(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — Cops searching for victims of the “Speed Freak Killers” are digging in the wrong well, according to a bounty hunter who says he convinced one of the killers to confess where they hid the bodies.
Wesley Shermantine, who is on death row for his role in the death of as many as 20 people in the Sacramento area, drew a map of two wells for bounty hunter Leonard Padilla after Padilla promised to pay Shermantine for the information.
Police digging in the first site found the bones of two missing women that Shermantine and his accomplice Loren Herzog were suspected of killing in the 1980s and 1990s.
Digging in a second well has turned up 1,000 bones over the past week, but Padilla told ABC News that those bones are from cattle and the police have not read Shermantine’s directions correctly.
“We told (the sheriff’s officers) you’re digging in wrong place. It looks good on television, but actually there could possibly be another body just a quarter mile east of where he dug,” Padilla said. Padilla said he had gone over the map that Shermantine drew meticulously to ensure that he knew which well the serial killer was describing. There are thousands of wells in the area, Padilla noted.
The sheriff’s department did not return calls for comment.
Since Shermantine began disclosing where he dumped the victims of his drug-fueled killing spree, police have located the bodies of Chevelle “Chevy” Wheeler, 16, and Cyndi Vanderheiden, age 25.
In 2001, Herzog was released from jail on charges of manslaughter for his role in one of the murders. But he killed himself last month after finding out that Shermantine was preparing to disclose the locations of their victims’ bodies.
Shermantine, who is on death row, provided the information first to Padilla and Scott Smith, a reporter for the Stockton Record, leading to the sheriff’s excavations.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Selena Larson, CNN
Kevin Liptak, CNN
Ray Sanchez, CNN
Pamela Brown, CNN