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FBI to excavate possible Speed Freak Killers site in Central Valley

January 7, 2013 | 12:51 pm

The alleged victims of "Speed Freak Killers" Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog. In search of the remains of more victims, the FBI will excavate a new well in San Joaquin County. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Federal authorities are seeking the remains of more victims of the so-called Speed Freak Killers at a new well in San Joaquin County, not far from a previous site that revealed the remains of at least four people.

The well in the town of Linden might go as deep as 50 feet, said Gina Swankie, an FBI spokeswoman in Sacramento. The excavation is expected to begin immediately and take two weeks.

The FBI doesn’t know with complete certainty that there are remains at the site, Swankie said, but investigators believe there are bodies there.

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“We all remain hopeful that our efforts at this site will ultimately return the remains of victims to their loved ones but know that such is not a certainty,” said Herbert H. Brown, special agent in charge of the Sacramento FBI office, in a statement.

The site is believed to be connected to a methamphetamine-fueled killing spree in the 1980s and '90s by Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog, who were thought to be high while committing their crimes, earning them the moniker Speed Freak Killers.

Shermantine and Herzog were convicted of killing four people during their alleged 15-year, methamphetamine-fueled killing spree. Investigators believe the two may have killed as many as 19 people.

In January 2012 Shermantine, a death row inmate in San Quentin, led authorities to the Linden well. Herzog, who was on parole in Lassen County, committed suicide on Jan. 16, 2012, the same day he learned from a bounty hunter that Shermantine was speaking to investigators. 

The information that led authorities to the new site came from several sources, not just Shermantine, Swankie said.

The FBI took over the excavation from the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department after the department was criticized for commingling the remains of some of the victims found in a Central California well.

A forensic analyst’s report said the remains were probably commingled as a result of large digging equipment used to excavate a well outside the town of Linden, according to the Stockton Record.

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-- Adolfo Flores

Photo: Alleged victims of "Speed Freak Killers" Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog. In search of the remains of more victims, the FBI will excavate a new well in San Joaquin County. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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