SACRAMENTO, CA - The memory of an aging serial killer proved it can still lead investigators to his victims.
Death row inmate Wesley Shermantine, one half of the Speed Freak Killers duo, has so far revealed the locations of five victims through dozens of letters and hand-drawn maps taped together.
In February, San Joaquin County Sheriff's detectives unearthed the remains of Cindy Vanderheiden and Chevelle Wheeler in the mountains of Calaveras County, and the bodies of Joann Hobson, Kimberly Billy, and an unidentified woman were found inside an abandoned Linden well.
All of the women except for Vanderheiden, who disappeared in 1998, vanished in the early or mid-1980s.
Sacramento bounty hunter Leonard Padilla offered thousands of dollars to pay Shermatine's restitutions, get a type writer, buy a T.V., get candy and install headstones for Shermantine's parents in exchange for Shermantine to disclose the locations of victims.
Padilla said he doesn't want to waste time finding closure for families by trying to decipher hand-drawn maps from a killer who hasn't seen the outside world in decades. Padilla believes Shermantine and killing partner Loren Herzog started their killing spree in 1981. They were captured in 1998 after Vanderheiden disappeared.
"We're talking about 30 years ago these things happened," Padilla said.
Padilla is in favor of a new bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday that will allow Shermantine to be escorted off San Quinton Prison to pinpoint the exact location of victims. He said he's in talks with the California Department of Corrections and Assembly member Cathleen Galgiani over having Shermantine come out within the next ten days.
According to Padilla, Shermantine made more claims of even more victims. Shermantine said three inmates told him of 14 bodies hidden on Cow Mountain in Lake County. Padilla believes these could actually be Speed Freak Killer victims, since Shermantine rarely admits to killing anyone.
"Sometimes people will tell you somebody else did something, so it's worth taking a look," Padilla said.
"Why I want to start there is because this is untouched ground," Padilla said. "And if he says there's 14 bodies there, now he's got to put up or shut up."
The Lake County Sheriff's Office said it'll cooperate with the investigation if Shermantine gives more detailed information.
"Due to the vastness of the area, the sheriff requests more details: who the victims might be, try to pinpoint the area," Lake County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Steve Brooks said. "Once we get some details we can work with, the sheriff fully intends to investigate."
Shermantine also promised to tell of a man he called "Hippie Pat" who he buried in Calaveras County not far from where Vanderheiden's remains were discovered.
"This is a guy who went around tattooing and lived up in the hills," said Padilla. "And basically, he said we killed him."
Padilla said having Shermantine point to a location of a victim is the best way to determine how truthful are his claims and whether he can finally close dozens of cold cases.