John and Terri Vanderheiden sat just inches from the sister of their daughter's killer as they recounted once again the grief they have had to endure for more than a decade during a taping of journalist Anderson Cooper's talk show "Anderson" that aired Tuesday.
Terri Vanderheiden, in a black blazer and light blue shirt, turned to face Dolly Shermantine, Wesley Shermantine Jr.'s sister, during the show. Terry Vanderheiden said she did not blame the woman for what happened to her daughter, 25-year-old Clements resident Cyndi Vanderheiden. But, she added, she would never forgive Shermantine for what he did to her daughter.
Dolly Shermantine, the Vanderheidens, Sacramento-based bounty hunter Leonard Padilla and his partner, Rob Dick, were interviewed by Cooper in a segment that aired Tuesday afternoon about the search for and eventual recovery of Cyndi Vanderheiden.
Initially, Dolly Shermantine spoke with Cooper about her history with her brother, from the time they were children living with what she called an "alcoholic, abusive mother." She said that her brother, whom she was close with growing up, had maintained his innocence until recently.
He claimed he had never been involved in any killings and that Loren Herzog, his childhood friend, was all to blame, she said.
But in a letter a few months ago, Dolly Shermantine said everything she ever knew about her brother changed. Shermantine admitted to her that he had buried Cyndi Vanderheiden and 16-year-old Stockton resident Chevelle "Chevy" Wheeler.
"What he did was unforgivable and wrong, but I will always love him," she said. "After all those years he lied to me and kept me in the dark ... if and when I talk to him, there will be a lot of things we need to talk about ... I want to know why (he lied)."
After her interview, the Vanderheidens were brought out to sit on the beige couch, where they recounted the memories of their daughter, who was killed in November 1998.
Terri Vanderheiden told Cooper that the day she found out her daughter's remains had been discovered was the "worst day of her life" and that even though Cyndi Vanderheiden had been missing for 14 years, she had always held out hope.
"That hope is lost now," she said. "But I still keep my porch light on at night ... hoping there was a mistake and that she will be walking down the road."
Padilla and Dick also sat down to discuss their involvement with the case, which included addressing the controversial decision that Padilla made to pay Shermantine if he truthfully revealed the locations of the remains of missing victims that are allegedly part of Shermantine's and Herzog's killing spree that spanned almost 20 years.
Padilla said he was willing to pay up to $33,000 for the locations of victims' remains, but when asked how much he had paid thus far, Padilla did not answer the question.
Padilla has said in other interviews that so far, he has attempted to pay $2,000 by check as a good faith gesture, but that his check was returned to him because there were complications with payments within the prison system. Shermantine currently sits on death row at San Quentin State Prison.
"The country is so vast. ... Where do you start (to search for victims' remains)?" Dick said. "You have to start at the source of the killings. That is what we decided."
Though a skull found on Shermantine's property in San Andreas has been positively identified as that of Cyndi Vanderheiden via DNA tests conducted by California's Department of Bureau of Forensic Services, John Vanderheiden said he has yet to be able to retrieve his daughter's remains.
More bones found on Shermantine's property in late February could also be those of Cyndi Vanderheiden, but DNA test results were supposed to be ready last week, John Vanderheiden said, allowing him to finally bring his daughter's remains home for burial.
"I am worried she has slipped through the cracks," he said. "We have not heard anything."
Contact reporter Katie Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.