South Bay Cadaver Dogs to Aid in Mass Grave Search

'Speed Freak Killers' search expands to new well

Thursday, Feb 16, 2012  |  Updated 5:43 PM PDT
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A thousand bones and a well deep with terror, grief and so many painful questions.  The digging is done at the mass grave in San Joaquin County where the so-called

A thousand bones and a well deep with terror, grief and so many painful questions. The digging is done at the mass grave in San Joaquin County where the so-called "Speed Freak Killers" abandoned their victims. Tomorrow, a camera will be lowered and investigators will take one grisly final look. That site is near the town of Linden -- a spot marked by death row inmate Wesley Shermantine as the dumping ground used by he and fellow killer Loren Herzog. NBC Bay Area's Cheryl Hurd reports from San Joaquin County, where many people are hoping for some closure to their loved ones' cases.

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Investigators found about 1,000 bone fragments in one well and will soon begin to search a second one on an abandoned farm near the town of Linden. They are doing the digging at the direction of a serial killer on death row.

Before the search of the second well begins Santa Clara County cadaver dogs will be brought in to help. The hope is that the dogs can help investigators pinpoint where crews need to focus their search. The same dogs have already helped pinpoint other search areas in the case. 

On Thursday, authorities determined they've probably come to the bottom of the first well on the ranch about 12 miles outside of Stockton, San Joaquin Sheriff's Department spokesman Les Garcia said.


Crews have been sifting through the well since last week after information was provided by a serial killer who is claiming to disclose the location of long-lost victims.

Garcia could not provide any new numbers on how many bones or possible victims have been found.
 
Meanwhile, 65 calls have been made to a hotline set up by authorities for people who believe their loved ones might be among the victims of Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog.

Officials already have identified the remains of two female victims buried on Calaveras County property once owned by Shermantine's family.
 
Shermantine and Herzog were dubbed the "Speed Freak Killers'' after their 1999 arrest. Investigators said the boyhood friends were suspected in as many as 20 murders as a result of a meth-fueled crime spree.
 
Shermantine has said many more remains could be found at the well, where digging resumed Wednesday after being hampered by rain.
 
Shermantine is on death row after he was convicted in 2001 of four murders. He is making the disclosures after Sacramento bounty hunter Leonard Padilla promised to pay him $33,000.
 
Herzog was released on parole when he hanged himself last month after learning Shermantine was disclosing the victims' locations.

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