Local Cold Cases Related to Shermantine?
Sonora, CA - There are some unsolved murder cases from the 1990's in the Mother Lode, but at this time the Tuolumne County Sheriff's Office has no reason to believe they are connected to recent developments with the so-called "Speed Freak Killers."
Sheriff's Office Spokesperson Sgt. Jeff Wilson says they have had "several inquiries" as to whether they will re-open any cold homicide cases.
Sgt. Wilson states, "We have been in contact with the agencies investigating that case and as of this time, no new evidence has come to light which would warrant reopening any cold cases." He further added, "In the event any evidence developed in that investigation leads Detectives to believe a link to one of our cold cases exists, this agency will cooperate in every way possible."
1,000 bone fragments from unidentified victims have been recovered from a Linden well. The San Joaquin County Sheriff's has cadaver-sniffing dogs from the Santa Clara Kanine detection unit assisting the investigation. The dogs are needed to evaluate several piles of dirt removed from a Linden well and to locate other areas, possibly other wells, for human remains.
The dogs are from the same unit that helped investigators locate two bodies last week on property in San Andreas. The unidentified remains found in San Andreas are thought to be Cyndi Vanderheiden and Chevelle "Chevy" Wheeler.
Shermantine was convicted of killing the two Women in 2001, Wheeler vanished from Stockton in 1985, and Vanderheiden disappeared 14 years later.
Shermantine and childhood friend Loren Herzog became known as the "Speed Freak Killers" for a methamphetamine-fueled killing spree. They could be connected with as many as 24 murders.
Loren Herzog committed suicide last month while on parole, his 78 year sentence was reduced to 14 by an appeals court that ruled his confession was illegally coerced.
Shermantine is serving a life sentence at San Quentin State Prison and claims that Herzog is responsible for the victims being found.
Tuolumne County has previously on occasion re-opened murder investigations. There are two cases from 1994 that, according to a 1999 San Francisco Chronicle article, the FBI reopened when a different serial killer, Cary Stayner, was arrested. One involves the December 1994 murder of Denese Smith who was found dismembered and burned in a barrel at Don Pedro Reservoir. Another, Sharalyn Mavonne Murphy, whose severed hands were found near New Melones Reservoir in October 1994. Other body parts were found, but some were never recovered. Cary Stayner is on death row at San Quentin State Prison for the murder of four other women near Yosemite.
Written by Sabrina Ambler