'Speed Freak Killers' search yields 1K bone pieces

Investigators bring in camera to search 50-foot well
February 15, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Investigators say they have reached the bottom of the well in their grim search for human remains. So now they're bringing in high tech equipment to help find every piece of buried evidence in the Speed Freak Killings, before they start on another dig.

Investigators say they have reached the bottom of the well in their grim search for human remains. So now they're bringing in high tech equipment to help find every piece of buried evidence in the Speed Freak Killings, before they start on another dig.

Five days into a massive dig at a ranch east of Stockton, investigators say they've now reached the bottom of the 50-foot well and have collected about 1,000 human bone and skull fragments.

"There's very little remains that are coming up out of the well in our last five to seven piles brought to the surface, if you will," said Les Garcia from the San Joaquin County Sheriffs Dept.

Police will not speculate how many bodies might be buried there or in other locations near Linden. In letters and maps sent to the Stockton Record, convicted mass killer Wesley Shermantine claimed he and boyhood friend Loren Herzog dumped the remains of numerous victims. On Tuesday, sheriff's announced dental records tentatively identified one victim as 16-year-old Chevelle "Chevy" Wheeler, missing since 1985.

Last week, searchers found the remains of 25-year-old Cyndi Vanderheiden, abducted in 1998. Both bodies were found at another site in Calaveras County. Besides bone and skull fragments, searchers have found coats, a purse, shoes and a woman's ring at the Linden site.

"They've been under ground for several years, so they're very delicate. So we'll have to clean them up, see what the initials read on the ring, if any," said Garcia.

Shermantine and Herzog -- who killed himself in prison -- both grew up in Linden, where one business owner told ABC7, many in the town had their suspicions about the two men.

"Most of the people knew what was going on around here I think to a certain degree, but this is a small town so most things don't get talked about too much," said Julian Macias of Linden.

Investigators will now send the remains found in Linden to the Department of Justice crime lab for DNA analysis. Then, we're told, they'll move onto the site of another abandoned well.

9-year-old Michaela Garecht disappeared from Hayward in 1988. Shermantine has hinted that Herzog kidnapped and killed her. Now, Michaela's family is anxious to learn if her remains will be found with the others.

ABC7's Katie Marzullo contributed to this report.


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