General Crime

FBI Will Resume Excavations to Recover Remains of Speed Freak Killer Victims

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FBI officials in Sacramento announced this morning that they will begin excavating a second well in San Joaquin County as the family of kidnapping victim Michaela Garecht continue to wait for results from bones found last year in the same area. Today’s announcement about the FBI’s excavation effort is a new stage in the investigation of the so-called “Speed Freak Killers” that had been previously led by the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office. The “Speed Freak Killers” — Wesley Shermantine, 45, and Loren Herzog, who hanged himself at age 46 on Jan. 16, 2012 — are believed to have buried their victims in a Linden, Calif., well. The two are believed to have killed a number of people in the 1980s and 1990s.

They were dubbed the “Speed Freak Killers” because they were allegedly high on methamphetamine at the time of the killings. Investigators discovered the initial Linden site after being directed there by Shermantine. FBI officials said various sources, including Shermantine, redirected them to a new well in the area. The FBI announced plans to uncover the new well in the next two weeks. If any remains are found in the process they will be sent to the FBI lab in Quantico, Va., FBI officials said. Sharon Murch, the mother of Michaela, who was abducted on Nov. 19, 1988, at age 9 as she rode her scooter with a friend to the Rainbow Market on Mission Boulevard in Hayward, called the FBI announcement “good news” on her blog. Murch wrote in a post today, “Meanwhile, we continue to wait.”

She was referring to a bone fragment that was found in a first well in Linden last February that was identified as that of a juvenile between the ages of 5 and 14. Shermantine, who has been convicted of four counts of murder and is on death row, sparked interest in Michaela’s case when he said in early 2012 that Herzog, who attended Linden High School with him in the 1980s, may have abducted Michaela. Herzog was convicted in 2001 of three counts of murder and accepted a plea deal in which he was sentenced to 14 years in state prison. In 2010, he was paroled to a trailer outside the High Desert State Prison in Susanville.

Authorities said he killed himself there the night of Jan. 16, 2012. Last October, Murch said that initial tests showed the bone appeared to be Michaela’s but that the results were inconclusive because of the bone’s condition. Further testing results have been delayed. Last week Murch wrote that conclusive information about the fragment was expected by the end of this week. In a blog post last Thursday, Murch wrote directly to Shermantine, pleading him to share any information about Michaela’s whereabouts. “Wesley, as you can probably see, I am also feeling about as fragile as an eggshell that has been drained of its contents. So I just want to ask you for one thing, and that is for honesty,” she wrote.

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