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Bruce Davis


“I don’t hold anything against Manson.  I wasn’t a kid that got manipulated. I was just looking for sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll and to ride on a motorcycle.  I was never a vicious person, but I was indifferent. I wanted the immediate approval of the people I was with, and I didn’t care what they did.”

- Bruce McGregor Davis, 2010    (Source: The Tribune News)


I look around and there’s Bill Vance [William Rex Cole], [Tex] Watson, [Steve] Grogan, with bloody knives and they’d been through this. And I was not about to say no to something. I understood that I’m an odd man out. I’m a danger to this situation if I don’t get involved. Let me tell you something, I wish I could just say, yeah, I did it. It would sure help us all I guess if we could believe that lie. But that is a lie.

And I will not say it because it’s not true. I’ll tell you what I did. I took the bayonet. It was about this big. It come off a Mauser rifle. Mr. Shea was at my left. He was bent over.

See, I thought that if I just didn’t do anything direct, I would not be— so I didn’t— Hey, when they first said we’re going to kill Shorty, I was standing there. I couldn’t even get away.

We were all just right there together. It was close and right off early one morning. And I just got, I said, okay, here we go. I got in the back seat opposite him, Grogan was on my left, Watson was on my, in front of me. Mr. Shea was driving. Watson tells him pull over. He hesitates. Watson stabs him. He pulls the car over. Grogan hits him in the head. I stayed in the car. I was petrified. I didn’t want to go to that.

And so I’m still with these people. I didn’t feel bad about it. I wanted what I was wanting and I was getting what I was getting. I stayed in the car. Manson pulled up in the car behind me. He came by and said let’s go. So I went. So I’m down there. They had already been stabbing him.

I reached out and I cut him right across the shoulder. I cut him with this knife. Boy this knife was sharp. It laid him open. I don’t know if he was dead or not. It wouldn’t have mattered an iota to me. Now I wish I could say, yeah, I was mad at Shorty and we was going to kill him because he was a snitch and blah, blah, blah. That’s not true. I didn’t have personal animosity against him. I discounted his life, I will tell you that. I thought my life was worth more than his at that point.

I left. Steve Grogan and somebody, maybe somebody else, I don’t know if Grogan was the only person. They buried Shorty’s body. And, of course, we held the position we don’t even know he’s dead.

- Bruce Davis    (Source: 2010 Parole Hearing)


District Attorney: Now here, this is what the inmate says next. Now I look around and there’s Bill Vance [William Rex Cole], Watson, Grogan with bloody knives and they’d been through this. The Panel needs to note that this is the first time that this inmate has indicated that Bill Vance was at the crime scene with a bloody knife, meaning that Bill Vance is a crime partner. He told this Panel in 2010 that Bill Vance was a crime partner in the killing of Shorty Shea and he’s been hiding it for all of these years. […]

So Ruby Pearl even mentioned it in her testimony that she thought Bill Vance was there. And then in a slip of the tongue, which is what I describe it, when Bruce Davis was tearfully talking to Commissioner Doyle at the last hearing, he blurts out that Bill Vance is there with a bloody knife. That all these people are there with bloody knives and he was somehow handed a knife. Now I think this is extremely significant. Bill Vance, if he was involved in this murder and this inmate knew it, this inmate has been covering for Bill Vance for 40 years. […] He would not have mentioned Bill Vance’s name unless he believed that Bill Vance was there, but he slipped up. He made a mistake. He’d been trying to protect his crime partners. He admitted to protecting his crime partners in the Psychological Evaluation, because, as he said in 1980, I think, he wanted to protect their appeals.

Bruce Davis: I’m going to go back just a moment, just a second, about my mentioning Larry Jones [Larry Bailey] as a witness in the Shea case. I have up to this time — Larry was a child, probably 18, maybe 17. Very innocent kid. I don’t know how he got there. There were several cars involved and in the place where Mr. Shea was so terribly murdered, Larry, I remember him standing off. He couldn’t believe it. And just think about the whole thing is bad enough, but I have protected Larry. If I overstepped and I did overstep my authority of not mentioning his name, I accept that. […]

Bill Vance was known as a part of the Shea murder. In fact, he was being called for a witness. He was never arrested, but he was being called for a witness in about 1969, 1970, so it wasn’t like nobody knew. He was known to the authorities.

(Source: 2012 Parole Hearing)


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