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FBI Team Ready To Excavate Linden Well In Search For Human Remains

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Workers sift through the remains of Speed Freak Killers' victims found at a dig site in Linden in September 2012. (credit: CBS)

Workers sift through the remains of Speed Freak Killers’ victims found at a dig site in Linden in September 2012. (credit: CBS)

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LINDEN (CBS13) – After nearly two weeks of site preparation, an FBI team is ready to begin sifting through soil from a Linden well in the search for human remains, the agency said Wednesday.

The collaborative team of FBI personnel and technical experts began operations at the site of the filled-in well in Linden on Jan. 7 after several months of investigating more potential victims of Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog, who were dubbed the “Speed Freak Killers” after their drug-fueled killing rampage several decades ago

Over the course of the past two weeks, a corrugated pipe 10 feet in diameter was installed and reinforced with concrete to protect the excavation site. The well site, which is 5 feet in diameter, is located to the side of the corrugated pipe, the FBI said.

Throughout the excavation operation, a large drill will excavate soil from the operational site outside of the well while Evidence Response Team (ERT) members excavate the well site by hand. Excavated dirt will then be conveyed to an area for sifting, the FBI said.

If any remains are encountered during sifting or excavation, the excavation process will stop to assess how to best recover the remains and ensure that as much material as possible is recovered, the FBI said. The process could take days or weeks, depending on what is found.

Shermantine, who is on death row at San Quentin, has provided investigators with information about possible victim remains and was even released from prison briefly in August to take FBI agents to potential sites where bodies were buried.

Herzog committed suicide last January outside High Desert State Prison, where he was living after being released on parole in 2010 when a judge overturned his murder convictions on an appeal that his confession was illegally coerced.

A previous dig in the Linden area recovered remains of victims JoAnn Hobson and Kimberly Billy, but the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office was criticized over how it conducted the excavation. The FBI then agreed to take over the lead in this new well search.

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