default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
Logout|My Dashboard

San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department identifies two victims found in Linden well

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Friday, March 30, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 9:11 am, Tue Jan 28, 2014.

The remains of two Stockton women who went missing in the mid-1980s were identified today by San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore. The two teenagers are believed to be victims of serial killers Wesley Shermantine Jr. and Loren Herzog.

In a news conference at the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department, Moore said the remains of 16-year-old Joann Hobson and 19-year-old Kimberly Billy, both of east Stockton, were identified through DNA testing by the California Department of Justice.

He also added that the identity of a third victim, also found in the well on East Flood Road in Linden, was still undetermined.

Billy, also known to friends and family as Kimberly Harr, was reported missing to the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office on Dec. 27, 1984.

According to Moore, Billy's grandmother told deputies when she made the report that she last spoke to her granddaughter on Dec. 11, 1984. However, Billy had not called anyone nor had she been seen since that date, and she had made no attempt to contact any relatives over the Christmas holiday, Moore added.

Through examinations by an odontologist and a forensic anthropologist, as well as DNA testing by the Department of Justice's DNA lab, nuclear DNA results confirmed that one set of remains compiled from the 1,000-plus bones and bone fragments found in Linden were that of Billy.

Nuclear DNA is like a fingerprint; it is specific to each person, and no two people share the same nuclear DNA. It is the most accurate way to confirm any DNA analysis.

Hobson was reported missing on Sept. 10, 1985, according to Moore. Hobson's mother allegedly told deputies that her daughter was last seen on Aug. 29, 1985. Hobson's mother said she had checked with friends and family to determine if they had seen or heard from Hobson before she reported her missing.

Hobson went missing just a month or so before 16-year-old Stockton resident Chevelle "Chevy" Wheeler disappeared.

She has been preliminarily identified through mitochondrial DNA testing.

Mitochondrial DNA testing pinpoints a specific type of DNA that is passed along through the mother. However, mitochondrial DNA is shared by anyone who is related to the mother, thus making the test less specific than nuclear DNA testing.

"I did not speak directly with the victims' families, but ... I would say that their response was bittersweet," Moore said. "... They are accepting the reality of certainty that (the victims) are no longer with us."

Moore added that ongoing efforts are being made to identify the third set of skeletal remains that had been sent to the Department of Justice.

Overall, it took the department roughly 2 1/2 weeks to identify Billy's and Hobson's remains, and that time frame, according to Moore, is extremely fast.

California attorney general Kamala Harris has asked that any and all testing for remains found thus far in the search for Shermantine's and Herzog's victims be a top priority and focus for the Department of Justice's DNA lab in Richmond, Calif., Moore said.

DNA extractions are still being conducted on the third set of remains, which have yet to be identified, and the time frame on determining the identity of that set of bones and bone fragments cannot be determined.

Thus far, investigators have identified four of five sets of remains — Billy, Hobson, Wheeler and 25-year-old Clements resident Cyndi Vanderheiden.

The remains of both Wheeler and Vanderheiden have been returned to their families for burial.

The question remains, however, as to where investigators will dig next.

According to Moore, as information comes in and is verified, more details will be released on whether another well will be searched in the future.

"We will not test every bone," he said. "... There is no textbook for a case like this. This is a very long process and we have to untangle claims and information we have. When we have information, we move forward. And we will do it as quickly as possible."

Contact reporter Katie Nelson at katien@lodinews.com.

More about

More about

More about

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don't pretend you're someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don't insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.

Welcome to the discussion.


Popular Stories



Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists