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Bounty hunter discusses paying killer

February 21, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
The bounty hunter at the center of a search for victims of the so-called "Speed Freak" killers spoke to ABC7 Tuesday. He is getting a stream of information from convicted killer Wesley Shermantine, whose accomplice, Loren Herzog recently committed suicide.

Shermantine revealed the location of two wells where bodies were dumped. Leonard Padilla, the bounty hunter out of Sacramento who put this ball in motion, spoke with Shermantine Sunday night. They worked out some payment issues and tried to better pinpoint the third well, not all of which is sitting well with the mother of one missing woman.

Padilla promised Shermantine $33,000 in exchange for the locations of victims' bodies. Their most recent conversation Sunday went like this: "That's when he said, 'Why don't you just send me a couple grand?' I said, 'OK, good. I'll get that off in the mail,' and then the next thing was talking about this well over by the TV tower that holds one body, and that was on the original map that he had sent out on the 6th of February," Padilla said.

That well is one of two on the original map drawn by Shermantine from his death row cell. The first well, where the sheriff's department dug up 1,000 bone fragments, was an accidental find. Padilla wants the sheriff to escort Shermantine to the ranch outside Linden and let him point to the wells in person. "That way we wouldn't be running around playing pin the tail on the donkey," Padilla said. "We would have exact locations."

Regardless of how authorities get the information, the mother of at least one missing woman does not want Shermantine benefitting from it. "If I have to live the rest of my life without knowing where my daughter's body is, weighed against giving him money to tell me, I'll live the rest of my life without knowing," Sue Kizer said.

Padilla does not see it that way. "Here's the thing about it. 55 percent of the money that's going to him is going to the victims' families. It was court ordered," he said. The rest, Shermantine gets to spend on himself and his family. Asked if he thinks Shermantine is happy with all the attention he is getting Padilla said," I hope so. I really hope so, because it's an attention that is getting us results."

At last check, cadaver dogs were wrapping up the search effort at the first dig site. The San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office has not yet returned calls ABC7 made Tuesday morning.

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