DiscoverMystery & Crime

Charles Manson and the Killing of Shorty Shea

By Edwin Colin

Worth reading 😎

This is an interesting insider look into the lives of the Manson Family, as well as Shorty Shea, another innocent victim.

Synopsis

This book gives the inside story of a man searching for answers as to why his friend Shorty Shea was murdered by Charles Manson and other members of the Manson Family.

Aided in his quest by top true-crime researcher Deb Silva, Edwin Colin has been able to unearth never before known facts about Charles Manson and the real reason for the murder of Shorty Shea.

This true-crime novel dispels many of the myths about Manson and Shea and reads like a real Hollywood whodunnit.

Charles Manson and the Killing of Shorty Shea

By Edwin Colin

with Deb Silva


As an eight-year-old, Edwin Colin, the author of this book, knew Shorty. It was 1953 when Colin’s father wars hired to be a full-time foreman at Corriganville, a Movie Ranch in nearby Simi Valley. Corriganville was owned by the famous stunt rider, Crash Corrigan, who was also and friend of Shorty Shea. So begins Colin’s fascination with the man who will be killed by Charles Manson and his followers right before the infamous  Tate and LaBianca murders.


Charles “Shorty” Shea was many things in his life. He was a horse wrangler, stuntman, husband, a U. S. Military Veteran and a victim of Charles Manson and his Family. Shorty wanted to be an actor in Westerns, but he seemed to always be in the wrong place at the wrong time. By the time he made enough connections in the business, Westerns were not getting the funding to be produced as audiences no longer flocked to them.


He spent his last years working on the Spahn Ranch. He took care of the livestock, did some Wild West shows for dwindling crowds and had the unfortunate fate of meeting Charles Manson. Manson and his Family basically moved into Spahn Ranch and took it over. The owner, George Spahn was getting older and was nearly blind by the time Manson and his followers descended upon his property. For whatever reason, he let them stay.


Some say that Shorty’s death was a direct result of not ignoring Charles Manson. Not one to ever back down from confrontation, he did not like Manson and everyone knew it. Sadly, his stubbornness was most likely the reason Charles Manson, Tex Watson, Bruce Davis and Steve Grogan murdered him in cold blood on August 26, 1969.


Colin weaves a sordid insider look at the murder of Shorty Shea and subsequent deaths of Sharon Tate and the LaBiancas. With Deb Silva, the duo uncovered death certificates, autopsy results and firsthand accounts of the horrific crimes committed by the Manson Family. The small facts that surrounded the Spahn Ranch and those that lived there are fascinating to me. There are connections to famous actors, TV shows and events that most have heard of, but from a different, closer perspective. For example, one of men that participated in Shea’s death is now out of prison and another one is up for parole this year – but has dementia.


Charles Manson and the Killing of Shorty Shea is an entertaining work of non-fiction. The book is fascinating, but at times disjointed. There was a bit of repetition, as the author seemed to give the facts ahead of the timeline, then repeated with more detail later. Overall, it was an interesting insider look into the lives of the Manson Family as well as Shorty Shea and all of the people they encountered during this brief period of history.


DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Reedsy Discovery in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

Reviewed by

I began reviewing books on a now defunct website, GenReview in 2011. I now review books on my website, as well as for Penguin First To Read, Netgalley, Maryglenn McCombs, book publicist, Bookish First and Killer Nashville. I also review books for various authors that send me their books.

Synopsis

This book gives the inside story of a man searching for answers as to why his friend Shorty Shea was murdered by Charles Manson and other members of the Manson Family.

Aided in his quest by top true-crime researcher Deb Silva, Edwin Colin has been able to unearth never before known facts about Charles Manson and the real reason for the murder of Shorty Shea.

This true-crime novel dispels many of the myths about Manson and Shea and reads like a real Hollywood whodunnit.

Foreward



It was late in the fall of 1953. I was eight-years old. My family and I were residing in a small one-bedroom cottage located in Glendale, California. Money was tight. My mother was working as a waitress, while my father a carpenter struggled to find full-time work. While both my parents worked, I would act as babysitter for my one-year-old sister Linea. Just when things were at their lowest financially, through a friend’s recommendation, my father found part-time work at a “cowboy ranch,” as he first described it.

One evening, my father returned home from work at the ranch and with a smile that went from ear to ear, announced that Crash Corrigan had hired him to be his full-time foreman at Corriganville Movie Ranch. As it turned out, the “cowboy ranch” my father first referred to was Corriganville, which at the time was the most famous Western movie ranch in America and was considered to be on par with Disneyland as the number one tourist stop in California.

I ended up living at Corriganville with my family for five years. During that time I met all the famous Western movie stars of the fifties. Stars like John Wayne, Glenn Ford, Randolph Scott, and many others. All were interesting to meet; however, the person I remember the most was a young stuntman hired by Crash Corrigan to participate in the weekend reenactments of bank robberies and shootouts. That stuntman’s name was Donald Jerome Shea. Most people knew him by his nickname Shorty Shea.

I first met Shorty Shea when my father wanting to get a horse for me purchased a chestnut colored mare named Blaze from George Spahn. The ranch hand who picked out that perfect steed for me was Shorty Shea. Through the connection of helping choose my horse for me, I became friends with Shorty. And during my years living at the ranch he became like the older brother I never had.

At the time I first met him, Shorty was a wannabe stuntman in his twenties, who was working for George Spahn as a wrangler and ranch hand. Shorty’s goal was to become a famous Western movie actor or stuntman. He would indeed become famous -- but not in the way he expected.

Corriganville in the early fifties was like the Western version of Disneyland. On the weekends there would be live reenactments for the public, featuring gunfights, bank holdups, and many other shows featuring some of Hollywood’s best Western stuntmen. The ranch also served as a backdrop to many Western movies and television shows.

It was in this atmosphere that Shorty first got his taste of life as a stuntman and was able to hone his skills under the tutelage of the likes of Bob Bickston and Lance Victor; men who would play a role in his brief and tumultuous life. It was a life that ultimately would lead him into direct confrontation with Charles Manson and his murderous Family.

Shorty’s dream was to become famous and have his name known by an adoring public. Little could he imagine the tragic events that would cause his name and face to be on the front pages of newspapers across the world.

Manson’s death left behind many unanswered questions as to the real reasons for the murder of Shorty Shea. There have been a myriad of theories as to why Manson ordered his murder. As our research unfolded, we have uncovered never-before-known facts about the lives of Shorty Shea and Charles Manson, facts that dispel some of what was commonly thought to be factual.

In bringing the true facts to light, we have pored over hundreds of hours of trial testimony and interviewed some of Shorty Shea’s closest friends in an attempt to shed light on his complicated life and tragic death. We will outline the true reasons for Manson ordering the murder of Shorty Shea and speculate on why Manson, a felon out on parole, was allowed to have numerous run-ins with the law and yet be allowed to remain free.

From Spahn Ranch, Manson unleashed Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Linda Kasabian; to murder Sharon Tate and four others the fateful night of August 8th, 1969 accompanied by Leslie Van Houten the following night, they viciously murdered Leno and Rosemary La Bianca. A few weeks later, Manson would order the murder of my friend Shorty Shea.

Edwin Colin



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About the author

Edwin Colin had a long and successful career working as an onsite financial adviser at Paramount studios. He is currently enjoying his new career as a successful author. His books, The Man Hollywood Forgot and My Life at Corriganville Movie Ranch, have gained him a worldwide audience. view profile

Published on May 27, 2019

Published by

60000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Mystery & Crime

Reviewed by

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