Entries in Speed Freak Killers (3)


Bone Fragment May Link Girl Missing Since 1988 to 'Speed Freak Killers'

Hemera/Thinkstock(HAYWARD, Calif.) -- The parents of missing girl Michaela Joy Garecht are hoping that a three-inch bone fragment will finally solve the mystery of their daughter's 1988 disappearance.

Sharon Murch, who has kept her daughter's memory alive by maintaining a website in Michaela's honor, posted on Thursday, "In my heart, I have been expecting something to happen. I didn't know what. I didn't know it would be this, but I was just expecting something."

"If this is confirmed, though, I will be glad to know the truth, simply because it is the truth. And I feel an overwhelming desire to bring Michaela home. It breaks my heart to think of her little body lying in that godforsaken place for all these years, and if that is so, I want to gather her up and bring her home," Murch wrote.

Michaela was nine years old when she vanished from outside of a grocery store in Hayward, Calif., on Nov. 19, 1988.

DNA tests are now being carried out to determine if the bone came from Garecht. Her mother wrote on her website that the lab "specializes in extracting mitochondrial DNA, which is passed from mother to child. The results of this testing will tell us positively whether this bone is Michaela's or not."

Those tests will take several weeks.

The bone being examined was found mixed in with the skeletal remains of JoAnn Hobson, a 16-year-old who vanished from Stockton, Calif., in 1985. Those remains were excavated in February after police were directed to a well in Linden, Calif., by Wesley Shermantine, one of two men convicted of being the "Speed Freak Killers."

Shermantine and Loren Herzog were convicted of killing four people, but investigators have not determined the total number of lives the murderers claimed from 1994 to 1998. The killing duo are known as the "Speed Freak Killers" because they were believed to have been high on drugs while on their killing spree.

The well was excavated by large digging equipment and when the remains were given to Hobson's mother, Joan Shelley, she turned over the bones to a lab for further examination. The lab found that the bones of at least two other people were mixed in, including a child between the ages of 5 and 14.

Shermantine started revealing locations of his victims from his cell at San Quentin Prison's Death Row in January. Herzog committed suicide while on parole in January after his lawyer warned him Shermantine was turning over maps of where their victims were buried.

San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore said, "Initially I was taken aback to learn there was possibly a mix up involving the recovered remains from the well we dug near Linden. We relied on the expertise of the California Department of Justice and an anthropologist on accepting their classifications of the recovered remains."

He went on to say, "Our hearts go out to the family of JoAnn and all the victims of Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog. We will continue to work with the FBI and our law enforcement partners to recover remains."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Dispute Erupts in Search for Victims of 'Speed Freak Killers'

Joseph Devenney/Getty Images(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- Cops searching for victims of the "Speed Freak Killers" are digging in the wrong well, according to a bounty hunter who says he convinced one of the killers to confess where they hid the bodies.

Wesley Shermantine, who is on death row for his role in the death of as many as 20 people in the Sacramento area, drew a map of two wells for bounty hunter Leonard Padilla after Padilla promised to pay Shermantine for the information.

Police digging in the first site found the bones of two missing women that Shermantine and his accomplice Loren Herzog were suspected of killing in the 1980s and 1990s.

Digging in a second well has turned up 1,000 bones over the past week, but Padilla told ABC News that those bones are from cattle and the police have not read Shermantine's directions correctly.

"We told (the sheriff's officers) you're digging in wrong place. It looks good on television, but actually there could possibly be another body just a quarter mile east of where he dug," Padilla said. Padilla said he had gone over the map that Shermantine drew meticulously to ensure that he knew which well the serial killer was describing. There are thousands of wells in the area, Padilla noted.

The sheriff's department did not return calls for comment.

Since Shermantine began disclosing where he dumped the victims of his drug-fueled killing spree, police have located the bodies of Chevelle "Chevy" Wheeler, 16, and Cyndi Vanderheiden, age 25.

In 2001, Herzog was released from jail on charges of manslaughter for his role in one of the murders. But he killed himself last month after finding out that Shermantine was preparing to disclose the locations of their victims' bodies.

Shermantine, who is on death row, provided the information first to Padilla and Scott Smith, a reporter for the Stockton Record, leading to the sheriff's excavations.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


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

ABC News Radio