Story Summary

“Speed Freak Killer” Shermantine Helps in Search for Victims

-Convicted killer Wesley Shermantine released from San Quentin.

-Shermantine will help find graves of “Speed Freak Killers” victims.

-Bounty hunter Leonard Padilla says Shermantine was offered money in exchange for locations of victims.

-Loren Herzog, the other “Speed Freak Killer,” committed suicide in January.

Story Timeline
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This story has 9 updates
Local News
02/21/13

FBI: No Human Remains Found in Well Site

FBI linden dig

Areal view of FBI crews digging in Linden in January 2013

SACRAMENTO-

Nothing has been found inside an abandoned well in San Joaquin County, where federal agents have been digging for about a month, hoping to find remains of victims of the Speed Freak Killers.

The FBI started digging in the well in Linden last month after information from convicted serial killer Wesley Shermantine and other sources seemed to suggest victims were buried there. The well was about 100-feet below pasture land.

No human remains were found during the dig; only animal bones, trash and other discarded items were found.

Last year, another well site was excavated by San Joaquin County and multiple human remains were found.

The FBI spoke with reporters Thursday, and said while they would like to speak with Shermantine, who is currently in San Quentin, they say he has not been receptive.

At this time, the FBI says they have no other digs planned.

“We are disappointed that our efforts did not yield remains, offering closure to families who suspect that Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog were involved in the disappearance of their loved ones,” said Herb Brown, Special Agent in Charge for the FBI’s Sacramento office.

The month-long dig used resources and equipment from both federal and local agencies, so how much did it all cost? Ben Deci will have those details on FOX40 News at 6.

Local News
02/21/13

FBI to Update Dig Details for Victims of Speed Freak Killers

FBI linden dig

Areal view of FBI crews digging in Linden in January 2013

LINDEN-

An update will be given Thursday on an excavation in San Joaquin County for the remains of victims of the Speed Freak Killers.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation started digging in an abandoned well in Linden back in January. This follows a larger dig at a nearby site by the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office last year.

The earlier dig uncovered the remains of victims linked to Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog. The pair were called the Speed Freak Killers after their killing spree in the 1980s and 1990s went to trial.

The second dig has not uncovered any items of note to date. The FBI said they changed their techniques earlier this month after digging deeper into the well than originally thought.

FOX40 will be at Thursday’s update, and will report new details here on FOX40.com, and on FOX40 News at 5:30 and 6.

SpeedFreakSearch2

File photo from early 2012 as crews search for victims at an old well site in Linden.

LINDEN—

After digging about 86 feet deep into an old Linden-area well and coming up with nothing, FBI crews say they are changing their techniques.

Crews began work on the well exactly one month ago Thursday, hoping to uncover more remains of the “Speed Freak” Killers’ victims. A dig at another well along Flood Road between Escalon Bellota and Waverly roads in February 2012 uncovered the remains of three women and a fetus.

No remains have been found at the second well.

As reported in late January, bounty hunter Leonard Padilla said he received a letter from convicted Speed Freak killer Wesley Shermatine claiming that the FBI is digging in the wrong place.

The FBI says they are focusing excavation efforts on a smaller area within the well.

LINDEN-

Bounty hunter Leonard Padilla suggests the FBI may have faked the death of one of the Speed Freak Killers.

“Loren Herzog is dead, unless they just faked that so they can get Loren set aside and body can bug him,” Padilla said Thursday.

Herzog was found dead last year of an apparent suicide. He was one half of the “Speed Freak Killers,” whose victims are reportedly buried in mass graves in San Joaquin County.

Herzog’s partner, Wesley Shermantine, sent a letter from prison saying the FBI is digging in the wrong place.

FBI linden dig

Areal view of FBI crews digging in Linden.

LINDEN-

Bounty hunter Leonard Padilla says he’s received a letter from convicted “Speed Freak Killer” Wesley Shermatine, noting that the FBI is digging in the wrong place.

A new dig for victims started Thursday at a Linden well. Teams have been working for the past two weeks to try and find the bottom of the well. The FBI is leading this new dig.

State Senator Cathleen Galgiani’s office also received the letter, her chief of staff confirmed Thursday.

FBI spokeswoman Gina B. Swankie noted that Shermantine hasn’t always been right when telling investigators where victims were possibly buried.

“Convicted serial killer Wesley Shermantine’s recollections have occasionally proved to be inaccurate and only with thorough investigation and careful consideration of all information available have we been able to locate a site that offers the best chance of recovering victim remains,” Swankie said in a statement.

Shermantine and Loren Herzog were labeled the Speed Freak Killers in the 1990’s after a string of murders were blamed on them.

Herzog killed himself in January 2012, reportedly after Shermantine threatened to reveal details about more bodies that investigators did not know about.

Sam Cohen contributed to this report.

SpeedFreakSearch2

File photo from early 2012 as crews search for victims at an old well site in Linden.

LINDEN–

Authorities say they will be starting a new excavation on Thursday at another Linden well in search of more remains from the “Speed Freak Killers” victims.

The FBI will be leading this dig – an operation that is expected to days, or even weeks.

Teams have been working for past two weeks to try and find the bottom of the well. A corrugated pipe has been installed in the 5-foot diameter well.

Crews will be using drill to excavate some soil, then other crews will come in to dig by hand.

Local News
01/07/13

FBI Starting New Search for Speed Freak Killer Remains

SACRAMENTO-

Crews are digging at an old well in the Linden area of San Joaquin County, hoping to find more remains of the victims of the Speed Freak Killers, Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced Monday they are starting the new excavation, headed by a team of engineers from Quantico, Virginia.

The well is near another old well that was dug up last year by the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office, and revealed the remains of several people. Shermantine revealed the location of the well to investigators on a map.

In their decision to start excavating the second well, the FBI told reporters Monday they relied on more information and sources than just Shermantine.

The new location is an older well and is about 50 feet deep; crews expect to progress about five feet a day, but that could be slowed by December’s rains soaking the ground. They are expecting to spend between two and three weeks at the site.

Herb Brown, Special Agent in charge in the Sacramento division of the FBI says there is no guarantee of finding anyone or any remains in the second well. “We all remain hopeful that our efforts at this site will ultimately return the remains of victims to their loved ones but know that such is not a certainty,” said Brown in a press release.  He also said the site is a difficult location to excavate.

Local News
01/07/13

FBI Offering Update on Speed Freak Killer Victim Search

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Wesley Shermantine
File photo

SACRAMENTO-

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is expected to talk about planned excavations for victims of the Speed Freak Killers Monday morning. The agency has started to get heavy equipment into place for digging.

The FBI took over the dig efforts in the Linden area last year. The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office had been leading excavation efforts in their county and the larger well site in Linden.

Monday morning, the FBI will give reporters an update on planned excavation of a well site in Linden, and how any discoveries will be handled.

Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog were labeled the Speed Freak Killers in the 1990’s after a string of murders were blamed on them.

Herzog killed himself in January 2012, reportedly after Shermantine threatened to reveal details about more bodies that investigators did not know about.

SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY-

San Joaquin County’s Sheriff says he was “taken aback” by a recent report that claimed there were the remains of at least two other people, possibly of a small child, mixed in with remains of a victim of the Speed Freak Killers unearthed earlier this year.

Sheriff Steve Moore held a press conference Friday afternoon to respond to the report made public earlier in the week done by a lab at California State University, Chico, on the remains of Jo Ann Hobson.

Sheriff Moore says he isn’t disputing the results, but is still waiting to go through the report, saying he didn’t get a copy of it until Thursday. He would like other anthropologists to review and compare the findings.

“No, I am not calling this a mistake because I don’t have that information to say yes or no,” Moore said.

San Joaquin County used Dr. Miller-Antonio from Stanislaus State to reconstruct the skeletons and remains pulled from an old well site in Linden. They also relied on the California Department of Justice and their lab.

The report from Chico stated one set of remains mixed with Hobson’s was that of a child, but Moore said, “We don’t have anything that suggests it is a child”.

Moore did say that DNA testing did not happen on all 1,000+ bone fragments from the dig site. About 970 bones remain with Dr. Miller-Antonio as he reconstructs skeletons to identify victims.

The Chico report was also critical of the crews using heavy equipment to conduct the dig. Friday afternoon, Moore said the “ground was so hard, backhoe was needed to break the cap”.

The Sheriff said he wouldn’t do anything different in the dig for remains of victims of the Speed Freak Killers. “We are not stopping. We will continue to search … we want to make sure we recover as many people as we can,” said Sheriff Moore.

Agents with the FBI have taken over the future searches for victims’ remains. Convicted killer Wesley Shermantine was taken out of San Quentin this fall to point out other burial sites where he and partner-in-crime Loren Herzog buried their victims in the 1990’s.

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