By Jim Sanders
In a new twist to a gruesome San Joaquin County search, convicted killer Wesley Shermantine has described the location of a third well where he says a murder victim can be found, bounty hunter Leonard Padilla said Monday night.
"It means that there's another body out there to be found," said Padilla.
The Sacramento bail bondsman has played a pivotal role in persuading Shermantine to reveal locations of victims slain by him or partner Loren Herzog, dubbed the "Speed Freak Killers."
Hundreds of human bones, from as many as 30 murders Shermantine claims have occurred, already have been excavated from one abandoned well near Linden in San Joaquin County.
With Shermantine's help, authorities also found bone or other evidence this month at two San Andreas sites of victims Cyndi Vanderheiden, 25, who disappeared in 1998, and of Chevelle "Chevy" Wheeler, 16, who was reported missing in 1985.
Shermantine previously has talked of a second well containing victims, but Padilla said Monday that disclosure of a third well was new. All three sites are about a mile apart in San Joaquin County, he said.
Padilla said he was informed of the third well by Shermantine in a telephone call Sunday. The site is near Waverly and Copperopolis roads, not far from a television tower. It allegedly contains a body put there by Herzog, Padilla said.
San Joaquin County sheriff's officials could not be reached for comment late Monday.
Disclosure of Shermantine's claims of a third well occurred on a day that Padilla wrote the convicted killer a $2,000 check, the first installment of an estimated $33,000 that he had committed to persuade the killer to cooperate.
The money for Shermantine is meant to pay court-ordered restitution to victims' families, and to buy headstones for Shermantine's parents and perks such as candy in prison.
Padilla said the initial $2,000 to Shermantine is from his personal funds. He will mail the check to San Quentin Prison today, he said.