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More remains found on Wesley Shermantine Jr.’s former property

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Chevelle "Chevy" Wheeler

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Posted: Friday, February 10, 2012 1:44 pm | Updated: 9:11 am, Tue Jan 28, 2014.

A second set of human remains was found Friday on the former property of convicted killer Wesley Shermantine Jr. in San Andreas.

A partial skull and other bone fragments were found around 11 a.m. by cadaver dogs, according to the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department.

It is the second discovery made in the area by a cadaver dog — the first was Thursday when a dog discovered a partially unearthed skull in a ravine adjacent to Shermantine's property. Officials believe those remains may belong to murder victim Cyndi Vanderheiden of Clements

The skull found Friday could be that of Chevelle "Chevy" Wheeler, a 16-year-old Stockton resident who went missing in 1985 after she decided to skip school.

Proof that Vanderheiden and Wheeler's remains have been found will not come for at least a few weeks, as all evidence is being handed over to the state Department of Justice for DNA testing.

Paula Wheeler, the victim's mother, said she has a gut feeling that her daughter's remains were finally found Friday.

Deputies notified her of the discovery and included details that she found convincing, Wheeler said.

"They said they found a partial lavender hoodie," she said. "That was what Chevy was wearing the day she disappeared. Lavender was her favorite color. I do not just think they found her, I know they did."

Wheeler said she and her husband plan to cremate their daughter and bring her home with them to Tennessee, where they moved after her disappearance.

But Friday's efforts in San Andreas were just part of a bigger operation.

A second investigation unit was out in a remote section of Linden on Flood Road, probing the area for a well that is said to contain victims of Shermantine and his former friend, Loren Herzog, who committed suicide last month after serving time for his role in the killings.

Dave Konecny of the San Joaquin County Sheriff's department said an excavation crew was looking at one well on the property and expecting it might hold up to a dozen bodies. But reaching the bottom of the 25-foot well takes time and some heavy machinery. Konecny expects the work to go on through the weekend.

"It's a slow, tedious process," he said, adding that the work was waiting on a larger excavator to come in.

Bounty hunters Leonard Padilla and Rob Dick had a few suggestions to make the process go a little faster.

"I can tell you where the right well is, if you're interested," Padilla said to Konecny after he finished speaking to the press. Padilla has been in contact with Shermantine in recent months and has been pushing for a search for the remains. He promises to pay Shermantine a fee for the information that is apparently leading to the skeletal discoveries.

Konecny waved him off, then jumped in his blue Toyota and sped back up Flood Road to the scene.

Meanwhile, Padilla was tallying up the tab he promised to pay Shermantine in return for information on where the bodies were hidden.

"So that's $15 thou for Cyndi and $18 thou for Chevy. I gotta find me another fugitive so I can pay up," he said.

He's not bothered that he's paying off a serial killer.

"It doesn't matter as long as we get the results and these family's futures. Think about [Cyndi Vanderheiden's father] John Vanderheiden. All he wants is a bone, a part of his daughter," said Padilla.

Contact reporters Katie Nelson at katien@lodinews.com and Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com.

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