Monday, February 13, 2012

News Headlines about the Gold Country

For those of you in the Bay Area/Central California, you may have been following this story about the "Speed Freak" killers and how the one remaining in prison (the other committed suicide) has made a deal where he will get money to pay off the restitution to the families and some extra for candy bars, in exchange for a map of where the bodies are buried.
Both locations they are digging at, are well known to me... one is in Linden on Flood St. I drive by it on the way to the house and wonder if they ever had a flood and is that why they called it that name. The other is less than 4 miles down the road from my house on Gold Strike Road in San Andreas. I know there are people out there that do terrible things but I am always disturbed but the depths of the depravity of the human mind. I am glad that these families can finally know what happened to their loved one and give them a proper burial, but I am wondering why did it take this long? The guy is getting a total of $30,000 for this information. That is not much money, why couldn't we have paid it to him before? It is a conflict whenever you pay a monster like that, some see it as a reward for his crimes, and I agree if he were writing a book or something that might get him a lot of money. But this amount is chump change, with some of it going to the families and the rest he will use to buy cigarettes and candy in prison. If this is all it would have taken, it should have been done sooner.

Below are links to the maps of where this is happening:

Map 1 - Linden http://g.co/maps/h8n5t
Map 2 - San Andreas http://g.co/maps/eh2dp

And here is the article from SFGATE.com


http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2012/02/13/MN7E1N6NTE.DTL

Monday, February 13, 2012 (SF Chronicle)
Central Valley killer's maps lead to more remains
Stephanie M. Lee


   From an old well on a Central Valley ranch Sunday, authorities unearthed
more remains of people they believe were slain decades ago by a pair of
convicted serial killers.
   One of those killers, awaiting execution on California's Death Row, has
provided deputies with detailed maps and instructions that have led them
to possible mass burial sites in Calaveras and San Joaquin counties.
Authorities believe they may yield clues to a dozen or more killings of
people who went missing beginning in the early 1980s.
   Sunday marked the fourth day of a search for evidence of those believed
slain by the "Speed Freak Killers," childhood friends Wesley Shermantine
and Loren Herzog, who went on a methamphetamine-fueled killing spree
across the Central Valley until their arrests in 1999 and subsequent
convictions.
   For a third day Sunday, the focus was on a cattle ranch near the killers'
hometown of Linden, a small, rural San Joaquin County town 14 miles
northeast of Stockton. There, authorities were sifting through soil
excavated from the site of an abandoned, 35-foot-deep well. Among the
items found, they said, were skull fragments and bones of various sizes,
as well as a woman's ring engraved with a set of initials, some shoes, a
coat and a purse.
   "This is going to be a lengthy, tedious endeavor," said Deputy Les Garcia
of the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office.
   The apparent remains of two victims were discovered late last week in
Calaveras County.
   Using a map hand-drawn by Shermantine, authorities found a human skull
Thursday buried beneath rocks and leaves on a hillside in San Andreas
(Calaveras County), near the Shermantine family's old home on Leonard
Road, Garcia said. Partial skull found
   A forensic dentist preliminarily identified it as that of Cyndi
Vanderheiden, a 25-year-old from Clements (San Joaquin County), Garcia
said. Authorities are awaiting the results of a DNA test to confirm the
identity.
   On Friday, a quarter mile from the first site, authorities found a partial
skull with a complete jawbone, Garcia said. Those remains have not been
identified, but Paula Wheeler, 64, believes they belong to her 16-year-old
daughter, Chevelle "Chevy" Wheeler, who disappeared in 1985.
   "Her body was where Shermantine said it was," the mother told The
Chronicle from her home in Crossville, Tenn., where she and her family
moved from Stockton in 2004. "She was wrapped in a blanket. There was
remnants of her sweatshirt that she had on."
   The years since then, Wheeler said, have been "pure hell." Bounty hunter's
offer
   Shermantine and Herzog were both convicted of multiple murders in 2001.
Shermantine was sentenced to death, while Herzog received a sentence of 77
years. Herzog's sentence was cut to 14 years after an appeals court ruled
his confession was illegally obtained and tossed his first-degree murder
convictions.
   In 2010, Herzog was released on parole. But neither killer had ever
provided information on the whereabouts of their victims.
   This month's search began after Sacramento bounty hunter Leonard Padilla
persuaded Shermantine to agree to a deal: help locate the bodies for
$33,000.
   Padilla said Shermantine would use $18,000 to pay court restitution costs.
The remaining $15,000 would pay for "a gravestone for his mom and dad, who
died during the whole madness, a computer, a TV, and ... candy bars for
the rest of his life," Padilla said.
   "They can't kill you twice," Padilla said he told Shermantine. "They can't
put two needles in your arm."
   In January, retired FBI Agent Jeff Rinek and other law enforcement
officials met with Shermantine in San Quentin after the inmate contacted
him.
   "He said he wanted to help locate the victims, and I asked him why he was
doing this," Rinek said. "And he said he was doing this because of the
fact that Loren Herzog had been on parole for a year and had never
contacted him. And secondly, he mentioned his arrangement" with Padilla.
Disclosing locations
   Rinek had hoped Shermantine could be allowed out of prison to lead
authorities to the sites. But when that plan was stopped, Shermantine
instead scribbled maps and a letter that disclosed the locations of the
victims, Padilla said.
   When San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore obtained the maps and
information, the search was scheduled. Before it got under way, however,
Padilla told Herzog that his ex-partner planned to reveal where they had
buried bodies. In mid-January, Herzog hanged himself.
   Padilla says Shermantine has told him the burial sites he has identified
could turn up as many as 30 bodies. Shermantine also said one of them
could be Michaela Garecht - a 9-year-old Hayward girl who disappeared in
1988, Rinek said.
   Shermantine has suggested Herzog is the man who abducted Michaela.
   The search for evidence at the sites is expected to continue for some
time. Sheriff's spokesman Garcia said Sunday that teams will next begin
digging at the site of another well a quarter mile east of the first near
Linden.
   "We're going to be here for days for sure," he said.
   Meanwhile, the victims' families are counting the days until they hear
news that might let them properly bury their long-lost loved ones.
   "We're just kind of sitting and waiting," said John Vanderheiden, 70, the
father of Cyndi Vanderheiden. "And maybe now we will have closure." 'Speed
Freak Killers' timeline
   1999: Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog are arrested in connection with
several slayings dating back to the 1980s.
   2001: Shermantine is convicted of four murders and sentenced to death.
Herzog is convicted of three murders and sentenced to 77 years to life.
   2004: Herzog's sentence is overturned on appeal, and a new trial is
ordered; he agrees to a plea deal and shortened sentence.
   2010: Herzog is granted parole but lives on the grounds of the state
prison in Susanville (Lassen County).
   April 2011: Shermantine first offers to reveal details about killings in
return for release from prison.
   December 2011-January 2012: Shermantine begins providing information, then
maps, about locations of buried bodies.
   Jan. 16: Herzog commits suicide shortly after learning that Shermantine
was aiding authorities.
   Thursday-Friday: Remains believed to be those of Cyndi Vanderheiden and
Chevelle "Chevy" Wheeler are found near San Andreas (Calaveras County).
   Saturday-Sunday: More human remains and other items, including clothing
and a ring, are found near Linden (San Joaquin County). Stephanie M. Lee
is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. slee@sfchronicle.com ----------------------------------------------------------------------
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