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Woman says she almost became victim of 'Speed Freak Killers'

February 14, 2012 |  9:14 am

 

Bones, skull fragments, shoes, jewelry and a purse have been among the discoveries since investigators began digging and scouring through the earth on a property in Linden, Calif., authorities said. The hope is that, finally, answers might be coming decades after women believed to be the victims of the so-called "Speed Freak Killers" went missing.

The search began after Wesley Shermantine, one of the so-called Speed Freak serial killers who has been sentenced to death, started drawing maps to where he buried the bodies after Leonard Padilla, a bounty hunter, offered him $33,000. And the maps pointed to two abandoned wells on a cattle farm in Linden, a small town about 13 miles east of Stockton.

The wells were labeled "Loren's Boneyard," after Shermantine's childhood friend Loren Herzog. The pair had been convicted for a series of methamphetamine-fueled killings that began in the early 1980s through their arrests in 1999. Herzog killed himself last month.

Last week, Shermantine's maps led authorities to San Andreas, where they found remains believed to be those of Chevelle "Chevy" Wheeler of Stockton, who disappeared at age 16 in 1985, and of Cindi Vanderheiden, 25, of Clements, who disappeared 14 years ago on a night people had seen her shooting pool with Shermantine and Herzog in neighboring Linden.

Meanwhile, at least one woman has come forward to recall her disturbing encounter with the pair.

Heidi Adams, a San Joaquin County resident, said she recently recognized Herzog as a man she crossed paths with many years ago.

She told Fox 40 Sacramento that one dark night in the country, a blue van chased her, then two men got out at a stop sign.

"I know in my heart and knew all this time: I almost was gone," Adams said, a quiver in her voice. "The other day I saw a picture of him -- what he looked like in the '90s- and I almost buckled."

“I will never forget that face,” Adams said. “He had something wooden in his hand. It was not a baseball bat, it was almost like an axe handle. And as I am watching him I cannot get across traffic.”

Adams says that, by the grace of God, traffic parted and she was able to speed away.

"I just want to tell this story because maybe it can help the police figure out how they got girls. Because they did not care. They were so brazen. They were going to get me and they did not care," Adams said.

ALSO:

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-- Fox 40 Sacramento

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