STOCKTON, CA - It was a late night more than two decades ago when convicted killer Wes Shermantine picked up a very pregnant prostitute off of Wilson Way.
This is the story bounty hunter Leonard Padilla said was told to him by Shermantine in March. Padilla said the story didn't end well for the woman.
Shermantine allegedly drove her out to Linden to a well on Flood Road. His friend Loren Herzog and another man were waiting.
"They took her and Loren tied one hand to barbed wire, the other man held on to her other hand," said Padilla, retelling the gruesome details Shermantine told him over the phone from San Quinton's death row.
"And Loren and this other individual were cutting on her, cutting on her belly. He said she was screaming. She was wailing and hollering."
Shermantine said he witnessed the savage attack on the woman, before going to his truck to get his .357 firearm.
"I can't remember whether he said Loren killed her or he did by shooting her in the chest. Then she was toppled into the well," Padilla said.
Padilla and his team first believed the pregnant woman could have been Paige Lawrence. Lawrence was a 24-year-old woman who disappeared from Sacramento in 1986. Padilla said she could have been in Stockton that night.
The bounty hunters are also looking at several other missing women and girls: One from Stockton, one from Pennsylvania, and a few from the Bay Area. Padilla said there should also be a ring with initials found inside the Linden well. He hopes the ring could shed light on the identity of the unknown victim.
Stockton police said former vice detectives from the 1980s don't have records on a pregnant prostitute, and the sheriff's office was still investigating all possibilities.
In the meantime, Shermantine is balking on helping any more, until he gets what he was promised from Padilla.
'Somewhere between my credit card and his cell is where that TV is," said Padilla, regarding on the items he ordered for Shermantine.
"Some of the candy bars are there. I don't get upset at him because he gets upset with me. I understand."
Padilla plans to pay up everything promised to Shermantine, but he says Shermantine has the time to be patient. It's the victims' families who shouldn't be kept waiting to have their loved ones returned.
by Leigh Paynter, firstname.lastname@example.org