Leonard Padilla is a media darling, and for good reason. With his black cowboy hat and Old West swagger, he's a colorful figure. He's also outspoken, and most recently he's been lashing San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore for, in his view, blocking a search for the remains of murder victim Cyndi Vanderheiden and other victims of Wesley Shermantine and the late Loren Herzog.
We're rooting for Padilla, who seems determined to spring Shermantine for a day from death row so he can personally lead the gruesome search for remains. Honestly, we do wonder if Shermantine is playing all concerned for dupes, but there is some indication that he isn't and that's probably just a risk that has to be run.
Padilla seems interested in publicity, but he also seems genuinely interested in bringing a sense of closure to the Vanderheidens.
And let's face it: Without Padilla's prodding and pushing, there would likely be no real prospect of recovering the bodies.
Even so, we can't fault Moore. The search raises thorny legal and logistical issues. With a convicted killer out of prison, leading authorities through various districts, onto private lands, with the prospect of finding remains in various states of decay, there is much to be worked out.
We hope a successful search can be pulled off. The families have been waiting too long.
Ironically, Leonard Padilla is playing a constructive role by pushing and prodding. But so is Sheriff Steve Moore by taking it slow and sure.