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More remains discovered in search for victims of Wesley Shermantine Jr., Loren Herzog

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Posted: Thursday, February 23, 2012 11:27 am | Updated: 9:11 am, Tue Jan 28, 2014.

More human remains were found after investigation crews were out once again Thursday in Calaveras County, continuing the search for victims of serial killers Wesley Shermantine Jr. and Loren Herzog.

The search resumed two weeks after sheriff's deputies from San Joaquin County and personnel from the Department of Justice, along with cadaver dogs from the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office, unearthed the remains of Clements resident Cyndi Vanderheiden in a ravine near Shermantine's former property on Leonard Road in San Andreas.

San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department spokesman Les Garcia said remains were found after expanding the search grid areas and utilizing the aid of the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Human Remains detection canines.

The same two cadaver dogs from the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office that discovered the remains of Clements resident Cyndi Vanderheiden and Stockton resident Chevelle "Chevy" Wheeler were back out with investigators Thursday, according to Sgt. Jose Cardoza of the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office.

The two dogs, named Maya and Sara, were called out Thursday morning with their trainers to be debriefed on the search before heading out to Leonard Road in San Andreas, where the search was conducted, Cardoza said.

According to media reports, investigation crews were in a wooded area near Shermantine's former property in San Andreas, marking items that appeared to be evidence.

Search crews began around 7:30 a.m. Thursday, and continued to work throughout the day.

San Joaquin County's Chief Medical Examiner responded to San Andreas to examine the remains and determined the remains to be human. The remains will be submitted to the California Department of Justice Bureau of Forensic Services for DNA testing for identification purposes.

For some, however, the search in Calaveras County is strange, as it is believed the majority of victims' remains are most likely located in Linden.

Sacramento-based bounty hunter Leonard Padilla said he was not sure why investigators were out in San Andreas, because according to a phone conversation between him and Shermantine, the place investigators need to be looking is in Linden.

Padilla headed out to Linden on Wednesday to try and investigate an area near a TV tower located on Waverly Road and Copperopolis Road that is allegedly where another well is located.

That well, Shermantine told Padilla, holds the remains of one of Loren Herzog's victims.

Herzog, Shermantine's accomplice in a nearly 20-year killing spree, committed suicide in January after he allegedly learned from Padilla that Shermantine had given up the burial sites of their victims.

Thus far, investigators have found more than 1,000 bones and bone fragments in their search for Shermantine's and Herzog's victims.

Though only two victims have been identified by the Department of Justice thus far — Vanderheiden, 25, who disappeared in 1998, and Wheeler, 16, who went missing in 1985 — the department has called their efforts to identify all remains found in Linden so far a "rush case."

Contact reporter Katie Nelson at katien@lodinews.com.

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