Friday search fails to recover victim of ‘Speed Freak Killers’
Investigators from several state and county agencies followed a lead contained in an email written by a condemned serial killer to his hometown newspaper Friday, Jan. 27, but the search for the remains of one of his victims failed.
According to a press release from the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office, investigators from the San Joaquin County and Calaveras County sheriffs’ offices and the Department of Justice (DOJ) searched an area in Calaveras County in an effort to recover the remains of Cyndi Vanderheiden — a 25-year-old woman believed murdered by Loren Herzog and Wesley Shermantine in 1998. No remains were uncovered.
Investigators search a hillside in Calaveras County for the remains of Cyndi Vanderheiden, a 25-year-old woman believed murdered by Loren Herzog and Wesley Shermantine in 1998. The search proved unsuccessful. Photo submitted
In 2001 Herzog was sentenced to 78 years to life in prison for killing Vanderheiden, Paul Cavanaugh, 31, of Stockton, and Howard King III, 35, of Lathrop. Herzog was also convicted of being an accessory to the 1984 murder of Henry Howell, 45, of Santa Clara, but his conviction was overturned after an appellate court ruled his confession had been coerced.
In a second trial, Herzog pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in Vanderheiden’s death, and he was sentenced to 14 years. He was released on parole in Lassen County in 2010 and apparently committed suicide outside his trailer on state property near High Desert State Prison Jan. 16. Shermantine remains on death row at San Quentin State Prison.
According to the press release, investigators based their search on information contained in a letter received Thursday, Jan. 26, by the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office from Scott Smith, a reporter with the Stockton Record newspaper.
Investigators searched the areas disclosed for several hours with shovels and the aid of a cadaver dog with negative results.
There is no information currently available regarding any future searches.