Sacto 9-1-1
February 12, 2012
Hundreds of human bones discovered at digging site near Linden

By Sam Stanton
sstanton@sacbee.com

Authorities digging at a site near Linden for victims of two serial killers discovered hundreds of human bones today, marking yet another instance in the past four days that human remains have been found.

The latest discoveries came at an old abandoned well about 62 miles southeast of Sacramento and included skull fragments, bones, coats, shoes, a purse and jewelry, Deputy Les Garcia of the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office said tonight.

"It's a gruesome sight, it really is," Garcia said.

Crews were continuing to work into the night in hopes of beating the rain storm headed for the area tonight, and Garcia said they will resume searching again Monday at 7 a.m.

He added that there is no way to tell how many victims there are from the remains found so far and that investigators had processed 34 large piles of dirt and debris. The remains and clothing items were found about 45 deep into the well.

The dig today follows the discovery of a human skull and teeth on Thursday in Calaveras County that were identified as those of Cyndi Vanderheiden, a 25-year-old Linden woman who vanished in 1998. Authorities found another skull Friday at a separate site in Calaveras County.

All of the human remains are believed to be victims of the so-called "Speed Freak Killers," Loren Herzog and Wesley Shermantine.

Herzog was convicted of killing Vanderheiden and two others and was implicated in other slayings. His murder convictions were thrown out on appeal and he eventually pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in Vanderheiden's death. He was paroled and living in a trailer outside the High Desert State Prison near Susanville when he hanged himself last month.

Shermantine, convicted in four killings, is on Death Row at San Quentin State Prison, but he has maintained contact for years with Stockton Record reporter Scott Smith, whose letters from Shermantine - as well as a map Shermantine drew - have been used by investigators to find the remains.

The San Joaquin County sheriff has established a hotline for people to call if they have a mising person case they believe may be related to the Herzog-Shermantine case. People can call the hotline at (209) 468-5087 and leave their name, phone number, the name of the missing person and case number. That information also can be emailed to coldcase@sjgov.org.

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