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Death row prisoner says 'Speed Freak Killers' slew more than 70

March 9, 2012 | 10:17 pm

A death row prisoner who guided authorities to a makeshift grave containing remains of at least a dozen murder victims has sent a second letter to a Sacramento TV station saying he and two accomplices killed more than 70 people, CBS-13 reported Friday.

Convicted killer Wesley Shermantine sent a letter to Sacramento's Fox 40 station a day earlier saying he and his boyhood friend Loren Herzog had trained a third man to prey on young women and drifters during a 15-year crime rampage by the so-called Speed Freak Killers.

Shermantine, 46, was convicted and sentenced to death for killing four people between 1984 and 1999. In his letter to the CBS affiliate, he said the number of the Speed Freak Killers' victims was 72.

San Joaquin County sheriff's deputies excavated two abandoned wells near the town of Linden last month and another site in Calaveras County after Shermantine sketched maps leading them to where he said he and Herzog had dumped the bodies of their victims.

Investigators unearthed more than 300 bones and other forensic evidence and have identified the remains of two women who disappeared during the time of the murders.

Herzog, who was convicted of three murders but drew a lighter sentence on a plea deal, killed himself in January. He hung himself in a trailer outside the High Desert State Prison, where he served his sentence until 2010, after being told by a bounty hunter that Shermantine planned to disclose details of other murders that would likely bring new charges against both men.

The bounty hunter, Leonard Padilla, said he got Shermantine to draw the maps to his victims' graves by promising to deposit $33,000 into the condemned man's prison account so he could pay restitution ordered as part of his sentence and buy snacks and a television from the prison canteen.

Shermantine complained in his latest letter that he had not yet received any money for his assistance in solving the cold-case murders.


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-- Carol J. Williams