SAN ANDREAS (CBS13) — Investigators have been digging in a Calaveras County ravine all day Friday in hopes of locating victims of the serial killing duo “Speed Freak Killers.”
The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s department said they joined with Calaveras County and DOJ investigators in searching a large, isolated area off Leonard Road near San Andreas more than a week after convicted killer Loren Herzog committed suicide.
Herzog, along with death row inmate Wesley Shermantine, was believed to be responsible for killing as many as 19 people during a meth-fueled killing spree during the 1980s and 90s. An appeals court tossed three convictions against Herzog after ruling that his detailed confession was illegally coerced, and Herzog was released into Lassen County on parole for months before his death.
Shermantine apparently produced a map and new details about what he called a “bone yard” near San Andreas a few days before Herzog committed suicide.
Retired FBI agent Jeff Rinek and several law enforcement agencies had planned to take Shermantine out of prison and take him to personally identify the alleged location of the human remains before the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department put a sudden stop to the plan last week, citing concerns over public safety.
The perimeter of Friday’s search area covered a wide swath of undeveloped land with dense vegetation. San Joaquin County investigators said they searched for several hours with shovels and a cadaver dog and did not find anything.
California Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton), who has been working with families of victims believed to have been killed by the “Speed Freak Killers,” said she is afraid authorities won’t be able to locate the human remains without Shermantine’s presence.
“There are three locations. One, maybe two, can be searched without his help, but certainly there is a third that’s very important to have Wesley’s help,” Galgiani said. “The terrain has changed, and a difference of 50 or 150 feet could make the difference if we find the victims or whether we don’t.”
Galgiani also said Shermantine might not want to work with the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department and could back out of his promise to lead investigators to the “bone yard.” The three organizations Shermantine originally agreed to help were not involved in Friday’s search.
In a letter sent Friday to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), Galgiani urged authorities to team up and work together for the benefit of the victims’ families.
“I don’t think it matters who’s in charge. We all want the same thing,” she said. “Why can’t everyone just work together and make it happen?”