Danny Decarlo

Danny DeCarlo, a former Manson Family member, also known as Donkey Dan, was born in Toronto, Canada, but was granted US citizenship after serving with the coast guard for four years.

After his service, DeCarlo entered the firearm business with his father. DeCarlo joined a motorcycle club, The Straight Satans, became the club’s treasurer and engaged in a variety of criminal activities. In 1966, DeCarlo had been convicted of smuggling marijuana across the Mexican border. DeCarlo was also under indictment of two other charges; He had been charged with selling a stolen motorcycle engine, and providing false information while purchasing a firearm.

The Family

DeCarlo met Charles Manson at Spahn Ranch in March 1969, a short time after separating from his wife, Miriam. Manson wanted the Straight Satans to hang around the ranch, it was a turbulent time at the homestead, and Manson envisioned the Straight Satans as possible guardians of the ranch. The straight Satans declined the offer, except for DeCarlo.

Manson told DeCarlo that a motorcycle had broken down and asked DeCarlo if he could fix it. Manson informed DeCarlo that if he stayed at the ranch, he could have anything he craved. Manson mentioned to him that the girls did not belong to anyone and that if he wished to make love to them, he could. DeCarlo couldn’t resist and joined the family. DeCarlo was mainly interested in booze and girls. His two favorite girls were Sherry Cooper and Ruth Ann Moorehouse, whom he called his sweethearts.

DeCarlo's primary duty was providing weapons and taking care of the firearms. He cleaned and repaired them, and he slept in the gunroom. When a weapon was taken out, DeCarlo knew about it. DeCarlo took his entire weapon arsenal to the ranch, including a submachine gun. Manson thought the machine gun was over the top until DeCarlo let Manson shoot it. Manson enjoyed it and became a gun fanatic.


DeCarlo was known as Donkey Dan, or more explicit, Donkey Dick Dan, a nickname given to him by the Manson girls, because of certain physical endowments. Because of this, DeCarlo was very popular among the women. Catherine Share, aka Gypsy, once got mad at DeCarlo because he didn't take his boots off while making love to her.

Hinman Murder

Although DeCarlo was not present at the murder of Gary Hinman, he was aware of the homicide. Beausoleil had told DeCarlo at length about how he had committed the crime, and that when he went back to the crime scene, he heard maggots eating through Hinman's flesh. After the assassination, the killers had taken Hinman's bagpipes back to Spahn Ranch, where DeCarlo tried to play the bagpipes, but that turned out to be more difficult than expected.

Al Springer

Around August 12, 1969, Al Springer, a Straight Satan, went to Spahn Ranch to persuade DeCarlo to come back to the motorclub. According to Springer, there were flies all over the place and they, the Family, were just like animals up there. When Manson noticed Springer and DeCarlo talking, he went over and tried to persuade Springer to join the Family. Manson started bragging to Springer how the Family had killed several “pigs”.

Manson told Springer the same story he had told DeCarlo, he could have sex with all the girls. Springer resisted the temptation and declined to join the Family. Springer went back to the Ranch on August 15, in another unsuccessful attempt to get Decarlo back. On august 16, the police raided the Ranch. Decarlo was arrested with the rest of the group. Springer contacted the police and gave a lengthy testimony about what Manson had told him about killing rich “pigs”.

Shorty's Guns

Shorty Shea, a ranch-hand murdered by members of the Family, had a matched pair of Colt .45s. Shorty often pawned the pistols if he needed cash. After Shorty disappeared, but before DeCarlo knew of Shorty's murder, Bruce Davis, who owned DeCarlo money, gave DeCarlo Shorty's pawn tickets on the handguns. DeCarlo reclaimed the Colts. After learning that Shorty had been killed, DeCarlo sold the guns to a shop for seventy-five dollars. Not long after, fearing he might be next on Manson's hit list, Decarlo left the Manson clan and moved to Venice.


In November 1969, DeCarlo was interrogated and provided the police with a lot of information about the Manson clan and their criminal activities. DeCarlo handed over the sword Manson had used to wound Gary Hinman. DeCarlo was taken in handcuffs to the former Manson family hangout at Spahn Ranch and gave detectives a tour of the ranch. DeCarlo was handcuffed at his own request. If any of the Family members were still around, they wouldn't think he was voluntarily snitching.

In 1970, Decarlo testified against Manson during the Tate/Labianca trial. DeCarlo was a key witness in the Manson case. According to DeCarlo, Terry Melcher, the music producer who lived in the house at 10050 Cielo Drive before the Tate murders, had visited the Manson clan several times after the Tate/LaBianca murders. The prosecutor in the Manson trial, Vincent Bugliosi, had concealed this information during the trial against Manson and his clan.

After the trial, Decarlo skipped bail on a federal gun charge, and fled to Canada with Sherry Cooper where the two got married.


Sherry Cooper and Danny Decarlo had a daughter named Gina who died in a car accident in 1991. Gina Decarlo was traveling as a passenger in a vehicle eastbound on I 10 when the vehicle rear ended a tractor trailer rig. The accident happened April 29, 1991 at 7:00 am. She was taken to Desert Hospital in Palm Springs CA. She had major head trauma. She was declared brain dead nine days later and taken off life support.

Danny Decarlo Today

Later, Danny DeCarlo bounced around. He has lived in California, Oregon, and Hawaii. DeCarlo's mother owned an Italian restaurant in Hawaii. In Hawaii, he was accused of abusing underage girls. According to his mother's obituary [image], Decarlo lived in Medford, Oregon in 2014. The latest info on DeCarlo suggests he is living in Hawaii.