Nov. 14, 1998: Cyndi Vanderheiden is last seen alive pulling into the driveway of her parents’ Clements home. Her car is found hours later at nearby Glenview Cemetery.
Nov. 16, 1998: After two days the search intensifies, with bloodhounds finding her scent leading to the Mokelumne River. Deputies drag the river, and divers search with underwater cameras.
Nov. 20, 1998: Her family opens a 24-hour search headquarters, complete with two phone lines and a fax machine.
Nov. 22, 1998: More than 350 volunteers search by horseback, helicopter and Harley Davidson. At least 500 people attend a fund-raising lunch.
March 18, 1999: Wesley Shermantine Jr. and Loren Herzog are arrested for the murders of Vanderheiden and other victims. DNA tests reveal that Vanderheiden’s blood was in Shermantine’s car.
Nov. 22, 2000: Shermantine’s trial opens in Santa Clara County, where it was moved due to extensive publicity.
Feb. 14, 2001: Shermantine is convicted of four counts of murder by a Santa Clara County jury. While awaiting the penalty phase of his trial, he offers to reveal the location of Vanderheiden’s body in exchange for $20,000 that would go to his two sons. The family refuses, and though a Sacramento bounty hunter offers to pay the money, no deal is made.
March 9, 2001: The same jury recommends a death sentence for Shermantine. Prosecutors had offered to take the death sentence off the table if Shermantine told them where the bodies were buried; he did not.
May 16, 2001: Shermantine is sentenced to die. He denies killing anyone, blaming Herzog.
July 31, 2001: Jury selection begins in Herzog’s murder trial, also held in Santa Clara County.
Oct. 23, 2001: A different Santa Clara County jury convicts Loren Herzog of three counts of murder and being an accessory to a fourth murder after more than two weeks of deliberations.
Dec. 10, 2001: Herzog is sentenced to 78 years in state prison.
May 9, 2002: Herzog is stabbed in the abdomen by another inmate at High Desert State Prison in Susanville.
Sept. 4, 2002: “American Justice: Vanished,” a TV show that ran for three years, spends an hour-long episode on the case. It still shows in re-runs on the Arts and Entertainment channel.
Aug. 18, 2004: The 6th Appellate District Court overturns all four of Herzog’s convictions and orders a retrial on the Vanderheiden murder. The appellate court ruled that Herzog was coerced while being questioned by San Joaquin County Sheriff’s investigators in 1999, but he was not coerced when questioned about the Vanderheiden case.
Oct. 22, 2004: Herzog is charged with one count of murder in Vanderheiden’s death.
Nov. 24, 2004: Herzog accepts a plea bargain by pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter in Vanderheiden’s death, being an accessory to the deaths of Paul Cavanaugh, Howard King and Henry Howell, and of furnishing methamphetamine. He is sentenced to 14 years in state prison, with credit for more than six years for time served.
Nov. 4, 2008: The Vanderheiden family quietly observes what would have been Cyndi Vanderheiden’s 35th birthday.
— News-Sentinel staff