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Items dug from well could be linked to ‘Speed Freak Killers’

The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office is trying to find other potential victims of the notorious “Speed Freak Killers,” using items found during a well dug 10 years ago.Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog were jointly convicted of three murders, but they are suspected of killing more than 70 people in the 1980s and 1990s.In 2012, the sheriff’s office started digging out a well in the community of Linden to look for victims’ remains. They found bones and several miscellaneous items. Now, a decade later, deputies are working to figure out who those items belong to. The sheriff’s office released images of a gold ring, some sandals and plastic flowers Tuesday. Deputies said in a flyer, “these items could possibly belong to other unknown victims.” Other images of items found in the well were released in late April.The sheriff’s office launched a dedicated cold case unit in 2020. Part of the idea behind it was that some evidence from in 2012 from the well could potentially be linked to the “Speed Freak Killers.”Tracy Meyers is a friend of one of the victims, Cyndi Vanderheiden, who authorities said was murdered after disappearing in 1998. Meyers is also part of a private cold case team, and they are working with the sheriff’s office to connect the dots between the items found in 2012 and other potential victims.”It is my hope and the hope of Sheriff Withrow is to make these public,” Meyers said. “They’re going to be released very slowly and the main reason for that is so that if we get any tips, they don’t get mixed up.”Meyers said she wants this new effort to give the families of potential victims some peace.”I don’t think they ever really have closure, but knowing something is better than knowing nothing, and it is definitely a step toward healing,” Meyers said.But how likely is it that the items will be linked to victims of decades-old murders? Former Sacramento County Sheriff John McGinness said there is always the chance a loved one could recognize the shoes, jewelry or other items.”There is certainly the possibility, and I would never dismiss it,” McGinness said.But McGinness added that it would still be a challenge to scientifically confirm an item belonged to a certain individual.“That could be a very, very steep curb on that one,” McGinness said.Herzog was paroled, but he killed himself in 2012. Shermantine currently sits on death row at the San Quentin State Prison.

The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office is trying to find other potential victims of the notorious “Speed Freak Killers,” using items found during a well dug 10 years ago.

Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog were jointly convicted of three murders, but they are suspected of killing more than 70 people in the 1980s and 1990s.

In 2012, the sheriff’s office started digging out a well in the community of Linden to look for victims’ remains. They found bones and several miscellaneous items. Now, a decade later, deputies are working to figure out who those items belong to. The sheriff’s office released images of a gold ring, some sandals and plastic flowers Tuesday. Deputies said in a flyer, “these items could possibly belong to other unknown victims.” Other images of items found in the well were released in late April.

The sheriff’s office launched a dedicated cold case unit in 2020. Part of the idea behind it was that some evidence from in 2012 from the well could potentially be linked to the “Speed Freak Killers.”

Tracy Meyers is a friend of one of the victims, Cyndi Vanderheiden, who authorities said was murdered after disappearing in 1998. Meyers is also part of a private cold case team, and they are working with the sheriff’s office to connect the dots between the items found in 2012 and other potential victims.

“It is my hope and the hope of Sheriff Withrow is to make these public,” Meyers said. “They’re going to be released very slowly and the main reason for that is so that if we get any tips, they don’t get mixed up.”

Meyers said she wants this new effort to give the families of potential victims some peace.

“I don’t think they ever really have closure, but knowing something is better than knowing nothing, and it is definitely a step toward healing,” Meyers said.

But how likely is it that the items will be linked to victims of decades-old murders? Former Sacramento County Sheriff John McGinness said there is always the chance a loved one could recognize the shoes, jewelry or other items.

“There is certainly the possibility, and I would never dismiss it,” McGinness said.

But McGinness added that it would still be a challenge to scientifically confirm an item belonged to a certain individual.

“That could be a very, very steep curb on that one,” McGinness said.

Herzog was paroled, but he killed himself in 2012. Shermantine currently sits on death row at the San Quentin State Prison.

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