Bill Vance aka William Cole, was one of Charles Manson’s jail house buddies and was responsible for securing not only the Gresham Street House (The Yellow Submarine) for the Family, but he also helped some of the girl’s, one of which was Susan Atkins, get jobs at local strip clubs in Los Angeles.
Vance also taught the girls how to ‘creepy crawl’ and break into homes in the middle of night undetected as well as properly remove window screens to gain entry. He is referenced often as a shifty fellow and is believed to have disappeared sometime after the raid on Barker Ranch.
Vance was responsible for multiple robberies tied to the family and would use a ranch hands borrowed vehicle. The woman, named Windy Bucklee, was one day pulled over by police and questioned about her whereabouts since her license plate matched the one reported to be leaving the scene of one of the burglaries.
Although questioned, Windy was able to prove that she was working at the time and remained quiet about allowing Vance to use the truck on multiple occasions but subsequently put two and two together and knew it must have been Vance while he was borrowing her truck as she often left the keys with him and he would use it whenever he wanted.
Windy Bucklee later approached Vance about her being questioned by police and demanded her keys back, which when Charles Mason found out about it, was very unhappy. Manson immediately went to confront Windy at her home and wound up assaulting her badly and she was hospitalized for two days.
When her friend and fellow ranch hand Donald Shorty Shea found out about the incident, he immediately went after Vance and Manson, located them at Vance’s home, and beat both of them to a pulp. Manson was severely embarrassed which is likely one of several factors which led to the killing of Shea.
Although Vance was a participant in the murder of Shorty he was never even charged for the crime. This is because his presence was not known until Bruce Davis slipped up at a 2010 parole hearing and mentioned Vance was there.
“I look around and there’s Bill Vance, Tex Watson and Steve Grogan, with bloody knives and they’d been through this.” – Bruce Davis
Vance was also an extra in the movie “Linda & Abilene” filmed at Spahn Ranch.