Danny DeCarlo

Danny DeCarlo, also known as Donkey Dan, was born in Toronto, Canada, but was reportedly 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

In March of 1969, DeCarlo separated from his wife, Miriam, and shortly afterwards, he encountered Charles Manson at Spahn Ranch. Manson wanted the Straight Satans to be the protectors of the ranch due to the chaotic situation at the homestead, but the group declined the offer, except for DeCarlo who decided to stay.

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, motivated by his desire for alcohol and the female company, accepted Manson’s offer and joined the family. He quickly developed close relationships with Sherry Cooper and Ruth Ann Moorehouse, affectionately referring to them as his “sweethearts”.

DeCarlo’s primary duty was far more than just providing weapons and taking care of the firearms; he was the guardian of the gunroom. He kept a vigilant eye on all of the weapons, ensuring they were always in pristine condition and ready for use. He even slept in the gunroom to ensure no one could take a weapon without his knowledge. When DeCarlo arrived at the ranch, he brought his entire arsenal, including a submachine gun. Manson was initially skeptical of the machine gun, but DeCarlo allowed Manson to fire it, and the thrill of shooting the weapon sparked Manson’s fascination with guns.


DeCarlo was affectionately known as ‘Donkey Dan’ (or more explicitly, ‘Donkey Dick Dan’), a nickname given to him by the Manson girls due to his rather impressive physical endowments. This made DeCarlo a very popular figure among the women. On one occasion, Catherine Share, aka Gypsy, even 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 heinous crime that had been committed. Beausoleil had told DeCarlo in vivid detail about how he had committed the crime, even going so far as to describe how he heard maggots eating through Hinman’s flesh when he returned to the crime scene. After the assassination, the killers had taken Hinman’s bagpipes back to Spahn Ranch, where DeCarlo attempted to play them, though with limited success.

Al Springer

Around August 12, 1969, Al Springer, a Straight Satan, went to Spahn Ranch to persuade DeCarlo to come back to the motorclub. When he arrived, he was shocked by the squalid conditions – there were flies everywhere, and the family were living like animals. When Manson noticed Springer and DeCarlo talking, he went over and tried to persuade Springer to join the group. He even boasted about how the family had killed several “pigs”.

Manson told Springer the same story he had told DeCarlo – that he could have sex with all the girls. However, Springer was not swayed by Manson’s offer and refused to join the clan. On August 15, Springer returned to the Ranch in another unsuccessful attempt to get DeCarlo back. The following day, the police raided the Ranch and DeCarlo was arrested alongside the rest of the group. Springer then contacted the police and provided 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 that he would often pawn if he needed cash. After Shorty disappeared, but before DeCarlo knew of Shorty’s murder, Bruce Davis, who owned DeCarlo money, gave DeCarlo the pawn tickets for the handguns.

DeCarlo reclaimed the Colts and, after learning that Shorty had been killed, sold the guns to a shop for seventy-five dollars. Not long after, fearing he might be next on Manson’s hit list, DeCarlo wisely left the clan and moved to Venice.


In November 1969, DeCarlo was interrogated and provided the police with a wealth of information about the group and their criminal activities. He even handed over the sword Manson had used to wound Gary Hinman, which was invaluable evidence in the investigation. DeCarlo was then taken in handcuffs to Spahn Ranch and gave detectives a tour of the ranch. DeCarlo had actually requested to be handcuffed – that way, if any of the family members were still around, they wouldn’t think he was voluntarily snitching on them. In 1970, DeCarlo testified against Manson during the Tate/Labianca trial. 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. In the latter, his mother ran a successful Italian restaurant. According to his mother’s obituary, Decarlo lived in Medford, Oregon in 2014. The latest info on DeCarlo suggests he is living in Hawaii.