Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog were the "Speed Freak" killers in the 1980's and were finally brought to justice. Many of the bodies of possible victims though, had never been found or even admitted to by either of the two killers.
Residents of Calaveras County (as was this reporter at the time), and others in nearby counties of California, were understandably relieved when the two killers were captured, and held accountable for their crimes.
It was in December 2011 and January of this year when Shermantine began discussing with authorities the remains of the victims and their whereabouts. At that time, Loren Herzog, whose conviction on three murders had been overturned and was paroled in 2010, and who was living outside the High Desert Prison near Susanville, Ca. committed suicide.
Shermatine had sent a letter to Leonard Padilla, of TV Bounty Hunter fame, suggesting that he (Shermantine) would assist authorities in locating the bodies of victims for a cash payment. When Padilla placed a call to Herzog, noting that Shermantine was about to reveal the locations of more victims, Herzog committed suicide by hanging, in his trailer outside the prison.
Leonard Padilla is reading the letter received from Wesley Shermantine on Sunday September 2nd, 2012.
In the Calaveras Enterprise
, a Stockton Record article is referenced which indicated that Shermantine had written a letter implicating Herzog and a third, unidentified person, of killing 72 more victims. It is possible, the fear of being retried and convicted again for the murders of more people drove Herzog to commit suicide.
in Sacramento reports today, the contents of a letter received by Padilla, from Shermantine, In that letter, Shermantine recounts: "Leonard, I went out like I promised I would and showed them four wells,” (Padilla reads.)
Shermantine also suggested the authorities missed finding the "boneyard" with the bodies of as many as twelve victims in it. Apparently at no time during any of the trials of Shermantine and Herzog, who had been friends since childhood, had any mention been made of a third killer.
By an odd twist of fate, one person who knew Shermantine and who had worked with him building homes in Calaveras County, later worked for this DJ reporter. "Rick" mentioned earlier this year, that there had been times when Shermantine appeared to have an extremely short fuse.
"Rick" also mentioned the problems Shermantine had with his former wife, and that he had at one point stated: "If she doesn't quite pissing me off, I'll just kill her too."
The statement was taken to be one of a "normal" nature from an angry husband, but appears to have been more of an actual declaration of consequences from an individual who was using large quantities of meth at the time.
One mystery which may never be solved now, with the suicide of Herzog, is the question of just how many victims there may have been. Also unanswered is whether or not Shermantine was simply bragging,or attempting to shift blame, in regards to the suggestion of another seventy two victims killed by Herzog and an unidentified accomplice.