Two additional victims of a pair of serial killers that terrorized San Joaquin and Calaveras counties for over a decade, beginning in the mid-1980s, were have been identified, reports the Los Angeles Times. The killers, Loren Herzog and Wesley Shermantine, were convicted of four murders in 2001, including Cyndi Vanderheiden and Chevelle "Chevy" Wheeler, whose bodies were recently located.
The murderers were named the "Speed Freak" killers due to their affinity for methamphetimes. Herzog was paroled in 2010 after his original convictions were overturned due to a ruling that his confessions were coerced. He committed suicide when he learned that his former partner in crime was going to come clean due to a $33,000 payment from a bounty hunter.
Last week, two additional victims were identified after Shermantine pointed investigators in the direction of the well where the bodies were dumped. The investigators recently located the bodies of Vanderheiden and Wheeler on the same property, but excavating the well, which was dug in the 1800s, has taken some time.
The two additional victims were identified as Kimberly Billy and Joanna Thompson. Investigators have previously stated that there could be between 10-20 bodies in the well. A second well on the property has not yet been excavated.
The bounty hunter who paid Shermantine stated that Shermantine was initially reluctant for fear of being charged with more murders. The bounty hunter assured him that there was no downside, as "they're not going to kill you more than once." But is there really no downside?
The odds of someone successfully getting off death row on appeal are astronomical. For Shermantine, esentially admitting to what might amount to dozens of murders will likely ensure that there is no hope whatsoever of escaping death row. Even if he successfully appeals the initial convictions, there are now numerous additional victims that could be tied to him.
Wesley Shermantine also warned the public that there was a third killer on the loose. He alleges that Loren Herzog took on an accomplice named Jason Jones and taught him how to kill and get away with it. If there is any truth to it, and Jason Jones is located, he's going to need a quality defense attorney right away.
- Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys (FindLaw)
- 'Speed Freak Killers': Another search site may hold human remains (Los Angeles Times)
- Grim Sleeper Suspect Has a New Lawyer (FindLaw's Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog)