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   Feb 15

Convict Leads Police to Victims’ Remains

Cited: CNN

The families of victims of violent crimes, particularly murder, live the pain and suffering of the crime for the rest of their lives. But for those whose loved ones are never found, no body ever recovered, they are haunted even more so and the lack of closure for them makes their suffering all the more painful. A California man convicted in the murders of four people was convinced by a bounty hunter to disclose the burial area where he disposed of his victims, and while he was more motivated by money than remorse, Wesley Shermantine, did indeed lead police to the spot where they could find his victims.

Shermantine was promised a cash reward of $33,000 by bounty hunter Leonard Padilla, if he told them where authorities could find the people that he, and another man convicted in the murders, could find the remains of his victims. Shermantine agreed and drew a detailed map for police, which led them to an abandoned well in Calaveras County, to a piece of property owned by the Shermantine family. Mr. Shermantine, one of the “Speed Freak Killers” so dubbed by the media at the time of the trial, sent details and a map to a journalist, who then forwarded the information on to the police.

At the well site, police found human remains as well as hundreds of pieces of clothing and personal belongings of the victims buried 45 deep in the now dry well. Authorities believe that the remains of many more than four bodies are in the well and they have contacted other police and federal law enforcement authorities to check their missing persons records and to send them information on these still missing persons to see if perhaps their remains might be among the many being found at the gruesome site.

Police have tentatively identified two victims, Chevelle Wheeler and Cyndi Vanderheiden, both of whom disappeared in the 1980′s after falling into the hands of Shermantine and is accomplice. The money paid to Mr. Shermantine is said to be going for headstones for his parent’s grave site as well as restitution for his crimes.

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My take:

We live among some very horrible, evil people. This is a story that lends itself to telling your children and anyone else that may be vulnerable, including yourself, to be more wary than trusting. It is a cold way to go through life but there are so many predators out there that you have to be oh so careful or else you or a loved one may be the next one to be found at the bottom of a well.

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