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Murders under review

Officials look for Shermantine,

Herzog ties to unsolved cases

March 24, 1999   By Rob Nelson   Record Staff Writer

If the alleged timelines are correct, Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog killed five people before their 21st birthdays
but then waited more than a decade to kill again.

Investigators are now taking a hard look at any unsolved murders committed during that lull, wondering whether
Shermantine and Herzog may be linked to any more of San Joaquin County's 190 unresolved killings.

"It would be irresponsible of us not to look at any unsolved murders from that time frame and see if there's a correlation
with these two suspects," said Mike Padilla, a spokesman for the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office. "The investigation
is ongoing."

Prosecutors have already charged Shermantine and Herzog with six killings dating back to 1984, including the recent
disappearance of Cyndi Vanderheiden, a 25-year-old Clements woman who vanished from in front of her parents' home
after a friend gave her a ride home from a bar last November.

Sheriff's deputies arrested Herzog and Shermantine, both 33, a week ago after drawing blood samples for DNA testing
from Herzog, charging both men with the kidnapping and murder of Vanderheiden. Shermantine was also charged last
Thursday with the 1985 murder of Chevelle "Chevy" Wheeler, a 16-year-old Stockton girl who disappeared after telling
friends she was playing hooky from Franklin High School to go on a day trip with Shermantine.

Authorities have refused to discuss details of their investigation, although court officials speculate the two men may
have implicated each other.

At an arraignment on Monday, prosecutors unexpectedly filed four additional murder charges against Herzog, linking the
Linden man to a string of mysterious mid-1980's killings. All total, Herzog faces five separate counts of murder, while
Shermantine faces two.

And this could be only the beginning.

San Joaquin County District Attorney John Phillips has cautioned Vanderheiden family members not to be surprised if
additional charges are filed, said Kim Wrage, Vanderheiden's 30-year-old sister. Expert criminal profilers say that the
likelihood of a person committing four murders within a two-year span and then going cold turkey for more than a
decade is remote.

"There are definitely other bodies out there," said Greg Cooper, chief of the Provo Police Department in Utah and a
former FBI profiler. "These guys wouldn't have been inactive from 1985 to 1998, not unless they'd moved, they were
incarcerated or they were dead."

Shermantine in fact moved from the Linden home where he grew up to a rural cabin near San Andreas several years ago,
neighbors said. Herzog has lived with his parents in Linden since childhood, most recently at an address on Fine Road not
far from where one of the mid-1980s murder victims was found.

Calaveras County Sheriff's Officials refused to say Tuesday whether they, too, are looking at possible connections
between Shermantine and any unsolved crimes. Neighbors depicted Shermantine as prone to fits of violence.

According to Cooper, the criminal profile of Herzog and Shermantine's

murder charges read like those of serial killers improving at their craft. Authorities found bodies from all four mid-1980s
murders Herzog is charged with, indicating a novice approach to the killings, Cooper explained. But police have so far
been unable to locate either Wheeler's or Vanderheiden's bodies, indicating whoever killed them knew how to hide his
crimes, Cooper said.

Wheeler disappeared in October 1985, about a month after a dove hunter stumbled upon the nude body of 24-year-old
Robin Armtrout, who was found stabbed repeatedly about the back and chest, police reports said. Chronologically,
Armtrout's was the last of the four murders Herzog is now charged with.

Armtrout's mother last saw her daughter climbing into a red pickup truck with two men, family members said.
Shermantine, a close friend of Herzog's since childhood, owned a red pickup at the time, said Raymond Wheeler, Chevy's
father. Witnesses also saw a red pick-up truck in the vicinity of Roberts Island on Nov. 27, 1984 just before Howard King,
35, and Paul Raymond Cavanaugh, 31, were killed by several shotgun blasts of birdshot, records show.

Herzog is charged with the murders of both King and Cavanaugh. Police initially suspected more than one person may
have committed the crime.

In addition to those murders, Herzog is also charged with the 1984 killing of Henry Howell, a Santa Clara resident who
was found shot to death along Highway 88 near Hope Valley. Prosecutors are trying that case in San Joaquin County
under the so-called "serial killer" statutes that allow officials to consolidate multiple murder trials into a single

If Herzog is convicted, the 1980s murder cases will be the first in Stockton history to be solved after a 13-year delay, said
Doug Anderson, spokesman for the Stockton Police Department.

Neither Herzog nor Shermantine has entered a plea in answer to the charges. During further arraignment Tuesday, a
representative from the Public Defender's Office asked for a one-week delay so that an attorney could be found to
represent Herzog. Both he and Shermantine will return to court to enter pleas March 30.

Stockton attorney Doug Jacobsen, however, was appointed Tuesday to represent Shermantine. Jacobsen has defended
more than a dozen murder cases in just under 30 years of practicing law, he said.

Cyndi Search Headquarters, Kim Wrage & Pamela Ellis

This page was last edited by WebMaster Pamela on 05/04/99

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