Posts Tagged ‘ Cyndi Vanderheiden ’

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

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.

More Stupidity From the Speed Freak Killers

Loren Herzog, a parolee,  hanged himself on Monday in his trailer outside the gates of the High Desert State Prison in Susanville. Sacramento bounty hunter Leonard Padilla said he had a phone conversation with Herzog that same day, warning the paroled killer to hire an attorney because Shermantine was promising to lead investigators to bodies and was planning to pin their murders on Herzog. “There’s a certain way to do things with felons,” Padilla said. “I didn’t want this to come as a surprise to him.”

Authorities found Herzog dead inside his Lassen County trailer hours later. Herzog is believed to have hanged himself in his state-issued trailer just outside the gates of the High Desert State Prison in Susanville.

“I told him I was communicating with Shermantine,” said Padilla, who agreed to pay Shermantine a little more than $30,000 if bodies were found. “He knew what was coming down the road.”

Padilla said he hoped to recoup the payment through outstanding rewards offered by the state of California for information on the missing. The state is offering at least $200,000 combined for finding at least four people suspected of being murder victims of the pair. Lassen County Sheriff Dean Growdon said “all evidence indicates” that Herzog’s death was a suicide. Growdon said Herzog left a note, but he declined to disclose details other than to say the note was meant for his family and “made no reference to his criminal history, crime victims, etc.” Herzog was married with three children.  

 Investigators believe Herzog and Shermantine killed as many as 19 people during a methamphetamine spree in the 1980s and 1990s. The two were dubbed the “Speed Freak Killers” when arrested in 1999. Each blamed the other for masterminding the murders. Shermantine is on death row after he was convicted of killing four, including 16-year-old Chevelle “Chevy” Wheeler in 1985. In letters to the Stockton Record, Shermantine has promised to lead authorities to the bodies of Wheeler, Cyndi Vanderheiden and a covered well holding at least 10 more bodies.

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I get all warm and fuzzy inside when I think of Herzog getting that call, realising that he was about to be busted again and then hanging himself. I hope him bladder slipped a bit before he hung the phone up.

In my opinion I am doubting that Shermantine will really give up any information. I mean there is still a chance that Shermantine will talk. I just have a feeling that money will not be enough of a motivator, he really wanted to get even with Herzog. Herzog is now dead which leaves only the money.

SAN FRANCISCO — It was dubbed Operation Closure in hopes that a serial killer on Death Row would finally lead authorities to where at least a dozen bodies were buried decades ago, ending the torment of families who still wonder about their missing loved ones.

Prison officials had mapped out a route from San Quentin State Prison to the Central Valley and assigned a well-armed security detail to travel with Wesley Shermantine, one half of the notorious “Speed Freak Killers” who terrorized the region in the 1980s and 90s. An FBI forensics unit was prepared to excavate the graves after the clandestine search planned for Wednesday in San Joaquin and Calaveras counties.

Then, San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore brought the operation to a screeching halt, complaining he was left out of the planning and that he had concerns with the security measures and Shermantine’s credibility.

Sherriff Steve Moore sounds like a whiny ass. He stopped it because they did not involve him? What the hell is that?  I would think those putting up the money should be the ones worrying about credibility and I am pretty sure that the FBI had a plan for some kind of security. Oh wait! Look at that, they did.

It is a scarry thought that this insecure, petty and immature man is in anyway in charge of others.

On Friday, Moore signed on to the plan after meeting with federal, state and local officials in his Stockton office. Moore, San Joaquin District Attorney James Willet and Calaveras County Sheriff Gary Kuntz will co-write a letter to California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to formally request prison officials transport Shermantine to the region “to pinpoint possible burial sites in the near future.”

But now there’s concern that Shermantine may change his mind. Those involved in the initial planning are disappointed they couldn’t go through with the planned search Wednesday and are fearful the opportunity may have been lost.

“Everything was set to go,” said retired FBI agent Jeff Rinek, who was intimately involved in the planning process and opened negotiations with Shermantine on Saturday during a San Quentin visit. Two California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials joined Rinek in interviewing Shermantine, and the trio secured details about three locations from him.

“It was really going well,” Rinek said. “Then Moore single-handedly shot everything down.”

I wonder how much Herzog’s death effected the deal.

San Joaquin Sheriff’s Department spokesman Les Garcia declined to discuss Rinek’s comments Friday. On Wednesday, Garcia said Moore was concerned the original plan was “half-cocked” and that the sheriff wanted to “slow things down” to ensure Shermantine couldn’t escape once he was removed from Death Row.

Because he single handedly has more knowledge, experience and expertise on transporting dangerous prisoners than the FBI has.

Rinek said his involvement in the case began when an FBI agent asked him in December to check out Sacramento bounty hunter Leonard Padilla’s claims that Shermantine was divulging locations of missing bodies. Padilla is offering Shermantine a little more than $30,000 for the information with plans to collect some $200,000 in state of California rewards. Rinek had a good relationship with Padilla, who he said helped find a missing infant during his time with the FBI.

Rinek said Shermantine wants to disclose the locations for two reasons. He wants the money to pay off an $18,000 restitution order that prevents him from buying the limited luxuries like candy bars that inmates with money in their accounts can afford. He also said he want to buy headstones for his deceased parents. Shermantine also appears motivated by the fact that his partner in crime didn’t contact him when he was paroled.

So I guess that there is a small chance that he will talk. He is not able to buy stuff for himself so maybe that will be enough? His own ‘discomfort’. I am sure that he wishes that he could still ‘get even” with Herzog though.

This isn’t the first time Shermantine has offered to disclose the locations of bodies. Shermantine has reneged on a promise to do so in 2001 and has made other unfulfilled offers through the years, another reason the San Joaquin County sheriff cited for throwing a monkey wrench into the initial search plans.

The families supported this even though they no longer have any faith that Shermantine will devulge any truthful or helpful information, they still wanted to give it a try.

 Moore was more worried about himself. He was not worried about anything other than he wanted to be included in the history reports if Shermantine did say anything.

Rinek said he told Shermantine on Saturday that this had to be the last discussion of the bodies’ locations.

“You have been torturing victims’ families for 20 years,” Rinek said he told Shermantine. “It has to stop.”

Family members of Shermantine’s and Herzog’s victims agree, including the mother of 16-year-old Chevelle “Chevy” Wheeler. Shermantine was convicted of killing Wheeler even though her body was never found. Shermantine said Saturday that he would lead investigators to Wheeler’s grave, which he said is on property in remote Calaveras County once owned by his parents.

“He has taken us on an emotional roller coaster for 26 years,” Paula Wheeler said in a phone interview from her home in Crossville, Tenn. “I’m sick and tired of it.”

Nonetheless, Wheeler said she supports transporting Shermantine to the area for a search.

“Grab him while the grabbing’s good and drive him down there,” Wheeler said. “I want to bring Chevy home.

More Here

I hope that the families find the bodies and are able to finally close that chapter. It has been way too long.

One last thing on the suicide.



For one family, the news of serial killer Loren Herzog’s death, even by suicide, means justice has been served.


However, John Vanderheiden, of San Joaquin County, said he wants to see either Herzog’s body or autopsy photos for full proof the man — who is responsible for his daughter Cyndi’s 1998 death — is dead.


“I really would like to see him personally to see if he’s really dead. And if it is him, and if he is dead, I would say justice has been served because he should’ve been dead a long time ago,” Vanderheiden said.


Vanderheiden said he is even willing to drive the four hours to Susanville.


“I would definitely take the time to come up and confirm his death,” he said.


Speed Freak Killer #2 Trying to Get Out


In a 3 page letter sent to the Stockton Record, convicted serial killer Wesley Shermantine says he’s ready to reveal where he and former friend Loren Herzog buried the bodies of women they killed during a 15 year spree.

The letter was scrawled on a paper from a yellow legal pad. The offer is simple. “I’ll give up information about Loren Herzog if you let me out of prison in say 10 years,” says Record reporter Scott Smith.

The letter was addressed to Smith or any Record reporter. Smith has had off and on contact with Shermantine for years and has seen him taunt people with the possibility of information before.

“He’ll kind of hint at things, he’ll say, ‘I have some information, would you like to know what it is?’ So I don’t know what you can believe of what he says, really,” Smith told FOX40.

The bodies of at least five women believed to have been killed by Shermantine and Herzog, dubbed “The Speed Freak Duo”, have never been recovered.

Shermantine’s offer is a tempting one for prosecutors and they’ve heard before. Just after his conviction, Shermantine made the same offer, but demanded $20,000. A few years ago, Shermantine again said he’d reveal the location of the missing women – if the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s office bought him art supplies.

For their part, the D.A.’s office has been negotiating have the death penalty dropped from Shermantine’s sentence and reduce it life in prison in exchange for the info, but deputy district attorney Thomas Testa says this latest demand won’t fly.

“He wants to get out in 10 years, which is never going to happen,” Testa says. Testa prosecuted both Herzog and Shermantine and believes this latest tease is borne out of jealousy, “I think it really burns Wesley Shermantine up to see Loren Herzog free.”

Loren Herzog was released from custody this summer, though he’s still living on the grounds of High Desert State Prison in Susanville because no California county wanted him to move in.

“As Wesley wrote in that letter, he’s interested in making sure Loren gets back in custody, I think that’s what motivated him in part to show us where the bodies are,” says Testa. The letter to the Stockton Record asks for a “deal”, but it appears Shermantine has finally pushed too far and the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s office is pulling the plug on the cat and mouse game.

“We are washing our hands of Wesley Shermantine,” says Testa.


Wash your hands and stop letting this killer play games. Just say no.

The California Justice System already let Herzog out. Isn’t that bad enough?

From Crime Library Tru TV

Release controversy

Much to the mortification of the residents of Lassen County, Calif., Herzog was paroled to their area upon his release from prison in San Joaquin County: some of his victims’ relatives successfully petitioned to have his release moved out San Joaquin County, where many of his alleged crimes had been committed. Originally scheduled for release in July 2010, prison officials discovered that his sentence required him to serve several additional weeks. The discrepancy over the release date was chalked up to a “clerical error.” Although a number of influential politicians had tried in vain to keep Herzog locked up, the prison system said that there was little they could do given Herzog’s sentence and the ruling of the parole board. Dozens of area residents protested in Susanville three days before his scheduled release date.

It was established that Herzog’s parole would be for three years, supervised. Another condition of his parole, according to Sacramento’s News 10, was that Herzog be housed in a modular home on the grounds of neighboring High Desert State Prison in Susanville. Although the property is owned by the state prison system, it is located outside the perimeter of the prison itself. Herzog is required to wear a GPS monitoring device tracked 24 hours a day, and is subject to a curfew.

Nonetheless, thousands of residents are upset over Herzog’s release into their county. At the time of his release, many people were organizing to take their protest to the governor’s office.

“Everybody was completely outraged,” said an area resident to CBS 12 Action News. “The bottom line is nobody heard about it until the last minute.”

Assemblyman Dan Logue, a Republican from the California State Assembly’s 3rd District, was among those who had fought to keep Herzog in jail.

“I cannot believe that the parole board let this guy out so early,” Logue said. “He still has years to serve, so I’m looking into the reasons behind that also.”

Logue’s attempt to keep Herzog behind bars by utilizing a civil commitment law, which would have required the district attorney, through the court system, to have a mental evaluation done to determine if Herzog still possessed a propensity for violence, but was unsuccessful.

“He can still get in his vehicle and go wherever he wants to go,” said an area resident. “The ankle bracelet is not going to stop him from going anywhere in a small town like that.”

“There is no bigger injustice,” John Vanderheiden, Cyndi Vanderheiden’s father, said of Herzog’s release. “All Herzog’s release is doing is making me relive it all over again….Our justice system just didn’t do its job.”

Crime Sider CBS reports on the release

Another look at the injustice

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