Entries in Loren Herzog (2)


Death Row Inmate Paid Over $30K for Victims' Whereabouts

Comstock/Thinkstock(SAN JOAQUIN, Calif.) -- Death Row inmate Wesley Shermantine was paid $33,000 by a Sacramento bounty hunter in exchange for information leading to the remains of victims of the "Speed Freak Killers," according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

Authorities say Shermantine drew maps of where he and his late accomplice Loren Herzog buried their victims during a more than decade-long murder spree that began in the mid-1980s.

San Joaquin County Sheriff's spokesperson Les Garcia said deputies and employees were busy digging Saturday after recovering remains late last week.

"We have information that we may have 10 to 20 bodies in that well," Garcia told the Times, referring to the new areas identified Saturday by Shermantine.

Officials say Herzog committed suicide last month after learning Shermantine was cooperating with authorities. Worried the new information supplied by his former accomplice would lead to new charges, the 46-year-old took his life Jan. 16.

According to the Times, officials say Shermantine was motivated to make a deal due to the fact he was already on Death Row and does not have access to his prison account until $18,000 is restitution to victims' families is paid.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Convicted Serial Killer Found Dead by Parole Agents in California

Convicted serial killer Loren Herzog from Sacramento, California is seen in this undated mugshot. (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation(SUSANVILLE, Calif.) -- A convicted killer's body was found late Monday night and is being investigated as a possible suicide, officials tell ABC News.

Parolee Loren Herzog, 46, was found dead inside a trailer on California state property grounds right outside the perimeter of High Desert State Prison in Susanville, where he lived for more than a year after being released from prison.

A parole agent was in charge of monitoring Herzog around the clock through the use of a Global Positioning System monitor (GPS), worn on Herzog's ankle. The agent was alerted when the device bracelet was indicating a low battery.

After unsuccessful phone contact attempts, the agent called High Desert State Prison staff, who went to the residence and discovered Herzog's unresponsive body.

"The death is being investigated and is pending a complete autopsy, so at this moment we can't say what the cause of death or the condition of the body was," said Luis Patino, information officer for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).

Herzog was released from prison in September 2010 after serving a reduced 14-year sentence for voluntary manslaughter, three counts of being an accessory to a felony, and one count for transportation of a controlled substance, according to a release from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

He was originally sentenced to 78 years to life for numerous first-degree murder charges with childhood friend Wesley Shermantine. The pair, who were dubbed the "Speed Freak Killers," were also convicted for the 1998 rape and murder of Cyndi Vanderheiden, whose body was never found.

According to court records, in August 2004, a state appellate court ordered a new trial for Herzog after defense attorneys found indications that detectives may have used coercive tactics to get a taped confession for the murders. Months later, Herzog's attorneys bargained a plea deal and he pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter charges. A judge reduced his sentence to 14 years. This decision bypassed a retrial.

Herzog was released from prison in September 2010. According to California law, a parolee is to return to the county of last legal residence, in this case San Joaquin County. However victims and their family members can make sure the parolee lives at least 35 miles from their residence. Due to all the unsolved murders and cases linked to Herzog, several people turned in requests to have him far from their homes, eliminating San Joaquin as an option.

Patino said at that point the state had to find a place for Herzog and decided to have him live in a trailer on fenced-off property grounds outside the prison.

"He had served the sentence so we couldn't keep him incarcerated," Patino said. "Agents could see if he was in the area through the GPS device and he had a strict no-contact list, he even had to request permission to leave the grounds, but he was still limited with regards to places he could go."

Patino also told ABC News that Herzog had regular meetings with parole agents, but that he could not discuss the status of his mental health condition recently due to California privacy laws.

Cyndi Vanderheiden's family did not immediately respond to calls from ABC News, but in an interview with The Stockton Record, her father, John Vanderheiden, said he wanted proof Herzog was dead, and he would be willing to drive to Susanville.

"As long as he's dead, that's great," Vanderheiden told The Stockton Record. "That's what he deserves."

According to officials, the death is under review by multiple agencies, including the Lassen County District Attorney's Office, the Lassen County Sheriff's Office and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's Investigative Services Unit.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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