Bodies of 2 teens in 'Speed Freak Killers' well

Published March 30, 2012 8:54PM (EDT)

FRENCH CAMP, Calif. (AP) — Authorities on Friday released the identities of two Northern California teen girls whose remains were found inside an abandoned well linked to two men known as the "Speed Freak Killers."

San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore identified 19-year-old Kimberly Billy, who went missing in 1984 at the age of 19. He says 16-year-old Joann Hobson disappeared in 1985.

Moore says a third body found is awaiting identification.

Investigators believe they were victims of Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog, who authorities say went on a methamphetamine-fueled killing spree in the 1980s and 90s.

Shermantine is now on death row for four murders. He sent authorities on a massive search last month after he agreed to disclose burial locations in exchange for $33,000 from a bounty hunter.

Searchers combed a remote Calaveras County property once owned by Shermantine's family and excavated an abandoned well near the farming town of Linden.

At the Calaveras County property, they found the remains of Cyndi Vanderheiden, 25, who disappeared in 1998, and Chevelle "Chevy" Wheeler, 16, who disappeared in 1985. Shermantine was convicted of both murders in 2001, and Herzog reached a plea deal for voluntary manslaughter in Vanderheiden's death.

Shermantine, who blames Herzog for the killing spree, told authorities that 10 or more bodies could have been stashed at the Linden well. Searchers dug up hundreds of bone fragments there, as well as purses, shoes, jewelry and other evidence.

Herzog, who was paroled in 2010, committed suicide in January at his trailer in Lassen County, hours after being told that Shermantine was cooperating with authorities.

By Salon Staff

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