SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A convicted serial killer claims he can lead police to the remains of dozens of murder victims, but he has demanded thousands of dollars before he will give out the information.
Sacramento-based bounty hunter Leonard Padilla and Calaveras County Sheriff's deputies began searching a remote area Thursday in an attempt to find the remains of 16-year-old Stockton girl Chevy Wheeler, who disappeared in 1985 and may have been buried in the area, if a letter from death row inmate Wesley Shermantine is to be believed.
"I buried Chevy on my parent's property, out where Chino lived on the other side of the dam," Shermantine wrote, including a crude hand drawn map to the location.
Shermantine further claimed in the letter that more than two dozen cold case murders could be solved if he reveals the location of a "bone yard" belonging to his childhood friend and convicted killer Loren Herzog, who was released on parole in the San Joaquin Valley earlier this year.
"Once Chevy is recovered, I expect my restitution to be paid, then I will take the next step in recovering Herzog's bone yard," Shermantine added.
Shermantine wants a total of $33,000 for the information -- $18,000 to pay off his victim's restitution and another $15,000 to buy headstones for his parents and provide spending money in prison.
Shermantine was convicted along with Herzog for a 15-year-long methamphetamine-fueled killing spree that earned them the name "Speed Freak Killers." Herzog was originally sentenced to 78 years in prison but had his sentenced reduced to 14 years after an appeals court ruled that his detailed confessions were illegally coerced.
"We believe that now we can find the bodies," Padilla said. "He's on death row. His whole world right now is the next candy bar."
Padilla has been offering Shermantine cash for the last 12 years in an effort to crack the cold cases, arguing that the closure of knowing what happened to missing persons would be priceless for the victims' family members.
Shermantine has maintained his innocence against all accusations of murder, but witnesses have stated that he bragged about killing as many as 19 people.
According to published reports, the family of Chevy Wheeler does not believe Shermantine has any useful information.
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