The Speed Freak Killers San Joaquin County, California
Photos and a video link of the history of these cases are below.
Update: On 06-21-2022, The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Investigations Unit posted on social media and local news stations that they are attempting to identify additional items found in a well in 2012. As of this writing, these items have not yet been linked to any of the recovered Speed Freak Killer’s victims. They could belong to victims not yet located.
The Sheriff’s Office asks if anyone recognizes the jewelry or items in the photos or remembers a female who disappeared in the 1980’s or 1990’s, in the California San Joaquin area, you are asked to contact the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office.
There were reports back in 2012 that murder victims from the 1980s were dumped in San Joaquin county area wells. Numerous searches have been done since then and it is a sad thing that some victims’ families still do not have closure.
In 1984 I was a detective investigating crimes against persons. By 1987, I was A Police Patrol Sergeant in the San Joaquin County California city of Manteca. I can remember a number of missing person reports between those years. While we receive missing person reports often, these suspicious ones were all from the San Joaquin County Valley area, California, and north county detectives had leads that pointed to the murder of a few of them. Our area had a low crime rate and serial killers in our backyard were not the first thought that came to mind.
Detectives focused on two suspects; Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog. These two suspects were local boyhood friends and as they grew older became involved with drugs. As the investigation continued into 1999, evidence showed they were into methamphetamine and when their murder arrests occurred, these two suspects were named by the media as the “Speed Freak killers”. It is believed that the two friends went on a 20-year killing spree, with most of the victims coming from our backyard area (San Joaquin County California). These killers were able to talk victims (friends and strangers) into going with them willingly, never to be seen alive again.
After some diligent detective work, these two killers were arrested and brought to trial. Both were convicted and received what was thought to be justice for once. Shermantine was sentenced to death and currently is on prison death row. Herzog received a 78-year sentence that was overturned by the court of appeals after he served fourteen years. In 2010 Herzog was released on parole and was living in a trailer outside of the prison gates in Lassen County, California.
That didn’t sit well with Shermantine who was now 45 years old. Shermantine blamed the killings on Herzog, with Shermantine admitting to helping dispose of the bodies. He began to hint that he would rat out his friend by showing where some of the bodies were. A Sacramento, California bounty hunter offered Shermintine money reported to be between $15,000 and $30,000 to disclose body locations. The bounty hunter also contacted Herzog with that information. A few days later Herzog committed suicide, at the age of 46.
In February 2012, after some law enforcement bickering from the San Joaquin County Sherriff about jurisdiction issues, Shermantine drew maps that led to at least four different areas where he said bodies are located. So far remains have been found on former Shermintine family property, and a capped well in San Joaquin County. It is reported that these two serial killers could be responsible for more than 30 murders. As of February 15, 2012, the San Joaquin County sheriff has received more than 65 phone calls hoping they can find closure with the location of missing loved ones.
In 2020 a farmer was digging out an area near an old well and discovered bones that are being investigated as a possible connection to this case. The report was that the bones have not yet been identified as human or as connected to these crimes. Since the first report was made by local news agencies, it appears to have been dropped due to more current stories. We will update this post if we find any further information out there.
This was shocking to all living in the area. No one wants to believe that a crime like this happens where they live. The fact is that these types of crimes have and do happen in the area you live in too. You just don’t know about it. It has to be something special before the media picks it up for sure. My adult kids were in grammar school when these crimes above were happening. They only knew about it because of the current news about the bodies being located.
We live in what I believe is the greatest country in the world. But don’t be fooled that you or your family can’t be a victim.
Teach your kids about safety. Tell them about this case and they just might think that it can happen to them.
Google Search Speed Freak Killers for more information.
Show them this video from our local news station covering the search for bodies: http://youtu.be/F4M3i_Ds6dc
You can’t go through life in fear, but you can be prepared just in case. Learn how to defend yourself and carry a self-defense product such as a personal alarm, or as adults, pepper spray, Mace brand defense sprays, or if legal in your area, a stun gun. If you do have a situation, you have a better chance to survive if you can get away.
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