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 Confession or Not?

The following is a article that ran in the Stockton Record News Paper on 5/28/99. I thought you would find this  interesting and just another twist into the sick mind games Wes Shermantine plays with the families of the victims and the justice system itself. Do you think this madness will end? It won't till more of us/you take a stand against these predators...


Friday, May 28, 1999

Letter confessing slayings
under study by police

By Rob Nelson
Record Staff Writer

Authorities are attempting to verify whether Wesley Shermantine, accused in multiple slayings, actually
wrote the confession letter that bears his name.

The letter, dated May 12 and bearing the supposed signatures of Shermantine and two other inmates at
the San Joaquin County Jail, was forwarded to detectives last week. Addressed "To Whom It May
Concern," the letter says Shermantine would be willing to confess to the killings of Chevelle "Chevy"
Wheeler and Cyndi Vanderheiden in exchange for prosecutors' assurances that they would not target him
with the death penalty. The letter states Shermantine would be willing to confess to the crimes and
divulge the locations of Wheeler and Vanderheiden's bodies as a way to spare his family and the
relatives of the victims any future grief.

Prosecutors, however, suspect the letter is a ruse devised by someone other than Shermantine.

Shermantine is charged with the 1985 killing of Wheeler, 16, who disappeared from Franklin High School
after telling friends she was going with Shermantine to the Sierra foothills; and the 1998 slaying of
Vanderheiden, 25, who disappeared from in front of her parents' Clements home after a night of
barhopping in November. Detectives maintain Shermantine and Loren Herzog, both 33, raped and killed
Vanderheiden after meeting up with her near her home after midnight Nov. 14.

Herzog and Shermantine are both charged in the slaying of Vanderheiden, whose disappearance sparked
a massive but fruitless community search that spanned much of the winter. Herzog is also charged with
killing four other people in the mid-1980s, crimes he blamed on Shermantine during a videotaped
interview with San Joaquin County sheriff's deputies.

Shermantine disavows any knowledge of the killings and claimed in a jailhouse interview to know
nothing of the mystery confession letter.

"I haven't done anything wrong, so why would I have confessed to anything?" Shermantine said. "When
you think about it, it just doesn't make sense."

Prosecutors and detectives admit finding themselves in the unusual position of agreeing with
Shermantine. Deputy District Attorney Thomas Testa characterized the letter as a "scam" cooked up by
another inmate at County Jail.

"There isn't any conclusive proof yet, but I don't think there's anything to it," Testa said. "In a
high-profile case like this one, everybody has a story to sell."

Authorities nonetheless forwarded the letter to the California Department of Justice for handwriting
analysis. Testa said he expects definitive answers sometime within the next few days as to whether
Shermantine authored the letter.

Inmates often try to convince authorities they've had intimate conversations with other inmates as a
way to increase their own bargaining power, said Shermantine's attorney, Doug Jacobsen. An inmate at
County Jail initially contacted detectives several weeks ago to report that he had heard Shermantine
confessing, authorities said. The so-called confession letter could likely be a ploy to lull prosecutors into
believing his claims and therefore granting him leniency in his own case.

Law enforcement officials may try to track the real author of the letter if it turns out to be someone
other than Shermantine, Testa said. They might as well get started now, according to Jacobsen.

"I'd bet $1 million (Shermantine) didn't write this letter. I'll bet $1 million he didn't write it, and I'll bet
$1 million it's all made up," Jacobsen said.