Archive for February, 2012

Forensic Labs Shutting Down

The top scientist behind a DNA breakthrough that solved a notorious triple murder has warned future research may be put in jeopardy by the closure of the Forensic Science Service (FSS).

Dr Jonathan Whitaker, a senior forensic scientist at the government-run company, said the planned closure of the FSS next month could put an end to the kind of “blue sky” research that led to the identification of Wales’ first documented serial killer.

The body of former Port Talbot nightclub bouncer Joe Kappen was exhumed in 2002 after a breakthrough DNA technique proved he was the notorious “Saturday night strangler” behind the 1973 murders of Geraldine Hughes and Pauline Floyd, both 16, and 16-year-old Sandra Newton three months earlier.

 Dr Whitaker was one of a team of forensic scientists working on the case and pioneered the use of familial DNA, which allows detectives to track down culprits via their family members.

Speaking to WalesOnline, he said the discovery would not have been possible without the kind of money and resources made available to scientists at the FSS, which began the process of winding down last year after it emerged it was losing some £2m a month.

But Dr Whitaker said the kind of research it did – something private companies taking over its work will not be able to afford to do – meant the FSS would “undoubtedly lose money”.

He said because of this, the ability of such companies to produce similar breakthroughs in DNA research in future “remains to be seen”.

Speaking from Weatherby, Yorkshire, where one of the last FSS labs to remain open is based, he said: “In future the other forensic providers have provided assurance that there will be money and resources to do research, but the FSS always had that big group of people able to do it.

“It remains to be seen whether it will be done on the same scale and whether it will have the same blue sky approach, rather than being dictated by the needs of the police.”

Dr Whitaker was researching “low copy number” DNA at a lab in Birmingham when he was approached by South Wales Police to help in their cold case investigation into the murders of Geraldine Hughes and Pauline Floyd.

The girls had been on a night out in Swansea’s Top Rank nightclub when they disappeared in September 1973.

Their raped, bloodied and strangled bodies were found the next morning at 10am in a wooded copse near their homes in Llandarcy.

The case grabbed national headlines and sparked a major manhunt, but eventually ground to a halt when no suspects were found.

Almost three decades later, a cold case team led by then-Detective Inspector Paul Bethell took up the case once more – convinced that advances in DNA technology would lead them to their man.

“This was where I came in,” said Dr Whitaker.

“It was around 2000 and I was working in the research and development group in Birmingham.

“We were working on a new way of using low copy number DNA profiling, which was opening up the possibility of generating DNA profiles from much smaller samples of DNA.

“In the past we had needed a blood stain about the size of a 10p piece, but this new technique meant we could generate profiles from millimetre-sized stains – or even just areas people had touched or handled.

“It was a also a very good way of extracting profiles from old DNA material which had broken down in a process of deterioration.”

Using the technique, Dr Whitaker was able to use old evidence kept on file by South Wales Police and the FSS to generate a complete profile of the killer’s DNA.

Further tests soon convinced police that this was the person responsible for the murder – not just of Geraldine Hughes and Pauline Floyd – but also of another 16-year-old, Sandra Newton, whose body was found in a ditch in Tonmawr after a night out in Briton Ferry three months before.

Over the next months the scientist and his team scoured the National DNA Database but were unable to find an exact match.

In normal cases, they would have uploaded the DNA profile to the database and left it there, hoping the culprit’s DNA might some day find its way onto the database. But this wasn’t any normal case.

“We were thinking these cases are so important to get a resolution, especially if someone is out there still offending,” said Dr Whitaker.

“People don’t forget this sort of thing and they worry about whether the culprit is still living in their community.”

With this in mind, Dr Whitaker and his team quietly went ahead with more tests – tests that would change the face of criminal investigations for good.

The new technique involved looking through the DNA database for partial matches, which would mean the person was a direct relative of the killer.

DCI Paul Bethell – now a senior investigating officer on South Wales Police’s cold case team – still remembers the phone call in which Dr Whitaker told him his investigation was back on track.

He said: “We had a small team working to get DNA samples from 500 potential suspects. I remember we had reached number 353 when I had this incredible phone call from Jonathan saying he had tried this new technique and come up with a new suspect list.

“There were several hundred possibilities, but by narrowing it down to the locality we were able to bring it down to 12, and one of those 12 was a name we recognised from the original investigation – Joseph Kappen.”

Kappen had originally been questioned as one of thousands of men in the vicinity who owned a car matching the description of one seen near Geraldine Hughes and Pauline Floyd when they disappeared.

In 2002 – in pouring rain and with thunder crashing overhead – police exhumed Kappen’s body from its grave and took DNA samples that proved his guilt.

“It was a day of great celebration,” said Dr Whitaker.

“It stands out in my memory even now because it was a huge milestone in the way that we could carry out investigations.”

DCI Bethell added: “It is really not an exaggeration to say that if it wasn’t for the work of Jonathan and Dr Colin Dark at the FSS and the tremendous work done in 1973 by preserving the forensic evidence we would not have solved that case.

“The FSS has done stirling work for 60 years and as a police service we are very sad to see them going.

“It’s almost like losing a member of the family because we have worked so closely together over the years – but we have to go forward and look to the future.”

* Jeffrey Gafoor

In 2003 security guard Jeffrey Gafoor was sentenced to life for the murder of prostitute Lynette White.

Three local men, Yusef Abdullahi, Tony Paris and Steven Miller, were convicted but were freed on appeal.


Almost a decade later, DNA technology advances and a new sample found at the scene helped to catch the real culprit.

Gafoor was not on the database but a sample taken from a relative gave the match that led to his arrest.

* John Cooper

John Cooper stood trial last year for the murders of brother and sister Helen and Richard Thomas and husband and wife Peter and Gwenda Dixon.

A key part of the evidence against Cooper rested on a partial DNA profile of Peter Dixon from paint flakes taken from the hand-painted barrel of a shotgun used by the defendant in a previous burglary.

When the black paint was stripped from the barrel, a microscopic bead of blood was found.

* Mark Hampson

The murder of Geraldine Palk went undetected for more than a decade until DNA technology led to Mark Hampson’s arrest.

The shipping clerk’s body was discovered in the brook running alongside Fairwater Leisure Centre in Cardiff three days before Christmas 1990.

Hampson was convicted and jailed for life at Bristol Crown Court in November 2002. He died in 2007.

* John Pope

In 2007, labourer John Randall Pope was arrested in connection with the death – more than 10 years before – of Karen Skipper, after blood discovered on the clothes she was wearing on the night of her death were found to have blood stains matching his DNA.

In 2010 the Court of Appeal quashed his murder conviction and ordered a retrial.

He was convicted of murder last year and sentenced to a minimum of 19 years in prison.

The history of the Forensic Science Service:

1929: Police reformer Arthur Dixon submits a proposal to the Home Secretary for the establishment of a police college, with laboratories to provide scientific research and investigation;

1934: Small police laboratories are established in Bristol and Nottingham;

1937: The first regional Forensic Science Service laboratory opens in Birmingham, followed by laboratories in Cardiff, Preston and Wakefield;


1984: Sir Alec Jeffreys, a professor at the University of Leicester, discovers DNA fingerprinting;

1986: The first DNA profiling is introduced;

1990: Single Locus Probe DNA profiling begins, enabling DNA to be extracted from smaller samples;

1994: Mitochondrial DNA profiling is developed, for use on old and degraded material;

1999: Low Copy Number DNA profiling is developed;

2000: The number of suspect profiles on the National DNA Database passes the one million mark;

2007: The DNA database becomes the world’s largest, containing 4.5m samples taken during criminal inquiries;

2010: The Government announces the FSS – which now employs 1,600 people – is to be wound up;

2011: Laboratories in Chepstow, Chorley and Birmingham are closed down;

2012: Remaining offices and laboratories to close in March.

Read More

An Inside Look At The Speed Freak Killers

What made them killers?

Those who knew pair struggle to understand what went wrong

LINDEN – Susanne Dickins recalls her daily school bus rides as a child growing up in the sleepy town of Linden.

Two inseparable boys who were five years younger – Loren Herzog and Wesley Shermantine – also got on the bus near Fine and Eastern Heights roads.

It was the 1970s, but she can still picture Herzog, a quiet, towheaded little boy every mother would love.

Never far behind him was Shermantine, whom Dickins describes, by contrast, as a “stinker.” Shermantine made everybody tense when he stepped onboard the bus.

“He was always the one who would create the mess we didn’t need,” Dickins recalled. “The rest of us were just trying to get home.”

Even so, Dickins could never have fathomed that those two boys would grow up to be serial killers.

Remnants of their trail of horror have been unearthed in recent days – first in Calaveras County and last week near their boyhood homes in rural eastern San Joaquin County.

Shermantine, now 45, began revealing the locations of missing victims late last year. He said Herzog stowed some bodies in wells near Linden at a spot he calls “Loren’s boneyard.”

In one well, county Sheriff’s Office searchers found 1,000 bone fragments along with a woman’s purse, jewelry and shoes.

Those who knew Shermantine and Herzog are struggling to understand what went wrong. Some answers to Shermantine’s behavior may be found in his family tree.

Old newspaper clippings show dozens of headlines about earlier Shermantine men going to jail for fights and burglary.

One Stockton Record headline from 1957 says, “Brothers Held after Brawl, Beating of Man.” A follow-up story exclaims, “Judge Rules Shermantine Pair Guilty.”

Wesley Shermantine took such wildness to another level.

While maintaining his death sentence will eventually be overturned, Shermantine said in an Oct. 2, 2011, interview with The Record that he squandered his life on substance abuse.

He said he regretted leaving his wife at home raising their children while he was out drinking and abusing drugs such as methamphetamine.

Sherrie Sherman – in a recent Fox TV 40 interview – described her ex-husband as a volatile drug addict.

“He was very hot-headed,” she said. “When he started smoking the drugs is when it all started going downhill.”

She does not know why he and Herzog spared her life. She could easily see herself being among the remains recently found in the well east of Linden.

Shermantine’s older sister, Barbara Jackson, 48, said she chooses to remember the kind, younger sibling who would do anything to help her. Her brother took Herzog everywhere and considered him a brother.

She is reeling from news accounts that Shermantine now admits, at the very least, to disposing of Herzog’s murder victims. And her thinking is starting to change because of that possible truth.

She said the two boys were inseparable from age 3 into their teenage years and young adulthood.

The two families lived across Fine Road from each other. Malvie and Jerry Herzog still live there today. Residents in the close-knit rural neighborhood fear talking publicly about the Herzog family.

Both of Shermantine’s parents, Wesley Sr. and Sue Shermantine, died after he went to prison.

Despite wanting to think otherwise, Jackson long suspected a darker side to her brother.

“If he wound up just covering up for Loren, he deserves to be where he’s at,” she said of her brother, who is on death row. She’s happy he’s finally coming forward. “I wish he had done it a long time ago.”

She believes Shermantine gave up the burial places of Cyndi Vanderheiden, Chevy Wheeler and the well near Linden to send Herzog back to prison.

Jackson, undergoing treatment for bone cancer, said her brother feared what crimes Herzog might next commit.

Shermantine and Herzog were arrested in 1999, ending a decades-long killing spree. Shermantine received a death sentence, while Herzog’s long prison sentence was overturned on appeal. He was released on parole in 2010.

Herzog, 46, apparently hanged himself Jan. 16 at a fifth-wheel trailer on the grounds of a north-state prison after learning that Shermantine was providing details of burial sites.

What baffles Jackson is that she and her brother had a privileged youth. Their father had a successful home construction company.

The two boys, she said, lived an idyllic youth, exploring the wilds of eastern San Joaquin County and the hills outside San Andreas.

“They knew every mine shaft, spring or rock formation,” Jackson said, adding that there was not a fishing hole they had not tested.

She said Shermantine at some point in life reached a fork in the road and chose his own unsettling path. “He’s my brother, regardless. I’ll always love him.”

Boyhood fishing and hunting expeditions foreshadowed later hunts for human prey.

San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Thomas Testa, who won convictions against the two in 2001, said at trial the jury learned about somebody who once overheard a spirited front porch talk between the two about their blood sport.

Someone interrupted them, Testa said.

“They were both exulting in the thrill of the human hunt,” Testa said. “Loren took Wes aside and said, ‘Shut up.’ ”

In a letter sent from death row, Shermantine said they funded their hunting trips to other states by selling marijuana.

He also talked in jailhouse visits about random road hunting. He denied killing anybody – blaming that on Herzog. But he said he enjoyed driving back roads with a hunting rifle at the ready.

That matches the slaying of Henry Howell, found shot dead in 1984 along a road near Markleeville on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada, Testa said. They were not convicted of Howell’s death.

“He wasn’t even robbed,” Testa said. “They saw him, they shot him, and they went on.”

Testa said the two were never charged with any out-of-state slayings, but they were suspects in cases in Reno, Utah and New Mexico.

Dates on hunting licenses and speeding tickets correlated to the homicides, but Testa said they did not make a court case.

Testa has 20 bankers’ boxes in storage filled with evidence and documents from the trials of the two men. He said their victims may add up to 18 or 20.

Testa believes the two men used each other’s personality attributes in their crimes. At first, investigators believed that Shermantine dominated and Herzog was the obedient sidekick. In reality, Testa said, they more likely played an equal role.

“Loren was the good-looking, rockin’ roller. He opened the door,” Testa said. “Wes was the one who got them and killed them.”

Dickins long ago moved away from the Linden-Peters area, but she has not forgotten the school bus rides with Shermantine and Herzog.

She fondly remembers Herzog’s mother, who taught her to sew. Dickins visited the Herzog home weekly for 4-H sewing lessons given by his mother, Melvie, then a school secretary.

“She was the nicest person,” Dickins said. “She would probably love to have him back now.”

Contact reporter Scott Smith at (209) 546-8296 or Visit his blog at

 An interesting look at this killing duo. No abuse or maltreatment mentioned. Just two normal childhoods. Actually, they seem to have had better childhoods than many people that I know who are not drug addicts or killers.

I do not believe for one second that Shermantine only helped in the disposal of the victims. I don’t think anyone does. He was up to his elbows in the blood right along side of Herzog.


Serial Killer Colin Ireland Dead

Let’s not all cry at once.

It seems that the ‘Gay Slayer’, Colin Irleand has died from natural causes meaning he did serve his whole life term.

Known as the ‘gay slayer’, he reportedly posed as a homosexual to be taken to each of his victims’ homes, where he tortured and murdered them after making a New Year’s resolution in 1993 to become a serial killer.

But Ireland, who terrorised London’s gay community, was caught later the same year when CCTV footage showed him with his last victim.

Read more 

I am trying to contain my grief.  He killed 5 men just so he could be a famous serial killer.

When he thought his first murder had gone unnoticed, Ireland, then of Southend, rang both the Samaritans and The Sun newspaper to tell them what he had done as he sought to achieve his resolution to become famous for being a serial killer.


Before killing his fifth victim, 41-year-old Emanual Spiteri on June 12, Ireland called police four times to ask why they had not linked the four murders, telling them he had killed them all.


A Prison Service spokeswoman said: ‘Colin Ireland died in HMP Wakefield’s healthcare centre today (actually on Feb. 22)  at 9.20am. He is presumed to have died from natural causes; a post-mortem will follow.

Read more


At times like this I really hope that there is a Hell just so he can rot there forever.

Murderabilia Law Passes House

Bill that would prevent criminals from profiting from crimes passes House

By Charles Geraci The Herald Journal

The Utah House of Representatives has unanimously supported a bill sponsored by Providence Rep. Curt Webb that is intended to keep criminals from profiting from their crimes.

Webb told The Herald Journal on Friday he is “extremely pleased” with Thursday’s vote.

 “The House is often kind of the litmus test. There’s so many of us in there, so many opportunities for people to express concerns,” Webb said. “For it to be a unanimous vote, I think, says a lot about the bill and the importance of the principle involved, which is that criminals should not profit from their crimes.”

The bill, “Notorious Criminal Activity Amendments,” changes the state’s existing “Son of Sam” law, nicknamed after a serial killer who terrorized New York City in the late 1970s. Some speculated at the time that David Berkowitz was being offered large sums of money from publishers in exchange for his story.

Other states have “Son of Sam” laws – designed to prohibit criminals from profiting off their crimes, such as through book deals and movie rights – but Webb said some have been challenged in court on constitutional grounds.

“They were challenged in court based on the freedom of speech issue – that you can’t tell somebody that they can’t do that, and you can’t sue them for what they say. So then (states) started to re-craft these laws … in such a way that people can say what they want to say and their speech is not restricted by law,” Webb explained recently. “But if they or their families benefit financially or in any other way profit from it … then those profits are essentially confiscated and used to pay reparations to the victim that may have been granted in court. Then the balance goes to (the Crime Victim Reparations Fund).”

Webb believes the legislation will pass “constitutional muster” if it is ever challenged.

The bill requires any entity or person who contracts with the convicted individual to pay any profit owed to the fund. Any profit already received must also be remitted to the fund. The Utah Office for Victims of Crime will pay any restitution still owed to the victim, and any remainder will go into the fund.

Webb’s bill was introduced in the Senate on Friday.

I am wondering about gray areas. If the wife, ex wife or child of a killer writes a book how are they affected by this law?

I do not think it is fair to punish someone like Melissa Moore (daughter of Happy Faced Killer Keith Jesperson) for being born and having him as a father. She wrote a book about her life and what it was like at home with Jesperson.

I hope that the lawmakers consider the fact that the families of the killers are victims as well and that they do not punish them in an attempt to punish the actual criminals.

SANTA ANA – The Yorba Linda man who was indicted last week in what prosecutors have called thrill killings of six people during a three-month span pleaded not guilty Tuesday at his Orange County arraignment to multiple capital murder charges.

Itzcoatl “Izzy” Ocampo, 23, a Marine Iraq war veteran, is charged with the unprovoked stabbing deaths of four homeless men in north Orange County in December and January and the stabbing deaths of a Yorba Linda woman and her adult son in a puzzling Oct. 25, 2011, attack that was initially blamed on the woman’s youngest son.

His trial was assigned to Superior Court Judge Francisco Briseno, Orange’s County’s longest-serving judge. Prosecuting and defense attorneys agreed to a pre-trial hearing on March 9 before Briseno picks a date for trial and resolves preliminary legal issues.

Defense attorney Randall Longwith told reporters after the brief hearing Tuesday that Ocampo is mentally ill.

“I can tell you right now, he’s cracked, he’s ill, he’s fractured. … he doesn’t understand where he is or what his situation is,” Longwith said.

Longwith said Ocampo has not been the same since he did a seven-and-a-half month tour of duty in Iraq as a Marine, where he worked with a medical battalion transporting wounded, dismembered and deceased soldiers and Iraq citizens.

“He went through a lot,” Longwith said. “You can’t not see horrors when you’re in a war zone. It affects some people more than others.”

Relatives of two of the homeless men stabbed to death during the killing spree listened quietly to the proceedings in court Tuesday. Brad Olsen, the brother-in-law of Lloyd “Jimmy” Middaugh, who was killed as he slept near the Sana Ana River trail in Anaheim on Dec. 28, said “it’s a weird feeling to see the man who murdered my brother-in-law in court. It was just surreal that this was the last person that my brother-in-law ever saw on this earth.”

Marie Middaugh, Lloyd’s mother, said she thought it was a disservice to all the brave men and women who have served this country in the Iraq war for Ocampo’s attorney to claim his client is mentally insane because of his time in Iraq.

I agree with this. What he is trying to pull is insulting to so many on different levels.

“I don’t like it,” she said. “My son was doing nothing but sleeping when he was stabbed to death.”

She said she plans to attend every minute of Ocampo’s trial, to stand up for her son and see that justice is done. “My son once told me that if anything happened to him he knew that I would fight for him,” she said. “I’ll be there for him.”

Ocampo is also charged with special circumstances of committing multiple murders and committing murders by lying in wait, allegations which could lead to a minimum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole if he is convicted.

The District Attorney’s Office could also decide at a later date to seek the death penalty against Ocampo, who was arrested on Jan. 13 as he ran from an Anaheim parking lot where a fourth homeless victim was hacked to death within a 25-day period.

He was running away, he knew what he did was wrong. IMO proves he is not legally insane.

Ocampo was initially charged with those four slayings, which began on Dec. 20 in Yorba Linda, when James McGillivray, 53, stabbed to death shortly after 8 p.m. on Dec. 20, 2011, behind a commercial complex at 140 N. Bradford Ave., in Placentia.

But after his arrest, detectives with the Orange County homeless serial killer task force expanded an earlier investigation into the October stabbing deaths of Raquel Estrada, 53, and her oldest son Juan Herrera, 35, in their Yorba Linda home because of similarities in their deaths and the homeless killing spree.

Eder Herrera, 24, Raquel Estrada’s youngest son, was originally arrested and charged in those two slayings. Detectives were surprised to learn that Ocampo was a friend of Eder Herrera, lived about a mile away from the double homicide, and had been inside the Estrada/Herrera home prior to the slayings.

When detectives also learned that Estrada’s and Juan Herrera’s DNA were found on an item of clothing seized in Ocampo’s home after his arrest in the homeless men slayings, he was charged with the mother and son slayings as well, while charges were dropped against Eder Herrera.

Last week, the Orange County grand jury indicted Ocampo for all six slayings in a legal maneuver that speeds the case to trial because it eliminates the need for a preliminary hearing to test the evidence. Now, instead of the evidence being vetted by a magistrate to determine if there is sufficient cause to proceed, the case was quickly assigned to a trial judge.

It also prevents Longwith from being able to cross-examine witnesses during a preliminary hearing, which would have been called to order in a courtroom open to the public. Grand jury proceedings are held in secret session.

Specifically, Ocampo is charged with the murders of:

  • James McGillivray, 53, stabbed to death shortly after 8 p.m. on Dec. 20, 2011, behind a commercial complex at 140 N. Bradford Ave., in Placentia. The killer kneeled on the victim’s chest and stabbed him more than 40 times in the head, neck, and chest in an attack that was captured on grainy surveillance videos. The attacker, however, was unidentifiable because a sweatshirt hood covered his face.
  • Lloyd “Jimmy” Middaugh, 42, who was taking shelter on the Santa Ana River Trail under the 91 overpass in Anaheim on Dec. 28 when he was stabbed more than 50 times in the head and torso. His body was discovered the following morning.
  • Paulus “Dutch” Smit, 57, was stabbed more than 60 times in an alcove of the Yorba Linda Public Library shortly after 3:45 p.m. on Dec. 30. His body was discovered about an hour and 15 minutes later.
  • John Barry, 64, was stabbed to death outside a trash enclosure at a Carl’s Jr. restaurant on La Palma Avenue in Anaheim by a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt. Several witnesses saw the attack and chased after the assailant. Ocampo was arrested about a quarter mile away after he ran from the crime scene shedding clothes and, police say, the knife. At the time of his arrest, Ocampo had blood on his hands and face, police said.
  • Raquel Estrada, 53, stabbed to death in the kitchen of her home on Trix Circle in Yorba Linda on Oct. 25. She had been stabbed nearly 40 times.
  • Juan Herrera, 35, whose bloodied body was found near his mother’s inside the home they shared in Yorba Linda. He had been stabbed more than 60 times, and may have tried to flee from his house during the attack. Detectives theorize that the killer dragged his body back inside the house.

The OC Register has excellent updated coverage on this.

I hope that no one buys this insanity defense.

Another Possible Gilgo Beach Serial Killer Victim


Police have recovered another skeleton from a wooded area in Manorville, N.Y., that appears to be something of a dumping ground for dead bodies, after a man jogging with his dog alerted authorities.

“The [remains] have been there for several years,” a spokeswoman for the Suffolk County Police Department told “There is no indication they were connected to the others, but obviously we’re going to look into that.”

The remains of four other individuals have been found in the area in recent years, but the mystery behind them has gone largely unsolved.

Matt Samuel, who found the latest skeleton, told the New York Daily News he had walked by the area “a hundred times before” but noticed Friday night that something unusual was sticking out of the ground.

“It was wrapped in bed sheets and a plastic bag. It was a whole body, but just the bones, there was trees growing up through it, so it has been there a long time,” he said.

The partial remains of two women who were found in 2000 and 2011 in the wooded area are believed to be victims of the Gilgo Beach serial killer, who discarded body parts in the Gilgo Beach area in Nassau County, as well as some in Manorville, which is 30 miles away.

The unidentified remains of two men were also discovered in 2000 and 2003, however they are not believed to be related to the Gilgo Beach murderer, police have said.

The medical is expected to release a report in the next few weeks that could identify the latest skeleton and the cause of death.


Image found Here


Remains of Possibly 10 More Speed Freak Serial Killers’ Victims Found

Authorities on Sunday unearthed more skull fragments and other human remains in an area where a convicted serial killer said there may be 10 or more victims.

Sunday marked the fourth straight day that remains have been found with the help of a map prepared by death row inmate Wesley Shermantine, who, along with his childhood friend Loren Herzog became known as the ‘Speed Freak Killers’ for a methamphetamine-fuelled killing spree that had as many as 15 victims.

The search has already had a significant amount of success, as the bodies of two murder victims were found earlier this week.

Bargaining: Wesley Shermantine, 45, says that his former partner-in-crime killed Michaela and Shemantine knows where they used to bury their victims

Similarities: Shermantine says that Loren Herzog (right) looks very similar to the sketch of the suspect in Michaela's abduction case (left)

The remains of two women- Chevelle ‘Chevy’ Wheeler disappeared while skipping school in 1985 aged 16, and Cyndi Vanderheiden, a 25-year-old last seen in front of her Linden home in 1998- were found during the search, giving their families some closure.

The new bones and skulls that were discovered along with clothes, a purse and jewellery leads authorities to believe that there may be 10 or more victims.

The remains and other items were found 45 feet deep in the well on an abandoned cattle ranch near Linden, California, San Joaquin County sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Les Garcia said.

After two days of searching the site, investigators, public works employees and volunteers have found more than 300 human bones, Mr Garcia said. The search would resume Monday if weather allowed.

A piece of a human skull and bones found Saturday at the ranch will be sent to the Department of Justice in the hopes of identifying them through DNA testing, Garcia said.

Dental records identified remains found Thursday in Calaveras County as those of 25-year-old Ms Vanderheiden, who disappeared.

Chevelle Wheeler

Cyndi Vanderheiden

The bodies of Chevelle Wheeler and Cyndi Vanderheiden were found buried in California in the area identified by Shermantine

Another set of remains were found Friday in the same area, and the parents of a missing 16-year-old girl have said authorities told them that Shermantine said their daughter was buried in that spot decades ago.

Crews are expected to be searching the ranch in Linden for several days, at what Garcia has said would be a ‘slow and tedious’ pace.

The property, about 60 miles south of Sacramento, was once owned by Shermantine’s family.

Missing: Michaela Garecht, nine, has still not been found since her abduction in November 1988

Michaela Garecht, nine, has still not been found since her abduction in November 1988. She is a suspected victim of the Speed Freak Killers.

Full Article Here

What Life Is Like For a Serial Killer on Death Row

Letters From Death Row Inmates By Derek Olson Published


Five men now sit on South Dakota’s death row. And while the living conditions are no secret, a pair of letters from 2002 gives us a glimpse of what life is really like for those waiting to be executed.

In 2002, Joel Schwader was working as a Rapid City newspaper columnist. “I got the idea to write to the death row inmates because I was curious on what life was really like on death row. Is it as bad as people thought, or did they lead a nice, cozy life?” Schwader said. He wrote to all five men waiting to be executed.

Charles Rhines, who was sentenced for Murder in 1993, was the first to respond. He said, all things considered, his life wasn’t that bad. He even had a sense of humor. “Personally speaking, I think I’d likely have gotten another murder conviction had I been forced to spend the last nine years in a cell with Donald Moeller or Ron Anderson. They’re both okay individuals to speak with, but I don’t think I could handle spending 23 1/4 hours per day in a cell with them without resorting to violence,” Schwader read from Rhines’ letter.

A few days later a letter arrived from Robert Leroy Anderson. “I don’t judge people. I just don’t. But the sense of evil that engulfed that letter when I pulled it out of the mailbox was just overwhelming to say the least,” Schwader said.

The serial killer spent much of the letter complaining about the justice system, politics and perceptions. “Your story would not enlighten the public to “row” conditions as much as it would participate a debate on whether or not we’re being too kindly treated. I hold no disillusions on the public sentiment towards me,” Schwader read from Anderson’s letter.

Rhines’ wrote similar words. “As for letting the people of South Dakota know what life on Death Row is really like, well, perhaps we’d be better off not telling anyone. It’s not as if they chain us to a wall and feed us with sling shots,” Schwader read from Rhines’ letter.

Even though conditions are no secret, Schwader says that hearing the first-hand accounts of the men living there was an eye-opening experience. “We all know that death is coming eventually. We don’t know when, but these guys do. They know that it’s going to come sooner than later,” Schwader said. And although he is not for or against the death penalty, Schwader says he feels compassion for those who are condemned. “Some people say that there are some things worse than death. And I would think that waiting to die would be one of them,” Schwader said.

“While I’m getting rather long-winded, supper is nearing. It might even be edible tonight. It’s never fancy, but usually okay.

Sincerely yours,

Charles R. Rhines,” Schwader read.

Rhines is still awaiting execution for the 1992 killing of Donnivan Schaeffer.

 Robert Leroy Anderson committed suicide in prison on March 30, 2003.

Seems to me their lives are pretty cozy. No need to work. A roof over their heads, and edible food. Way too easy if you ask me.

Twenty-two year old Donnivan Schaeffer was opening up the Rapid City doughnut shop where he worked in 1992, when he surprised fired former employee Charles Russell Rhines burglarizing the business. According to another Journal article, in his taped confession to police, Rhines “…chuckled at times when describing how he methodically went about executing Schaeffer so there would be no witness to the burglary. Rhines said he killed Schaeffer even though he pleaded for his life.” Schaeffer was “…stabbed twice by Rhines and shoved into a storeroom. Rhines left him to die after tying him up and stabbing him a third time in the neck….” The ” … unemotional Rhines carefully described the fatal stab would where the skull meets the spine.” Even today, almost twenty years later, I remember reading at the time how Rhines taunted Donnivan as he executed him.

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Rhines is not even the one that the author described as evil. He is not the serial killer.

Anderson was convicted of kidnapping and killing Larisa Dumansky of Sioux Falls in 1994 and Piper Streyle of rural Canistota two years later. He kidnapped Piper in front of her two small children.

Police found evidence to connect him to the murder and to show that he was a sexual sadist.

Near the Big Sioux River where part of a shirt that matched to Piper was found was a roll of duct tape with human hairs attached to it. The hair was later analyzed and found to be consistent with samples taken from Piper’s hairbrush. Moreover, the duct tape taken from the scene matched the roll recovered fromAnderson’s truck two months earlier.

More gruesome physical evidence was discovered around the river, which included several lengths of rope and chains, eyebolts, a vibrator and a half burned candle. It was believed that the items were used to torture Piper. They also presented clear evidence that Anderson was a sexual sadist.

Sexual Sadist

According to Hazelwood and Michaud, there was sufficient proof that Anderson was a sexual sadist who was excited by the physical and psychological suffering and helplessness of his victim. Their opinion was based on four factors:


  1. Anderson displayed an “obvious interest in sexual bondage, a hallmark of the sexual sadist,” which was represented by the restraints, dildo, partially burnt candle, eyebolts, handcuff keys, duct tape and plywood platform.
  2. The evidence found by investigators “clearly indicated physical torture.” It was surmised that after Piper was abducted, Anderson drove her to a wooded area near Baltic. While there he may have bound her to the platform, gagged her with duct tape, sheared her shirt off and then methodically tortured her with the dildo and candle before raping her. It is believed that he then murdered Piper and disposed of her body. 
  3. Anderson admitted to police and friends that he liked anal sex, a preference his wife did not share. Research conducted by Hazelwood and Michaud found that, “sexual sadists prefer this form of sex.” They believed that the dildo was used byAnderson to act out his fantasy.
  4. It was further suggested that sexual sadists “habitually plan their crimes in much greater detail than do other criminals.”

One of Anderson’s longtime friends, Jamie Hammer, brought forth evidence, which provided investigators with new information concerning Anderson’s sexually sadistic and predatory behavior. They learned that Piper was not his only victim. They also realized that he would have likely continued to prey on women, if he hadn’t been caught.

On August 26th, Anderson approached Larisa in the parking lot where they worked. He held her at knifepoint and ordered her into his vehicle. Then Anderson and Walker drove Larisa to LakeVermillion. When they arrived at the lake,Walker watched as Anderson dragged Larisa out of the car and raped her several times. According to Hazelwood and Michaud, Larisa pleaded desperately for her life but Anderson ignored her.

During testimony given byWalker several years after the incident, he informed police that Anderson suffocated Larisawith duct tape and then buried her remains beneath a chokecherry bush. At the time of Larisa’s death she was approximately six weeks pregnant

Crime Library 

So yeah, in my opinion they are living cozy lives.

I am willing to bet that that Ms. Streyle, Ms. Dumansky, Infant Dumansky and Mr. Schaeffer would agree with me.

Serial killer’s tip leads to remains of 2nd body

(AP)  SAN FRANCISCO — Information provided by a California death row inmate who was one of the two notorious “Speed Freak Killers” led to the discovery Friday of a second set of human remains, this time believed to belong to a 16-year-old girl who went missing nearly three decades ago.

Specially trained dogs led authorities to a partial human skull and bones buried on a remote Calaveras County property, said Deputy Les Garcia, spokesman for the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department, which is leading the search.

Garcia said it would take some time for the Department of Justice to make a positive identification.

However, the parents of Chevelle “Chevy” Wheeler said authorities notified them that the remains were discovered where death row inmate Wesley Shermantine said they would find their daughter, who disappeared while skipping school in 1985. Shermantine was convicted of her murder, which authorities say was part of a methamphetamine-fueled killing spree committed by him and his childhood friend, Loren Herzog, from the 1980s until their arrests in 1999.

“They said they found her wrapped in a blanket,” Paula Wheeler, the girl’s mother, told The Associated Press in a phone interview from the family’s home in Crossville, Tenn. “This is a happy day. We can finally have some closure.”

The Wheelers say they plan to cremate their daughter and bring her home with them to Tennessee, where they moved after her disappearance.

On Thursday, the same dogs led the same searchers to a site containing another skull and bones thought to belong to Cyndi Vanderheiden, a 25-year-old last seen in front of her Linden home in 1998.

The searchers found all the remains in an area near property once owned by the family of Shermantine.

Prompted by a Sacramento bounty hunter’s promise to pay him money, Shermantine has been hand-drawing maps from his Death Row cell that authorities are using to search three sites.

Along with the two nearby sites in Calaveras County, about 60 miles south of Sacramento, that yielded the finds Thursday and Friday, authorities have also been digging up an old cattle ranch well in San Joaquin County. Shermantine claims Herzog buried as many as 10 bodies in the well.

Herzog committed suicide last month after Sacramento bounty hunter Leonard Padilla told him Shermantine was disclosing the location of the well along with the two locations near his family’s former property.

Padilla has promised to pay Shermantine as much as $33,000 to disclose the locations of the bodies. Padilla said he hopes to collect on rewards being offered by the state of California for information about several missing persons suspected of being victims of Herzog and Shermantine.

Shermantine was convicted of four murders and sentenced to death. Herzog was convicted of three murders and sentenced to 77 years to life in prison. Herzog’s sentences was reduced to 14 years after an appeals court tossed his first-degree murder convictions after ruling his confession was illegally obtained.

Herzog was paroled in 2010 to a trailer outside the High Desert State Prison in Susanville. He committed suicide last month outside that trailer.

CBS News

I am so happy for the families. I’m shocked that Shermantine is really giving the information but I guess between the money, being able to expose Herzog and the fact that he probably feels like he is making the cops look stupid he could not resist.

It is funny that all the bodies are being found on land that was once owned by the family of Shermantine yet he is stating that only Herzog was responsible.

Killer’s Families Are Victims As Well

This is a moving article that depicts the plight of the families of killers. SO often they are blamed or forgotten.

Danyall White, a sister of the confessed killer Richard Paul White, used alcohol to help deal with the situation. 

PUEBLO, Colo. – On a summer night not long ago, Maureen White sat alone in her living room staring at a DVD she had avoided watching for years. On the screen was her older brother, Richard Paul White, the person who taught her how to ride a bike and who tried to protect her from their mother’s abusive boyfriend when they were children. He was confessing to murdering six people. Toward the end of the videotaped police interrogation, Ms. White reached for a razor blade and began to slice her left leg. “I felt such rage and anger and so many emotions I did not know what to do,” said Ms. White, 34. When she was done, she needed dozens of stitches and staples. Mr. White, 39, will spend the rest of his life in prison for three of the murders, to which he pleaded guilty in 2004. Ms. White, whose life has always been fragile, is still struggling. Like relatives of other violent criminals, she has found herself ill prepared to deal with the complex set of emotions and circumstances that further unhinged her life after her brother’s crimes. Under treatment for anxiety and depression, among other conditions, she has nightmares about serial killers and snipers. She is startled by loud noises and gets nervous around strangers. And for more than a year after viewing the video, she continued to cut herself – something she had never done before. “By cutting myself,” she said, “I wanted people to see on the outside how ugly and bad I feel on the inside.” In a society where headlines of violence are almost commonplace, the families of the perpetrators are often unknown and largely unheard from. But now some relatives have decided to share their stories. In interviews with members of numerous families of varying social and economic status, siblings, parents, partners, cousins and children of convicted killers recounted the hardships they have experienced in the years since their relatives’ crimes. In the flash of a horrifying moment, they said, their lives had become a vortex of shame, anger and guilt. Most said they were overwhelmed by the blame and ostracism they had received for crimes they had no part in. Yet many of these families stay in close touch with their imprisoned relatives. Nat Berkowitz, the father of David Berkowitz, the New York City serial killer known as the Son of Sam, said he regularly talked to his son on the phone more than 34 years after his arrest. “I am 101, and it still goes on,” he said. A Cousin’s Livelihood On Nov. 5, 2009, 13 people were killed and 32 others wounded at Fort Hood, Tex. By the next day, the repercussions had reached a small law office in Fairfax, Va. The head of the firm, Nader Hasan, is a cousin of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the man accused of carrying out the rampage, and the two had grown up together outside Washington. “Our phones went completely quiet, dead,” Mr. Hasan, 42, a criminal defense lawyer, said at a large oak table in his impeccably neat office, where a painting of the United States Capitol hangs above a fireplace. “It was devastating since we relied on referrals. I lost dozens of prospective clients, and it still happens.” Internet accounts reported that the two men were relatives. An interview Mr. Hasan gave to Fox News soon after the shooting in which he said his cousin “was a good American” created an impression to some that he was condoning what his cousin was accused of doing. Soon after, Mr. Hasan said, a father in a custody dispute he was handling filed an appeal to a lawsuit against Mr. Hasan in which he referred to him as “the cousin of the Fort Hood shooter.” The appeal argued that Mr. Hasan should be removed as guardian of the two children in the case and highlighted his link to Major Hasan. The petition was dismissed, Mr. Hasan said. But during the first few months after the shooting, he said, he felt such humiliation that he was loath to appear in court. “We got continuances on a lot of cases until the next year because I did not want to be seen in the courthouse since I felt so embarrassed,” he said. The discomfort crept into his personal life. When he returned to a local school where he had been a volunteer assistant wrestling coach since 2000, he said, he was asked to leave because of his connection to the Fort Hood violence. He packed up. By March 2010, Mr. Hasan’s situation was improving. Referrals were on the rise, and his wife was pregnant with their first child. But he was agonizing about staying silent about religious extremism. With a lawyer friend, Kendrick Macdowell, he formed the Nawal Foundation, named after Mr. Hasan’s mother, and set up a Web site to encourage moderate American Muslims to denounce violence in the name of Islam. It was not an easy thing to do. “There was a tremendous amount of family pressure on him to do nothing public, to not remind the world we are related to the Fort Hood shooter,” Mr. Macdowell said. Late last year, Kerry Cahill, a 29-year-old woman who lost her father in the shooting, contacted Mr. Hasan to discuss the foundation, whose message she liked. They met at his home for several emotional hours. She said that Mr. Hasan was very apologetic and that she sensed he was burdened. She recently accepted his invitation to sit on the foundation’s board. “We are both angry at the same thing,” she said. A Lover’s Remorse Debra Kay Bischoff was not the woman who arranged for Ronnie Lee Gardner, a career criminal with a history of escapes, to get his hands on a gun in a Salt Lake City courthouse, a weapon that he used to kill a lawyer and wound a sheriff’s bailiff in a failed escape. But for the nearly 25 years that Mr. Gardner was on death row for that 1985 murder until his execution, Ms. Bischoff, who is his former girlfriend and the mother of two of his children, felt a sense of responsibility for much of his violence, including a previous killing of a bartender. Ms. Bischoff cites her decision around 1982 to move from Utah to Idaho with their daughter and son to get away from Mr. Gardner and start a new life. Though she loved him deeply, she said, he had become terrifying to her. Nonetheless, Ms. Bischoff, now 52, said: “I felt such remorse leaving. What if? What if I hadn’t? He lost it because he lost us, the only people who ever showed him love.” In a letter she sent in June 2010 to the prison warden and the state parole board pleading for Mr. Gardner’s life about two weeks before his execution, Ms. Bischoff wrote, “You see, he opened his heart to us and then we broke it, and I honestly believe it was too much for him to take and he reacted in violent ways to release his anger and hurt.” That Mr. Gardner died by firing squad – a method he chose over lethal injection – has left her with an even heavier conscience. And she says she has misgivings that her husband of 27 years knows how deeply she loved Mr. Gardner. “I never did get over Ronnie, and I don’t know it ever ended with him,” she said, adding that she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in social work and volunteering at a youth program, all to help troubled youngsters so that they may have a better upbringing than he did. Ms. Bischoff, her husband and the son she had with Mr. Gardner, Daniel, 31, live in a one-story house they built next to potato and grain fields in a middle-class neighborhood in Blackfoot, Idaho. Soon after the execution, Mr. Gardner’s brother Randy and his daughter with Ms. Bischoff, Brandie, were allowed to observe the bullet wounds in his chest to make sure he had died as quickly as the authorities said he would. “To look at his face and chest has haunted me,” Randy said. “I have night sweats and nightmares.” As for Brandie, 34, who works at a bakery earning $8 per hour, the fact that her father had been absent virtually all her life has left her bitter and distrustful of men. “I wanted to be a daddy’s girl, but I did not have a guy to raise me or a first guy to love, and that affected my relationships with men,” said Brandie, who had an eight-year marriage that fell apart. “I have kept myself walled off so I won’t get hurt again by any man.” Brandie was in alcohol rehabilitation by the time she was 14, she said, and more recently was charged with felony domestic battery after fighting a man while drunk. “I have been destructive like a tornado because I have been so mad,” she said. Soon after the execution, Brandie said, she attempted suicide by downing large quantities of pills and washing them down with beer. She ended up in the hospital for about three days. Less than a month later, she was drinking Jack Daniel’s and swallowing more pills. “The last time I tried to kill myself, honestly, I felt like I was done,” Brandie said, standing in a bedroom of the worn bungalow she rents on a tree-lined street in Idaho Falls. In her hands was a plastic box containing some of her father’s ashes. A Brother’s Fears Ever since Aug. 18, 2005, Robert Hyde has been leery about what perils may lie outside, beyond his home near the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. That was the day his older brother, John, long plagued by mental illness, embarked on a homicidal spree that spanned about 18 hours and left five people dead in scattered parts of the city, with two police officers among the victims. Mr. Hyde had never known his brother to be violent or cruel. He understood that John, who like himself was adopted but from different biological parents, had been paranoid and odd, but he did not think John was prone to violence. Knowing now that John had descended into such savage behavior has changed the way Mr. Hyde perceives people. “The world is darker to me now; I am more nervous when I go out,” Mr. Hyde, 51, said as classical music softly played in the living room of his modest Pueblo revival-style house. “Who knows who else is out there somewhere who could change so drastically?” he said. “Maybe anyone could.” The first time Mr. Hyde traveled after the shootings, on a trip to a lake with his girlfriend, they feared that others there might assault them. “It was paranoia,” he said. “It was a degree of post-traumatic stress.” Then there was simply the matter of his last name. He was self-conscious when it was called at a doctor’s office. His son, he said, a high school senior when the shootings occurred, endured nasty taunts from fellow students: “Are you going to go Hyde on me?” Not long after John, now 55, was arrested, he told his legal guardian that he wanted to kill Mr. Hyde and their cousin Christian Meuli, a recently retired physician. “I was so scared John was shrewd enough to escape that I was prepared to flee from my home,” said Dr. Meuli, 60. For the next four years, he carried a 3-by-5 index card on which he had written phone numbers and other critical information he would need in case he had to disappear. Mr. Hyde used to work in the field of substance abuse research and now makes a living selling antiques and other collectibles. He has devoted time to speaking about the need for better access to quality behavioral health care and greater communication between providers. He says he believes that could have made a difference in his brother’s mental health and possibly in preventing the crimes. “I have tried to get more involved in this issue, but I don’t have the power,” Mr. Hyde said. “My last name is a hindrance.” A Sister’s Guilt In 2003, life looked promising for Danyall White, another sister of Richard Paul White. After a difficult childhood, everything seemed to be falling into place. She was studying to be a court reporter at a school outside Denver and had a job answering phones for a pay TV provider. For about a year, though, her brother had been telling her that he had killed women throughout Colorado. But Mr. White, then 30, often “said off-the-wall things,” she recalled. She dismissed the morbid claims as fantasies. One day Mr. White told her that he had fatally shot a close friend by accident, another tale that she considered imaginary. That was until he showed her a newspaper article about his friend’s death. The article said it might have been suicide, but Ms. White, imagining the guilt the victim’s parents might feel, decided she should inform the police about her brother’s claim. He was arrested on first-degree murder charges. Soon after, Mr. White confessed to killing five women he believed to be prostitutes (though the police found the bodies of only three of them). Now, Ms. White is grappling with her own guilt. “It wasn’t just the guilt of my brother being behind bars, but the guilt of watching everybody’s life falling apart because of what I did, the phone call that I made,” said Ms. White, 37. “Some of my family shunned me, and it ate away at me.” Soon enough, Ms. White said, she found “a friend and confidant” who never left her side: alcohol. For several years, her days were soothed by Jack Daniel’s and dozens of bottles of beer. After the arrest of her brother, Ms. White abandoned her studies and was dismissed from her job because, she said, the company told her it could not assure her safety against colleagues’ threats and insults. When her ailing mother died, Ms. White could barely function. She said life’s toll since turning in her brother had led her to attempt suicide four times. In 2010, Ms. White entered an alcohol rehabilitation program and says she had been sober for 20 months before briefly relapsing recently. “I told no one in rehab who I was, that I was R. P.’s sister,” she said. “In sobriety, I have realized that I was taking responsibility for someone else’s actions. A lot of the guilt has subsided.”

Research was contributed by Jack Styczynski, Toby Lyles and Sheelagh McNeill. New York Times

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