Steve Grogan moved to the Spahn Ranch in the late 1960s and became a part of Charles Manson's "Family" here. Grogan was in the car with Manson and some others the night of the infamous LaBianca murders on August 9, 1969, but he did not participate in them, leaving the scene beforehand. Two weeks later, however, Grogan was involved with the murder of former Hollywood stuntman Donald "Shorty" Shea, which was orchestrated by Manson. Grogan served less than 15 years in prison before being paroled.
The Manson 'Family'
Steve Grogan dropped out of high school before moving onto the Spahn Ranch with Charles Manson and his followers in the late 1960s. There, he was considered to be either of below average intelligence or pretending to be, but his mental shortcomings earned him the nickname "Scramblehead."
Grogan received some early notoriety within the Manson "Family" when he and others stayed with Dennis Wilson, a member of the band the Beach Boys. Grogan allegedly took Wilson's Ferrari, which had not been insured, for a joyride and promptly wrecked it.
In the late hours of August, 9, 1969, Grogan and others dropped of three Manson followers at the house of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca as a preface to the LaBiancas' brutal murders. Two weeks later, Grogan and two other Manson associates, on orders from Manson, asked ranch hand and former stuntman Donald "Shorty" Shea for a ride, intent on killing him. Once in the car, Grogan hit Shea with a pipe and the three men took Shea out of the car and tortured and murdered him. It is thought that Manson thought Shea had "snitched" on the Family in some way, and needed to be silenced.
The Manson family was rounded up on an unrelated charge in October 1969, but their roles in the Tate/LaBianca murders were quickly revealed. Grogan was implicated in the Tate murders, which occurred the night before the LaBianca murders, but was never charged. He was, however, found guilty of the Shea murder, becoming the seventh member of the Manson family to be sentenced to death. Grogan's sentence was reduced to life in prison in 1971, when the judge found Grogan to be merely a puppet to Manson's wishes, neither smart nor sober enough to act on his own.
After serving nearly 15 years in the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, for some years with Manson, Grogan was paroled and released on November 11, 1985, largely because he agreed to show authorities where the body of Donald Shea was buried.
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