Sacto 9-1-1
January 8, 2013
Linden site preparation continues in search for killers' victims

A team of FBI personnel and technical experts today continued site preparation work at an old well in Linden in a search for victims of serial killers Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog.

The work began Monday on private agricultural land off Flood Road. The San Joaquin County Department of Public Works cleared an approximately 40-foot square site and began excavating an operational area with heavy equipment, according to an FBI news release. Officials reported that well walls were located.

At the close of operations today, a 10-foot-by-13-foot area had been excavated to a depth of 10 feet to allow safety devices to be installed for operations within the well. A core sample of the interior of the well also was bored to determine the soil conditions and possibly locate the bottom of the old, filled-in well.

Officials said the well is approximately 5 feet in diameter and is unlined. The narrow width will require destruction of the well walls as teams proceed by hand with their excavations.

Site preparation will continue through Wednesday, and hand digging will begin soon afterward, according to the news release. The hand digging is expected to progress at a rate of about 5 feet per day, depending on soil conditions.

Excavation of another well was undertaken in February 2012 after Shermantine told Sacramento bounty hunter Leonard Padilla and a Stockton newspaper reporter of a "bone yard" filled with victims of killings in the 1980s and 1990s. That excavation unearthed more than 1,000 bones and fragments that anthropologists later connected to three victims and a fetus.

The latest of the confirmed victims were JoAnn Hobson, who was 16 when she disappeared from east Stockton in 1985, and Kimberly Billy, who was 19 when she went missing from the same area a year earlier. The third victim and the fetus have not been identified.

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