interest in school. His grades began to deteriorate. He was doing vocational training, but was dropped from it for lack of attendance and interest. He was put on probation. Over a period of two years he would attend school off and on. Davis received his transcripts from the University Of Tennessee. He had taken about 16 classes but failed most of them. He was again put on probation for poor grades. At that time, Davis was 19 years old. He next decided to drop out of school.
Davis has said that during the time he was in Tennessee he never identified with the counterculture. He was not aware of the turmoil that was going on in the country in the 60's. Tennessee was very much Middle America, very straight and conservative. The turmoil didn't affect rural areas as much as did in the large cities. His only contact with the early days of the counterculture was what he watched on television. He said it had a favorable impression on him, a kind of seductive effect.
From that point on, Davis began wandering around the country, taking jobs here and there. In 1962 he moved to California. In Lake Tahoe he met a girl. He stayed with her and took on a job as a waiter and bar-boy. Through his job he would meet older women that were looking for company. As a young handsome man he would take advantage of those situations. Some were married and just looking for some excitement. He had a phony driver's license he used to manipulate the law.
His next job took him to Harrisburg, where he became a surveyor for the Department of Commerce.
In 1964, Davis was without a job and decided to go back to Tennessee. He went back to school for one semester and lived with his parents. He soon realized he had lost all interest in his studies, so he decided to go back to work. He would work as a house painter, as well as a pipe welder, in pipeline construction, and other metal trades. According to his sister, there was a confrontation between Bruce and his father, who wanted Bruce to cut his hair or leave. Davis got bored with Tennessee again. He felt confined living with his parents, so he bought a new car and began driving around the country again. During this time he became highly influenced by the Vietnam conflict and identified with the non-materialistic lifestyle of the hippies.
Davis would live out of his car and sleep on the beach. His friends at first were construction guys, surfers and bikers. In just a few months Davis transformed from a hard worker with some education to a full-blown drifter.
Davis started using drugs in 1965. First it was marijuana. He would smoke periodically. Next he was introduced to speed and LSD. Davis was never considered, nor did he consider himself, an alcoholic or a drug abuser in any real sense. He did not take drugs constantly. For Davis the use was more social such as being part of the group. His drug use reached a peak during the two years he was with Charles Manson. In those days, they used mainly marijuana and LSD. Occasionally he would take mescaline, psilocybin and other hallucinogens. These were common drugs used by people during that time.
In 1966, Davis was working in construction in Arizona. Suddenly, he decided to go back to California. He arrived in Los Angeles in late 1966. When he first got there he was working for a Pipe Fabrication and Supply Company as a metal worker in Santa Fe Springs. A few months later Davis had stopped working and was living with friends in Topanga Canyon. According to Davis he would get financial assistance from some of his "lady friends," in the area.
It has been said that Davis first ran into Manson and the girls in Oregon which is not correct. Davis himself tells a different story. In 1967, Davis was with a friend in Topanga Canyon, who had borrowed a cross cut wood saw. This friend needed to return it to its owner, and he invited Davis to come along. He said that the guy there is really crazy, "He's got all these pretty girls around him and all they do is get loaded all day." That attracted Davis' attention and he went along. The owner of the saw was none other than Charlie Manson. They arrived at this house in Topanga Canyon, where Manson was staying with some of his girls. Davis was introduced to them.
As soon as they arrived they were greeted by a guy, who then guided them through the house and out into the back yard. Manson was in a large bathtub, enjoying the sun and the girls who were giving him a sponge bath. There were about 10 girls around the bathtub and according to Davis, most of them were nude and giggling through a haze of marijuana smoke. Davis claims he was absolutely blown away by the scene. "It was real nice. It looked like Elysian Fields," he would later say.
Davis has claimed through the years that it was the 'sex, drugs and rock n' roll' lifestyle that attracted him to the Family and kept him there. He claims he was in search of a father figure and immediately adopted Manson for that role. They got along great together. Davis was the oldest male member of the Family. He was 26 years old when he joined the group. It has been said that Davis was Manson's chief lieutenant. Barbara Hoyt has claimed that Davis was never a follower of Manson, but an equal. She claims he wanted to be like Manson and tried to influence other members of the Family. Bobby Beausoleil has also claimed that Charlie never did anything without Davis being right by his side.
During his stay with Manson, Davis would often take off for periods of time, without telling anyone. Davis was independent from a lot of the activities of the other Family members. He was away most of the time. In 1968, Davis received a tragic phone call from his sister who told him their father had died unexpectedly, of a sudden aneurysm. Davis was unemotional and distant when he heard the news. His sister claims he didn't even attend his father's funeral. Both children inherited some money from their father's life insurance. Davis went to Tennessee to pick up the money and left. He would never return.
Before the Family settled down at the Spahn Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, they were living in Topanga Canyon and in Chatsworth. Not everyone was always at the same location. During the time they were moving through Topanga Canyon, Davis began an intimate relationship with Susan Atkins. For a while they became lovers, almost exclusively. They even left together and moved in with a mutual friend who lived down the road. They got to know each other very well during this time.
According to Atkins, many of the girls in the Family thought Davis was conceited and arrogant. They put him down because he looked quite a bit like Charlie. Davis was much more rugged and stocky, but the resemblance was there none the less. No guy was permitted to stack up well against Charlie. Davis was only about five-foot-six and a half inches tall. This strengthened the resemblance. He always looked as though he were on the verge of growing a raggedy beard. Davis was valuable to Charlie in the dune buggy days because of his welding skills and his overall competence in getting things done.
That same year, Davis became involved with the Church of Scientology. For a brief time he lived in a commune with other Scientology members. Davis readily, used the money he inherited from his father, as well as selling his BMW motorcycle, and headed to England to study Scientology. He was away from the Family for almost a year. There has been speculation that Davis was involved with a girl by the name of Doreen Gaul, a fellow Scientology member. Gaul apparently lived in the same Scientology commune Davis did. However, there is no real evidence that they ever met or dated, other than unsubstantiated claims by Manson author Bill Nelson. In 1969, Doreen Gaul was found brutally murdered along with a young man, James Sharp, in an alley in down town Los Angeles. Bill Nelson tried relentlessly to connect Davis to these murders. Nelson even went so far as to accuse Davis of being the notorious Zodiac killer who terrorized San Francisco in the late 60's. He also claimed that Gaul and Sharp were actually Zodiac murders.
In early December 1968, according to Paul Watkins, Charles Manson sent his main man Bruce Davis on a trip to Europe. Davis spent around five months out of the country. However, Davis says he had been planning to do some travelling and wanted to see the world. Whatever the case Davis along with two travelling companions journeyed to England. They went by way of North Africa. There is also a story that Manson gave him 500 silver dollars to sell in England. After arriving in Europe, Davis and his friends travelled around, spending several weeks on the Iberian Peninsula, and travelling around Spain. Davis next went to North Africa before settling down in London, England.
In London, Davis approached the Church of Scientology to pursue courses of study. He was even employed by the Church of Scientology working in their mail room. According to the Church of Scientology, they fired Davis from the mail room, after a couple of weeks when he wouldn't stop using drugs.
It has been said the Davis also became involved in the Process Church of the Final Judgment. The cult had their headquarters in London, and was founded there. According to a prominent Los Angeles homicide officer, Davis also became familiar with a very vehement wing of something called, The Fraternity of Lucifer. Members of this church of Satanists based in London had also been in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The group had even met Manson. It wasn't unusual for young people to experiment with all sorts of groups in those days. Even very prominent celebrities like Jayne Mansfield and Sammy Davis Jr. were involved with The Church of Satan, in San Francisco, during that time period.
Davis stayed in London for several months, living at the local Scientology headquarters for some time. Later he rented himself a room in a boarding house where other foreigners were also living. Davis met a British girl that he was seeing quite a bit. Although he had achieved the level of "clear" in Scientology, Davis was asked to leave because of his drug use. Davis bought a ticket back to the US with Iceland Air and described it as a horrible trip. Shortly after he came to Los Angeles he called his sister and told her he was going to live on this movie ranch with a guy named Charlie.
It has been said that Davis was an ex-con when he met Manson. This is not true. Davis had never been imprisoned. He did however spend a few days in jail after his first arrest.
Davis came to the attention of Los Angeles law enforcement on March 9, 1968, when he was arrested for possession of marijuana. The case was dismissed in the interest of justice. On May 2, 1968, he was again arrested for possession of marijuana. The charges were dismissed due to insufficient evidence. Davis next was arrested on October 12, 1969, for receiving stolen property, grand theft auto and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. This was the Barker Ranch raid incident where the entire Manson Family was arrested. On October 27, 1969, these charges were dropped due to lack of evidence.
On January 2, 1970, Davis was arrested for receiving stolen property for which there was no disposition. He was next arrested for fraudulently obtaining a firearm by giving false identification to a firearms dealer. This is a federal offence. It occurred on March 7, 1970. When Davis went on trial for murder, federal authorities and US Marshall's, put a three year detainer on him. He was to serve this after his two life sentences. The detainer was on him for almost 30 years. Before it was relaxed in 1999, Davis's real parole plans were to serve this three year sentence with US Marshall's before he would be able to re-enter society. The firearm in question was a nine millimeter pistol. When later asked why he had wanted to buy a gun, he stated, "all the guys had guns and I just wanted to fit in."
Bruce Davis moved back to the United States on April 25, 1969. He was picked up at the airport by Ella Jo Bailey. Davis was very happy to be back and there was a celebration at Spahn Ranch that evening to welcome him home. After the celebration he went back home to Louisiana to take care of things and collect what was left of his inheritance.
In early May, just before Mother's Day, Bruce Davis came back from Louisiana and arrived at the Spahn Movie Ranch. He threw himself avidly into the crime schemes that were going on. Davis had developed a novel scheme, or thought he had done so, for getting free gas for the dune buggies. He wanted to drive up into the mountains to the edge of the desert. This was the location of the gas transmission lines. He wanted to tap the lines and put barrels under them to collect a permanent supply of gasoline. The problem though was it wasn't gasoline, it was either natural gas or raw petroleum.
Davis was considered an important figure in the group and was very close to Charlie. The guys would ride motorcycles, carry guns, smoke dope, and have sex with the numerous girls that were at the ranch. Davis has never acknowledged the idea of Helter Skelter like some of the other members incarcerated for murder. Today, he claims that he thought it was a joke on Manson's part and didn't think anyone would be crazy enough to believe in it. Other than that he said he never paid any real attention to it. He was just doing his own thing. On Spahn Ranch, Davis helped around the ranch He did a lot of welding on dune buggies, took care of the horses, and worked on the numerous automobiles that were there.
Davis' recalls, that he was frequently intoxicated with hallucinogenic substances. This was especially true, much of the time, in the weeks prior to the murders. He said that Manson began preaching about death and destruction and that the Family began adopting a survivalist lifestyle. The general atmosphere was very paranoid. According to Ella Jo Bailey, in mid July, she heard Davis, Manson, and several other members of the Family discussing the need for money and someone brought up Gary Hinman. Hinman was a friend of Manson's and the Family's. Hinman had two automobiles, a VW Microbus and a Fiat Station Wagon. On the evening of July 25, Bailey heard Manson telling Davis and Bobby Beausoleil to go to Hinman's house and get some money from him. She said Beausoleil had a knife and that Davis was carrying a gun, in his hand, with a blunt nose and a plastic handle. Moments later, Mary Brunner told Bailey that she had been asked to put on "creepy-crawler" clothes. She was looking for a pair of gloves to wear. Brunner also said that she was going to Hinman's with Beausoleil.
Davis drove Beausoleil, Brunner and Susan Atkins to Hinman's house. He claims he never entered the house. He gave Beausoleil the gun. Beausoleil and the girls entered the house and Davis drove back to the ranch. The next day, Beausoleil phoned the ranch, asking Manson for advice and told him Hinman was not cooperating. Davis would later tell a probation officer that he didn't understand what this was about. Davis stated "what I did understand was that they went there to rob Gary Hinman. They thought he had money but he didn't." Manson then asked Davis to drive him back to Hinman's residence. According to Davis, when they entered the house Beausoleil was holding Hinman at gunpoint. Davis asked for the gun, which Beausoleil handed to him. Davis states that he had the gun in his possession but did not have it pointed at Hinman. However, Beausoleil has testified that Davis held Hinman at gunpoint when Manson sliced Hinman's face with a sword. When attacked by Manson, Hinman fell to floor with blood gushing out of his wound. Davis later took one of Hinman's cars back to the ranch but claims, "Gary was very much alive when I last saw him."
The next day, Davis told Bailey the following account; that he and Manson had gone to Hinman's home. Hinman somehow got the gun away from the threesome. Brunner, Beausoleil and Atkins had got the gun back from Gary, but they had to wrestle with him to get it. The gun handle was broken when Hinman was struck over the head with it. Manson and Hinman next got into a violent fight, and Manson said if he did not quiet down he would soon have to make him quiet. While Manson sliced Hinman open from the left ear down to his chin, Davis held the gun on Hinman. He said that Hinman lost a lot of blood and appeared to be unconscious. He said Beausoleil and Atkins wrote a political slogan on wall using Hinman's blood.
Hinman's body was found at his home on July 31st. He had been dead for several days and the body was starting to decompose. Hinman was lying on his back on the living room floor. A wallet was sticking out of his pocket. A pillow was adjacent to his head and body fluids including blood were on the pillow. The autopsy revealed a stab wound to the chest, which penetrated his heart killing him. He suffered several other wounds including three stab wounds in the area of his chest, a gash on the top of his head, a gash behind his right ear and lacerations on his left side of his face. This cut part of his ear and cheek. Hinman's body had three holes in the tee shirt he was wearing. One was directly in the centre of his chest. The other two were a little bit lower. There was a hole underneath the sink at Hinman's home, which appeared to be a bullet hole. A suspected slug was recovered. There appeared to be blood spots on all the walls except the south wall and ceiling.
According to the police report; writing, apparently, in blood was observed on the wall as follows "Political Piggy." There was an animal paw print, apparently, in blood, on the wall just above the victims head. Chemists determined that what appeared to be blood in the house was in fact blood. The bullets found in the house matched Davis's gun.
At the ranch, Ella Jo Bailey and Mary Brunner wiped Hinman's VW down for prints. Davis claims he doesn't remember much from the time after Gary Hinman was killed. Although, he claims that on the night of August 9 and 10, Susan Atkins came up to him and asked if he wanted to come along. When Davis asked where they were going she said "We are going to do something crazy." Davis claims that he said no. He sensed they were going out to commit murder, although he didn't know any details.
Davis claims that the girls asked him to come along the following day when they were going to commit the LaBianca murders. Davis said no. Today, he claims, that he had learned earlier during the day about the Tate murders. There has been speculation that Davis went with Manson to the scene of the Tate murders. This was after the killers had returned to Spahn Ranch, in the early morning hours just before sunrise. Manson's biographer, Nuel Emmons, claims that Manson told him this and he wrote it in his book. There they supposedly rearranged the bodies, placed the towel over Sebring's face, and dropped the glasses as a false clue. That would certainly explain many things such as the fact that Sharon Tate's blood was found on the porch and the fact blood had been smeared all over her body.
MURDER PART 2
Bruce Davis was not present during the Spahn Ranch raid on August 16, 1969. He returned a few days later to the Spahn Ranch from Olancha, in Death Valley. He had delivered a load of dune-buggy parts and Family equipment. He was shocked to find that everyone had been arrested. Charles Manson had been very paranoid and told Davis that he was sure someone had tipped of the police.
Donald Jerome 'Shorty' Shea was a 36 year old ranch hand, actor, and stunt man. He was originally from Boston, but had been working on the Spahn Ranch on and off for over fifteen years as a horse wrangler. He had also starred in several B-grade cowboy movies such as "Hard On The Trail." It was filmed on the Spahn Movie Ranch. He was always waiting to be discovered. He hung around working at the ranch, while waiting for film opportunities to come along. He did not come from a big family but he had a mother back home, whom he had a good relationship with. Although Shea was a very big guy physically, he went by the name Shorty. He had been called Shorty since he was a young man just because he was so big and the name kind of stuck. Aside from George Spahn and Ruby Pearl, who were his west coast family, he had a black girlfriend, who worked as a part time go-go dancer. It wasn't unusual for Shorty to take off for several days and sometimes weeks at a time. He was usually working on a film, visiting his mother, or spending time with his girlfriend. For his work at the ranch Shorty was paid very little money but he got free room and board, and a packet of cigarettes every day.
Ruby Pearl, a middle age woman, and George Spahn's business partner, worked as a horse wrangler and cowboy. Because Spahn was blind, Ruby ran the stable, managed and looked after the ranch. Pearl had seen Bruce Davis and other members of the Family riding dune buggies on and around the ranch and bridle paths. Frank Retz phoned from the Mary Kelly Ranch, which was, right next to the Spahn Ranch. He complained to George Spahn about the hippies riding dune buggies all over his property. Retz was in negotiation to buy the Spahn Ranch property. He wanted the hippies off the ranch. Ruby Pearl witnessed a heavy argument between Manson and Retz where Retz told him to take his people and get off the ranch. Manson apparently refused and said "you don't own this yet."
Ruby Pearl testified at the Tate/LaBianca murder trial that she witnessed a conversation between Retz and Spahn. Lynn Fromme was also present. Fromme listened carefully to everything that was said, so she could report back to Charlie. She was not only George's eyes but also Charlie's ears. The subject of the conversation was that Retz wanted a watchman. George Spahn said he already had a man and he agreed to give him to Retz. The man was 'Shorty' Shea. 'Shorty' agreed to take the job after this conversation. Mr. Retz said he wanted the Family off the ranch immediately and offered to give Shea a salary. Shea had to clean up the place by getting rid of the hippies and motorcycle riders.
'Shorty' and Johnny Swartz were working together to try to get the Family thrown off the ranch. Manson threatened Johnny Swartz around this time, saying, according to Swartz, "I could kill you at any time. I can come into your sleeping quarters any time." Swartz left the ranch thereafter in fear. DeCarlo also claimed that 'Shorty' was going to work for the German American resort builders, as watch guard of the back ranch property. Manson later claimed that he got on his knees and begged 'Shorty' to stop stirring up dissension against the presence of the Family, but that 'Shorty' was relentless, so he had to be killed.
Some Family members liked the outgoing 'Shorty' Shea. 'Shorty' wanted to become a movie star, so he had at least three friends who allowed him to use their telephones as answering services in the event a producer or director should want to call Shea about a movie job. Every day Shea would call these friends to inquire if any filmmaker had called. These daily phone calls ceased to exist August 27, 1969.
Another "sin" of Shea in the crazed eyes of the Family was that he had married a black dancer whom evidently Shea had met in Las Vegas. The Family was upset because his wife's black friends started coming around the ranch. It has also been suggested that Shea knew something about the Family's activities in early August and had information regarding the various murders they had committed. Nobody will ever know for sure because Shorty did not live to tell about it.
Charles Manson and Stephanie Schram were arrested on August 24, when out of the blue the police raided the outlaw shacks on Spahn Ranch. They were placed in custody for possession of marijuana. Manson was convinced that Retz and Shea were responsible for the raid on the outlaw shacks. After that, there were many arguments between Retz and Manson. Manson eventually threatened to kill Retz. Retz however was not intimidated and was very disrespectful to Manson and called him a bum. Manson was furious and told Davis and other Family members that he wanted Retz and Shea killed.
A few days later, according to Ruby Pearl, Lynn Fromme again witnessed a conversation between Frank Retz and George Spahn. Retz demanded Spahn get rid of Manson and his clan. One night during dinner conversation, Manson told Davis and others that Shea was a former policeman and informant and that he was working with Retz to get the Family kicked off the ranch, that he was bad-mouthing them.
On August 16th, Lance Victor talked to Shea at the ranch. According to his testimony, Shea appeared to be edgy and nervous and said, "I think there is something horribly wrong here. I think, you know, they're trying to kill me, I'm not kidding you. There's something wrong." He said Shea appeared terrified.
Around August 27, 1969, Ruby Pearl saw Shea for the last time. It was about midnight. Shea said to her, Pearl, "Can I stay somewhere at your house tonight? It's kind of weird here." She kept asking him what was wrong, but he seemed nervous of being seen talking to her. He said he was worried and that some of the people were playing psychological warfare on him. Shea later told Ruby he would stay at the ranch and sleep in his car. Shea appeared to be very serious, kept looking around saying, "It gives me the creeps to stay here." As Pearl pulled away, she saw a car coming fast into the driveway. It parked on the side of the road. The Manson boys got out. This group included Charlie Manson, Steve Grogan, Tex Watson and Bruce Davis. They were fanning out, spreading out around the spot where Shea was going. The next day when Pearl came back to the ranch, Shea's car was gone. She never saw 'Shorty' Shea again.
Barbara Hoyt testified at the trial that she served a dinner to Shea the day before they went to the desert. While in bed, she claims she heard a scream. Then the screaming started again and kept going for a long time. Hoyt claims she recognized that Shea was the person screaming. This occurred a few days after Hoyt had seen Manson and Schram in a police car.
This has been proved to be untrue and that Hoyt was unreliable witness. Everyone who participated in the murder of 'Shorty' Shea all claim that he was killed around 10:00 in the morning. Perhaps Hoyt heard some screams of someone else being killed or beaten up or someone who was just fooling around. Maybe she imagined it or maybe she is just simply lying. It is a known fact that some people tend to lie or embellish on their stories when testifying in well known and highly publicized cases, somehow to involve themselves in the chain of events. Many people within law enforcement and people close to the case have gone on record saying she is unreliable or simply mistaken. Also, the killers have nothing to gain by altering the time of the murder. It makes no difference to them in terms of sentencing and has little or no bearing on the case. It shows that Hoyt is extremely unreliable. But it sounds more dramatic that way, blood curdling screams in the night, around midnight no less.
All of the defendants give a similar account of the murder, with minor variations which is understandable given the passage of time. The guys had been up all night partying at the ranch and at around 9:30 in the morning of August 28-30, (the date of the murder is not clear) was when Manson, Watson and Grogan approached Davis. Manson told them to take Shorty for a ride and kill him. He then looked at Watson and said, "You know what to do."
Davis, Watson and Grogan approached 'Shorty' who had recently woken up, and was on his way to an auto parts store to get some auto parts for his car. The guys asked for a ride and jumped in the car and had him drive away. Watson sat in the front seat with 'Shorty' and Davis and Grogan were in the back seat. Manson had given them instructions on where to pull over and do the job. Manson then got into another car and followed them. At his 1994, parole hearing and several other instances, Davis claims that several Family girls accompanied Manson in the car and watched as they attacked 'Shorty.'
They drove down the road towards the San Fernando Valley until Watson said, "pull over here." Shea drove off the road to an embankment a few feet off the road. They enticed 'Shorty' by saying that Watson had some auto parts hidden in the area. As soon as 'Shorty' slowed down the car, Watson viciously stabbed him several times in the side. Grogan clubbed him in the back of the head with a 6 inch pipe wrench from the back seat. Davis claimed that 'Shorty' looked stunned and started screaming "Why?" and pleaded for his life. The front seat was covered in blood from the stabbing. According to Davis, Watson and Grogan went out of the car and started pulling 'Shorty' out but that he was resisting. At that time Grogan clubbed him again and Watson kicked him in the head.
However, according to Grogan, after 'Shorty' had been stabbed and clubbed inside the car, he opened the door and jumped out. He claims the car kept running towards the embankment and he had to jump over to the front seat to put the car in gear and put the brakes on so the car wouldn't go down the hill. At that point he claims he saw 'Shorty' trying to flee but he kept falling down because of the loss of blood. He claims Watson then caught him and started stabbing him. (Interestingly, Grogan also claims that Davis was not in the car with them. He says Davis came with Manson in the other car. Either Grogan is mistaken or Davis is simply lying and trying to distance himself from being as close to Manson as he was.)
At that time Shea was being dragged from the car, Manson pulled up in another car behind them with some of the girls in the back seat (it is not clear which girls were present, although it is worthy question to ask). The guys pulled 'Shorty,' who was kicking and screaming, down the hillside to the bank below and there they all stabbed him several times with a bayonet. Davis followed them down the hillside and watched them stab him to death. Manson had a machete which he handed to Davis and told him to decapitate 'Shorty.' Davis didn't want to do it and gave it to Grogan, who eventually gave it back to Manson. Manson next handed the bayonet back to Davis and told him to stab Shea, who was lying on his back lifeless. Davis claims he cut 'Shorty' on the shoulder with the tip of the bayonet. However, Grogan said at one point that Davis also participated in the stabbing.
After Shorty was murdered, Davis, Manson and Watson returned to Spahn Ranch. Davis was tired after a staying up all night partying and participating in the murder. He went into one of the trailers and went to sleep. Manson had given Grogan instructions to bury the body in a temporary grave, until they found a more permanent place to bury him. Several Family members participated in covering up the crime and getting rid of Shorty's belongings. "By that time we all had our job to do," Leslie Van Houten remarked, discussing her assigned task of burning Shorty's clothes. As she began to burn them, a ranch hand wandered nearby, so she had to abort the mission, cover them up with brush, and burn them later. Grogan buried Shorty close by where they had killed him, in a crude, temporary, brush topped grave.
There have been several accounts of who actually participated in the second burial of 'Shorty' Shea. Steve Grogan has admitted that he buried him, but according to several accounts, some of the girls participated in the second burial. It was done in broad daylight the following day. His body was placed somewhere down the road towards the Simi Valley. During the years thereafter the Sherriff's office occasionally bulldozed the area looking for it.
They packed up the belongings of Mr. Shea, loading them into the trunk of his automobile, which had been parked at the Spahn Ranch. Bruce Davis left a fingerprint on one of Shorty's trunks, which was a grievous mistake for Mr. Davis. Catherine Share, a.k.a. Gypsy, later admitted to the police that she helped drive Shorty's automobile to be abandoned in Canoga Park. A bloody shoe belonging to Mr. Shea was taken into custody of the Los Angeles County Sheriff, but his body was not found until 1977. Steve Grogan led authorities to the location of the body after many unsuccessful attempts to find it. He only gave up the location after he had been repeatedly denied parole.
Barbara Hoyt testified that the next day, after she heard the screaming, she heard Manson ask Danny DeCarlo if lye or lime would get rid of a body. De Carlo said lime would, and Manson said hurry to get some lime. Davis and Manson were also overheard saying that 'Shorty' had committed suicide, "with a little help from us." Davis laughed at this point. Davis was also heard saying, "We just stabbed him and stabbed him until Clem cut his head off." He also claimed that 'Shorty' was just a, "fucking pig," and an "alcoholic," that nobody would miss. In late September Davis told Bill Vance, "That's why we killed 'Shorty.'"
Bruce Davis owed Straight Satan motorcycle club member, Danny DeCarlo money, so he gave DeCarlo the pawn tickets on Shorty's matched brass handled pistols. He stole the pawn tickets after they killed Shea. DeCarlo evidently bought the weapons out of hock. They were seen around the Spahn Ranch for a while. Later he sold the pistols to a Culver City gun shop for $75.00, using the alias Richard Smith. All of the guys were constantly flashing Shorty's things around the ranch and bragging about the murder, saying how fun it was to bring Shorty to "Now!"
Shortly after the murder, ranch hand Juan Flynn was at the Spahn Ranch and saw Manson produce a gun which appeared to be a gun Shorty Shea had owned and particularly prized. This gun was handed by Manson to Davis, who passed it on to Watson. Sometime after that, Flynn took a trip to Los Angeles with Grogan, Watson, Davis and some other people. Supposedly Flynn dropped off Watson some place and Grogan told Flynn, "If anyone asks you about 'Shorty,' you tell them he went to San Francisco." Davis came from the back seat and said, "Yeah. Yeah. You know. He's a fucking pig." This testimony was used against Davis at the trial.
While at Spahn Ranch, Straight Satan Motorcycle Club member Alan Leroy Springer, also known as Al, was reading a newspaper clipping with Bruce Davis. It was about the Beausoleil trial where DeCarlo had testified. Springer said he did not like the idea of DeCarlo testifying. Davis then said, "Yes. We'll have to do something about that." Springer said, "That would be hard to do." Davis replied that "We have a way of taking care of 'snitches,' and they had already taken care of one. Then he added, "We cut his arms, legs and head off and buried him on the ranch," and that, "the guy was a snitch." He also added that the guy was an alcoholic who drank so much they were afraid he was going to the police with information, so they done away with him. Mark Ross who was also present asked, "You mean Shorty?" and Davis responded "yeah."
In December of 1969, photos were taken of Mr. Shea's car which was found in Canoga Park. Fingerprints on the car were identified as belonging to Davis. There was blood found all over the front seat and some of Shorty's belongings were also in the car.
In September of 1969, Manson moved his troops to Death Valley. Over a period of a few weeks, they stole a bunch of dune buggies, about seven in number. Before he left, Davis had tried to steal a red Toyota jeep located just a few feet down the road from where Bernard Crowe was living, but was unsuccessful and almost caught. However, two days later Davis and Grogan went back and managed to steal the red, four-wheel-drive Toyota by hot wiring it. They immediately drove it to the desert.
While in the desert they would live like desert troops, doing combat and survival training. The atmosphere was certainly paranoid and somebody was always on lookout. Telephone lines were strung all over the area as well as supplies and gasoline. According to various accounts, both Davis and Grogan had mastered the art of being able to pass right by a person in the middle of the night without detection. Manson would have them sneak up on each other, as well as spying and finding out things about what people were saying and doing. Davis and Grogan would then report back to Manson. Supposedly, they would often pass by cops on patrol while they were at the Spahn Ranch, totally undetected.
The desert days in September and October were spent on gathering supplies and auto parts. Davis spent his time working on the dune buggies with Watson and the other guys. They would race in dune buggies over the desert land, raising suspicion with the locals. They would go and bath in the Salinas Valley Hot Springs where one day Davis, Watson, Kitty Lutesinger and Grogan robbed some campers that were staying in the area.
It was on September 19, when they burned down the $30,000.00 Clark Michigan skip-loader. First, Grogan and Davis removed the gasoline tanks and a grease gun. Then they let out the fuel, and poured some gasoline on the wires and the engine, then lit a match and set the skip-loader on fire. According to Lutesinger, Manson thought that the authorities had deliberately dug holes, with the earth moving machine, in his path, so he would deliberately crash his dune buggy into them.
The burning of the Michigan loader enraged the rangers at the Death Valley Monument and immediately brought the heat down on the Family. They traced the evidence and tire tracks to the red Toyota, which led them to the Manson Family. On October 9, 1969 the Death Valley park rangers and California Highway patrol conducted a massive raid on the Barker Ranch arresting Steve Grogan, Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten, Catherine Share, Nancy Pitman, Patricia Krenwinkel, Robert Ivan Lane and Linda Baldwin. The officers then moved on the Myers Ranch and arrested Sandy Good who was carrying Sadie's baby, Ruth Ann Moorehouse who was carrying Sandy's baby and Mary Ann Schwarm.
Bruce Davis was not arrested during that raid. He had been sent by Manson, along with two others, to Las Vegas to get supplies. They drove back two days later in a stake truck that Grogan had rented. On their way from Las Vegas, they got the truck stuck in a sandy wash between Mengel Pass and the Barker Ranch and had to abandon it. Manson had not been present during the first raid and returned to Barker that same day from the Lotus Mine, where he had been staying.
On October 12, California Highway Patrol Officer James Pursell, Park Ranger Robert Powell and another ranger went back to the Barker Ranch area. They went to look for more dune buggies and check out the various Family campsites for contraband. A passing motorist told them that a stake truck was abandoned in the wash so the officer's checked it out. When they saw all the supplies and tanks of gasoline they knew that the rest of the Family members had returned so they decided to go ahead and arrest them, hoping they would catch the leader this time. They used their radio equipment to call for back up and waited for another unit to arrive.
At 6:30, it was getting dark. The officers could hear giggling and laughter from the ranch house so they knew there were quite a number of people present. With guns drawn, the officers raided and ordered all the people out of the house. Arrested in the second raid were Bruce Davis, Bill Vance, Beth Tracy, Dianne Lake, Sherry Andrews, John Phillip Haught a.k.a. Zero, Kenneth R. Brown, Davis Lee Hamic, Vern Plumlee, Lawrence L. Bailey and Charles Manson. Manson was found hiding in the bathroom cabinet. They put them in units of three and began to march them down the draw toward their vehicles, which were parked in the Barker ranch dump area.
It was pitch black when they started loading prisoners in the four wheel drive police vehicles. As they begun their drive they noticed bouncing headlights in the distance coming towards them. It was Sue Bartell and Cathy Gillies driving in a black Oldsmobile. The women had five hundred dollars worth of groceries. They too were also arrested and placed in the back of the police vehicle with the others. The officers even took the groceries, which they used to supplement their prisoners diet at the Inyo County Jail.
On October 15, 1969, Davis was brought into court at the Inyo County Courthouse and arraigned for the vehicle theft. He gave his true name and said he did not have sufficient funds to hire an attorney. On October 20, Davis appeared in court again with his appointed attorney Fred Schaefer and entered a plea of not guilty. Preliminary hearing was set for October 27, 1969 at 2:00 am. The case was partially dismissed at that time.
Bruce Davis spent over a week in the Inyo County Jail, half of the time in isolation. He had been charged with grand theft auto, receiving stolen property, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. On October 23, most of the Family members were released and all charges against them were dropped. Davis was held there a little longer but on October 27, he was also released and the charges were dropped for lack of evidence.
After he was released from custody, Davis wandered around for a few days until he located Sue Bartell who took him down to Venice to a residence just off the ocean. Many of the Family members that were not incarcerated, were staying there at the time. Including one, John Phillip Haught, also known as Christopher Zero.
Christopher Zero died on November 5, 1969, in the house in Venice of a gunshot wound to his head. This house was at 28 Club Drive. The shooting occurred, while the owner of the house, Mark Ross, was away attending an acting class. A witness to the grim deed said that Bruce Davis, Cathy Gillies, Bill Vance, Little Patti and others were sitting in the living room when Zero died. Zero and Little Patty were in the bedroom and according to the witness, Sue Bartell, Little Patti was sleeping on the bed. Bartell was preparing Zero a cup of tea in the kitchen. She heard laughter from the room, then a sharp splitting sound, as if a firecracker had gone off.
Sue Bartell claims that Little Patti came stumbling out of the room, saying, "Just like in the movies, just like in the movies." Then she said, "Bruce went in and picked up the gun on the bed," trying to explain away the fact that Davis' fingerprints were found all over the gun. These fingerprints included some on the finger guard and trigger of the weapon. Bartell claims she held Zero as he lay dying. "I held him till he died. I felt his pulse, which was real fast and fluttery." Then the pulse began to slow down, "and his face got all purple." Then he died. Little Patti, long since in hiding, called the police, using the name Linda Baldwin.
When the police arrived, Zero had been placed in a sleeping bag and the crime scene had been disturbed. The Family members inside the residence said Zero wanted to know what it was like to die. They said he was playing Russian Roulette, so the death was ruled a suicide. It must be noted that Mr. Zero, if he in fact killed himself, tampered considerably with the odds of the game because there was only one empty chamber in the loaded revolver. A day or so after Zero died, Sue Bartell visited Susan Atkins at Sybil Brand Institute where she told her how Zero had "rouletted" himself. She told her it was groovy and she held his hand while he, "climaxed all over himself."
According to Ed Sanders, who interviewed Sue Bartell a few years ago, she told him that Davis had been responsible for Zero's death. Davis was never charged with the murder but many people in law enforcement at the time suspected those present in the residence to be responsible for his death. Although Bartell refused to elaborate any further on Davis' participation, she also refused to implicate herself or the others.
Shortly after Zero's alleged murder, Susan Atkins and Danny DeCarlo in handcuff's provided the police with information regarding all the murders committed by the Family. The murder cases broke open. DeCarlo told homicide investigators that he was very nervous about retaliation from Manson and the other guys. The police assured him that Manson was going to remain in jail but DeCarlo told the officers that he was also afraid of Bruce Davis, who was a free man.
On November 23, 1969, Bruce Davis flew back to England according to homicide detectives within the Los Angeles sheriff's department, where he attended a Scientology School. Davis however, has never mentioned this. He reportedly stayed there for a couple of months. On December 1, 1969, police chief Ed Davis announced to the public at a giant press conference in the police auditorium that the Tate-LaBianca murder cases had been solved. The whole world learned about Manson and his family.
WANTED BY THE FBI: LIFE ON THE RUN
On February 10, 1970, Davis appeared in the Inyo County Courthouse for the remaining vehicle charges. He was without his attorney of record Fred Schaefer. District attorney Frank Fowles said Scheafer was sick and that he was representing Manson so he could not represent Davis. A Kenneth A. Murphy was appointed to represent Davis and a new preliminary hearing was for February 16. 1970. Davis was present in court at the preliminary hearing with his new attorney. The People were represented by L.H. Gibbons. Amongst the witnesses that were sworn in for the prosecution were David Stueber, Brooks Posten, Paul Watkins, Jennifer Leghorn (Gentry) and Paul Crocket. The remaining charges were in relation to the red Toyota found in the desert. On February 24, however, Davis was released from the case after the judge rendered a decision that the evidence against him was insufficient.
This is the mug shot that was taken when he was arrested for the firearms charge.
On March 7, 1970, Davis was arrested for fraudulently obtaining a firearm by giving false identification to a weapons dealer, which is a federal crime. He was released after bail was posted the following day, but was now facing a 2-7 year sentence by the federal authorities, if found guilty. Davis had returned to the United States and was staying at the Spahn Movie Ranch with Lynn Fromme, Sandy Good, Steve Grogan, Gypsy Share, Sue Bartell and several others.
Each day they would go into town and visit Manson and the girls in the LA County Jail and Sybil Brand. The foursome accused of multiple murders were going almost daily to the Hall of Justice. This was for various pre-trial hearings and Davis and the others would be in attendance to offer moral support. Later, Vincent Bugliosi and Aaron Stowitz would subpoena all the Family members to testify at the trial. This was to keep them out of the courtrooms. By that time, documentary filmmaker Robert Hendrickson had been filming the Manson Family at the Spahn Ranch.
Davis in court during a pre-trial hearing in the Tate-LaBianca case.
On April 14, 1970, Bruce Davis was indicted for the murder of Gary Hinman. Upon learning this, Davis split and went underground. Sheriff's officers were very eager to arrest Davis because of the Hinman and Shea murder cases were in their jurisdiction. They visited Spahn Ranch regularly, looking for him. Homicide investigators felt he was a weak link and that they could break him.
It is not entirely clear what Davis did during this time, but according to his own statements, he was travelling around, until he settled in a house on the outskirts of Los Angeles, with another Family woman. He was now wanted by the LAPD for 187 PC (murder) as well as the FBI, and it was not safe for him to be walking around. Davis wasn't able to go outside, had no exercise, and therefore put on a lot of weight. He said that none of his clothes would fit him anymore. During this time he stayed in minimal contact with the majority of the Family members because they were being watched.
Later in the year, Davis and Nancy Pitman, who was also a fugitive, took off. They stayed in Death Valley and camped out in the mountains. There were also rumors that they lived for a while, literally underground, in the huge drainpipes of the LA flood control system in Canoga Park. According to homicide detective Charles Guenther, they almost caught them on several occasions. He had positioned his men down in the pipes looking for them, when they saw them fleeing. Another time, Guenther ran into Pitman but didn't recognize her immediately, and she had the time to jump through a sewer hatch and disappear. For a while they also lived in a sympathizer's garage.
According to Robert Hendrickson, who spoke with two FBI agents, who were trying to hunt them down, that if Davis hadn't surrendered, they most likely would never have caught him. One time they almost caught them when they traced them to a roadside motel near the Nevada border. They said they were minutes from catching them, but as they came through the front door of their room, he was going out the back window and then literarily disappeared into the desert in the middle of the night.
In November of 1970, they were camping out at the hot springs down in Lucerne Valley when, for whatever reason, Davis decided to turn himself in. He had been on the run for almost nine months and was getting very tired and worn out by the hopelessness of the situation. He claims he knew he had to deal with this situation sooner or later and that it was just a matter of time before the LAPD and/or FBI would find him. The following day he contacted the defense attorneys and told them to make the necessary arrangements. It has also been said that Manson gave Davis and Pitman orders to surrender through Paul Fitzgerald, who was Nancy Pitman's attorney.
On December 2, 1970, a little after noon, Bruce Davis and Nancy Pitman surrendered in front of the Hall of Justice where they met with Day Shinn, Paul Fitzgerald and two homicide detectives. The couple turned themselves in after a pre-arrangement with the L.A. Sheriff's Office. There was also a crowd of about 25 reporters with television cameras and microphones, who had been tipped off in advance. The Los Angeles Times reported that Davis and Pitman were married and the media always referred to Pitman as Ms. Davis. She was wanted for walking away from a hearing where she was to be sentenced for forgery. Both were barefoot as they walked across the street and were immediately mobbed by reporters and the shrieking Manson girls on the corner who hadn't seen Davis in a long time.
Davis, wearing a dirty buckskin outfit, was short and husky, having put on a lot of weight since he had been seen last publicly. He looked spaced out and laughed as the reporters barraged him with questions. When asked where he had been since his indictment, Davis replied, "Well, I'm here now." When asked why he decided to surrender, he answered variously and vaguely, "He would do it for me, man," presumably meaning Manson. "They want to kill bodies, don't they? I'm here if that's what they're after." Then he added, "Some people were to be cut loose."
The dramatic curbside surrender attracted a throng, not only of newsmen, but also passerby's. Workmen on a Civic Center construction project looked down and watched from across the street. Davis talked to the media for about five minutes before Sheriff's detective; Sgt. Charles Guenther threaded through the crowd, reached him, and took him by the arm and led him away into the Hall of Justice. The camera crews followed them all the way to a room on the sixth floor, in the 'missing person's unit,' where Davis was interrogated and booked for murder. This was his last day of freedom. He has never walked the free streets since.
Davis was immediately placed in the Los Angeles County Jail. He joined Steve Grogan who had also been arrested and Charles Manson who was in the middle of his Tate-LaBianca murder trial. Two days later, Davis appeared in court for arraignment. Bail was denied because of the flight risk. Davis also had a federal hold on him and would later be sentenced to three years for giving false identification while purchasing a firearm.
Davis's sister, Judith, was not shocked when she heard the news that her brother had been arrested for murder. She and her mother both knew very well what the charges were. Homicide detectives and FBI agents had been to their homes several times and interviewed them. They were unable to give them any information because they had not heard from Bruce in almost two years. Davis's mother and sister flew to LA to visit. They described him as distant and unemotional. His mother offered to give him as much support as she could although she was not well off financially and there was no way she could help with the legal expenses.
On December 17, 1970, the Los Angeles Grand Jury voted to indict Davis, Manson and Grogan for the murder of 'Shorty' Shea. Davis was now facing two murder counts. Deputy District attorney Burton Katz had called forty-two witnesses to testify before the grand jury on the Shea case. Grogan was in jail at the time, in Inyo County, after being caught possessing a sawed off shotgun, during the final raid of Barker Ranch. Davis was back in court on December 30, where a hearing was held to consolidate the two murder trials to save time, effort and money. It was approved. The 'Shorty' Shea case was one of the few in US history in which first degree murder convictions would be obtained without the body of the victim being recovered. There was always the concern that that Mr. Shea would turn up sometime, to the embarrassment of the police, so officers kept up a relentless search for the body. They spent weeks digging around the Spahn ranch area.
Davis, like Manson, demanded to represent himself during the trial. The judge denied this motion. Davis then refused to accept any attorney. Although the Hinman and Shea cases were consolidated, separate trials were held for Manson, Davis and Grogan. Charles Manson and Steve Grogan had already been found guilty and sentenced to life in prison by the time Bruce Davis went on trial. He was the last Manson Family killer to go on trial.
Bruce Davis' trial began on December 13, 1971. David Manzella and Steven Kay handled the prosecution and Judge Raymond Choate presided. The trial took 4 months and over 50 witnesses testified. The main prosecution witnesses were Danny DeCarlo, Ella Jo Bailey, Barbara Hoyt, Paul Watkins, Ruby Pearl, George Spahn, Frank Retz, and Bill Vance. Davis' trial received far less publicity than the rest of the defendants. This was because, in part, this was the last trial in a string of trials, over a two year period. The media were moving on to other stories. George Denny represented Davis and would later represent him at his parole hearings from 1988 to 2004.
Co-prosecutors Kay and Manzella presented evidence during the four month trial that tied Davis with the two day torture murder of Gary Hinman and the torture murder of 'Shorty' Shea. Bruce Davis was found guilty on March 14, 1972. The guilty verdicts on the two homicide counts and a separate conspiracy charge were returned on the 12th day of deliberations by the eight man and four woman jury. A few hours before they found him guilty, jury foreman Hugh Gould had informed Superior Judge Raymond Chaote that the jurors were deadlocked at 11-1 on all three counts. Davis and his attorney were ecstatic when they heard the news and it looked like there would be a mistrial. However, Judge Choate spoke with the jury and specifically the woman that disagreed with the rest. Finally she gave in and a guilty verdict was rendered. The foreman of the jury did state that the jury had some misgivings over the prosecution evidence, which consisted in great part of testimony by disillusioned former followers of Manson. But it was obviously not enough to support a different verdict.
Davis' attorney, George Denny, was furious and immediately filed a motion for a new trial on the basis that the judge had coerced one woman juror. She was the long time holdout in the deliberations. The motion was denied by the judge on the day of sentencing. Davis was no longer subject to the death penalty because it had been abolished, a few weeks earlier, when the California supreme court voted 6-1 to abolish it, in a case titled Forman vs. Georgia. All death sentences imposed on the Manson family prior to the verdict were modified to a life sentence. Even had the death penalty not been abolished, or Davis had been convicted two months earlier, he would most likely have received a life sentence regardless. Both Charles Manson and Steve Grogan were subject to the death penalty but neither was sentenced to death.
After imposing a life sentence on Davis, Judge Choate commented on Davis's part in killings and stated, "These were vicious murders, indicating a depraved state of mind on the part of the defendant and there is no mitigation to his actions. I don't want to give the impression that he was at all a dupe or the foil of Charles Manson. Because he clearly was not. Davis is older than all the youngsters who were led by Manson and closer to Manson than most of them. He is more intelligent and educated and capable of independent reasoning. For reasons known only to him, he did not exercise this capability." Finally Choate sentenced Davis to three life terms and remanded him to the custody of the warden at Folsom State Prison. Davis's mother and sister were in the courtroom during the sentencing.
Bruce McGregor Davis CDC B-41079, was received into the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation on April 21, 1972 out of Los Angeles County in violation of 187 of the penal code, murder first degree, two counts with the sentence of three life terms to run concurrently. His minimum eligible parole date was set on December 1, 1977. He first went through the reception center at Tracy where he stayed for almost four months for evaluation. The male prisons are a much different place than a female prison like CIW, Frontera. They are extremely violent and all incoming prisoners have to be monitored and evaluated to see where they fit in the prison pecking order. Davis, apparently established himself just fine, amongst the other prisoners because he was placed in Folsom State Prison.
Upon reception and for the first few years, Davis's custody level was at maximum and he was therefore considered very dangerous. He had very little privileges and was on lockdown most of the time and closely monitored. According to his prison counselor at the time, Davis was extremely depressed and spent most of his time either in his cell or just walking around in the prison yard. For the first year, he kept himself pretty much to himself, and didn't socialize much with the other inmates. He was able to keep out of any serious trouble. Davis himself has said that he was pretty much stoned the entire time during his first two years in prison. His mother would send him money and hash was everywhere.
Davis stayed in touch with his mother who was very supportive and did whatever she could to ease the situation. Shortly after Davis was placed in Folsom, his mother decided to sell the house back in Tennessee and move to Folsom to be close to her son. Like clockwork, she would visit him twice a week. This caused a lot of strain between Bruce and his sister. She was pretty much stunned that her mother would take such a drastic step. She did not give any notice and Judith learned about it several weeks later. Davis's mother refused to believe that her son was guilty and was always hoping that the real truth would come out, that it was all a big mistake. She was very religious and would send him Christian literature.
During his first five years in prison, Davis refused to acknowledge any responsibility in the crimes. In a 1972 evaluation done by the prison, Davis claimed he was completely innocent of any activity connected with the crimes. The doctor stated, "He's not sure he has any problems because he no longer has to identify with these types of people." In the report, when asked, he flatly denied Shea was dead. "The inmate claims he loaned the gun to Grogan on one occasion prior to the Hinman incident." The doctor described Davis as irritable, superficial, and manipulative with no degree of insight, extremely dangerous and, "should be segregated from society."
Davis had not seen or heard from Charles Manson in more than a year when one day he was called as a witness in the Hawthorne gun store robbery trial and subpoenaed to testify. At that time he was still loyal to Manson and was corresponding with several of the Family girls on the outside. Catherine Share, Kenneth Como, Lawrence Bailey, Dennis Rice, and Mary Brunner were on trial, in Los Angeles, for attempting to rob a surplus gun store in Hawthorne and a Covina beer distributorship which culminated in a bloody shoot-out with the police. In addition to Bruce Davis, called to testify were; Charles Manson, Steve Grogan, Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten, Patricia Krenwinkel and Bobby Beausoleil. They were all called to testify by the defense team. Their presence in the courtroom made everyone a little nervous and Judge Arthur Alarcon called it, "the biggest collection of convicted murderers in Los Angeles County at one time."
Before leaving Folsom, on his way to testify, Davis was chained hands and feet. He later said that was looking forward to leaving the prison and getting some fresh air and look at the nature. The CDC bus finally came and picked him up. Earlier, they had picked up Manson at San Quentin and Steve Grogan at Tracy. They had not seen each other in a long time and they had plenty of time to talk as they made the trip to Los Angeles. Davis claims he was sitting next to Manson, trying to have a conversation and Manson was acting as if everything was ok and nothing had happened, as if they being in prison meant nothing. Davis describes this as being the turning point when he saw Manson "for what he is." He realized that this was no big deal to Manson and prison is where he came from and in a sense he was home.
Although Davis maintained his composure and talked about the old days with them, he became extremely bitter and felt betrayed. Davis says it didn't happen instantly, he had had a lot of time to reflect but this was the turning point for him, the first step. He never said anything to Manson but this was the last time they ever spoke. Davis's testimony was very short he was called as a character witness, on behalf of Mary Brunner and Catherine Share. He answered a few questions on how he met the girls but refused to go into any details about the Family or life at the ranch. Reporters described him as distant and arrogant.
On April 19, 1973, Bruce Davis was interviewed by Special Services Unit agents and homicide detectives regarding an unsolved double murder case from 1969. The SSU of the California Department of Corrections received a request from the Los Angeles Police Department to solicit Davis's cooperation in relating to what is known about a brutal double homicide case of two young Scientology students, Doreen Gaul and James Sharp. Investigators believed Davis knew the female victim and was either peripherally involved or knowledgeable as to the identity of the killers. Detectives had also received information that Davis lived in the same Scientology boarding house as Gaul and had dated her or been physically involved with her. They also believed that Davis was angry at her because she started dating a black man.
The SSU was asked to interview Davis and solicit his cooperation in the investigation, with a promise of immunity from prosecution. A Reporting Agent reviewed Davis' file which revealed he had been asked once to testify against Charles Manson and had refused to, referring to his "love" for Manson. During the interview at Folsom prison, Davis denied knowing Doreen Gaul and stated that of the nine girls he was intimate with, while living at Theaton Manor, he could presently account for seven being alive and two that had left the country. He disclaimed knowing of any crime such as the double homicide involved. In general he expressed a posture of non-cooperation and noted that a guarantee of immunity from prosecution was not impressive to a person already serving two life sentences on two murder convictions. The interview was terminated after trying several methods of trying to get Davis to open up.
This investigation into Davis started on March 26, 1973 after a Special Agent met with Lt. Earl Deemer, the detective supervisor in the case. Lt. Deemer advised that the investigation to date indicated the likelihood that Davis may have been directly or indirectly involved in the killings. It was believed Davis knew who the responsible were. It is not clear where the detectives got this information because it is not written in any of the reports that I have been made public but Lt. Deemer said in an interview many years later that the information came as a result of several interviews with people living in that same house and who were close to Doreen Gaul. They had been working on this case for three years and it remains unsolved to this day. Perhaps if Davis had shown a little more enthusiasm in cooperating with the police, he might find the parole boards position towards his release more favorable.
In late 1973, Davis was looking at a life time in prison. He became more and more disillusioned with Manson and his girls. Lynette Fromme, Sandra Good, Catherine Gillies and some of the other girls that were on the outside were corresponding with Davis. He would sometimes get mail from them on a daily basis. According to Davis, he had gotten to know, new friends and associates in prison, and didn't relate to the girls anymore. He would also spend a lot of time alone in his cell reading books on religion, philosophy, metaphysics, and theology.
In February of 1974, Davis became a Born Again Christian. According to his own testimony, he claims he was standing on the tier one day in the prison yard at Folsom, waiting for some of his associates to bring some hash. While he was waiting, a thought came into his mind that was completely foreign to him and said, "You will never get high again." He was amazed to even think such a thing, because he smoked hash on a regular basis and sometimes, almost daily. When his partners showed up with the hash, he told them, "You can have mine." He said he felt like Dr. Strangelove's arm that kept doing things he didn't want to do. He said he felt funny but relieved. He believed that the voice he heard was the voice of God.
Later on, when he was in the yard at Folsom, while getting a drink of water from the water fountain the same voice spoke to him and said, "Look at that yard, what do you see?" He was standing by the water fountain right under the tower of one building and looked over at the basketball court where the inmates were sitting on the benches and tables. He described this as a gray day and the inmates were hunkered down against the wall drinking their coffee with their hats pulled down and he had the conception they were all walking dead. At that time he claims that God spoke to him and said, "This is the best you can do with the way you've been living your life." At that moment he had an epiphany, which was that the death he had projected out there was really him and he was the one who was a walking dead man.
Later in his prison cell he went down on his knees and asked God for help. Of course, this whole dramatic experience didn't just happen like that. Davis had been doing a lot of introspection and reading books of a religious nature sent by his mother. He was also given a book by a fellow inmate titled "The Late Great Planet Earth" which he thought was a science fiction story. He started reading it with interest. It turned out to be a religious book on Jesus and Christian life. The book moved him to the point where he started asking questions about life and showed an interest in Christianity. There was also a large Christian group of inmates, in Folsom, that he started talking with regularly. Davis also started attending church services on Sunday's. After one such service, Davis went on his knees and accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. He was later baptized in water by the prison Chaplain.
Davis was introduced to The Bible and the New Testament and started attending Bible study groups. These were provided by outside groups that would volunteer and come into the prison every week. Davis' mother, Marguerite, was extremely happy that her son had become religious and, according to Davis, their relationship became even closer. Davis never used drugs again and has said many times that the desire for mind altering substances, including a long time addiction to marijuana, disappeared.
After Davis became "Born Again," he severed all connections with anyone who was connected with the Manson Family. He still received endless letters and postcards from Lynette Fromme and Sandra Good, who were now living in Sacramento California. When he stopped corresponding with them, he got a letter from Manson asking what was going on. Davis didn't want any part of them, so he took the letters to the mail room, (some were still unopened), and said he didn't want any correspondence from these people. Their names were put on a black list and future letters were removed from his mail during postal screening.
Davis became pretty much a model prisoner, soon after he was received into the Department of Corrections. Between 1972 and 1975 he had absolutely no disciplinary problems and was well liked by the guards and prison staff. They always described him as helpful and considerate. Psychiatrists on the other hand always described him as emotionally distant, manipulative, arrogant, self serving and superficial. For the first few years at Folsom, Davis was working in the kitchen and the mail room where he received excellent work reports.
Davis was extremely interested in religion and decided to study to become an ordained minister. That kind of education wasn't available at Folsom Prison, so he had to do it through correspondence, paid for by his mother, who was delighted. Between August 27, 1973, and June 14, 1974, Davis completed 27 credits through correspondence. He got accepted into Berean Bible School which was run by A.R.M, American Rehabilitation Ministries located in Missouri and all the courses were accredited. Davis would receive his diploma and became an ordained minister in 1976.
A LOVE AFFAIR
In February of 1974, with his new found religion, Davis decided to write a letter to Susan Atkins, who was serving multiple life terms at the California Institution for Women Frontera, in Chino, California. Davis had always been very fond of Atkins and knew her very well, since the time they were lovers living in Topanga Canyon. He had always felt that Atkins was a very special person, but he knew she was very confused, insecure, and unhappy. Under normal circumstances, Davis was not allowed to communicate with the Manson Family murderers in prison but since he and Susan were co-defendants in the Hinman case they were allowed to write as long as it was related to the case and their appeal efforts.
At first, Davis's motive was to reach out to Atkins and slowly help bring her to Christ but as the correspondence continued they became very intimate and fell in love. Both were lonely and living in very similar circumstances, that offered no contact with the opposite sex. This relationship developed rather quickly as both were longing for friendship and love. Davis began to send her literature to read and help her understand herself and question her purpose in life. First they would write two or three times a week and then practically daily.
Atkins later wrote about Davis, "He seemed so calm and very cool himself, unlike the man I had first encountered six years earlier. From then on, he asked questions that reached down inside me, questions that challenged my pledge to seek the truth above all things…He kept me constantly puzzled… It didn't take long to see that Bruce had an unusual consistency about him." They would talk about the future and a possible life together on the outside. Slowly, Davis would drop in little words here and there like "blessings" and "may God bless you" while she was getting used to the whole thing. He eventually recommended the New Testament, The Bible and other literature for her to read. Atkins became "Born Again" herself later that year.
On December 3, 1974, Atkins received a letter from Davis telling her that he had to stop all communication with her. He told her that it was God's will that they stop all communication. Atkins was crushed. In fact, Davis's mother and aunt had stepped in and banned him from speaking to her again. His mother was very concerned about this relationship. She didn't want her son to have any contact with this woman, especially not romantically. Davis and his mother are the only people, who know the real reasons behind it, but it would definitely harm his chances for parole and his image to be romantically involved with another Manson Family member, and with Susan Atkins no less.
Davis was contacted in January of 1975 by the original homicide detectives that were working on the 'Shorty' Shea case. The Special Service Unit became involved after they heard that he had become a Born Again Christian. They wanted his cooperation in locating 'Shorty's' remains so his mother could have a proper burial. For some reason, only known to Davis, he refused to cooperate. He was still maintaining his innocence and told them he had nothing to do with Shea's death and didn't know where he was buried or who had buried him. The SSU agent described him as "uncooperative" and "unresponsive." The Los Angeles Sheriff's Office had launched several searches around the Spahn Ranch area without any luck.
As of 1975, Davis had been working in a culinary position once he had been allowed to work. While working in the kitchen he moved through several positions like washing dishes, serving and then he was trained to help the cook in preparing the food and cooking. He managed to stay out of trouble while he was working there and received exceptional work reports.
On January 1, 1975, Davis received his first CDC 115 serious disciplinary report. During a routine check, a CDC officer passed by Davis's prison cell and observed him scraping the wall with a spoon, a common thing done by inmates trying to make weapons. The officer took Davis to a holding cell and strip searched him for contraband. Davis laughed at the officer and said he wasn't trying to make a knife. According to him he was just scraping paint off the wall. He claimed he had been given permission to paint his cell. In preparation, he said he noticed that there was a lot of water around the lavatory and that the paint on the wall curls up because of the moisture and he was just trying to scrape it off. The officers didn't believe him and wrote in the report that the spoon was quite sharp. Davis was released from the hole in just three days, after talking to the Lieutenant, who gave some credence to his story.
As of March, 1975, Davis's custody level was changed from Maximum to Closed B which offered more freedom, job opportunities, and access to academic courses. He was also given a new job. The Chaplain at the prison, Mr. McGee, recommended him for the position of the Protestant Chaplain Clerk. He and Davis had become close friends through working together in the prison Chapel, where Davis had attended regularly since 1973. Chaplain McGee baptized him when he became a Christian.
According to Chaplain McGee, Davis was very depressed when he first came to his attention in 1973. He used to come into the chapel looking for literature or just to talk and discuss philosophical questions about life and God. He said he watched Davis steadily changing from afar and noticed he was not depressed anymore and his eyes were full of life. Davis started involving himself in chapel activities and over a period of time Davis, emerged pretty much as the leader of the Christian men in the prison.
According to the Chaplain; who believed that Davis' Christian conversion was authentic, "I don't believe he is the same man that was chasing around in dune buggies and taking LSD with Charlie Manson several years ago. I believe the change in his life is genuine, pronounced, definite and authentic." He later said that he was usually hesitant to make such bold statements about inmates and supporting their parole, "but I feel very strongly about Bruce." Davis also became well respected by the correctional officers and general prison staff.
According to a Los Angeles Times article written by Russell Chandler in early 1976, he talked of a wave of spiritual revival that was sweeping through the prisons, "reaching even some of the most notorious criminals in the nation." He interviewed Chaplain Ray Hoekstra who said, "There is more Christian action in prisons today than in the entire 200 year history of the American prison system." According to Chaplain Ray, he claimed he was instrumental in helping Davis come to terms with his Christianity, "he was the first member of that Family to come to the Lord."
At the time, Chaplain Ray conducted daily "prison broadcasts" on his radio show, which was carried on 102 radio stations. Davis would listen to his show from his cell every day. So did Susan Atkins and Charles Watson after they became Christians. Davis wrote to Chaplain Ray after listening to the show and he came to visit him. They became good friends. He also visited Susan Atkins and Charles Watson after their religious conversions.
In January of 1976, Davis finished the credits and requirements to become an ordained minister in the Assembly of God Church. He received his diploma of completion from the Berean Bible School. He had been studying for this since 1973. He had only finished the studies, but in order to become a minister he had to go before the Credentials Committee of the Northern District of California to get his license. However, when he applied for his license, the Committee was hesitant to grant him a license because he was incarcerated. They told him to come and see them when he got out because the Northern District had never ordained anyone in prison before. They were afraid to set a precedent. Davis didn't get his license until he was at CMC in 1983. Then he was under the Southern District Committee, which is run separately, and they thought it was a good idea.
In a psychiatric evaluation dated February 9, 1976, signed by Psychologist Bolin and Psychiatrist Harris, gives a psychiatric diagnosis of personality disorder, schizoid personality with passive-aggressive features and concludes as follows:
"The above described personality configuration would be considered indirectly related to offensive behavior. Continued observation in the institutional setting has not suggested any particular changes in his psychiatric status as compared to psychiatric description at the time of his reception in 1972."(It is interesting to note the discrepancy between what the prison staff has to say about him in comparison to the psychiatrists.)
"Inmate does not accept responsibility for his crimes and refuses to admit to any participation or involvement. He seems to think he was railroaded to his present location but refuses to elaborate. There is a stark contrast between his 'born-again religious status' and his unwillingness to accept responsibility for his crimes and participate in any meaningful discussion."
"The memory function is intact, but selective and somewhat calculated in his recall. Superficially pleasant. Emotional reaction seemed distant or superficial. Mr. Davis is not a revealing person."
"In the outside community setting, his social behavior would be considered unpredictable by this examiner. There are no specific psychiatric recommendations at this time regarding future conditions of parole."
According to Davis, in 1976, he started seeing a young woman whom he met through the Christian community. She would visit him every chance she got and they would write daily. For a while they even considered getting married, in order to have conjugal visits, but her family was dead-set against it. Their relationship turned later into a good friendship. At most California prisons, you have to have a conjugal visit, to be able to have sex, in private with outsiders, and to be able to do that you have to be married. It is a known fact that male inmates have sex with each other, while they are incarcerated. This is especially true with the long termers who have very little chance of ever being released. Though men have sex with each other in prison, it does not mean that they are necessarily gay or even bisexual. For many, it is the only sexual contact available to them and some use it for both sexual release and emotional warmth. After all, it is just human nature.
FINDING 'SHORTY' & POSSIBILITY OF PAROLE
In December, 1976, Davis went to meet the Community Release Board for the first time. This was to make an appearance before the board to document his progress in the prison. He was not eligible for parole yet so there was no outcome. At this time, he still denied any involvement in the murders and said he was wrongly convicted of these crimes.
In 1976, Davis became involved in several academic programs. He attended extension courses through Penn State, in Agriculture. There were 13 courses where he learned to become a farmer, learning about sheep ranching, and taking care of cows and chickens as well as horses, and the basics of farm work. He also took courses that related to plant life, grain crops, breeds of dairy cattle, home garden fruits, dairy goats, dogs, their care and training, the home greenhouse, microbiology, poultry keeping and other agricultural type subjects. When he was asked many years later what he was planning to do with that degree he said he basically just curious and trying to pass time as he was looking at a life time in prison. "It was just something I was interested in and keeping myself busy."
In March of 1977, Correctional Officer W.K. Shulse wrote a letter of commendation for Davis where he stated, "Bruce's attitude and adjustment should be commended. His sincere effort and the results to date would be an asset to any community, and he is a strong and positive influence on all that come into contact with him. His actions relate better than words his stability of character and attitude." Officer Shulse was his direct supervisor before Davis started working for the Chaplain. He said Davis was a positive and hard worker who never missed a day.
Davis was reaching his minimum eligible parole date and was scheduled to have first actual parole hearing on December 1, 1977. He was scheduled to undergo a very important psychiatric evaluation. Unbeknownst to him, there were some major developments in his case. Homicide detectives from the Los Angeles Sheriff's Office had gained the cooperation of Steve Grogan who decided to lead them to 'Short'y Shea's remains. Davis had already been approached several times, but refused to cooperate. He denied any knowledge or involvement in the killing or the burial.
After being denied parole in 1976, Steve Grogan became very depressed by the fact that the board believed he had decapitated Shea and used that as an unsuitability factor. He was serving time at Tracy with Bobby Beausoleil and they were fairly close. Grogan approached Beausoleil after the hearing and told him what was bothering him. According to Beausoleil, he said, "Why don't you just show them where the body is and they will see that his head is intact."
Around November 1, 1976, Sergeant Bill Gleason was contacted by a lieutenant at the prison in Tracy. He said that Grogan wanted to talk to them and show them where Shea's body was. Grogan was being denied parole and was bidding for a deal. Gleason and his partner went to Chino to talk with Grogan and eventually flew him down to Los Angeles. He was taken to the barren site of the burned down Spahn Ranch and showed them where the body was buried. It was at the base of a steep embankment. Grogan even struck up a friendship with some of the officers, for a while, and they were impressed with the dramatic change in him. After showing them the place and marking it, Grogan was taken back to Tracy under heavy security. They decided to wait for a month before starting to dig for Shea because they didn't want to put any pressure on Grogan in prison for snitching.
On November 28, 1977, Davis underwent a Psychiatric Evaluation for his first hearing, where he was eligible for release. The evaluation was conducted in two phases by Psychologist James Bolin and Psychiatrist Grant Jordan. The doctors gave a psychiatric diagnosis of personality disorder, schizoid personality with passive-aggressive features, and concludes as follows:
"Inmate Davis, for the first time, assumes guilt and partial responsibility. Described knowledge of limited participation. Suspension of good judgment as related to drug use and persuasive associates. He claims he witnessed the murder of Donald Shea but did nothing to provoke or participate in the homicide. He accepts limited responsibility and insight is very poor."The 1977 evaluation was more favorable than the previous one although he was diagnosed with some serious psychiatric episodes. Davis attended his first parole suitability hearing with an attorney that was appointed by the board named William Bakes. The hearing didn't go over that well for Davis, as board members bombarded him with questions about his participation in the murders. This was the first time that Davis admitted any involvement in the murders. The board members tried to get to the bottom of his participation. Davis only described himself as a witness to the crime and only along for the ride.
"Continued observation in the institutional community reflects satisfactory social adjustment and adequate behavior control. Mental status has remained clear and stable. Examination on this date reveals a more open and candid manner with an improved ability to relate in the interview situation."
"In the outside community setting, he appears mentally stable to refrain from criminal action, if motivated to do so. Although not apparently a drug dependant individual, experimental drug use appears to have been a contributory factor in this case. Further, he appears to be a suggestible person and the quality of his association might be considered a significant factor in future outside community social adjustment…"
"Continued observation in the institutional setting has reflected satisfactory social adjustment. Mental status remains clear. From a psychiatric point of view he would be considered mentally able to refrain from criminal action if motivated to do so. As has been noted, he appears as a very suggestible individual who could easily be influenced by others, and a conforming outside community adjustment would depend largely on his social contacts and affiliations."
"I almost had nothing to do with it. I didn't directly kill anybody and I didn't really know what was going to happen. I was just more of a spectator." Davis told the parole board. Davis also blamed his participation on drug use, "I was taking a lot of drugs, and drugs really made me lose my judgment." Davis was denied parole and his next hearing was scheduled in a year. In those days, prisoners serving life sentences who were eligible for parole were given mandatory yearly reviews.
On December 15, 1977, thirty days after Grogan led Bill Gleason and other homicide detectives to the location where Shorty was buried, Gleason and his partner, Barry Jones, went out on a Thursday afternoon and started digging with shovels. They dug numerous holes in the hillside, searching for the grave before finding it. After some time digging, one of the officers sank a probe and pulled up a portion of a leg. Then they dug up the skeleton, which had a shirt and trouser remnants clinging to it, at this lonely spot on the hillside off Santa Susana Pass Road. It lay with the feet to the west and the head to the east.
The officers were extremely happy that they found him after all these years of searching. They immediately notified the media and in a matter of minutes, the scene was packed with reporters. In an interview, the detectives said they had found the grave as a result of a tip. They declined to reveal the source of the information. The officers tentatively identified the remains as those of Shea, who was 35 when he disappeared, in August 1969. Bill Gleason said the skeleton was "complete" and that it would be up at the coroner's office to establish official identification. After examining the skeleton, Gleason also revealed to the media that the skeleton was intact and that the head had not been severed from the torso.
The exact location of the grave was in the steep hillside between the old road and the railroad tracks. It took a while to find it because the landscape had changed considerably in the 8 years since he was buried. After finding the skeleton intact, it severed a key Family legend, that Shea was decapitated, sexually assaulted, and dismembered. This was a tale told over and over in the eerie glare of campfires in the desert. Gleason thought it "was just a story that they dreamed up to frighten the girls and everybody, to keep them in line, and keep them from talking." In addition to the thrill of having finally solved the case and being able to close it, the officers were also glad to find Mr. Shea for a very practical reason: There had always been the faint dread of Shorty Shea showing up one day, alive and well.
Davis was able to watch these latest developments in his case through the media and press reports. He was not involved in any way in the process. Even though he had become a Born Again Christian several years earlier and had been practicing his religion and the principles of The Bible for 4 years, he never thought of helping the police to find 'Shorty's' remains. In fact, he refused to cooperate when he was approached. He may not have known the exact pin-point location simply because he did not bury him, but there is plenty of evidence suggesting, including his own testimony, that he knew which area it was. Even when he was asked on behalf of 'Shorty's' mother who only wanted to have a proper burial for her son, he refused. This is just one manifestation of Davis' self centeredness, which persists to this day.
According to Davis's former lawyer, he became very upset and disappointed later when he learned that it was Grogan who furnished the information and was able to strike a deal. Grogan was found suitable for parole at his subsequent parole consideration hearing in 1981 and released from custody in April of 1985. Davis continued his life at the prison and sometime in 1978, he started asking to be transferred to another institution. His first few requests were initially denied.
In 1978, Davis's prison councilor wrote this about him, "at one point he may have easily succumbed to peer pressure demands, and this has not been evident at this time in the institutional setting. He seems to be a person who is doing his own number, at his own time and is not influenced by his peers. If there is any influence, it would appear to be of a positive nature as evidenced by his institutional adjustment."
In July, 1978, Davis received two letters from Charles Manson whom he had not heard from since 1973, on the bus to LA. According to Davis he only read the first letter partially by mistake and without finishing it. He immediately took it to the warden at Folsom and said he didn't want any mail from anybody connected with the Manson Family. Future correspondence from both Manson and some of the girls was screened out and thrown away.
On September 19, 1978, Davis underwent a psychiatric evaluation by Dr. Brolin who had also authored his last three reports. The doctor was not supportive of release and said he remained dangerous. This time he was diagnosed with some serious mental problems, "Personality Disorder, Anti-Social traits, Schizoid Personality with Passive Aggressive Features." In terms of future dangerousness, the doctor wrote, "…In the outside community setting, his social behavior would be considered very unpredictable by this examiner…"
On October 19, 1978, Davis went before the Community Release Board, again being represented by William Bakes. He talked freely about the Manson days and his involvement in the crime. The judge from his trial wrote a letter to the board dated August 10, 1978, and stated, "Mr. Davis participated in two homicides. It would be doubtful, one if society has sufficient retribution; two, that CRB can safely release him on parole." He recommended that Davis serve out the rest of his life behind bars. In denying parole one board member described the Hinman murders as, "a despicable and senseless crime, one which shocks the public conscience." He was rescheduled for another hearing in October of 1979.
In March of 1979, Davis's custody level was changed from Closed-B, which was fairly restricted, to Medium A, which allowed him much more freedom within the prison. He was able participate in evening activities and educational programs. That same year he became engaged in a course called Speed Reading 1 and 2 which was through the Basic Adult Educational Department at Folsom.
On January 25, 1980, Davis received his second serious CDC 115 disciplinary violation report for disobeying orders and lost his job as a result of it. He was working in the chapel as Protestant Chapel Clerk under the Catholic Priest. Davis had certain responsibilities on the job including access to the offices of the chapel, where a lot of valuables were kept. The rules were that he was not, under any circumstances, to bring anyone with him into the office. One day, an officer walked into the office where Davis was supposed to be working and he had visitors in there chatting and drinking coffee. Davis was written up for disobeying orders and was fired from his job.
On March 27, 1980, Davis went before the Board of Prison Terms, as it was now called, for the fourth time. The panel consisted of three members of the board, N. Chaderjain, David Allen and Loretta Collier. Others present, were Bruce Davis who waived the appearance of counsel and decided to represent himself, Paul Bergman representing the District Attorney's Office of Los Angeles and two representatives from the Department of Corrections. The board members deemed the psychiatric report that was prepared for the hearing to be inconclusive. In denying parole, one board member stated, "The prisoner's participation in these extremely vicious crimes must be regarded as unconscionable and shocks the public conscience. To inflict such brutality upon innocent victims shows a complete lack of humanity."
The panel ordered an in-depth Category-D Psychiatric Evaluation to be performed on Davis, before the CDC Psychiatric council would be able to address his violence potential in the community. They further recommended that it be conducted at the California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo, requesting that Davis be transferred to that institution from Folsom Prison. The panel also strongly recommended that Davis attend and participate in therapeutic intervention and self help programs.
THE CALIFORNIA MEN'S COLONY, A NEW START
On June 11, 1980, Davis was transferred from Folsom State Prison to the California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo for the purpose of undergoing a Category-D psychiatric evaluation before the Psychiatric Council. Originally, he was to be transferred back to Folsom following the completion of the tests. However, after the completion of the evaluation, they determined, based on his record he had established and good behavior that CMC was better suited for him and he was allowed to remain. The Men's Colony is only a medium security prison and considered the top correctional institution for men in the state of California where educational programs and job opportunities are plentiful. The inmates there have much more freedom than in a maximum security prison like Folsom.
At CMC, Davis joined his old buddy Charles 'Tex' Watson who was serving eight life terms for the seven Tate-LaBianca murders. At CMC, Watson had caused a stir amongst the other prisoners for his tactics in running the prison chapel. He was now studying to be an ordained minister and worked as the assistant minister in the chapel. He had complete freedom within the prison. He had somehow made friends with some of the staff. Watson was able to roam around like he wanted, he had the warden in his pocket, had complete run of the phones in the prison chapel, and an office. He also had his business in town run by his wife, Kristin, and with her he was able to produce a child. (In the next decade they would have three more children.)
Davis and Watson became immediate best friends and Davis was hired to work in the chapel, first as Protestant Chapel Clerk and later promoted to chapel assistant and assistant minister. They basically ran the chapel together, giving sermons and preaching to the other inmates. Much of his time was spent on energetic religious pursuits. Davis had been criticized by the board for not getting involved in any self help programming or therapy. Like Watson, Davis did not believe in psychiatric treatment or any self improvement. Because of their religious mindset they didn't believe they needed any improvement in that area, because God fulfilled them with what they needed. However, during this time, both of them were getting terrible psychiatric reports.
Reverend Stanley McGuire, the CMC prison chaplain, welcomed Davis to the group. He had trained Watson to the point where Watson was even now counseling the inmates. Chaplain McGuire was absent a lot and slowly, Watson and Davis started taking over the chapel in his absence. This would cause a lot of controversy later on as well as a media circus. Davis and Watson formed a ministry in the chapel at the Men's Colony where they held services and taught bible classes to the inmates. During this time, Davis' work reports were rated exceptional. He basically spent every waking moment at the chapel. He went to work at 15 minutes to 8:00 and then took off for lunch about 11:30 to 12:30 and came back till 3:30 and then four or five nights a week he comes back during the evenings at about 15 after 5:00 till about quarter to 9:00PM.
After he first came to CDC, Davis pretty much ignored any recommendations that he attend self help programs and therapy groups, but instead participated in various programs of a religious nature. He completed six units of Greek from the Treaty Institute for Evangelism. He also completed 97 units from the Meridian School of the Bible. In September of 1980 he also enlisted in Yoke Fellows which is a Christian based peer-counseling group at CMC which was headed by Dr. Van Gilder.
In October of 1980, Davis underwent an in-depth Category-D Evaluation Program before the CMC Psychiatric Council as ordered the Board of Prison Terms. After many hours of individual interviews, a thorough review of the Central File, approximately 24 hours of diagnostic group observation, and his appearance before the Psychiatric Council, the Diagnostic Unit stated:
"…In attempting to determine inmate Davis's violence potential, it is quite apparent that there is little in his behavior, at present, that would suggest that his violence potential might be greater than average. However, in view of the brutality of his commitment offenses, an incident at Folsom in which he was apparently in possession of a weapon like object, and his self admitted attraction to a white racist group which advocates violence, his failure to comply with therapy and self help programming, it is difficult to envision inmate Davis as being no more prone to violence than other individuals. His religious conversion is certainly a favorable point in his behalf despite qualities which he, himself, acknowledges as being similar to the blind loyalty that ultimately led to his offenses. Therefore it is suggested that Davis's violence potential should be judged as remaining above average although of a less extreme degree then when initially confined."The Psychiatric Council, which was headed by Dr. Butler, Senior Psychiatrist and contained a staff psychologist and two other California Department of Corrections (CDC) counselors, stated:
"In terms of violence potential, the council found this difficult to assess despite signs of decrease in violence potential. The council's opinions were split, varying from estimates of average to estimates of above average. Perhaps, after involvement and progress in therapy, this issue could be reexamined by the full psychiatric council for a comparison to today's assessment."The Psychiatric Council then gave a diagnosis as, "Antisocial features, Personality Disorder."
During this time, Davis had spoken openly about his attraction and admiration of the Nazi Party while he was at Folsom. He was aligned with them for a short period of time and relied on them for protection. There was less gang activity at CMC because the main focus there is rehabilitation. Gang affiliated prisoners and those with serious disciplinary problems were not housed at CMC. It is a medium security prison where most inmates are working towards release and participating in education.
On April 2, 1981 Davis went before the Board of Prison Terms for the fifth time. Davis again waived his right to be represented by Counsel and represented himself. The hearing panel was composed of three commissioners Richard Pizzaro, Charles Brown and N. Chaderjian. Also present aside from Bruce Davis were Michael Luxford, Department Representative, and D. Ross, Deputy District Attorney. The hearing lasted almost four hours. Davis was denied parole. In denying parole the board relied on two factors, the heinous nature of the murders, "That were committed in an especially heinous, atrocious and cruel manner," poor marketable skills, and psychiatric factors which included an unfavorable psychiatric report from the Psychiatric Council.
Again, the board recommended that Davis get involved in self help programs and involve himself in formal psychiatric therapy and upgrade himself vocationally and educationally to increase his marketable skills. This time, Davis decided to follow some of the recommendations and enlisted himself in various educational programs. In June of 1981, he took a Gastalt and Guidance Energy Course and the following month got involved with the Process group. Davis was also involved in academics and enlisted in college to complete his education.
In the 1980 psychiatric report, Davis refused to identify his crime partners to protect their rights to appeal. Up until 1980, Davis had also been pursuing his own appeals. All his appeals were eventually denied and he had exhausted his appeal remedies. It has been pointed out, by others, that this is extremely significant that he would still be pursuing his appeals, refusing to identify his crime partners, refusing to answer certain questions and minimizing his conduct after all these years of being a devoted Christian and having had this epiphany in 1974.
Davis had been very hopeful of being released. According to his former lawyer, after Grogan received a date, Davis thought he was next to go. He had escaped the intense publicity that the other Manson Family killers had been subject to. However, 1982 proved to be a devastating year for Davis. On January 20, 1982, Davis went again before the Psychiatric Council for an in-depth evaluation. The results were devastating.
In December 1981, Davis received another 128-B disciplinary report. 128-B's are violations of a behavioral nature and not the same as CDC 115's which is a serious violation, usually involving contraband or criminal acts. Davis was observed cross-visiting with another inmate and his wife by a correctional officer. Davis was allowed to read Paragraph K of the general order which prohibits cross-visiting and Davis admitted that he knew that it was prohibited. In January of 1982, Davis completed a ten week, twenty hour course in the Peer Counseling Program.
The Psychiatric Council Evaluation dated January, 20, 1982, was done by Doctors Hollingsworth, Owre, Brandmeyer, Butler and Allison, Psychiatrists; and Doctors Orling, Lowenthal, Tolchin and Yelverton, Psychologists. The Psychiatric Council indicated that the psychological testing yielded the following personality profile:
"…Mr. Davis obtained a profile that has been associated with the highly malignant, pathological process and in an inability to focus on issues. Among inmates this pattern has been associated with histrionic and emotionally explosive trends. Many inmates with this pattern have had serious difficulties in controlling their use of medication. Alcohol or chemical agents, in this case, a chronic dependency problem was involved. Usually these inmates are also domineering, antisocial individuals who over-value their self worth."In 1982, a new rule was invoked by the Board of Prison Terms, PC 3041.5 (b) (2) and states that the board permits up to a three year denial if a prisoner has been convicted, in the same or different proceedings, of more than one offense which involves taking a life and the Board finds that it is not reasonable to expect that parole would be granted at a hearing during the intervening years. In March of 1982, the Board found that Davis meets that criteria.
"Episodic acting out of hostility is quite common with this profile, along with a domineering personality that cannot tolerate any suggestions of insecurity. He tests as attempting to externalize his difficulties, localizing the source of his problems outside the personality. Inmates with this pattern typically feel alienated and victimized and are angry and express disidentification with recognized conventions. They frequently revolt against society and blame other people or unfavorable situations for their difficulties."
"DIAGNOSTIC IMPRESSION: Axis 1 – No diagnosis, Axis 2 - 301.83. Borderline Personality Disorder with anti-social and narcissistic tendencies."
"…The council concurs in the position that Mr. Davis displays significant characterological pathology at this time. The inmate's communications were superficial and manipulative. Mr. Davis' current level of dangerousness in a less controlled setting is felt to be high. It is also recommended that his working association with Mr. Watson be terminated and that he engage in therapy. This may help the inmate to gain understanding of his behavior and allow him to make appropriate adjustments."
"…At times it appears that Mr. Davis does everything within his power to depersonalize the entire sordid episode and thus develop the detachment that now seems detectable. At this point there is little indication of any form of remorse, sorrow, guilt or anxiety detectable. If anything, Mr. Davis is very controlled, very impersonal, but very correct in his behavior. Perhaps describing him as being unfeeling would be the most accurate label at this time."
"In attempting to determine Mr. Davis's violence potential outside of a controlled setting is difficult and must be considered very high because of his racist ideology, his detachment from the brutality he inflicted and lack of compassion for his victims. In view of the brutality of his commitment offenses, an incident at Folsom in which he was in possession of a handmade weapon, his past association with members of the Aryan Brotherhood, a violent, all-white prison gang which advocates violence, it is difficult to envision Mr. Davis as being no more prone to violence than other individuals. His violence potential is therefore considered to be well above average to high."
On March 9, 1982, Davis, accompanied by a new attorney, Margaret Stone, attended his sixth subsequent parole consideration hearing before the Board of Prison Terms. The hearing was held in the board room in the East facility at the California Men's Colony. For the first time since he became eligible for parole, his hearing was attended by members of the media. Reporters from the Associated Press and the Telegram Tribune were present. As of 1982, media outlets were allowed to send representatives to monitor and record parole hearings.
Los Angeles deputy district attorney Montagna was representing the DA's office and during the hearing he attacked Davis's credibility during his closing summation. Davis, who was wearing a blue prison shirt with rather long hair and a mustache, told the board that he was sorry about getting involved with Manson. "I broke the law. I did wrong. I know I was wrong. I was stupid," Davis told the panel. "I wish I could do something that would bring those lives back, but I can't, OK? I'm…well, I'm sorry for what happened," he said. "I'm not the same person I was when I committed the offenses," he said, noting that his conversion in jail to Christianity has led to a number of job offers from Christians on the outside.
Davis had been extremely reluctant to participate in psychiatric therapy of any sort since he became a Christian, even though the board had recommended that he do so every single time he appeared before the board. When asked by panel during the 1982 hearing why he was so reluctant, Davis said, "…Well, they don't seem to agree with my explanations, and I don't seem to agree with some of theirs. And so we don't really get along as well as we should…. I just don't believe in it because I answer to a higher calling and they are not of a Christian mindset … But I see that the help from the spiritual point of view is a lot more permanent and more beneficial. It's higher quality as far as I'm concerned."
Throughout the hearing, Davis was argumentative, domineering and seemed to think he knew best at all times. He seemed to have explanations and excuses for everything and was extremely arrogant. At one point he even laughed at a board member indicating that the questions were silly. One board member got mad at him and asked him to explain what was so funny.
The three member Board of Prison Terms panel denied parole to Davis, citing the "reprehensible nature" of his crimes, failure to cooperate with clinicians in psychiatric therapy, lack of marketable skills and the unfavorable psychiatric reports that said he was still a danger to society. The panel also ruled that a release for Davis should not be considered again for another two years. They could have given him a three year denial but decided on two. Davis must have expected this outcome because all the other Manson murderers had all been subject to multiple year denials since the new rule was invoked.
Aside from Davis's mother and sister, he also had the support from other family members who visited him regularly. Especially his two aunts, Pauline Chance and Laura Hibbard who visited him every chance they got. Laura's husband was also very supportive and they had even promised him housing and financial support should he be released from custody.
Following his parole hearing in 1982, Davis finally decided to get involved in psychiatric therapy, after all these years of recommendation. It wasn't until the board listed his lack of therapy involvement as an unsuitability factor that he got involved, and after the board basically said, "You're not getting out without going through some therapy." The board also listed his lack of marketable, trade and vocational skills as an unsuitability factor after recommending it for years. Up until this point, Davis had pretty much refused to participate in anything that wasn't of a religious nature or had a Christian base.
In 1982, Davis decided to put himself into a vocational trade and obtain a certificate as a professional welder. He had been criticized for not having any marketable skills which would not have gone well in the 1980's job market, where there was a lot of unemployment, especially in California. Since Davis had learned welding from his father he decided it would be an easy trade for him to get into and he could get a job in construction work in the future. By the end of 1983, he had 1,343 hours completed. At that time he also studied vocational drafting and completed 1, 830 hours by 1985 and earned another certificate for that.
In 1983, Davis received another 128-b disciplinary violation report. He was written up twice in the same week for excessive noise from his television set. Not the crime of the century but a violation all the same.
In 1984, four years after he had been transferred to CMC, Davis met his future wife through a mutual friend in the prison ministry. Beth Wilson was a pretty upper-middle class stewardess who came from a very comfortable and privileged background. She was a devout Christian who had recently become involved with the prison ministry. She is the daughter of Robert and Patricia Wilson who were later divorced and her mother re-married and took her second husband's name and became Mrs. Atwood. She made a great sacrifice by becoming involved with Davis.
In the past she had been going out with surgeons, a guy who owned several golf clubs and before she met Davis she was engaged to Steven Ford, the son of Gerald R. Ford, former President of the United States. He was an actor most notable for his roles in Grease and the popular day time soap The Young & The Restless. Beth was very close to her family and they had great expectations for their daughter.
Their first contact was by total chance. A fellow student of Davis who was in the same class with him had read a book that had a great impact on him. The book was published by a prison ministry and the fellow student decided to write the author through the ministry. Beth was working with the author of the book, helping her respond too many of the letters, she was receiving in response to the book. Beth responded to the letter and the fellow student was very impressed and asked Davis to respond to her because he was afraid to and didn't know what to say. That was their first contact and a start of a long correspondence. It was the religion and their interest in Christianity and The Bible that brought them together
Beth Davis says she had read "Helter Skelter" and "as many Californians had followed the Manson case from afar." She claims that when she met Bruce Davis, she did not recognize him from the picture in the book as a member of the Manson Family. After the first visit they experienced an immediate attraction and quickly fell in love. According to Davis, their first visit was on April 11, 1984 at 2:00 in the afternoon. The relationship developed rather quickly and she had to break the engagement to Steven Ford, who reportedly was shocked. He developed a serious drinking problem, but was eventually able to stop with the help of AA. Today he is a motivational speaker for young people on alcoholism and raises money for charity organizations.
The second time they met, Bruce Davis said, "You need to know my story." Though it was their second visit together, face to face, they had been corresponding for a long time and developed strong feelings for one another. "So he sat me down and told me his story," Beth recalled. "It was a shocker. I was nauseated. I drove away thinking: This is too big. I can't do this. What would my family and friends say?" After hearing a sermon on forgiveness at her church, she decided they could be friends. "I believe in `you do the crime, you do the time,' "said the airline attendant."But I also believe in redemption. A soul is not just thrown away. A person is not just trashed because of what they did." After they met, they would pray together, read The Bible, laugh and cry.
Beth found him to be intelligent, tender and protective. And a year after they met, they were married. It took a long time for her to build up the courage to tell her family who were very conservative. Needless to say; they were horrified. Not only by the fact that she was marrying a life prisoner who was a convicted murderer, but also a member of the notorious Manson Family. As Davis said himself at a parole hearing in the mid 80's, "It was a quantum leap backwards," going from President Ford to a Manson Family murderer.
"I basically lost my family during that time," Beth later said, crying at the memory during an interview. When the two married in 1985, Beth's sister, Patty Begg, was the only relative of Beth's to attend the prison wedding. Davis' family however was in attendance, his mother, his sister and an aunt. Davis' best man at the wedding was no other than Charles 'Tex' Watson. Beth's mother was in shock, her grandmother disowned her, and her father cursed her and didn't speak with her for years. Today Beth Davis does talk to her father, but he refuses to discuss his son-in-law, whom he has never met. After the initial disappointment, she said, her mother eventually grew to like Davis.
When Beth's mother first learned of the relationship and subsequent marriage she was very concerned about her daughter's safety and reputation. After she got over the initial shock and after countless hours of conversations with her daughter, she decided to at least go and investigate this character her daughter had married. According to Davis, after she saw them together and got to know him a little she became more relaxed and eventually got over it. Today, she supports him and writes letters of support to the parole board.
On April 24, 1984, Davis was again denied parole by the three member Board of Prison Terms panel. Cited in the denial were unfavorable psychiatric reports, the nature of Davis' crimes and his refusal to participate in individual therapy. His last hearing had been in 1982 and at that time he was criticized heavily and they listed his lack of participation in self help and therapy as an unsuitability factor. Davis had enlisted himself in self help programs and did just fine there. The problem was that he only attended a couple of sessions of individual therapy. He didn't get along with the psychiatrist and basically didn't think he needed it. At the hearing, he told the board, that his religion didn't agree with the tactics used by the psychiatrists.
In 1985, the state still permitted inmates with life terms to have conjugal visits, allowing women from the outside to spend a night or even a weekend with their husbands, every three months. As a result, the Davis' only child was conceived inside the CMC family trailer, on the prison grounds. Their daughter, Taylor, was born in 1986. She is the first and only child for both parents.
Davis has a good relationship with Beth's sister Patty Begg, who writes letters to the parole board to support his release. He has also developed a relationship with Beth's brother, Robert and his wife, Jean, who live in Santa Barbara and come down once a year to visit. Beth has one other sister who has not come to grips with their relationship and their father doesn't want to hear his name mentioned. Beth's stepfather is also very shaky about the situation and keeps a long distance. Although two of Beth's siblings became supportive eventually, they still say that they won't be one hundred percent supportive until he's out of prison and been able to prove himself for a period of time. It's one thing to be able to perform well in a controlled structured setting than in the free world.
HAILSTORM OF CONTROVERSY
In 1986, Davis had become the associate pastor with Tex Watson under reverend Stanley L.H. McGuire. McGuire was absent most of time and trusted Watson and Davis to minister and counsel the prisoners while he was away. Both were very overzealous in their work in the chapel and they took it very seriously. Most of their time was spent on energetic religious pursuits, baptizing other inmates and basically running the show. Prosecutor Steven Kay became very concerned when he heard about their activities in the chapel and he investigated the matter. He said that the chapel had become like religious cult, causing troubles with the other inmates.
"Watson and Davis participated in the Shea murder together," Steven Kay said in an interview with the LA Times, "Now Davis and Watson are together, day after day, and get these special privileges of working in the chapel. The civilian chaplain is hardly ever there. It's out of control." Dozens of inmates had been complaining about the situation and accused the chaplain of allowing Watson and Davis and their group of followers to take over the Plazaview Chapel. Other inmates said McGuire was ignoring serious complaints about their behavior.
Inmates said that the group, headed by Watson and Davis, is installing fear and guilt into other prisoners. Watson, they say, uses his sermons as personal attacks against inmates who criticize his control of the chapel. "Both Watson and Davis look at the chapel not as a house of God, but a place of power," said an inmate named Steven Toussaint who had brought a legal action against them and vowed to break up their chapel group. "When they get up there and put on their robes, it's like they are God speaking to the world."
This brought on intense media scrutiny and both Davis and Watson were swamped with requests for interviews. Both refused to comment. Toussaint and other inmates were interviewed by the media and said the objections to Davis's and Watson's role in the chapel was widespread at the prison and they were even laughed at and ridiculed in some circles. But they said many would not speak out of fear for reprisals, and others simply have lost interest in the chapel and attend only when a visiting clergyman is speaking. "This is a very corrupt situation because Watson and Davis have staff in their pockets," one inmate said.
When Toussaint was placed in solitary confinement for one incident involving Davis and Watson, the Men's Advisory Council, made up of elected inmate representatives who mediate issues with the staff, took interest. In a March 15 memo to the associate warden, council chairman Robert Tyson demanded a meeting, saying concerns about Watson's and Davis's role were expressed in a survey of about 250 inmates. This included some of the chapel's workers and former workers.
"The inmate population did show a lot of concern about the influence and control that Charles Watson and Bruce Davis do claim to have over certain individuals and that they can have inmates written up for adverse actions whenever they choose," Robert Tyson wrote in the memo. "Many inmates have either quit or been fired from the chapel due to their desire at the time."
A mural of the Last Supper is the backdrop for Davis and Watson's sermons in the chapel. A piece selected by them. They felt it was special. Officials said Watson and Davis spent most of their waking hours in the chapel. "They were preaching to inmates that television, particularly certain programs such as the news, was evil, because it is part of the world system."
Steven Kay, who had attended parole hearings for every Manson Family members, that is aside from Bruce Davis and Bobby Beausoleil, for the last 15 years, said Watson and Davis "are the wrong two people to be running the Protestant Chapel." He told the LA Times that, "the Manson Family was a quasi-religious group and Manson's philosophy was based on Revelations 9 of the Bible."
This controversy ended in a large investigation conducted by the CDC and Davis and Watson were temporarily removed from their positions in the chapel and Chaplain Stanley McGuire resigned to an early retirement. This was during the big satanic scare in the mid 1980's, where tabloids and trashy news programs were interested in anything that had to do with the Satanic underground and conspiracies. Rumors had surfaced in the tabloids that Davis and Watson were involved in a satanic cult in the prison and that became the primary focus of one investigation.
After being removed from his job in the chapel, Davis starting working in the kitchen as dietician and as a cook. According to Davis, he was very unhappy about the transfer and it took him a long time to adjust. Suddenly, all the power and freedom that they had in the chapel was gone. Now he had to work a regular job like the other prisoners.
Steven Kay, had never been involved in Bruce Davis' case since the trial, when he convicted Davis for first degree murder. When he heard that Davis was getting somewhat positive reviews and yearly hearings before the parole board, he decided to voice his opposition. In a letter dated April 28, 1986, addressed to the Board of Prison Terms, Davis' original trial prosecutor Steven Kay wrote,
"I would like to share a few observations with you concerning Manson Family member and life prisoner Bruce Davis, prison case number B-41079. The evidence presented at the murder trial of Bruce Davis establishes other important factors that should be taken into consideration before Mr. Davis is found suitable for parole. The evidence showed that Mr. Davis was Charlie Manson's right hand man. Whenever Manson was away from the ranch he left Bruce Davis in charge. Although the media would have you believe otherwise, Bruce Davis held a more powerful position in the Family than Tex Watson. In 1971 and '72 I prosecuted Mr. Davis and convicted him on the murders of Gary Hinman and Donald Shorty Shea on one count of conspiracy to commit murder."
In March of 1987 Davis met with the prison psychiatrist for another evaluation. This time the board had requested that a Category X evaluation be performed on the inmate to assess his future dangerousness upon release. The doctor states the following:
"Inmate Davis is as an individual who has worked hard to direct himself in his behavior in a socially acceptable manner. It appears he's an individual who's become deeply involved in asserting himself towards social acceptable behavior. In terms of addressing his involvement in the so called Manson Family, and the commitment offense, he demonstrated a willingness to address specific issues and occurrences. The counsel feels he's explored the commitment offense and the underlying causes through participation in various therapy groups and has reached an optimal level of understanding."Davis, who was now 44 years old, was again denied parole on May 15, 1987 by a three member panel of the Board of Prison Terms. The Los Angeles Times sent a reporter to the hearing as a result of the coverage Davis and Watson had received in the press the previous year. Davis denied allegations that he was part of a satanic cult at the prison chapel, while acknowledging that he and his one-time murder-partner, Charles (Tex) Watson, were fired from their jobs as ministers in the prison's Protestant chapel after an investigation by the Department of Corrections. He also admitted that Watson had assisted him in the murder of ranch hand Donald 'Shorty' Shea, whom Manson suspected of being a police informer. Again, Davis received a one year denial.
"He appears to have realized his loyalty to the members of the Manson Family was unfounded. Has begun to base his behavior in a realistic manner. Overall, he projects and changed attitude and demonstrates a willingness to cooperate."
"During the counsel, he was direct and answered questions in specific terms. Claims he does not possess any loyalty to Charlie Manson or any members of the Manson group. It's observable that changes in his personality occurred only due to his Christianity."
"In terms of future needs or therapy programs, the Council agrees and feels, due to the events that occurred during Mr. Davis' childhood, there is the presence of deep seated anger and suggest individual therapy is beneficial in treating this emotion."
Davis was criticized heavily at his hearing for not getting involved with AA/NA. He got the same recommendation every year. This time they listed his lack of involvement in AA/NA as an unsuitability factor and shortly after the hearing, Davis signed up for various self help programs and started attending AA/NA meetings.
After his 1987, parole hearing, Davis became very active in the prison and involved himself in a variety of self help and educational programs. He helped start a program called Process Oriented Direct, was involved in direct and non-direct group therapy. For the first time he let go of his reluctance and got involved in regular one on one therapy with Doctor Van Gilder. He also attended a course on substance abuse and a class on Bible studies.
On May 9, 1988, Davis watched the Geraldo Rivera special, "Murder: Live From Death Row," where Geraldo interviewed Charles Manson. It was a ratings smash. Davis told his prison counselor that he reluctantly watched it with his cell mate. He said Manson had not changed much since he was with him on the streets except he had physically aged. Davis said he felt slightly embarrassed by the association to him.
On May 11, 1988, the state Board of Prison Terms denied parole for Davis for the eighth time, saying the "heinous, cruel and callous" nature of the murders he committed prohibit his release. "Psychological profiles indicate that Davis, harbors deep-seated anger and emotional problems and could still be dangerous," parole board spokeswoman Phyllis Scott said. One-on-one therapy was suggested for Davis to deal with his anger and hostility, she said. The psychiatric report was very unfavorable which has become somewhat of a trend throughout his incarceration. Psychiatrists have been very reluctant to give him positive reviews.
On October 24, 1988, Davis was yet again written up for disciplinary violation of a serious nature. He received a CDC 115 disciplinary report. Davis was caught buying reading glasses from an inmate named Bryden who was selling all kinds of things in the prison. Such activities are against the rules and considered a serious violation. After they were caught Davis gave another explanation. He said that his wife Beth had given Bryden's wife a check for glasses because she apparently worked for an optometry company. He said that instead of giving the glasses to Beth, she gave them to her husband, the inmate, and he gave them to Davis. That is when they got caught. This was considered a very serious violation and a full scale investigation was conducted by the CDC. They apparently gave some credence to Davis' story because they reduced the charge to a 128-B which is a counseling chrono. However, the report stated some of the circumstances were very suspicious.
In November of 1988, the following month, Davis was written up again. He received a 128-B counseling chrono. He failed to turn in his ID card at the beginning of the afternoon class session in the school building, and he left the class prior to the scheduled closing of the class and that is in violation with the prison rules.
A few years after Davis became a father, George Denny, the attorney who represented Davis at his trial, was visiting a relative in San Luis Obispo County, when he drove by CMC and thought about his former client. He hadn't seen Davis in twenty years and was curious to know how he had changed. He arranged to visit. "I was very much impressed with how this young man had grown into a really first-rate citizen," Denny said in an interview years later. Seeing that Davis had turned his life around, he volunteered to represent him at parole hearings.
During his time in prison Davis became a musician. He started playing the guitar and discovered he had a good singing voice. He spends his free time writing Christian music and gospel songs. He has played at various gatherings and events in the prison and sings in the prison chapel choir. According to Charles 'Tex' Watson, he has a beautiful and mature singing voice.
In 1989, Davis got involved in a computer-aided drafting course. It was an update to his vocational drafting skills which he learned in 1985. Davis remained at medium A custody and remained disciplinary free. His time working in the kitchen as a dietician was up and he was transferred to another job. He started working as a building orderly and received excellent work reports.
Throughout his years in prison, Davis had been very close to his mother and his aunts. They would visit him every week and send him whatever he needed. After he got married, his wife Beth became very close to his mother and aunts. They would often visit Davis together. Davis' mother had become sick with some illness. She was also an older woman who needed help to take care of things and keep up with doctors' appointments. It was always Davis' hope that he could help take care of his mother upon release. Sadly, his daughter Taylor, didn't get to know her grandmother very well as she was still very young, four years old when her grandmother got ill.
On February 16th, 1989 Davis was seen by Dr. P, Davis, Ph.D. She opined that he had matured and developed considerably during his period of incarceration and thought his violence potential was below average in the absence of drug or alcohol abuse. The report could be considered quite favorable to Davis who had almost become used to bad reviews.
"Conclusions: Inmate Davis has matured and developed psycho-socially in his period of incarceration. Test results and interviews indicate that growth process continues. Appears far better able than in the past to accept and deal, with not only positive, but what he considers negative emotions as well. He states negative emotions do not mean non-survival. Like an acknowledged anger and frustration. "
"Violence potential appeared to be below that of the average inmate without the use of alcohol and drugs, which he expected to remain so in the unstructured free community."Then on May 25, 1989, Davis was again denied parole and given a one year denial. His psychiatric report was much more favorable this time and Davis according to his attorney, was hopeful. The hearing lasted for three hours and the board deliberated for 20 minutes before returning with their decision to deny parole. "His jaw may have tightened some," after hearing the decision, attorney George V. Denny said in an interview with the Daily News following the hearing. Denny gave the interview from his home in Sherman Oaks the following day. He said the board members were highly influenced by politics and afraid to go against the wishes of the governor of California. "I can't say I blame them. They are not in a good position," Denny added. There was no media at the hearing but the denial was reported in various publications.
In June of 1989 Davis granted his first interview since he was convicted and sentenced to prison. Los Angeles Times religion writer Russell Chandler was also writing for a religious magazine called Moody Monthly. After reading and learning about Tex Watson and Bruce Davis and their religious conversion, he contacted them and asked for an interview. Both interviews appeared in the same publication in a 9 page spread. Beth Davis was also interviewed for the piece as well as Kristin Watson. (The interview with Davis and his wife can be read in its entirety HERE! )
ANOTHER DECADE BEHIND BARS:
In 1990, Davis met with Senior Psychiatrist Sherman Butler who conducted the psychiatric evaluation for the board. His findings were positive."In a less controlled setting such as a return to the community, psychiatric stability would depend upon many factor, including his ability to refrain from the use of intoxicating drugs. I agree with the conclusions from the Counsel that his violence potential cannot be predicted. If granted parole, he should absolutely abstain from the use of intoxicating drugs, including alcohol."
Davis was denied parole again on June 12, 1990, and given a one year review.
On February 27th, 1991 Davis was seen by Jack Barsman, who is an M.D. psychiatrist. Dr. Barsman opinion that Mr. Davis seemed to have distanced himself from, "depravities and enormities of his crimes and involvement with Charles Manson." Dr. Barsman felt that violence potential was below average.
Davis's psychiatric evaluation from April of 1991 was very extensive. Davis first met with Dr. Orling who had done many reports on him in the past. The doctor had him undergo a cognitive style questionnaire, an experimental test which indicates how criminals think. This test was performed separate from the actual psychiatric evaluation. He said that Davis had very low energy which is contrary to what takes place with most criminals. He went on to say:
"Inmate Davis is quite subdued and relaxed in his thinking. Ha much less fear than most of the prisoners with whom he's being compared. Very little fear of injury of death or fear of rejection. In his thinking, his level of anger is low. Good level of self-esteem and self worth. Claims he possesses a lot of energy and power in order to make a good impression or to control people. "In late 1990 to early 1991, Davis slowly transitioned from the main kitchen, working as a cook, to diet kitchen in the prison hospital ward where he took care of the stock room. Some patients were on a special diet and Davis took care of ordering things from the main kitchen, keeping inventory, and making sure the stock room was full. His work reports were consistently rated one's and two's which translates as exceptional and good. In 1991, Davis was also involved in the peer training program.
"Religious thinking is practical and realistic rather than being in the form of a fake logostity behavior. He thinks abstractly and in a fairly complicated fashion in comparison with other inmates. Does not see himself as being especially unique nor is he perfectionistic. Thinking is not as suggestible as most inmates in the sample. Whether he thinks independently or not; he is probably more a leader than a follower."
"Fairly revealing and social in the manner in which he sees the world. Does not think in a secretive fashion although he does have manipulative tendencies which are not unusual in this social setting. His profile reveals a man who is non-criminal thinking but more like the average person."
"Conclusions: If released, inmate Davis should be under close parole supervision, absence of drugs and alcohol should be included. He has advanced himself in his priorities and enormities of the crime and involvement with Charles Manson. The current evaluation and MMPI testing indicates that the positive change can be considered genuine."
On March 5th, 1992 he was seen by John Hirschberg. He thought the inmate was continuously improving in terms of social and emotional adaptation. Davis also was reporting a progression of insight into his crime. "In the short interview, we tried to evaluate to what extent this individual understands the nature of his behavior. It appears obvious that a long term prison sentence acts significantly as a deterrent on this man, so that his violence potential has significantly decreased."
As of 1992, Davis was also working part time as the associate pastor in the Protestant Chapel. He had recently been reinstated after being fired from that job in 1987. The new pastor was spending a lot more time there and conducted most of the services himself. Davis was there mostly to assist. He was allowed to counsel some inmates and conducted Bible study classes. He had been responsible for helping many troubled inmates turn their lives around through Jesus Christ. This was done on a voluntary basis because he was still working in diet kitchen's stock room during the day.
In late 1992, Davis's mother, Marguerite McKee Davis died from an illness she had been fighting for several years. It was reportedly cancer. His mother had been extremely supportive through all the years. Unfortunately, Davis didn't get see her for months before she died. Because he was a life prisoner he was not allowed to attend her funeral.
In November of 1992, Davis received another 128-B disciplinary violation. It is a non serious violation, sometimes called a counseling chrono which is of a behavioral nature. It was for lying to a correctional officer and for not having his Patton College card which is used by inmate students for identification to show that they belong in that particular unit where the school is. Davis went to get his books when he was stopped by the officer. The officer didn't believe him when he said he did indeed belong in that unit and wrote him up.
Davis' prison counselor and group sponsor, Steve Hooper wrote the 1992 board report which was very supportive. The counselor stated: "For the past year Bruce Davis has been the leader/facilitator of a hospital Yokefellows group. The goal of the group is to empower patients through open communication, realization of dignity in situations of significant fear and loss, and to actuate resolution of unfinished spiritual and emotional issues. This group meets weekly. Bruce was instrumental in organizing and starting the group. His desire to help and encourage the terminally and seriously ill patients has been an inspiration to me and the men in attendance
THE 1993 PAROLE HEARING: A NEW POSITION
In November of 1992 and January of 1993, Davis received two separate letters from Charles Manson. He had not heard from him in years and had stopped all communication with Manson Family members through the mail department. The letters were sent to Davis through George Stimson, who was the live in companion of Sandra Good at the time, and a close friend of Manson's. He had been corresponding with Davis for short time and he included the letters in the envelope with his own letters. Davis did read the letters but immediately made the letters available to the department and stated that he didn't want any involvement with Manson and a report was written.
Davis met with Dr. Garrett Ezries on February 4, 1993 for yet another psychiatric evaluation prepared for the Board of Prison Terms. He said that Davis is able to clarify, specify and elaborate on changes that have occurred in the process of his rehabilitation. He further stated:
"This inmate was able to clearly specify and elaborate on changes that occurred in the process of rehabilitation. Unlike most inmates he was able to specify in minute details the aspect of this change process. He was scrutinized in the interview for superficiality of his convictions. Superficiality was not detected."Then on June 22, 1993, Davis went before the Board of Prison Terms for the thirteenth time since he became eligible for parole in 1977. The three member panel consisted of Ron Koenig who had recently denied parole to Charles Manson at his infamous 1992 parole hearing, Jerald Lander and Maureen O'Connel. Davis was again represented by George Denny and Jeffrey Jonas was representing the district attorney's office. The hearing lasted over four hours and there was no representatives of the media present at the hearing.
"It is this evaluator's opinion that this inmate clearly has the skills and controls to maintain socially acceptable behavior in an uncontrolled setting. It is a little less clear as to whether this inmate will actually chose to do so. His convictions are prosocial and his behavior appears to be inscrutable. It is difficult in a brief interview to clearly determine if these changes are securely rooted in his personality."
"At this time this evaluator cannot make this decision but it is clear that the inmate demonstrated a more consistent and thorough understanding of himself in the crime situation than most inmates. He has clearly psychiatrically improved while incarcerated. He is expected to hold these gains if released. He clearly has to be monitored for the use of drugs and alcohol. As to dangerousness this evaluator cannot make that decision."
"Mr. Davis brought to this evaluator's attention the lack of substantiation for Axis II and that would be the personality diagnosis of personality disorder not otherwise specified with narcissistic and dependent features. This addendum is to note that neither narcissistic nor dependent features were noted during the interview. But this diagnosis being a personality disorder was carried over on from previous evaluations. It should be noted that the narcissistic and dependent features have clearly improved over time."
The 1993 hearing was very significant for Davis because for the first time since they started attending his hearings, the district attorney eased on his opposition to release him. This was not the position of the district attorney's office, but more of a personal position that Jeffrey C. Jonas took. Jonas had been attending parole hearings for Bruce Davis and Bobby Beausoleil since 1985 and had always been in strong opposition to both of them. But as he got to know them better and studied their cases, he suddenly eased his opposition to Bruce Davis but not to Bobby Beausoleil. He told the board that he could very well see the day when Davis could rejoin society. He felt that he had been completely rehabilitated and posed no threat to the community. However, he said that his official position was that he objected to his release at this time because of the complexities of the crime.
In his closing statement, Jonas said, "I told Mr. Davis at one time when he asked me, well, how long is long enough? His wife has asked me as well. We have been on friendly terms. And I said if you're asking me you should do twenty-five years before they even consider you. Mr. Davis' progress has made me want to mellow a little bit on that, but I'm telling you that I think within the next two or three years I probably will be prepared, if I'm the representative of this office, if Mr. Davis continues on the path he's taking, I will probably recommend a release date based upon the progress that I think he has made. I am certainly not one of those people who thinks that none of the Manson Family should ever be released."
In concluding his statement, Jonas said, "Anyway, my statement here today is that if you're asking me today should he get a date, I say no. Not today. But I'm telling you that he's very, very close. Thank you." Davis himself was asked during the hearing how much time he thought he should do and he responded, "You know, I think there's a natural and biological timing in the seven year idea. They say that your body replenishes itself in seven years. So that you're not the same person you were seven years ago. I believe I'm only guilty of second degree. I believe a person should serve at least seven years and take it from there…I'll have 23 years in this December 1st, 23 years. I think that's enough. It's way beyond."
Davis was again denied parole for one year. The members were obviously very impressed with Davis because at the conclusion of the hearing, the presiding member said, "All members of the panel feel that you are getting very close and we believe you are on the right track. You just have to continue on this path a little longer as you are doing. You're time is coming." Davis must have been extremely happy with the outcome of the hearing because his situation looked very hopeful in the early to late 90's.
GOING PUBLIC: 25TH ANNEVERSARY
In 1993 to 1994, deputy district attorney Jeffrey C. Jonas, who was once arrested for shoplifting, was often seen visiting Beth Davis. When investigative reporter Bob Murphy from the BBC in England was trying to plug an interview with Davis for his television documentary "Manson: The Man Who Killed the 60's" he was in contact with Beth. He said that when he called her Jeffrey Jonas answered the phone. It was never clear if they were strictly friends or if there was something else going on. Author Bill Nelson hinted in his book, "Manson: Behind the Scenes" that they were having an affair.
Bob Murphy had been in the United States for several months with his television crew from the BBC. He had interviewed Charles Manson at Corcoran State Prison, Sandra Good at her home, Bobby Beausoleil and other people connected to the case. Through Beth Davis and George Denny, he was able to score an interview with Bruce Davis. Davis agreed to go on camera, something he had never done before. The DA and the parole board had been putting pressure on him and asking why he had never publically denounced Manson, so his attorney thought this would be a great opportunity.
When he arrived at the prison with his crew, Murphy was handed a list of questions and topics he was not allowed to bring up by George Denny, including the murders. He was told that failure to comply would result in the termination of the interview. Mr. Murphy almost lost the interview, when on the day of the interview the prison demanded a million dollar bond before Davis could be seen. Murphy had been inside Corcoran and taped an interview with Manson and there was less paperwork there than there was to see Davis. Murphy was able to contact the BBC to get the proof of bond and was allowed to proceed with the normal course of the interview.
When Davis was asked during the interview how he felt about the events that brought him into prison he responded, "I feel very sad about the events. It's hard to describe how bad I feel. It's terrible. People lost their lives and people's lives were ruined. There is no way to change the hopelessness and the fact of not being able to make it right." Davis was then asked about his relationship with Gary Hinman to which he responded, "Gary was a real nice guy, very hospitable, forthcoming, and generous, a talented musician. The worst part for me is that I betrayed him in a serious way. I was his friend. It was the ultimate betrayal."
Davis was also asked about his wife, "Aside from the Lord, she is the best thing that has ever happened to me. It's impossible to find a woman like this. It has been the best part of my life. But she has had to face reality on the outside and has had to accept many difficulties as a result of being with me." Davis also added that his daughter Taylor was the other love of his life, "She is just incredible. But I don't envy her having to grow up in these crazy times of lawlessness and corruption." Murphy asked him if he was worried if the Manson legacy was going to have a negative effect on his daughter, "I tend to think not because I think she will be able to handle the information she gets about it in the right way. It will have an effect but in a gross or adverse way. She won't know me as a Manson killer because to her I'm just her daddy."
Only a short portion of the interview was used for the documentary "Manson: The Man Who Killed the 60's," which aired on BBC in 1994. The broadcasting rights were later sold to the Discovery Channel in the US and stations all over Europe. A longer version was played on Murphy's radio program. The documentary was produced to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Tate-LaBianca murders.
Following his positive reviews and the recent comments from the district attorney, Davis was very hopeful that he would be the first Manson Family member released from prison after Steve Grogan. He said, "I will be released. There is no question. It is all a matter of time but it will happen very soon." Davis's wife was also very hopeful and lobbied on the outside for his support and got well respected citizens to write letters to the parole board, people who had never even met Davis.
Beth Davis was living with their young daughter, Taylor, in Grover Beach, not far from the prison. She was in the process of purchasing the condo she was living in. She was very successful and worked as an airline stewardess for Delta Airlines. During this time she was doing the commuter flight out of Arroyo Granda to Los Angeles International Airport, then a longer, cross country flight and return to Los Angeles. Beth was famous in the hair salons in San Luis Obispo for constantly talking about "poor Bruce" and the injustices she felt he had endured. Through her job at Delta, she was able to meet a lot of influential people and solicit their support. She even got some of them to write letters to the parole board.
Every year, the Board of Prison Terms would get letters of support from airline captains, big corporation CEO's, air traffic controllers, politicians, religious leaders and reporters. On one of Beth's flights, she was introduced to Justice Arthur C. Clarck who was a semi-retired Supreme Court Judge and had reviewed the Manson cases on appeal in the late 70's. She explained Davis's situation to him and put him in contact with George Denny, Davis's attorney. Justice Clark decided to lend his support and write to the parole board. He has supported him ever since and claims that Davis's incarceration beyond this time is criminal. Davis wrote him to thank him for the support. The Judge wrote back and said he wanted to keep his distance stating that it was not appropriate for them to be in contact.
Since the late 1980's Davis became very active in various vocational and self-help and therapy programs. He participated in several Category X Evaluations, and the Lifer Decision Making and Prospective Group. In 1989 he got involved in a group called Rational Behavior Training Group as well as Anger Management Control Group which he continued to attend throughout the 90's. He was originally ordered by the prison psychiatrists to attend Anger Management because his previous psychiatric reports had indicated that he had a lot of suppressed anger and hostility.
Weekly, Davis also participated in a Dynamic Psychotherapy Group. He was also in individual therapy with the staff psychiatrists from May to August of 1994. He attended the Process Group and a group called Freedom and Price, which is a group that deals with spiritual maturity and growth, personal responsibility and self identity. He became a teacher in that group in May of 1994 after completing it twice as a participant. Although Davis had been involved in AA and NA for several years, his participation and attendance was sporadic and he only attended a few months of AA/NA during 1993 and 1994.
As of 1994 Davis had also been involved in various educational programs. He had enlisted himself in Patton Collage Extension Program where he graduated in 1992. He was next working towards a Masters Degree in Theology through Bethany Seminary. Davis paid for his education himself and all his work was done through correspondence. In his free time, he was teaching classes on the Old Testament in the Protestant Chapel. He was also a teacher the Spiritual Freedom and Maturity Class and Spiritual Basis of Addictive Behavior.
In early 1994, George Denny and Beth Davis met several times with representatives from the district attorney's office at their headquarters in downtown Los Angeles to discuss the possibility of recommending parole for Davis. According to Denny, they seemed positive that a recommendation could be made sometime in the future. Jeffrey Jonas even went with Steven Kay to visit Davis in prison on at least two occasions to discuss the possibility.
The 1994 Psychiatric Evaluation was done by John Hirsberg on January 27, 1994. In his report the doctor states the following:
"Assessment: What appears to be different in this inmate is that he has grown up. I mean, that he's more mature, would therefore not be likely to repeat his offenses. According to the fact that he had individual therapy at one time, it has been six or nine months, as far as he can remember.. He claims that he's learned to deal with his anger and express more of his feelings and his emotions. He feels that he's significantly reduced his violence potential."Davis was scheduled for another parole hearing in June of 1994. For the first time since the media was granted full access to parole hearings in California, Davis would have to face a television camera. Former CIA officer, "investigative reporter" and Manson author, Bill Nelson had been researching the Manson case and videotaping every parole hearing for the Tate-LaBianca killers from the television pool camera set up by the media at the hearings. Davis had not been the focus of the same sensational press coverage that the other Manson Family killers had been. Manson, Watson, and the three women had to face reporters and television cameras at every parole hearing since 1982.
"As previously stated, in the evaluation from May of '92, the opinion was given that his long term prison sentence may act as a deterrent for this man, and his violence potential has significantly decreased. It seems that he's followed the program as well as he could. He has no recent disciplinary problems and violence potential at this time is considered to be below average."
Nelson had written the book on Tex Watson titled "Tex Watson; The Man, The Madness, The Manipulation" in 1991. At the time he was not interested in Bruce Davis or the Hinman-Shea murders. After publishing the book, Nelson continued his research and attended parole hearings. He was gathering information for his second book when he became interested in Bruce Davis. He was convinced that Davis was responsible for some of the unsolved murders that were supposedly connected to the Manson Family.
Nelson, by all accounts, was totally obsessed with the case and would spend his days and nights staking out the condos of Beth Davis and Kristin Watson. He did not hold a regular job and his marriage was rocky as a result of his work. He was also investigating the Zodiac case during this time and became so immersed in the case that he eventually believed that the two cases were connected. He teamed up with another researcher named Howard Davis who was a self described Zodiac expert. They spent the rest of the 90's trying to link the Zodiac killings to Bruce Davis. The two even wrote a book about it, "The Manson Zodiac Connection." Nelson would stake out Beth's condo for days shooting video and taking pictures. When she would leave the house he would follow her in his car to the freeways or to wherever she was going. Once he was snooping outside her building examining her mailbox when all of a sudden she came out. Nelson acted like he was just a passer-by and commented on the weather.
Nelson wanted to obtain permission to film the upcoming parole hearing for Davis but lacked the credentials to do so himself. And since the media rarely covered hearings for Davis he decided to spark some interest and contacted all the Los Angeles news stations but they didn't think it was news worthy. Most didn't even know who Bruce Davis was. He spoke with the local affiliates in San Luis Obispo. He was able to convince the news director at KCOY, Channel 12, the central coast CBS affiliate for Santa Maria County and San Luis Obispo, to record Davis' hearing. Nelson went aboard as technical advisor and followed the crew to the prison on the day of the hearing. In return the crew gave him a complete copy of the footage.
The hearing took place on a sunny afternoon on June 21, 1994. The board consisted of two Deputy commissioners and Manny Guaderrama who was the presiding commissioner and had attended countless Manson Family parole hearings. Also in attendance was Bruce Davis, his attorney George Denny, district attorney Jeffrey C. Jonas, reporter Scott Weston and camera technician Steven Engstrom from KCOY. Davis was obviously put off by the presence of the TV camera, even though he had been notified several days in advance.
There was an embarrassing moment at the hearing when in response to question from the panel, Davis said he was very much involved in AA/NA and practiced the 12 steps daily. However, when he was asked to recount the 12 steps in front of the board, he wasn't able to. Neither did he give a sufficient explanation why didn't know them by heart. Jeffrey Jonas re-stated his position that Davis was not a threat to the public and in his conclusion he said, "I am not recommending Mr. Davis for suitability today. I think there ought to be a one year denial. I am going to communicate to the board however, that there will be discussions with my office because I believe that Mr. Davis has made significant progress and I can see a date for him in the future and I would make that recommendation, in the near future." Jonas also went on record to say that he would never recommend parole for Bobby Beausoleil.
Davis was denied parole and scheduled for another review the following year. After reading the decision, Presiding Commissioner Guaderrama said that there was a major hole in Davis' programming, "You had a terrible problem with substance abuse and you haven't corrected it as far as we're concerned," and he went on to say, "I think you'd had a lot better answer for us today if you had learned and practiced the 12 steps."
Davis was now the only Manson family member left at the California Men's Colony. Both 'Tex' Watson and Bobby Beausoleil had been transferred. Watson was transferred to Ione in Northern California and Beausoleil was granted permission to be transferred to Oregon. He entered into what is called an interstate agreement. He was still under the CDC system, but housed in Oregon.
Through 1995 and 1996, Davis was very active in the prison. He continued working on his Master's Degree in Theology from Bethany Seminary. Although he had not formally received his Bachelor's Degree yet, he had all the units to qualify for it. The people from the seminary told him that they would grant his Bachelor's Degree when he finished his Master's Degree. The whole process was rather experimental because he was incarcerated and had to do everything through correspondence. Davis wasn't surprised when he was again denied parole on August 2, 1995. It was a one year review.
As of 1996, Davis was housed under Medium A security which is the lowest security level available for inmates serving a life sentence. He continued to conduct himself well in the prison and had not received any disciplinary reports since 1992. His institutional assignment was Hospital Diet Storeroom Clerk where he worked from 7:30 AM to 3:30 in the afternoon. He had remained in that position since 1991 and had received nothing but outstanding evaluations from his supervisors. On Sundays he volunteered helping with the chapel service at the Protestant Chapel where he used to work with Watson in the 80's. He would help set up things before the service and help the chaplain with whatever he needed.
Davis started attending NA meetings in the evenings several times a month. He also became involved with the 12 Step program and claims he worked the steps with a sponsor. However, at his 1998 parole hearing he was not able to recount the steps or what they were about. He participated regularly in the NA Square One Program, which he had been doing for a long time. Davis was also a moving force in the Yokefellows Organization and a moderator in the Freedom for Christ Spiritual Group. Since 1994, Davis along with a few other lifers who were also Christians, formed a group to help the inmates that were terminally ill in the prison hospital. They offer the patients emotional and spiritual support and helped them deal with death.
Davis was earning $50.00 a month for his work in the Diet Storeroom. For many years he was able to set some of his money aside and send it to his wife. She had set up an IRA account for them and a good retirement plan. She also invested their money in other things and was working towards starting a small business from home. She was still working for Delta Airlines. After the birth of their daughter, Beth started living a very healthy life. According to Davis, she had a slight drinking problem in the 80's. She stopped drinking, at some point before she got pregnant, and does not even drink wine with dinner, according to Davis.
Davis was again denied parole on August 29, 1996 and given a one year denial. Davis found out through his attorney that Bill Nelson had been bombarding the parole board with documents, links and information pointing to things which could link Davis to various unsolved crimes including the Zodiac murders.
Nelson had contacted Davis' sister, Judith who was living on the west coast with her husband and kids. At first she didn't know who he was and answered some of his questions over the phone. He wanted to fly out and meet her to do an interview for his book but she said she had to talk to Bruce first. According to Nelson, he called her again the following Monday after she had talked to Bruce and with a firm, distant, authoritative voice, she said, "Bruce says that I am never to speak to you again!" Davis was aware of the problems Nelson had caused for 'Tex' Watson in the past and he must have feared he was his newest interest.
Davis has never given any public statements or discussed the accusations of additional murders or about the Zodiac link. According to his attorney though, he wrote them off as ludicrous at best. Davis was not privy to the documents Nelson was sending to the parole board. All such correspondence was placed in a confidential folder after being reviewed by the board. Not even Davis' attorney was privy to that information although he did receive some information later on about the contents.
On November 1, 1996, a new law was passed in California which banned conjugal visits for convicted murderers and Davis' rights to weekend Family visits every three months were revoked. This was largely as a result Watson's abuse of the system. Watson fathered four children from those visits with his wife Kristin. Doris and Paul Tate were outraged and Doris went on a public campaign to stop such rights for convicted murders. Sadly, she did not live to see those changes. According to Davis, he was getting many visits from friends and family. His wife and daughter would visit every chance they got, but now only in the regular prison visiting room. Several members of Beth's family came to visit occasionally and about once a year his sister and her husband would come down for a visit. Davis also had a very strong support in the Christian community, from religious leaders and ministers all over California and the rest of the United States.
Davis went for another Psychiatric Evaluation on June 4, 1997. The doctor states in part that risk assessment was based on the interview he had with Davis. The report was reportedly very lengthy and the doctor seemed hesitant to say that Davis was ready for release.
"Axis I, no diagnosis. Axis II, Narcissistic Personality Disorder."In 1997, shortly before his parole hearing, a letter from the Los Angeles Sheriff's Office was sent in to oppose Davis's release.
"He described his degree of participation in the two murders but accepts somewhat limited responsibility. Risk assessment is therefore based on is psychiatric diagnosis, his behavior since his incarceration and his behavior in the current interview. His risk assessment for dangerousness is estimated to be within the mildly below average range in comparison with average male inmates."
"Mr. Davis claims Manson used a knife on Gary Hinman and subsequently learned that Hinman had been murdered. Mr. Davis still chose to affiliate himself with people that he knew were murderers, although he did not consider himself at the time legally culpable. Mr. Davis claims he did not know if Mr. Shea was dead or not. Therefore, even after his arrest and incarceration he continued to display loyalty to his crime partners."
"We have received notification of the upcoming parole hearing for inmate Bruce Davis, to be held at the California Men's Colony on September 4, 1997. We have reviewed his case and followed through the years and we remain in strong opposition to a granting of a parole date for such a vicious murderer. This is submitted for your r consideration."Davis went before the Board of Prison Terms for the seventeenth time on September 4, 1997 at 8:30 AM in the morning. Bill Nelson had again assembled a crew from KCOY, Channel 12 in Santa Maria to attend the hearing. As the hearing was about to start, Bill Nelson and Howard Davis were in the KCOY studio being interviewed for the Channel 12 Sunrise morning show by Danielle Saibene. In the interview, Nelson told her that the district attorney was expected to recommend parole today. The interview was mainly to promote their coverage of the hearing and Nelson and Davis' self published books on the Manson Zodiac connection. "He should be investigated as the prime target and suspect in the Zodiac killings," Nelson told the reporter.
"During the late 1960-s inmate Davis was a member of the Manson Family, the notorious Family responsible for a series of horrific murders that occurred in the Los Angeles area. Inmate Davis was a willing participant in those murders."
"On July 27, 1969, inmate Davis and several of his fellow Family members including Charles Manson tortured and killed victim Gary Hinman. Apparently the family members felt that victim Hinman had valuables hidden in his residence and torture was inflicted upon victim Hinman. When he failed to cooperate and give them the alleged valuables, the victim was killed. Several items belonging to the victim, including two vehicles were taken by inmate Davis and his associates."
"In August of 1969, inmate Davis took part in another senseless act of murder with members of his Family. According to investigators; inmate Davis and his associates felt that victim Donald Shea was a police informant and had developed information regarding the group's illegal activities. Members lured the victim to remote area where the victim was hit with a pipe wrench rendering him unconscious. Victim Shea was dragged out of his vehicle and stabbed to death and then buried under an embankment. Inmate Davis and his associates left the scene in the victim's vehicle and the victims remains were found by the authorities 8 years later."
"Due to the premeditation and the horrific and senseless nature of the crimes committed by inmate Davis. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department suggests that inmate Davis never be given the privilege to live in a free civilized society. Therefore we recommend that parole for inmate Davis be denied."
Sincerely Don Murrow
Captain Homicide Bureau
At the hearing Davis gave a surprising new twist to his account of the murders when he said that 'Shorty' Shea was dead when he cut him. He had never said that before. When he was asked to elaborate he said, "The thing that makes me believe that he was dead was that he did not bleed when I cut him with the tip of the blade. Now that may or may not be sign." He also told the board that he acted out of fear of his crime partners. He said he was afraid of repercussions from Manson, Watson and Grogan if he did not participate.
Deputy D.A. Jeffrey C. Jonas stunned the parole board when he took his argument one step further and it sounded like he had dropped his personal opposition to grant Davis parole. "It is clear from the record that this man poses no threat to the public and he has certainly displayed rehabilitative features." He was then stopped by board member Koenig who asked him bluntly, "Are you telling us that your office has dropped its opposition to this man." He seemed to quite put off by the DA's statement. Jonas then responded that the official position of the DA's office was that Mr. Davis was not a danger to the community but was unsuitable, "based upon the nature of the crime and the consequences it would have on the community."
Channel 12 picked up Jonas' statement and it was reported in the media. It wasn't long before word reached others in the district attorney's office and Jonas was removed from the case. It turned out that this wasn't the office's official position. This was Jeffrey Jonas' personal position which he presented as the position from the DA's office. He had obviously crossed the line and there were stories of an inappropriate relationship between him and Davis's wife.
Davis, who was wearing a blue prison shirt, had aged considerably since 1994, which was the last time he was videotaped publically. The hearing itself lasted about two hours. During his closing statement to the board, Davis expressed his remorse and broke down crying in front of the panel, with tears visible streaming down his face. The three member panel wasn't swayed though and denied his parole for one year. Since 1984, Davis has been allowed to apply for parole every year. He is the only Manson Family member who gets yearly parole reviews. The others are usually denied for a period of two to five years each time they appear before the board.
In November of 1997, Davis finished his Masters of Arts Degree in Theology and received his certificate through the mail from Bethany Seminary. They also granted him his BA Degree, which they had promised to do when he finished his masters. It was a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Religion and a result of a compilation various religious courses. After the completion, Davis immediately began working towards a PhD Degree.
On January 7, 1998, Davis was re-assigned and reported to work as Building Two Porter. His institutional assigned up to that point had been in the hospital kitchen as Diet Storeroom Clerk. His work reports as porter were average and above average. He attended NA meetings two times a month. He was also teaching classes in Freedom In Christ which was a weekly class. He became a teacher after completing class himself in 1995.
Beth Davis had enlisted the help of a retired Superior Court Judge from San Luis Obispo named William C. Clark, whom she met through her work as flight attendant back in 1994. He was impressed by what she had to say about Davis and after contacting George Denny, Davis' attorney, and reading his file, he agreed to write a letter of support to the parole board. He started to write letters every year. The following is a letter sent to the board in 1998.
"Dear Mr. Parker: Again, by way of introduction, I am a retired California judge having served on the Superior Court of San Luis Obispo County, the Court of Appeal Second District and the Supreme Court, which included review of Manson issues on appeal in '68 through 1981. My background and experience include extradition, clemency and parole processes and legislation while serving as Executive Secretary and Chief of Staff to Governor Ronald Reagan in 1966 to 1968. At the request of his family and neighbors here in San Luis Obispo I have again reviewed in summary form Bruce M. Davis' files presently before you."The 1998 Psychiatric Evaluation was conducted by a Dr. Bernie for the Board of Prison Terms. The report was very positive.
"I represented no party or interest in the above-captioned matter nor have I met the man. This matter constitutes the only time I have ever recommended parole for a prisoner. However, I conclude; Mr. Davis' further incarceration beyond his over 30 years served could constitute a miscarriage of justice. If our parole provisions and processes have meaning and purpose, and they do, Mr. Davis should be returned to our society where he has much to offer our youth, as his file clearly reveals."
"Diagnosis: Axis I, no diagnosis, Axis II Narcissistic Personality Disorder, in remission."
"Inmate pursued an empty and self serving lifestyle and at the time became involved with an individual who held out promise of excitement and sensual pleasures."
"During the inmates period of incarceration he has matured through personal growth, insight and positive programming. Given the circumstances, it is concluded that the inmates violence potential in the outside community is below that of the average inmate."
The director of the Marina Exchange had offered Davis a job if he were to be released on parole. He was the Traffic Control Officer of the Los Angeles Long Beach Harbor. He was a friend of Davis' wife and long time supporter. Another Davis supporter is reporter Russell Chandler of the Los Angeles Times. He is a religion writer, and first met Davis in the 1988 when he did an article on him Moody Monthly. The famous Daniel Rider is also one of Davis' supporters. He is the former owner of the Press Telegram in Southern California. Rider's stepson was also incarcerated at CMC in the 80's and Davis apparently helped him get his life back on track. He became rehabilitated and was released. Rider was so impressed by his stepson's change that he went to visit Davis in prison and they became friends. Rider writes letters every year to the parole board.
Shortly before his 1998 parole hearing, Captain Don Murrow of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office sent a letter to the parole board to oppose Davis' release.
"The manipulative personality of Charles Manson is well known. What may often be overlooked is the vicious and brutal nature of inmate Davis and other members of the Family. No remorse and no empathy certainly are terms which were applicable to inmate Davis when the murders were committed. "
"For these reasons, it is the position of the department that parole for inmate Davis is inappropriate now or anytime in the future. He should therefore be segregated from society for the rest of his natural life."
Sincerely Don Murrow
Captain Homicide Bureau
Court TV was a cable television network that specialized in criminal and trial coverage. They would broadcast live trials during the day and sometimes other events. In 1991, Court TV broadcast live the parole hearing of Leslie Van Houten. It was a ratings success for the new station so they started attending most Manson Family related parole hearings for the Tate-LaBianca murderers. They were often broadcasting them live. The coverage became extremely popular in the late 90's when they would re-broadcast some of the parole hearings in the evenings. Several times they hosted special Manson Family days, where they would air Manson related parole hearings throughout the whole day. They often ran the day before another parole hearing was scheduled for one of the Manson killers.
With Court TV's interest, Bill Nelson was again able to gather a crew to attend Davis' parole hearings. He had been in a good working relationship with Court TV and helped them out with several programs and documentaries. He was also put on air as a Manson expert and commentator during live coverage and other events relating to the case. After looking into it, the people at Court TV decided to take this on and cover the hearing. They sent their west coast unit of several technicians, cameraman Dennis Lynch, who had attended and taped most if not all Manson Family parole hearings for Court TV, and reporter Beth Karras who later became famous for her coverage of the Michael Jackson and Phil Spector murder trials.
Davis' eighteenth parole hearing took place on September 24, 1998 at 8:35 in the morning. This was the first time Davis' parole hearing was broadcast live, in its entirety. In the past when television cameras and crews had been present at his hearings, only snippets were broadcast on the evening news. Davis had been notified of this in advance of the live coverage and his demeanor was more subdued and a little different than in past hearings. He obviously was aware that home viewers were watching his every move. Presiding Commissioner and retired sheriff of Los Angeles County Edward Williams didn't cut him any slack and was obviously in control of the situation. His questions were very direct and in-your-face.
Commissioner Williams established that Davis had never met Justice Clark who had written a letter of support and didn't even really know him at all. He also established that Davis refused to cooperate with authorities and Shea's family in locating his remains, "despite the fact his body was decomposing in a shallow grave at Spahn Ranch." Davis couldn't come up with any answer other than he was now "sorry." Then the commissioner said, "You describe these murders as the record reflects as horrific, as somewhat wrong. Wrong seems to be a term more appropriate to describe shoplifting."Davis responded, "That's quite an understatement. I meant wrong in the worst sense of the word."
Davis told the board that it was the need for acceptance by the Family that made him do what he did. Commissioner Manuel Ortega then asked Davis the following question, "Did the wrongness of those acts seem to be outweighed by the need for the acceptance?" Davis responded, "You know, when I hear that I know it sounds crazy. But when I look at it. I don't have a better explanation…It was also group pressure." Commissioner Ortega also asked him the following questions:
Q: Why is it that all you Manson people seem to, without exception, program so well but yet you were so manipulated by one person and made to do the things you did?After deputy district attorney Jeffrey Jonas had been removed from the case, after misrepresenting the office's position, Anthony Manzella was asked to take his place. Manzella had been involved in the original trial and prosecuted Davis along with Steven Kay. He went on record to state the board's real position.
A: Well. Speaking for myself. I was basically looking for a father figure and sad to say I adopted Manson for that role, and by the time the murders begin to happen I was well into that mode.
Q: Why was it at that time in your life that you were looking for a father figure?
A: Well, up to that time I had never had one. My dad, I had a father obviously but he wasn't there for me. It was also the acceptance of the Family. I knew that what I did was wrong. I wasn't hypnotized.
"It is my position and the position of the district attorney's office that Mr. Davis should not receive parole now or anytime in the future. He should spend the rest of his life in prison. He should be forced to remember these awful crimes every for the rest of his life. If he's freed on parole there will come a day when he will forget his participation in these awful crimes. His only link today to these murders is his incarceration."On August 2, 1999, Davis met with the prison psychiatrist, Dr. Portnoff for the '99 evaluation for the Board of Prison Terms. The report was very favorable.
"If Davis committed these crimes today he would be subject to the death penalty or a minimum of life in prison without parole… He never testified at trial and he never expressed remorse for these killings until after his arrest, his prosecution, sentencing and substantial time in state prison… He did not admit his guilt until 1977, 8 years after the murders. Although he claims to have found religion much earlier."
Needless to say, Davis was denied parole and again given a one year review. Bill Nelson was put live on air on Court TV following the hearing, commenting on Davis and what he had seen during the hearing. He repeated his conviction that Davis should be investigated as prime Zodiac suspect. "He is the worst serial killer in California's history and seems only steps away from freedom."
"With regard to remorse, his current attitude still does not suggest continued debasement or hostility toward the victims. Therefore, I would agree that Mr. Davis hasUnder normal circumstances, Davis would have been scheduled for a another parole hearing in October of 1999 but the California Board of Prison Terms was backed up with their hearings and hundreds of inmates had to wait. The Governor had yet to hire additional commissioners to ease the problem. There was reportedly a shortage of parole board members. Davis had to wait almost another years before his next hearing would take place.
basic insight into the causative factors of the commitment offense which would include not thinking through any consequences and just proceeding through life in a step-by step manner primarily concerned with drugs, sex, in a sense acceptance and approval by the Manson Family."
"Assessment of Dangerousness: In the almost 30 years since the commitment offenses he has not portrayed any similar aggressive or threatening behavior. Therefore, his violence potential within a controlled setting is nil. He has also made significant strides in his emotional development. He has not continued to have associations with criminally-minded individuals that characterize his involvement in the commitment offenses. Likewise, since the mid 1980s he became more willing to accept responsibility for his role in the murders. From all accounts he is no longer a dependent individual needing the approval of criminally-minded associates who are addicted to mind-altering substances."
"The risk factors/precursors to violence which applied at the time of the controlling offenses included a lack of internalized values, affiliation with criminally-minded associates, inability to think through consequences, inability to reject overtures from criminal behavior from his associates and immersion and a hedonistic, drug-using lifestyle. None of these factors appear to be applicable any more. He does not have affiliations with criminal associates, no longer appears to be easily persuadable, and appears to be committed to a prosocial value system. Therefore, given the history leading up to the commitment offense, his described degree of participation in the two murders coupled with his institutional programming, all suggest that his violence potential in the community is low in comparison with the average inmate at this time."
In late 1999, Davis changed jobs again and again was re-assigned as Protestant Chapel Clerk. He said he didn't like his job as Building Two Porter and thought he could be of more value in the chapel. All his work performance reports are excellent and dated May 7, 1999 to October 1st 1999. Davis also participated in the California Men's Colony School of the Bible where he continued to teach other inmates. During that time, Davis also participated regularly in Dr. Benson's substance abuse group. According to Davis, he was now attending NA meetings once a week and working the 12 Step program. Also, since finishing his Master Degree he began to work towards his PhD Degree which is very rare for a person serving a life sentence to do. Around this time, he was working on his thesis.
Finally, in November of 1999, the Federal authorities dismissed the three year detainer that was on Davis for giving false information while purchasing that firearm back in 1969. He was found guilty back in 1971 and sentenced to three years in federal prison. Up until this point, Davis' real parole plans had been to go to the US Marshalls and serve out the three year terms before he would be able to join his family as a free man. George Denny had contacted the federal authorities and convinced them to dismiss it because if Davis were ever released on parole he would be very old and only have a few years. Besides, they stated that it was not in the interest of justice since he had already spent two thirds of his life in prison.
ONE VOTE FOR RELEASE: A NEW MILLENIUM
At the same time as Davis was working hard towards being released from prison and scoring points with the parole board, outside forces were working hard to prevent that from happening. Bill Nelson was running his website MansonMurders.com and it was at its peak in 1999 and 2000, in terms of traffic and exposure. Through his site, Nelson had connected with several family members of the Tate LaBianca murder victims and several former Manson Family members. One such member was Barbara Hoyt. She contacted him one day through the site and they began a friendship that lasted for a couple of years. During that time, Hoyt started writing editorials and statements under the pseudo name "Deserts Speaks." She used her voice to bash the murderers and tell stories from the her time with the Family. Whenever something new happened with the killers she wrote her opinions and seemed to know what other people were thinking.
Nelson wanted to make some money off her and decided to write a book about her life story and experiences with the Family. He started taping their conversations and phone calls. People who have listened to these audio recordings say that Hoyt spends more time rambling about her distain for the killers after watching their parole hearings, than actually discussing the time she was with the Family. Perhaps it must only seem natural for her to be bitter. After all, these people tried to kill her. Nelson had sent her video tapes of Davis' parole hearings, as well as for the other murderers. After watching the tapes she would voice her opinions on the website. Her name was eventually revealed.
Nelson convinced Hoyt to write a letter to the parole board to protest his release and contradict his testimony. Nelson and Hoyt worked on the letter together before sending it in. The letter reads as follows:
Dear Board of Prison Terms. My name is Barbara Hoyt. I was a prosecution witness in the many Manson trials, including the Shorty Shea murder trials. I testified against Bruce Davis, Steve Grogan, and Charles Manson. I have now 30 years later watched the parole hearings for Bruce Davis and read the transcripts for Steve Grogan, provided to me by Bill Nelson. Both of them have grossly misrepresented the facts to you. About a week or two after the Aug. 16, 69 sheriff's raid at Spahn's ranch, in the afternoon, I was sitting on a rock in the parking area in front of the boardwalk. Near me were Brenda, Gypsy, and Squeaky. One of them said, as Shorty walked towards George Spahn's house, "there goes Shorty snooping around again" and another one answered her " yea well, he'll be taken care of."In addition to getting Barbara Hoyt involved, Nelson was bombarding the parole board with all kinds of documents. He outlined every lie he thought Davis had made and contradicted his testimony before the board. He also provided documents and loosely bound facts pointing to Davis as the Zodiac killer. He sent them documents relating to other unsolved murders. This was all placed in a confidential folder and was not made available to Davis or his attorney. Nelson also posted much of this information on his website including the letter from Hoyt so it wasn't long before Davis learned about this. When George Denny investigated, he learned that Nelson had dozens of documents containing of about 150 pages. They made a request to see the file but it was denied. They only knew it was from Nelson because he said so on his website.
One night not long after, I went to go to sleep in one of the trailers at the back of the ranch overlooking the creek bed below. At about 10 o'clock at night, just as I laid my head on the pillow, I heard a long, loud, blood curdling scream, which came from about 50-75 feet away from me from up stream. Then it was quiet for a minute or so, and then the screams came again, and again, again, again,....They seemed to go on forever. I recognized the screams of Shorty's voice. I can still hear those screams today, exactly as I heard them that night. I have absolutely no doubt that Shorty was being murdered at that time."
Early the next morning, I asked Gypsy, who was in the Rock City Cafe at the ranch house end of the board walk if she had heard Shorty screaming last night, and she told me very sternly that Shorty had gone to San Francisco. Later that morning Charlie was bragging to Danny DeCarlo about how "Shorty committing suicide with a little help from us." Charlie went on to say "I stabbed him and Shorty asked, "Why Charlie? Why?" and I told him this is why! And I stabbed him again, that he was real hard to kill when we brought him to NOW. That we all kept stabbing him until Clem cut his head off! And we cut him up into 9 pieces and buried him around the ranch." He asked Danny "if lye or lime would get rid of the body." I was only a couple of feet away from Danny at the time and Charlie knew that I was there."
I didn't see the murder even thought I did try to look out that window and I obviously I don't know exactly how they killed Shorty but his death must have been very painful to make him scream as he did. But I do know that Shorty was killed at about 10 o'clock at night, under a full moon, and not in the afternoon as the killers are telling you. I also know that the murder occurred about 50+ feet up stream from the ranch and not the mile or so down Santa Susanna Pass road again as the killers are telling you. Bruce has told you that he was afraid of the family, and that he was afraid of Tex. This is a blatant lie, because Bruce was older and vying for a leadership role in the family, or at least a second in command to Charlie. He was the only other male to have worn Charlie's embroidered vest. He lectured like Charlie when Charlie was not there. Other members in the family killed more people for Charlie but knowing that the family was committing murders, Bruce wanted to lead them."
I am well aware that the body of Shorty Shea was recovered intact and was not dismembered as Charlie had claimed. And that his body was located about where they claimed to have killed him. They may have buried him there but it is not where he was killed. I am against Bruce Davis getting a parole date for 3 reasons:"
1) Because he wanted to be a family leader even though he knew the family was committing murder (i.e. Gary Hinman) and not just to follow Charlie.
2) He is lying even to this day about the time and place of the murder.
3) I believe he is lying about fearing Tex, people in the family were more afraid of Bruce than Tex.
I find it curious that even as he professes to be a Christian today that he is still lying to you. Thank you for considering my letter and I request my address not be revealed to the inmate or to his attorney (who would give him that information)"
George Denny, Davis' attorney, said Barbara Hoyt has no credibility which he says was brought out during the trial. He said she was an "unemployed woman" with no direction in life. "I think she's just looking for attention." And, he added, Davis lacked the personality to be a leader. "The psychiatrists and psychologists who have examined and written reports about Bruce say that he was a follower," Denny said.
Davis went before the board on July 18, 2000 at 8:23 AM in the re-modeled and furnished hearing room at the east CMC facility. Davis looked older. He was then fifty-eight years old. He had gathered a lot of support for this hearing and presented the board with over fifty letters from well respected citizens urging the board to release him. KCOY, Channel 12 from Santa Maria sent a television crew to the hearing. The video was picked up by other stations including CNN who reported on the hearing. There were several other members of the press there including a reporter and photographer from the San Luis Obispo Tribune and Associated Press.
George Denny started by objecting to the confidential files that were reviewed by the board, Bill Nelson, and the letter from Barbara Hoyt. Even though the board reviewed the letter from Hoyt, they did not make any references to it later on in the hearing nor did they read it into the record. The panel consisted of Commissioners Manuel Ortega, Al Angele and Herbert R. May. Anthony Manzella was representing the district attorney's office. The hearing lasted for less than two hours and the board only spent about 20 minutes in deliberations.
Most of the time was spent discussing the crimes and Davis' involvement. Davis was adamant in stating that 'Shorty's' murder was committed during daylight hours and not at night as Barbara Hoyt claims. In telling the board when he learned that Shea was a police informant, he said, "The first I heard about it was the morning it happened, the morning! Not at night, the morning it happened." Davis seemed open and relaxed during the hearing and managed to answer all the questions from the board members.
He obviously made a good impression on at least one of the board members because for the first time since he became eligible for parole, he received one vote for release. This was actually the first time that any Manson Family member got a vote for release. It was from Commissioner Al Angele who would attend many Manson related parole hearings in future years.
During the reading of the decision, Commissioner Al Angele addressed his vote: "I did vote for suitability, I think, for a number of reasons. First of all I have a hard time trying to figure out how much time is enough and how much time is not enough and you've been down nearly 30 years since the commitment of the crime. Your involvement in two different homicides, one was almost nil and the other was very minimal. And your programming has been outstanding. Your psych reports have been outstanding compared to what we see in the average inmate. I just feel that at this point that you're suitable. I guess all I can do is wish you luck and don't let the one year get you down. Your time will come."
Davis seemed very happy with the outcome and wrote a letter to a friend saying, "There is the slightest bit of good news with the outcome of the July 18, hearing. One of the three hearing officers voted for parole. While future hearings are not bound by the findings of individual members, the positive vote is a hopeful sign. At least one person on the Board of Prison Terms deems me worthy of parole."
He went on to say, "The bad news is that parole was denied and further consideration for parole was postponed for another year. The grounds for the denial was, simply the elements of the crime. This is an era of frustration for me in that the elements of the crimes will never change and so I'm tempted to grow hopeless, cynical and bitter with my circumstance and situation." Despite his apparent frustration, Davis kept on going with his studies and life at the prison.
In October of 2000, Davis was scheduled for hip-joint replacement surgery after a lengthy examination and many X-ray tests. By 1999, Davis had a hard time walking and was in great pain. This is fairly common with some people as they get older. First he went to an escorted consultation with an outside surgeon in the San Luis Obispo hospital where they did some lab work and drew blood. He was escorted back to prison in an orange jumpsuit with chains on his arms and feet. Then a few weeks later he went back downtown to the hospital to have the surgery. Prison guards were with his during the whole time, twenty-four-seven.
Davis spent a few days in recovery in the outside hospital. During that time he was able to get very limited visits from family members because of security reasons. After four days, he was sent back to the California Men's Colony where he spent about eight weeks in the prison hospital recuperating. After that he was able to go back to the quad on crutches. Davis had to use a walking cane for a long time and it took him about nine months to fully recover from the surgery. Davis was also taking several medications including pain killers and Celebrex which is an anti inflammatory drug with lots of serious side effects.
During 2001 and the time he was recovering from the surgery, Davis was working on finishing his Thesis for his PhD Degree. His goal was to finish it by the end of the year and receive the Degree in the spring of 2002. Soon, Davis was able to return to his regular programming and job in the chapel as Protestant Chapel Clerk. Davis also stepped up in his NA and AA participation and started working the steps, one by one. Step 8 and 9 deals with making amends and he started by making amends to his family and people he had hurt through the years. He asked his attorney, George Denny to forward letters to Gary Hinman's parents and the remaining relatives of 'Shorty' Shea. He found out that 'Shorty's' mother had passed away in Boston a few years earlier. The letter he sent to the Hinman family was never returned and he never received a response.
Davis was again denied parole on December 6, 2001. He was given a one year denial. The panel went through the process quickly. This was only a couple of weeks after the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and Davis himself said he didn't have a chance. Many viewed the Manson Family crimes as acts of domestic terrorism, since the murders were to incite fear and terror into the citizens of Los Angeles and the rest of the world. It is this author's opinion that the Manson Family was not an organized criminal enterprise, like a certain prosecutor likes to say, or a terrorist organization. That analogy seems almost comical in its absurdity and it gives them much more credit than they deserve. All accounts indicate the contrary.
Davis had this to say about the recent denial of parole, "I suppose those who support my parole are frustrated with our apparent lack of progress to the goal. The Lord let me know a long time ago that his arm is longer than the arm of the state and that he will have the final word in my case." In a letter to a friend dated January 13, 2002, Davis had this to say about his family, "Beth and Taylor are doing well. Beth is back to flying domestic because of 9/11. Delta changed their LAX-Japan trips to Atlanta-Japan. Now instead of flying three or four trips a month, she has to fly six or eight. That is a lot more in commuting and child care. The good part is that the Lord is keeping her and her finances and her job with Delta relatively safe."
Davis' daughter Taylor was now getting older and bigger every day. "Taylor just turned eight. She's doing great in the third grade and with her piano lessons," Davis said about his daughter's activities and added, "She got her ears pierced for Christmas, growing up faster than I can imagine. She's going on 'almost grown'." Beth and Taylor still came to visit every chance they got. It wasn't a long trip since they were living in an apartment in Grover Beach which is very short distance from the prison.
In January of 2002, Davis finished his Thesis and PhD paper and sent the manuscript to the binders to be processed and hard bound. Then he submitted it to the seminary. On June 6th, 2002, Davis received his PhD Degree in Doctorate of Philosophy in Religion from Bethany Seminary. Davis celebrated with his family and a few friends in the prison visiting room. It was an enormous achievement for inmate to accomplish.
Davis and his attorneys were following closely what was happening in the case of Leslie Van Houten. After being denied parole in June of 2000, she took her case to court. George Denny and another attorney on behalf of Davis were present, in the San Bernardino court house. Leslie Van Houten had been ordered to appear in court in front of Judge Bob N. Krug. The Judge was sympathetic to Van Houten's argument and instructed the parole board to look closer and consider her accomplishments and not just the unchangeable facts of the crime. The outcome would have an impact on Davis' case as well because their cases were very similar in terms of involvement. They were also serving the same sentence. But on June 28th, 2002, she was denied parole again. The judge had ordered the parole board to hold another hearing within sixty days but the State of California and the Board of Prison Terms appealed the judge's decision.
Davis went again before the Board of Prison Terms on January 30, 2003. He was denied parole and another hearing was scheduled in one year. Reporter Robert S. Pemberton covered the hearing for the Tribune and wrote a lengthy article. Had he been released, Davis who was now 59 years old, said he had plans to move to Grover Beach to live with his wife and 9-year-old daughter. While commending Davis for his behavior while in prison, Commissioner Jones and Moore said his past is still a factor in keeping him incarcerated. "It is known that you cannot change the events that took place," Moore told Davis. "But, nonetheless, it was some ugly events that took place in 1969."
During the hearing, like he had done in the past, Davis said he did not actually participate in the murders, though he admitted to driving Manson to Hinman's home and being present when Shea was killed. He also admitted he did nothing to stop the murders. "I didn't have what it took to stand up and do what was right," he said. Los Angeles County deputy district attorney Anthony Manzella said Davis pointed a gun at Hinman as Manson tortured him.
Davis said he sometimes receives letters in prison from people who want to know about Manson. While he can understand why people are still interested in Manson, he said, he tries to set them straight. "I'm doing all I can to warn people that still think there's some validity to what Charlie's about," he said. "His whole philosophical ideal, as crazy as it was, was completely wrong."
Defense attorney George Denny, who traveled from his home in Texas to attend, said Davis was no longer a danger to the community. "All the evidence shows that he is a different person than he was 32 years ago," Denny said. But Manzella said Davis should not forget his past - something that would happen if he were released. "With the passage of time, his only link to this crime will be his incarceration," said Manzella, who also tried Manson for the Shea and Hinman murders. Davis listened without emotion as the board announced its decision to deny parole.
George Denny was actually retired from practicing law. According to all accounts he was a decent man and a good attorney who had worked most of his career as a public defender. Denny only renewed his California license each year to represent Davis. He was living in Houston, Texas and travelled to California every year and represented Davis free of charge. He said that Davis was his only client that he does this for and it was only because they had developed a personal friendship and he believed in him. "Bruce Davis should really be the poster boy for the Department of Corrections and Board of Prison Terms," he would often tell board members and reporters.
Each time Davis is up for parole, Denny notes the factors he thinks are favorable to his client: Davis' limited involvement in the crimes, his stable marriage, his Doctorate in Theology, his positive psychological reports, counseling sessions, good behavior in prison and employable vocational skills. Denny has said that he gets a little hopeless after multiple denials. "It's like; what's the use?" "I argue with myself afterward," Denny said. "Do I really want to continue butting my head against a stone wall? But I do because I feel Bruce is the one person of all the parole stories I've heard who really deserves to be paroled."
It was George Denny who fought behind the scenes against Vincent Bugliosi when he was running for attorney general in the state of California. Denny, almost single handedly, dug up all kinds of dirt on Bugliosi from his past. He gathered all kinds of documents and police reports, spoke with witnesses and took their statements. He produced a large file consisting of almost 200 pages which he titled "The Vince Bugliosi Story." It showed that Bugliosi had everything but a clean reputation. The file contains legal documents pertaining to abuse of office, falsification of evidence, perjury, complicity in a conspiracy to obstruct justice, and an assault on a pregnant female that he was having an affair with at the time. She was supposedly pregnant with his child and refused to have an abortion which caused him to attack her. Denny made the file public and gave copies to his campaign opponents. It was a huge scandal, which caused Bugliosi to step down. This has sort of been buried in history.
Davis' daughter, Taylor is by all accounts a well spoken and intelligent girl who sees Davis with her mother, who visits once a week. "It gives me a feeling of great responsibility and a feeling of frustration that I can't do anything for her," Davis said in an interview. The parents have told the girl why her dad is in prison, he said, but they have left out the "gory" details. "Every question she asks, we answer on the level she asked." Taylor turned seventeen years old in 2003.
THE 2004 INTERVIEW: BRUCE DAVIS TODAY
Through the years and the routine parole denials, Davis always had hope. He said in an interview in the 90's that he knew that he would be paroled someday. While the odds of any convicted murderer getting paroled in California in the 90's were slim, by 2003 they were improving. When Gray Davis was governor, he appointed conservatives to the parole board, former police officers, sheriff's and law enforcement people, then he used his authority to block recommendations on a regular basis for the few lifers that received dates from the board. It was less than one percent.
Less than six months into his term, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has already approved sixteen parole recommendations - twice the number his predecessor approved during his five-year tenure. In addition, the courts are now ruling that certain inmates who have been denied parole repeatedly must be released. As of 2004 Bruce Davis was considering taking his case to court. He told a reporter that he would use that option, "if the board continues to violate its own laws," by keeping him incarcerated.
If he's paroled, his wife said, she would help him make the transition. "You can't kid yourself - it's going to be tough," she said. "But I look forward to kissing him in the grocery store, having him sit next to me in church."
Rick Ross, an international cult expert, said Manson followers like Davis were likely brainwashed through isolation and drugs. But years of separation from Manson, he added, would allow his followers to deprogram. While Davis isn't the only Manson follower to find God – Charles Watson, Susan Atkins and even Leslie Van Houten have also claimed to be reborn - Ross said their spirituality can be considered genuine if their prison behavior is good.
On October 28, 2003, Davis met with the prison psychiatrist for another evaluation for the Board of Prison Terms, to be utilized at the 2004 board hearing. The report was done by Dr. J. Livingston. The board had specifically requested the examiner to address several questions; the prisoner's violence potential in the free community. The significance of alcohol and drugs as it relates to the commitment offense and an estimate of the prisoner's ability to refrain from use and abuse of drugs and alcohol when released. The extent to which the prisoner has explored the commitment offense and come to terms with underlying causes and the need for further therapy programs while incarcerated.
When it comes to number 4, the need for further therapy programs while incarcerated, the doctor stated:
"This examiner has addressed the issue of need for further therapy programs for this subject while incarcerated. Inasmuch as the subject is not presenting any mental or psychiatric disorder, there is no indication of a need for psychotherapy. However, any involvement that he can have with self help groups as well as other relevant workshops and programs would probably be a benefit, in order to help promote continued personal growth."Number 3, the extent to which the prisoner has explored the commitment offense and come to terms with underlying causes:
"The examiner was asked to address the extent to which the prisoner has explored the commitment offense and come to terms with the underlying causes. It appears that the subject has done some exploration through his own self-examination, as well as his involvement in self help groups and other therapy programs that had been available to him in the past. He readily acknowledges the contrast between his own father, who was very negative and critical and Charles Manson, who was very affirming and reinforcing. He identifies this as a primary contributor to his being involved in the group and consequently with the offenses. It is not clear that further exploration of the commitment offense would contribute significantly to his being able to parole successfully. However, it was noted by this examiner that during the three hour interview, nothing was said by the subject with regards to any feelings that he had regarding the two victims."In 2003, Davis was offered a position in the ministry at his wife's church. Beth Davis is very close with the pastor and the rest of the congregation and some of them have been to the prison to visit Davis. The pastor at the church was so impressed with him that he offered to give him a job when he would be released from custody. He started writing letters to the parole board and even appeared on television in San Luis Obispo stating his support to Davis. It caused some stir in the community and congregation but the pastor did stick to his position and supports him to this day.
Number 2, the significance of alcohol and drugs…:
"The examiner was asked to evaluate the significance of alcohol and drugs as it relates to the commitment offense and to estimate the prisoner's ability to refrain from the use of alcohol and drugs when released. As supported by the subject, the substance abuse was not a significant factor, either in the commitment offense, other than the use of illicit drugs brought him into a relationship with Charles Manson and the Manson Family. The subject does have some prior arrests for possession for marijuana, none of which led to conviction. In regards to his ability to refrain from the use of psychoactive substances, it would appear, based on his testimony about past use, that he would not be a likely candidate for substance abuse in the future."
Number 1, the violence potential in the free community:
"In this session, the risk for future violence by the subject in the free community is assessed through the utilization of objective measures, which utilize both static and dynamic factors. Objective measures are used to avoid some of the pitfalls that can occur. When in such cases as this, on the one hand, public interest in the case. And on the other hand, a subject who has presented a long period of incarceration without any disciplinary action against him and has been able to upgrade himself academically, as well as vocationally. Because of these factors, it would be easy to focus on one area and skew the results inappropriately."
"In presenting the outcome of the subjective assessment, a tripartite model is used. For example, low, moderate, or high risk for future violence. The data indicated across instruments used for this subject, a moderate level of risk of future violence in the free community. Although there might be some impetus to try and resolve this to either a low to moderate level of risk, it is probably more accurate to indicate that this subject's level of risk of future violence in a free community is of the low to moderate level."
Davis kept himself busy throughout 2003 and 2004. He continued to attend self help groups and every program available. For each group meeting and therapy session he attends, he gets a chrono to put in his central file and present to the board. More chronos means more credit with the parole board. He participated in a dual diagnosis therapy group and facilitated NA 12 Step meetings. He continued teaching Bible classes which he still does to this day.
In January of 2004, Davis started attending the Violence Project Basic Workshop and Alternatives to Violence Project which is a self help and educational program specially designed for male inmates. He also started attending the Lifers Group with Dr. Steven Moberg. He had been ordered many years ago to attend Anger management classes after the psychiatric counsel found that he had a high degree of suppressed anger. He continues to this day to attend anger related classes.
Patrick S. Pemerton, a reporter for the Tribune, had attended the last two parole hearings for Davis, who was scheduled for another hearing on April 8, 2004. Pemerton had requested to be present at the hearing and was writing an article on Davis. He contacted Davis himself and went to interview him in prison. He also interviewed several other people related to Davis' case, including his wife Beth, George Denny, Steven Kay and many others. The interview was published only two days before his parole hearing.
In the article, Pemerton described Davis' appearance; "His hair is gray and slicked back, his sunken eyes surrounded by crow's feet. The solemn-faced expression he once displayed during his double murder trial is now replaced by a grandfatherly grin." He said that When Davis talks about the past he will often shake his head and roll his eyes, a gesture that says, "I don't know how it all happened." Davis made a positive impression on Pemerton and he wrote a very positive article on him.
The focus of the interview was the upcoming parole hearing and his plans for the future. After 21 hearings, Davis said, sitting before the parole board can be numbing. "Sometimes when I'm in there, I'm like, `Why am I here?' It's like they know that I know nothing's going to happen. But we sit there and make nice." Davis said he no longer poses a threat to society and has done everything the board has asked. When the killings occurred, Davis said, he knew it was wrong. But he did nothing to stop them."I was never a vicious person, but I was indifferent," he said. "I wanted the immediate approval of the people I was with, and I didn't care what they did."
Steven Kay was also interview for the piece and saw things a little differently. Kay said a recommendation to parole him would lead to public outcry. "I worry about all these Manson family members that participated in murder," Kay said, noting that their crimes were carefully considered and committed while sober. "Something inside each one of them responded to the things that Manson was saying. He was saying stuff that if you or I heard it, we'd want to be a million miles away from the guy." Also, "Davis ran the ranch when Manson was away," Kay then added. "A lot of people think 'Tex' Watson was his chief lieutenant because Tex Watson was the main killer on the night of the Tate-LaBianca murders," Kay said. "But that's not true. Watson was much lower on the totem pole."
Davis was then asked about Charles Manson and his days living on the Spahn ranch. "It was a very satanic thing going on," he said. And though Manson's influence led him to prison, Davis said, "I don't hold anything against him. I wasn't a 9-year-old kid that got manipulated. I was just looking for sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, and to ride on a motorcycle." He also said that occasionally, someone will write Davis, asking about Manson. When he writes back, Davis said he tries to demystify the family. "I say that was a very stupid time in my life," he said. "It was dangerous. I tell them if you think there's any romance in this, you'd better check yourself."
The interview was published one day before his parole hearing and it was picked up by the wire services. It was therefore published all over the country. Pemerton ended the article by writing; "In the meantime, Davis spends much of his free time playing gospel songs on guitar, reading theology books, watching television or working as a clerk in the protestant chapel. He doesn't know yet whether he'll watch the remake of "Helter Skelter," a mini-series scheduled to air on CBS next month."
Davis went before the parole the following day on April 8, 2004. He was accompanied by his attorney and long time friend George Denny who again had travelled from Texas to be present at the hearing. This was the last hearing that Mr. Denny attended for Bruce Davis. He had attended fifteen hearings for him in total since he started representing him again in 1989. Denny was getting older and dealing with medical problems, which made it more difficult for him to travel. Davis was met by a new representative from the DA's office named Kenneth A. Loveman who had never been involved with the case before. Nevertheless, he seemed to be very knowledgeable about the facts and gave a strong argument against release.
The hearing was highly publicized through various media outlets. In the week prior to the hearing Davis granted the interview mentioned above where he discussed his life and the possibility of parole. The interviewer was present at the hearing, like he had been for the past two years, to write a follow-up. Two reporters from the San Luis Obispo Tribune were also present as well as a still photographer. KSBY, Channel 6, Action News were representing the television media and sent a reporter and a camera crew. A video feed was sent via satellite to the other local news stations who reported on the story.
In his closing statement to the board, Davis said, "I'm absolutely sorry for everything that I've done but I have hope of life beyond this place, with my wife and daughter, with the community." Despite his tearful apologies and positive psychiatric report, the board again denied his application for release and handed him a one year denial. There was nothing he could do except accept the verdict and go on with his day-to-day life at the prison.
On Sunday May 16, 2004 at 5:00 PM west coast time, CBS premiered a new remake of "Helter Skelter," the successful 1976 TV miniseries about the trial and track down of Charles Manson and his followers. Davis admittedly sat through the whole thing. He wrote to a friend that it was "ridiculous" and "very inaccurate." "There are just too many flaws to count," Davis said about the film. All the other incarcerated Manson followers also, reportedly watched the film. 'Tex' Watson even wrote an editorial review on his website where he rated the actors and certain events in the film for accuracy by giving them stars. It was in an especially poor taste.
In 2005 Davis went through a Parenting course that was being offered at the prison. He was very impressed with the program and volunteered to become a teacher. Once a week he would teach parenting classes to the inmates. Davis continued his involvement in Yokefellows which he had been doing since it started in 1981. It is a Christian based peer counseling group where they talk about what is going on in their personal lives. According to Davis they are interested in emotional and spiritual maturing and the focus is being accountable for your actions. They meet for ninety minutes once every week and because of popularity in recent years there are several groups that are active in the prison.
Davis had been in and out of Narcotics Anonymous and 12 Step groups for many years but in 2005 he was very active. He became involved in the dual diagnosis NA group as a moderator in C Quad. He also started attending a 12 Step group that meets daily. Up until June 2005, Davis had primarily been involved with NA but a friend of his in the prison suggested that he come to a meeting. He said that the atmosphere had changed a lot and the people were a lot more self motivated and not forced like it had been in the past, when Davis was attending the meetings. He gave it chance and started attending AA meetings regularly from that point.
After speaking with Steven Kay who came to the prison, Davis decided it was time to try to make amends to the families of Gary Hinman and 'Shorty' Shea. George Denny had previously tried unsuccessfully to contact the families but was unsuccessful. Steven Kay offered to forward the letters to Gary's remaining family and the remaining family of 'Shorty' Shea. His mother had passed away several years ago, so the letter was sent to other family members in Boston. In the letters he told them who he was, what he did, and that he was sorry for having participated in the murders. He said he didn't ask for their forgiveness because "it would be sort of a demand on them."
On September 29, 2005, Davis was denied parole again and another review was scheduled in one year. This was the first time in fifteen years that Davis went before the board without George Denny. Denny decided to call it quits and let another attorney have a go since he was aging and in retirement. He was also dealing with health problems that prevented him to travel as much. Denny did not renew his law license and is no longer licensed to practice law in the state of California. Representing Davis was a younger attorney named Michael Beckman. The 2005 hearing also marked the first time that Patrick Sequeira came in representing the DA's office at one of Davis' hearings
SPLIT VOTE: GOING ENBANK
As of 2006, Davis was working in the Protestant Chapel as assistant pastor and chapel clerk. His work reports were excellent. His custody level remained at Medium A and classification score was zero. He had been completely disciplinary free now for 14 years. His last infraction was in 1992. Davis also volunteered at the prison hospital counseling terminally ill patients.
Davis had a good friend on the outside who is a landscaping contractor with several crews working for him on his payroll. When Davis was preparing for his upcoming board hearing in 2006, his friend offered him a job supervising one of the crews when he got out of prison. He wrote a letter to the board to substantiate the job offer. Davis also had two other job offers which are still available to him to this day. One offer has been available to him for many years and that is working at the LA Long Beach Harbor working for the marine executive who is a friend of his. The third job offer is working in his wife's church for the Pismo Beach pastor in the New Life Community Church. The pastor even announced the job offer on live television when Davis went before the board in 2004. He reportedly got a lot of heat for it.
In early 2006, Beth Davis retired from Delta Airlines after 32 years working for them as an airline stewardess. She was able to get a nice pension from the company to live on. Before she retired she was able to start off a business that she ran from her home. It involved designing and manufacturing various items. It was successful and she was able to earn some money doing that.
On August 24, 2006, Davis met with the prison psychiatrist to do an evaluation for the Board of Parole Hearings as it was now called. The report was done by Cynthia Glines, senior staff psychologist. Another doctor came in to test Davis on various risk assessment techniques. The report was very positive where the doctor stated:
"Current mental status: The thought process was logical, goal-oriented and reality based. He did not appear to be responding to internal stimuli. There were no indications of a gross impairment or acute distress. Since his last evaluation Mr. Davis continued to participate in Yokefellows peer counseling program, participated in interfaith 12-step program. Also taught CMC School of Bible course, parenting. He is not a participant of the mental health delivery systems, no therapy recommendations."Davis went before the Board of Parole Hearings on August 31, 2006. He was represented by Michael Beckman. Patrick Sequeira was representing the district attorney's office. James Davis, who is the chairman of the board, was on the two member panel, along with commissioner Rolando Mejia. There were no media representatives at the hearing and not even a public information officer. The hearing itself lasted over three hours.
"In the risk for violence: Dr. Livingston used a semi-structured interview and three objective instruments to assess Mr. Davis' risk for future violence, the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, the HCR-20, the VRAG Appraisal Guide. With all these three instruments Dr. Livingston concluded that the risk for recidivism for a violent crime while in the free community was within the low to moderate range Dr. Livingston's results were reviewed. Since that evaluation there have been no significant changes that will alter his findings. Thus the risk for recidivism on a violent crime while in the free community is within the low to moderate range."
During the hearing, deputy D.A. Patrick Sequeira was permitted to ask Davis a few questions. He asked him if he believed in Manson's theory of Helter Skelter to which Davis responded: "I thought it was a joke, until somebody actually got hurt. I laughed at Charlie, I said, that's stupid. How can you even, where's your head at? I mean, I thought it was crazy. I couldn't believe anybody took him serious. Of course my behavior and staying there with him you would have thought I was taking it serious but that was way far out." Sequeira later noted that it was interesting that Davis could laugh at Charlie when he discussed his philosophies but was not able to resist when asked to participate in murder.
Davis was also asked if he had any contact with Manson Family members since his incarceration. He replied that he had stopped all communication in the mid 70's but would occasionally get letters from people, "there was a guy who was kind of in the fringes. He wasn't busted for anything but he wasn't, you know, he was in the fringes. His name was Larry Melton and he got busted in Texas a few years ago and he wrote me some letters. And he was so far out I just quit writing. I don't even remember him ever being involved with the family."
When questioned further by Sequeira, Davis denied being Manson's right hand man or having any influence at the ranch. Sequeira then asked, "In fact, Barbara Hoyt, also wrote a letter to the board for a previous hearing that also indicated you were Charles' right hand man. Is that also incorrect?" Davis responded that she was "incorrect." Sequeira then tried to ask additional questions but Davis was obviously put off and refused to answer them, by either referring to the record or simply refusing. His attorney also jumped in and stopped each question from the DA saying that he was instructing his client not to answer.
Michael Beckman was very arrogant during his closing summation and compared the Board of Parole Hearings and their process to Nazi Germany and went on say, "The issue here today is whether or not this process is a sham or not. Before I get into that I want you to meet my client. His name is Bruce Davis. His name is not Charles Manson. And I say this because there seems to have been some confusion about that fact at past Board Hearings. It is the only possible way that this man has spent nearly 36 years in jail when he never killed anybody. There can't be any other explanation than mistaken identity because this is the United States of America. In the United States of America we don't imprison men for 36 years for being an accessory." The panel was obviously put off by his comments and stated so during their decision.
Davis was given a chance to address the panel before they went into deliberations. "I've sat through these hearings for the last 20 years being told by many, and having been found suitable by one individual, that you're doing the right thing, keep it up, and I believe that. And having learned to take instruction I continue to do that. I have been through this situation as stated over and over again 20-odd times. I do admit of having some cynicism and sadness and disappointment and real questions about the integrity of the situation," Davis told the board. "I think that in the future when you parole me I think you'll be proud of this decision. I think you're going to get a lot of heat. I think it might be hard to represent to your peers, it might be very difficult. And I don't envy your task if you should choose it. I can only say I can guarantee you as far as my word is any good that you will be glad you did it," he concluded. "I pray you do the right thing."
The panel spent a long time in deliberations debating the issue. After almost ninety minutes they returned with a split decision. Commissioner Mejia voted for release and found Davis to be suitable for parole. Presiding commissioner and chairman of the board James Davis found Bruce Davis to be danger to society and unsuitable for parole, citing the brutality and enormity of the life crime and his unstable social history. But he added,
"With regard to institutional behavior, I don't think anyone can take this away from you, Mr. Davis. You have, starting in 1980 you have an excellent record of behavior while in the institution." It was Commissioner Davis' position that Bruce Davis still minimized his role in the murders.
Commissioner Mejia then read his decision and stated that, "the prisoner is suitable for parole and would not pose an unreasonable risk of danger to society or a threat to public safety if released from prison. First I must say that my decision was not swayed or persuaded by your attorney." Mejia had been on the panel in 2004 so he was familiar with the C-file and Davis' past and current history. He then went on to say, "It's like I told during deliberation, if I was a victim I would say you should rot in here, you should never get out. It's really heinous, horrific. I was growing up when I'm hearing about all of these murders and I could not take that away from the crime that you committed. However, it was 36 years ago; I don't think you can change that. It happened and it's done. What I look at is your ability to function back to society."
In calculating the time that Davis should do in addition to the 36 years, he decided the total additional term should be 376 months. But with good time credits he reduced it to 248 months which is about 20 years. If this decision would have been affirmed Davis would get released in 2026. According to the California law, when granted parole, murderers get at least 7 years extra for each life that is taken. The number goes up when you add aggravation, motive and brutality.
Because of the split decision the case would go en banc before the entire parole board in Sacramento. En Banc meetings are held once a month at the headquarters of the Board of Parole Hearings in Sacramento and such hearings are open to the public. Any member of the public can attend and voice their concerns regarding a particular case. The full board consists of seventeen commissioners and during each en banc review they consider several split cases. Inmates are not present during en banc reviews, only their attorneys, prosecutors, family members, and any member of the public who wants to attend.
Davis and his family were very hopeful this time around. A lot of their supporters were praying for a positive outcome. Davis had never made it this far before, so this was certainly a big moment for him. In preparing for the hearing, Davis's attorney Michael Beckman spoke with Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey C. Jonas by telephone. Jonas had been removed from the case in 1997 after he recommended parole for Davis and misrepresented the DA's office's official position. Jonas gave Beckman permission to quote him at the upcoming en-bank parole hearing. He said: "Of all the Manson defendants that I met, Bruce Davis is the most viable candidate for parole." He further added, "Compared to Bobby Beausoleil, 'Tex Watson' and the Manson Girls in prison, Bruce Davis is a saint."
The first part of the en banc review took place on October 17, 2006, in Sacramento. Davis' wife testified before the board as well as many of his longtime supporters and friends. Beth Davis said that her husband is being unfairly punished for his relationship with Manson, when he was a young man addled by drugs. "He was forced by Manson to participate in the slayings," she said. "They all got involved, and there's no denying it. But I am very proud of who Bruce has become. The person you think of thirty-six years ago, I just don't know that man. I never did, I've never seen him. He's always acted in kindness." In Davis' family and supporters, several prison counselors testified as well.
In attendance was Debra Tate, the sister of Sharon Tate, who since the passing of her mother Doris, has kept up a public campaign to keep Sharon's killers behind bars. She is not allowed to attend any parole hearings for Bruce Davis because he was not involved in her sister's murder. She was able to attend as a member of the public and had been notified by the District Attorney. Following the hearing she spoke with reporters. "This man should not be given the opportunity to perform in a free society. He should remain in controlled environment for the term of life…These people were all declared to be sociopaths. There is no recovery from this kind of mental illness," said Debra Tate, who lives in the Los Angeles area and is the last surviving member of her immediate family. "I'm concerned for the safety of the community. It's very important to me that we do everything possible to keep serial killers and repeat killers in jail," she told reporters.
All the local Sacramento television stations covered the hearing as well as the wire services including the Associated Press who sent a reporter and photographer. Patrick Sequeira spoke with reporters after the hearing and compared the Manson Family to other domestic terrorist organizations. "They tried to make it look as if a Black Panther did the Hinman murder to start a race war. How can you ever trust someone like that," Sequeira said.
Instead of rendering a decision that day the hearing was to continue on November 20, 2006. The delay was a result of less than 10 days notice of the agenda for the October meeting. The DA and other members of the public would be allowed to speak at that hearing including those that were in opposition, before the board would announce its decision that same day.
Before the November 20th hearing, Patrick Sequeira contacted Barbara Hoyt after he had read her letter in the file. She agreed to come with him and Debra and testify before the board. Hoyt was shockingly obese and unrecognizable from old pictures. At the hearing she and Debra Tate sat together with the others that were in opposition. Beth Davis and the supporters were on the other side of the room. KCRA, Channel 3 filmed the hearing and fed the video to the other local stations, that also reported on it.
Davis' supporters told the board he was a reformed man who deserved to be freed. "He's a changed man, and he deserves an opportunity," said Jeffrey York, who ministers to inmates and has visited Davis in prison for 16 years. Others said Davis should be paroled because questions surround how deeply he was involved in the murders for which he was convicted. ''He didn't kill anybody,'' Donald Miller, a paralegal who has known Davis for 15 years, told the board. ''Bruce said, 'No.'... He later did stab a victim superficially -- not deep enough to draw blood.''
Prosecutor Patrick Sequeira and Debra Tate said there was no question about Davis' guilt and argued he should remain imprisoned. They recounted in graphic detail his role in the gruesome murders. Patrick Sequeira told the board that Davis held a gun to Hinman's head as Manson nearly cut off the musician's ear with a sword. Debra Tate also testified that Davis should never be released and talked about the impact that the Manson Family had on the victims as well as society. ''Mr. Davis was one tentacle of a unified monster,'' she told the board.
At the hearing, Barbara Hoyt walked to the podium to read a prepared statement. She was sometimes in tears when she told the story how she awoke to Shea's ''loud, bloodcurdling scream'' as he was being killed. "After a few seconds, the screams started again. They seemed to last forever. I can still hear Shorty Shea's screams. After 37 years, Shorty Shea has never stopped screaming." She went on to say, "The victims mean absolutely nothing to the Family…It was not a gentle murder,'' Hoyt told the prison board. ''There were chop marks and slash marks in his bones.''
After a short debate the entire parole board rendered a unanimous decision that Bruce Davis was still unsuitable for parole and posed an unreasonable risk to public safety if released from prison. Beth Davis looked visibly upset as they read their decision. Following the hearing, Davis' supporters said they were outraged by the decision and said "it all comes down to politics. Davis' wife, Beth, said outside the hearing that while her husband was involved in the slayings, he now views Manson as ''a very sick and evil person.'
Debra Tate was interviewed by KCRA News following the hearing and said she was very happy with the outcome. "It's the right decision." She was asked why she continues going to these hearings time after time. She responded, "The victims, the ones that are in their graves, need to have a voice." Patrick Sequeira was also interviewed and said there should be no possibility of parole for multiple murderers. "Is it any different from any other terrorist organization? No! Back then we weren't as tuned in to domestic terrorism as we are today. That's what they were. They were domestic terrorists. They were trying to start a race war."
Davis was waiting anxiously in his prison cell at the California Men's Colony while the hearing was taking place and the board deliberated on his fate. He was not allowed to be present. Shortly after the hearing concluded he received the long anticipated phone call from his attorney telling him that they rejected his bid for parole. Davis wrote to a friend that he became very hopeless after this setback. Although he had realized years ago that reaching the goal wasn't going to be easy, he became very depressed.
DAVIS TODAY: "SO I'M LOOKING AT 'LIFE WITHOUT,' RIGHT?"
In 2007, Davis was involved in a variety of programs including Bible studies and the Interfaith NA/AA Program for Christians. He was also very active in the 12 Step Program and attended AA/NA meetings and a Christian 12 Step group. Davis also took advantage of several individual therapy sessions and psychotherapy. He continued to be a moving force in Yokefellows and teaching Bible classes to other inmates
Davis continued his course in parenting where he took additional classes. Today his classification score remains at zero and he continues to be a model prisoner. His custody level as of 2007 remains at Medium A and won't get any lower because of his commitment offense. He continues to be involved with peer counseling where he counsels other inmates and volunteering at the hospital counseling terminally ill patients.
In the spring of 2007, Davis met with Dr. Livingston for the 2007 psychiatric evaluation. The doctor wrote a report that appeared to be quite favorable in some respects but unfavorable in other areas. The doctor seemed to be hesitant to state that Davis would pose no threat to the public. He says risk factors are low for future violence; Dr. Livingston used a semi- structured interview, including objective instruments in assessing the risk of future violence, the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised and the Violence Risk Appraisal Guide. On each instrument an individual may be scored as low, moderate or high. The doctor concluded that, "the risk for recidivism on a violent crime such as Mr. Davis is convicted of is in the low to moderate range."
"Based on the Board's request, the examiner found that the use of alcohol, drugs and other psychoactive substances was related to this offense but subject denies that he was addicted. As reported by subject, substance use was not a significant factor in the commitment offense other than the use of illicit drugs was prevalent during the time he was with Charlie Manson and the Manson Family. However, subject does have some prior arrests for possession of marijuana, none of which led to conviction… If subject should be released from custody, he should refrain from use of psychoactive substances. He would appear, based on his testimony and about past use that he would not be a likely candidate for substance abuse in the near future should he continue to seek therapy and self help groups in the community."Davis went before the parole board for the twenty-seventh time on September 7, 2007. Things didn't look very promising for him after being denied by the entire board the previous year. Again, Davis was represented by Michael Beckman. Patrick Sequeira was representing the DA's Office. The two board members had never sat on his case before but had read all the transcripts. There was no television media or reporters at the hearing. At the onset, Davis and his attorney stated that they would not be answering any questions from the District Attorney and Davis refused to answer any questions related to the actual crimes. It was an unusual step for Mr. Davis because he has always been willing to discuss most areas. It was quite obvious from the record that he did not like the newest member sent from the DA's office.
"Inasmuch as subject did not present me with any mental or psychiatric disorder, there is no indication of a need for psychotherapy, however, any participation in therapy as well as other relevant workshops and programs would probably be to his benefit on the outside and continue personal growth. Undersigned assessed the absence or presence of psychopathy in Mr. Davis, the results indicated a score at the high end of the moderate range which would be considered a little below the average male inmate and the data further analyzed the sub factors, particularly anti-social features and self absorbed lifestyle in regards to his religious practices presented narcissistic traits higher than the average inmate offender, and antisocial characteristics are below than what is found in the average male offender."
"Undersigned was asked to address the extent to which the inmate has explored the commitment offense and come to terms with underlying causes. It appears that subject has done some exploration regarding the crimes through the years although he has a tendency to minimize as evident by the various prior reports and his own testimony. He would benefit from further self-examination as well as involvement in self-help groups and therapy programs."
"Inmate Davis readily acknowledged the context between his own father who was a very negative and critical and Charles Manson who was very affirming and reinforcing. He identifies this as a primary contributor to his being involved with the group. It was noted by this examiner that during the three-hour interview nothing was said by subject in regard to any feelings that he had regarding the two victims."
The hearing started with countless objections from Davis and his attorney. They objected to the matrix, claiming that Davis has served a term well beyond the minimum sentence and beyond the matrix in actual time served. They also objected to the burden of proof by allowing the Board use of so called aggravated facts of the life crime, prior record, and social history occurring decades ago as the sole basis for denying him parole. They claim that Title fifteen violates the Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. They also objected to the composition of the panel in its entirety because the penal code requires that the Board consists of a cross-section of Californians and that it was not possible for Davis to receive a fair and impartial hearing because the board was heavily weighted towards people who are inclined to deny parole.
For the entire four hour hearing, Davis's attorney, Michael Beckman and deputy DA Patrick Sequeira were in a constant argument, calling each other names, degrading and shouting insults at each other. The Presiding Commissioner Ms. Darcel Woods said at one point, "We are not going to have a pissing contest here!" Beckman objected relentlessly when Sequeira was trying to establish that Davis was supposedly Manson's second in command and said, "This is ridiculous. He did the same thing at the Leslie Van Houten hearing last week. He tried to make them believe he was Charles Manson's right hand man."
This shows that there is obviously a link between Bruce Davis and people representing Leslie Van Houten. Leslie's hearing took place only several days prior to this one and no transcript had been produced at that time. Sequeira's closing argument at that hearing was not broadcast or streamed live over the internet. This indicates that either Leslie or some of her people, most likely Christie Webb, must have contacted Davis or Beckman to warn them about the DA's latest tactics because Leslie was extremely upset as a result of his behavior at that hearing, which left her in tears. She told one friend, "He's awful!" It has been known for many years that many of the defense attorneys are in contact with each other and follow closely what is going on in each case.
The board rendered its decision at 5:30 in the afternoon after spending almost thirty minutes in deliberations. Davis was given his twenty-second consecutive one year denial since and the board based its decision almost solely on the commitment offense. Despite an attempt by the district attorney to claim that Davis hadn't changed one bit and was the same person he was when he was with Manson, the board obviously didn't take much credence to that because they commended him for his exceptional programming stating, "I have nothing but compliments for you. Despite other comments, you have excellent work ratings and an excellent attitude. You took steps to improve yourself in prison and not many inmates do that."
Davis appeared more hopeless than devastated at the conclusion of the hearing. At 64, with not that many good years left in his life he must have felt the realness of his situation as he stood up following the reading of the decision, on his way out, when he turned to the panel and said, "Okay. Okay. So I'm looking at life without, right? Well, you know, that's what it boils down, because the past is not going to change, is it." Then the commissioner responded, "No, it's not going to change, sir."
Since he was denied parole on September 6, 2007, Davis has remained a model prisoner at the California Men's Colony. He will turn 65 this year (2008) and his next hearing is scheduled for September 2008. According to information I received, Davis and his attorney are preparing a law suit or petition to be filed later this year. Davis has been considering taking his case to court for a few years now and try to get released from prison that way. In recent years, many inmates have been successful using that method. Many courts have forced the parole board to release inmates despite their objections and judges have overruled the governor's decision to block parole, stating that it violates the law as well as the constitution.
Today Davis works in the Protestant Prison Chapel as assistant pastor and spends his free time writing and composing religious gospel songs on his guitar, reading books and corresponding with friends and family. His daughter Taylor is now sixteen years old.
***Many thanks to my assistant Bibian for help with editing.
Court of Appeals Decision 9th Circuit , 1981,
Court of Appeals Decision 9th Circuit , 1983,
People Vs. Bruce M. Davis, Trial transcript (excerpts)
People Vs. Manson, Grogan & Davis, - Daily Trial Log
Bruce Davis Biography, transcript f. Tracy Reception Center
1971-1973 Psychiatric Evaluations
Judith Davis interview, compl transcript
Bill Nelson personal letters package
Manson Family background report
Inyo County Police Reports, Barker/Myers Raids, Michigan Loader arson
Davis violation PC 496 report
1978 Subsequent Parole Consideration Hearing Transcript
1979 Subsequent Parole Consideration Hearing Transcript
1980 Subsequent Parole Consideration Hearing Transcript
1981 Subsequent Parole Consideration Hearing Transcript
1982 Subsequent Parole Consideration Hearing Transcript
1984 Subsequent Parole Consideration Hearing Transcript
1985 Subsequent Parole Consideration Hearing Transcript
1987 Subsequent Parole Consideration Hearing Transcript
1988 Subsequent Parole Consideration Hearing Transcript
1989 Subsequent Parole Consideration Hearing Transcript
1991 Subsequent Parole Consideration Hearing Transcript
1992 Subsequent Parole Consideration Hearing Transcript
1993 Subsequent Parole Consideration Hearing Transcript
1994 Subsequent Parole Consideration Hearing Transcript
1996 Subsequent Parole Consideration Hearing Transcript
1997 Subsequent Parole Consideration Hearing Transcript
1998 Subsequent Parole Consideration Hearing Transcript
2000 Subsequent Parole Consideration Hearing Transcript
2001 Subsequent Parole Consideration Hearing Transcript
2002 Subsequent Parole Consideration Hearing Transcript
2003 Subsequent Parole Consideration Hearing Transcript
2004 Subsequent Parole Consideration Hearing Transcript
2005 Subsequent Parole Consideration Hearing Transcript
2006 Subsequent Parole Consideration Hearing Transcript
2007 Subsequent Parole Consideration Hearing Transcript
1994 Parole Hearing Video
1997 Parole Hearing Video
1998 Parole Hearing Video
2000 Parole Hearing Video
2006 Parole Hearing Video (excerpts)
5 To Die, Davis & LeBlanc
Helter Skelter, Bugliosi/Gentry
The Family, Sanders
Manson In His Own Words, Emmons
Child of Satan, Child of God, Atkins/Slosser
The Killing of Sharon Tate, Schiller/Atkins
The Manson Zodiac Connection, Davis
My Life with Charles Manson, Watkins
Manson Behind The Scenes, Nelson
Alone With the Devil, Markman
Will You Die For Me, Watson
Prison Groupies, Lindecker
Personal correspondence between Davis and various parties
Bobby Beausoleil interview
KCRA Channel 3, Sacramento
Bruce Davis Audio tapes, interview
Telephone audio interview
BBC, British Broadcasting Corporation
William Scanlon Murphy
Beth Carras, Court TV
ABC Video Source
Los Angeles Times Archives
CNN Video Source
Associated Press News Archive
Manson: The Man Who Killed the 60's
KCBS/KCAL Television Archives
*** Many articles, documents, prison reports, books and other works were also used. It would take forever to list.
I am only half way through reading this (taking ages due to the length!), but would like to say a big thank you to the blog reader who has made this available. The degree of detail is stunning.
It looks like Davis' involvement in Shorty's death was much more than he admits to the Parole Board. It could be his suspected role in murdering Zero that keeps the Governor's office from freeing him.
I can't understand why the Parole Board keep putting him through, but denying Leslie, when it looks like he had a much bigger role to play in the Family's nefarious activities.
Interesting that Nuel Emmons claims CM told him it was Bruce who returned with him to Cielo. That would explain the witness who claimed hearing two men with Southern accents.
Overall, Bruce should stay right where he is.
Yes, this is a lot to digest in one sitting. Bret was a terrific historian.
I agree with you on Bruce's degree of involvement. Same thing with Watson. Watson always uses that 7 word, as though he wasn't involved in Shorty's slaying. Boggles my mind that you can admit to 7 but can't cross that line to 8, 9 or 10.
Has anyone ever found out why Tex wasn't charged with Shorty's murder because it looks like he was hugely complicit in his usual role of Sir Stabalot?
Again, I can't understand why Clem wasn't charged for the LaBianca killings when Linda K was charged for her presence in the car that night.
I am carrying on reading the other half and am looking forward to the coming weeks. It would be great if your blog reader was able to share additional material from the site because this was an amazing resource which deserves to still be out there.
Superb post. Being an amateur at all this I had never previously realised that at one time Bruce and Tex were basically running a chapel together inside. That makes me feel kind of sick.
It's a pity 'God' didn't speak directly to Bruce about not participating in murders, but at least he eventually got round to warning Bruce off smoking weed and getting high. Well done God!
This was very impressive but kind of depressing. I'm not sure what to make of it; at some points I actually felt sympathy for Davis (post-prison) but I always have a huge level of suspicion with prisoners who 'find God', and he clearly still isn't fully ready to come to terms with what he actually did. He doesn't want to face it and religion is his way of ignoring that issue lurking at the back of his mind, it absolves him of it. He probably shouldn't be realeased- it would be too late by now, anyway, what could he do with his life?
At least he does not appear anywhere near as bad as Tex. I mean... Tex "rated rated the actors and certain events in the [Helter Skelter miniseries remake] for accuracy by giving them stars"?? That doesn't show an inability to face responsibility for his actions, it shows a complete detachment from reality and from basic empathy and compassion altogether. That struck me as one of the most awful parts of all this (I mean, besides the murders, obviously..). Fucking awful.
This is a great read. The part where Bruce distances himself from Manson after seeing him on the prison bus is especially fascinating. I would love to see a timeline created pinpointing the times where family members disown Manson, and the reason why they eventually do so.
WOW, where does one begin ? Or what really happened to BRET ? Was HE just another internet inmaginary figure ( a kind'a reverse action troll ) ? A thin tall man ? How about: which big an bad MANSON associate "allegedly" murdered HIM ? Where's Ed Sanders when you need a good story teller ?
"I" did NOT talk to FBI agents - Merrick did and maybe that got HIM suicided ! I actually emailed that story to Bret - so how did HE get it wrong ?
When I originally read HIS B. Davis story ( many years ago) I thought "Oh Shit, what the fuck is this guy trying to do - get himself KILLED." ?
This is a perfect example of exactly WHY the "Col" will likely NEVER get the TRUTH he craves for.
EVERYTHING is a STORY ! "Transformers" are imaginary figures, Justice is a DREAM.
Equality is a numbers game. Love is a FOUR letter word. This is a "WRITER's" world.
NEWS is entertainment.
The infamous HISTORY Channel is putting out a show on the history of TEXAS called "Texas Rising" AND one reviewer can't believe ALL the out-an-out UN-truths displayed in the program. BUT the History Channel has "low-bidders" create stories for IT.
Thanks Matt You have OPENNED the door wide enough for even "The Dancing Man" to wiggle on in !
I apologise that I forgot to say Rest In Peace to Brett. Much too young to be gone.
Vermouth - I agree that it is annoying when murderers claim they have found God (and then wonder why he was hiding from them for so long!). I am sufficiently cynical to say that Bruce's ministry might be helping him to get past the California Parole because I have read elsewhere that there is a fair representation of fundamental Christians on US parole boards. In Tex's case, however, nothing could help him - the American people would be up in arms if he got past the CPB. Amen. Having said that, Tex's Born Again Christian routine may mean he gets more freedom of movement, and better treatment, in a penitentiary than Charlie.
I've long been fascinated by Bret. Part of it is probably that Iceland is my all-time favorite country. But clearly Bret had both humongous talent and heart. It beyond sucks that he is not here, we could have learned so much from him. Thanks for the post, Matt.
I am speechless. This is amazing. I missed Bret's site altogether and was just wondering the other day if any info from there would ever surface again.
Thank you SO much to all involved for sharing it and to Matt for posting it.
pardon me while I get this computer issue worked out lol
Brett's site was my induction into this community. I read it for over a year before posting my first opinion. I watched the girls grow up over the years in video's of their parole hearings, learned of the other books and movies about the case, and became aware of these blogs and websites- all from the many hours I spent reading over there.
Cielo Drive is the only site I could compare it with today. Cielo is a must read if your interested in this case in my opinion. Brett's site was like that- and actually made me aware of CieloDrive.com in the first place.
It should have been preserved :)
Happy Memorial Day to all of those who served and continue to serve
How long after Bret published this, did HE get suicided ? Anyone
I wonder why whoever removed Brett's site took that action. You would think they would want it left on as a 'tribute' to him. It does not appear to be available through the Wayback facility.
I find it unusual that he was a relatively young guy and resident in Iceland, but able to get more information than the US based web researchers. For example, he got the heads up about the paroled Clem using an alias!
Equinox, maybe one day we'll be able to get that site available again. That would be great.
As far as "able to get more information than the US based web researchers", that was before Deb came along :)
Matt: I' like to know what YOUR thoughts are regarding Bret's demise.
Obviously, nobody else seems to be much interested.
I find it very interesting that Zero, Merrick, Howard and BRET all were closely connected to the Manson Gang's Circle of exploits and ALL met with QUESTIONABLE deaths. And ALL "fucked" wih the most notorious STILL living Gang of the 20th Century.
For ME, I knew Bret crossed the line and actually entered the kingdom of the "underworld" when HE outed Clem and "fucked" with Bruce. Maybe HE thought he was in-vince-able ?
Robert, Bret died of a heroin overdose according to his family. He was an addict. Heroin overdoses resulting in death probably happen more often than overdoses with other drugs for various reasons. It's deadly stuff.
Hey Matt if you didn't receive my emails this morning please message me your envelope was left on my porch early this morning
Thanks Deb. BUT that sure leaves some relevant questions.OPEN.
I used to comunicate with Bret (via email) quite often AND never suspected herion addiction. ME thinks there is a STORY there.
AND for those that don't understand, "herion" (while high) places you in heaven, BUT when down you are in Hell. Real problem is: To get high, YOU must enter the kingdom of the "underworld." From which there is NO safe return.
Can anyone guess how this all relates to the MANSON world ?
Brett wasn't "suicided" thanks for the glib heartless needless comment Robert. Your brain farts do not have to be preserved on the internet you know.
At the time someone offered me his site- like on a CD- and I said no. Bad move.
PS- you have to move 90% of this shit off the front page somehow- it destroys the flow big time
Plenty of people manage to live very functional lives while being addicts, it depends on a combination of factors- the drug being used, how they obtain it (street drugs vs. legal highs/OTC medicationss vs. prescription drugs), level of use, personal lifestyle (exercise, diet, etc.), income, and support networks. William Burroughs was addicted to opiates his entire life and lived into his 80s. He is an exception, but heroin (like most opiates) is remarkably safe if it is clinically pure and (duh) not taken in overdose- it causes no organ damage (alcohol causes plenty). The big dangers from opiate addiction are:
-Use escalating due to tolerance (needing more & more to get high)- this increases chances of overdose
-Lifestyle deteriorating as the person's personality and behaviours become drug-centric (exercising & eating less, eating crap, spending money on dope rather than food, rent). This can lead to serious physical & psychological health issues long-term.
-Depression as a result of guilt/changes in neurochemistry, leading to suicide.
Point is, someone can appear perfectly normal to everyone around them and still be an opiate addict. It is not like being addicted to meth, or LSD. I admitted to someone here recently that I was addicted to hallucinogens for years and it was absolutely devastating, it was impossible for me to be functional in any capacity while permanently tripping. The one thing I took away from that time of my life is that Timothy Leary is a fucking idiot.
What I did not admit is that a couple years back I slipped into old behaviours & currently have dependency issues (code for "I am an addict") with mild opiates. I also have tertiary qualifications, hold down two public service jobs, eat healthily & exercise regularly (although less than before addiction), and nobody 'knows'- anyone who 'knows' I have problems in my life just thinks they are general 'mental health issues'. Despite my 'mental health issues' I am not disconnected from reality, though, I know my use is detrimental & am doing everything I can atm to quit. This isn't an apologia for opiate addiction.
The point of this incessant narcissistic droning about my life-story is that there's likely no conspiracy here, a man or woman is capable of appearing 'normal' and functional while still being addicted to opiates. Opiates lure people in with the promise of Heaven (as Robert said), and then they kill them (yes, I see the Manson connection- I would also say that "addiction to Manson" gave his followers a great buzz & helped cloud their minds to reality & their own deep-rooted problems for a long time... the same way born-again Christianity is doing now). Opiates are fucking awful drugs. Stay away from them. But they're not necessarily an indicator of conspiracy... the hidden story to Bret's life is probably one of someone with problems seeking their answer in a needle or a pill. I would be surprised if it's anything more than that, and as we're all just speculating discussing his death in this fashion is probably in bad taste (said the person who just wrote three paragraphs on it).
Oh, and of course I forgot the biggest danger from opiate addiction:
-Dangers inherent in opiates (usually heroin) sold on the street- awful impurities & not knowing how strong your dose is, leading to a higher probability of overdose.
If anyone here is having problems with opiate use, research loperamide (often sold in pharmacies as Immodium, it is very cheap & you don't need a prescription). It is a miracle drug, a much better alternative than methadone or suboxone.
Vermouth: Thank you for articulating your intelligent understanding of a very distasteful subject.
NO question: I crossed the line. My apologies to ALL.
P.S. Charles MANSON would NOT allow "herion" or the like around the Family. Now that makes sense.
I thought little Paul Watkins mentioned they occasionally smoked a little Opium ? No it's definitely not Herion but a strong Opiate still the same
Vermouth in my humble opinion Suboxone is a wonder drug for those Knocking on Neil's cellar door if you don't understand the reference it's classic rock 101
When I was a kid, and paregoric was available without a prescription, my mother would give it to me when I had diarrhea. There was a lady in our small town said to have bought it in quantity because she was addicted. It's interesting that paregoric's successor can be used to fight addiction. Thanks for the information.
What motivated Patrick Sequeira to be so vicious towards Bruce Davis? Didn't he finally get removed from being the DA's office representative? Another thing I wonder about is Barbara Hoyt. Who, if anyone did she hear screaming that night? Why would she have been sleeping in one of the trailers by herself? Didn't they all sleep together? Didn't Ruby Pearl see the "Manson guys" surround Shorty right before she left in the evening to go home? Does it really matter what time Shorty was killed? Why has that been such a big factor? Questions, Questions, Questions......
Am I right in thinking Sequeira resigned quickly over the Tex Watson tapes? Didn't PS promise Tom O'Neill that he (PS) would get him access to the tapes because without O'Neill, LAPD and LADA would not have known about the tapes' existence? In the end, O'Neill continued to pursue PS, but never got near the tapes. You could argue that it was a promise PS should never have made.
Sequeira seems to be vicious to them all - he made mincemeat of Bobby B. He is probably an ambitious career prosecutor trying to make a name for himself.
Like you, I can't see the relevance of the time of Shorty's death, nor can I understand why Hoyt continues to turn up. She adds nothing to the proceedings.
Bobby doesn't even need Sequeira there to sabotage a parole hearing. As soon as he opens his mouth and starts arguing with people, labeling the victim a drug dealer, then saying what a bad ass artist he is, it tends to piss the parole board off. Bruce sounds like he used to be a little arrogant, but has chilled out since. What I don't understand is why he never told the authorities where Shorty was buried. He might not have known the exact spot, but he knew the vicinity. All those people knew, including a lot of the girls. Gypsy could of even been there when Shorty was killed, because she helped get rid of evidence. The whole thing was sickening.
As to Holt;
I don't know, even if she never said a word ...just sitting there would be speaking volumes to me. I would be sitting in there respectfully trying to figure her out.
Even if silent, I imagine her flesh and blood preamble being along the the lines of... these MF'ERS tried to kill me too, so I'm present my vote is NO.
AustinAnn, I have been reading my way through the parole hearings, and the issue you raise about Bruce not telling LE the whereabouts of Shorty's remains had occurred to me also. However, it could be that he has tried to minimize his role in Shorty's death, and felt that giving up information on the burial spot would look like he was much more complicit.
I also note that BD tried to distance himself from the Family, presumably to help his bid for freedom, by returning their letters. However, he continued to have a close friendship inside the prison with Tex who was the worst of the lot of them, so how does he reconcile that? He ran a ministry with Tex and even had him as his Best Man (I bet Tex gave Bruce some kitchen knives as a wedding present!), yet he rebuffed Charlie who didn't murder anyone over the two nights.
I burst out laughing when I read that Bill Nelson stalked Bruce's wife, and put it about that the wife was carrying on with the assistant DA. That's one way to get past the Parole Board.
It is a great pity that the death of Zero was not properly investigated by LAPD because I think Bruce was responsible for that. He didn't wipe all his prints off the gun.
Brett's research being made available has been a real treat!
These write ups are great! Thank you for preserving them.
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