Danny DeCarlo: Manson Family Associate, Straight Satan Treasurer

Danny DeCarlo (aka Donkey Dan, Daniel Romeo, Richard Allen Smith, Danny Frederick Reynolds, Danny Thomas Bell)

Danny DeCarlo

Danny DeCarlo was a member of biker gang the Straight Satans

Danny DeCarlo, born June 20, 1944, from Toronto Canada, was treasurer of the outlaw biker gang the Straight Satans. Danny, like Bobby Beausoleil, stayed at the Spahn Ranch because of all the pretty girls, free sex and drugs. In 1966, he was convicted of smuggling Marijuana across the U.S./Mexican border.

Some believe Charles Manson wanted to align himself with the Straight Satans to keep the public away from the ranch, one of the main reasons Manson took a special interest in DeCarlo. However, the Straight Satans didn’t like Charlie and wanted to get Danny out of Spahn and return to the club.

On one occasion, the Straight Satans went to the Spahn Ranch and threatened to rape and kill everyone if Danny didn’t return to Venice with them. Charlie offered his life in exchange for them to leave. The bikers were so freaked out by Charlie’s death wish they left the ranch without raising hell.

Danny was at Spahn Ranch often and was there during the August 16th raid, a week after the Tate-Labianca murders. After hearing about the murder of Shorty Shea later that month, DeCarlo left the family and moved to Venice. He was eventually charged with three separate crimes and made a deal with the State to turn on Manson and the Family telling them everything he knew. DeCarlo, while handcuffed, gave Vincent Bugliosi and the LAPD a tour of Spahn’s Movie Ranch.

On December 8, 1969, three days after Susan Atkins testimony, DeCarlo also testified before the Grand Jury assisting in the District Attorney’s office in acquiring the indictment of Manson and several members of the family for the Tate/La Bianca Murders.

Danny DeCarlo on Charles Manson:

“When I first went to the ranch I brought my whole arsenal up. He [Manson] said what are we going to do with a machine gun? I said that’s protection. He said man, we don’t need nothing like that. I show him how to use a gun. Then he started getting into it. Then we brought him an M1 and he’d just fire it into the sky as long as he could hear a lot of noise and see dirt kick up, it made him feel good. We had fun shooting guns.”

After his testimony, Danny fled to Canada with fellow Manson Family member Sherry Ann Cooper where the two married and had one child before divorcing. In late 1975 the pair participated in a video interview both speaking about their time with and after Charles Manson. 

DeCarlo is alive and well as of 2023. 

If you’re interested in digging deeper, click here for Part One of DeCarlo’s interview with Sergeant Paul Whiteley of the LASO circa 1969.

Danny DeCarlo

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