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Videos show police interrogating 'Speed Freak Killers'

April 17, 2012 | 12:58 pm

Videotaped police interrogations of the drug-fueled "Speed Freak Killers," responsible for killing at least a dozen people in the '80s and '90s, were posted online Tuesday by a Central California newspaper.

The videos posted by the Stockton Record show San Joaquin County sheriff’s investigators interrogating Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog after the disappearance of 25-year-old Cyndi Vanderheiden in 1998.

Vanderheiden's remains were found in February, and the remains of other victims were found earlier this year after Shermantine provided hand-drawn maps — which he made in his San Quentin cell — showing where he and his late childhood friend Herzog dumped their victims during 15 years of thrill-killing.

The men are believed to have killed at least a dozen and as many as 72 people, according to Shermantine. They were dubbed the "Speed Freak Killers" because they were often high on methamphetamine when they committed their crimes.

Shermantine, who was sentenced to death for four murders, provided the directions to bounty hunter Leonard Padilla in exchange for a promise of $33,000 to pay off a restitution order, buy headstones for his parents' graves and acquire a television and other comforts.

On the tape, Herzog tells investigators that he did little more than witness the murders and keep them a secret in fear of retaliation from Shermantine.

"Keep breathing air," Shermantine told Herzog, in what Herzog said he understood as a threat, the newspaper reported.

Herzog originally received a 77-year prison sentence, but it was struck down on appeal. He agreed to a plea deal ahead of a second trial and was released in 2010.

After getting word of Shermantine's cooperation with authorities, Herzog hanged himself in January, a day after learning that any discoveries would probably bring new charges against him and more prison time.

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— Carol J. Williams and Stephen Ceasar

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