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FBI could help in future searches for remains of Wesley Shermantine Jr., Loren Herzog murder victims

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Posted: Tuesday, February 28, 2012 10:50 am

A meeting Friday to try and plan the next steps in the ongoing search for human remains of victims in the serial killing spree of Wesley Shermantine, Jr. and accomplice Loren Herzog included a new face the FBI.

According to a press release from the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office, the FBI, along with the California Department of Justice, the San Joaquin County District Attorney's Office and Sheriff's lead investigators, all sat down to try and hash out what would be the most prudent way to conduct future searches.

However, no information from that meeting will be made public, the press release said, as conversations from Friday's meeting are ongoing.

"The San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office is committed in doing everything humanely possible and utilizing all resources available to recover the victims who may have fallen prey to Leonard Herzog or Wesley Shermantine," the press release stated.

More human remains were found near Shermantine's former property on Leonard Road in San Andreas last week, though the identification of the bones is still pending, according to sheriff's office spokesperson Les Garcia.

Garcia could not confirm whether there has been a delay in returning the remains of Clements resident Cyndi Vanderheiden or Stockton resident Chevelle "Chevy" Wheeler to their families.

However, John Vanderheiden said he has yet to be able to retrieve his daughter's remains, stating that because more bones were found, investigation crews want to make sure that all remains are returned to families.

Vanderheiden has stated that he plans on cremating his daughter and burying her in the Clements cemetery.

"We don't want to have to (bury) her twice," he said.

Vanderheiden has been waiting 14 years to bring his daughter home, he said, and even though a recent interview between Shermantine and The Stockton Record's Scott Smith at San Quentin State Prison found Shermantine apologizing for the pain he caused others, Vanderheiden said he was not moved.

"He is about 13 years too late," he said.

Wheeler's parents could not be reached for comment regarding possible delays of retrieving their daughter's remains.

In addition to identifying the remains that were found in San Andreas last week, it was not known as of press time how much longer DNA results will take to identify the roughly 1,000 bones and bone fragments discovered in a well on the 27000 block of East Flood Road in Linden nearly two weeks ago.

Though that well has been refilled, the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office has indicated that they will be searching for a second well that is believed to hold more remains. When that search begins, however, is unknown.

The ongoing discussion regarding how and where to find remains of Shermantine's and Herzog's victims took a major uptick in January after Herzog committed suicide in the trailer he was living in on the grounds of High Desert State Prison. He was 46.

Allegedly, Herzog committed suicide after learning that Shermantine was giving up burial locations of victims.

Shermantine, thus far, has provided three accurate locations of victims' remains — those of Vanderheiden, Wheeler and the possible burial ground in the well in Linden.

However, Shermantine said to Smith that more locations have yet to be found. Those locations are allegedly located in areas including Stockton, Modesto and Ripon.

Contact reporter Katie Nelson at katien@lodinews.com.

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