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Mother Confirms ID Of Remains Found In 'Speed Freak Killers' Case

LINDEN (CBS) - The mother of one of the victims of the Speed Freak Killers told CBS's Sacramento affiliate that remains found last Friday in Calaveras County have been positively as her daughter.

Paula Wheeler, the mother of Chevelle "Chevy" Wheeler, said that the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department called her at her home in Tennessee to tell her the remains found last week are that of her daughter.

Wheeler's remains were discovered Friday by deputies searching behind the former family property of Wesley Shermantine, one of the men known as the Speed Freak Killers.

According to Sacramento-based bounty hunter Leonard Padilla, the remains were found in the location where Shermantine admitted that 16-year old Chevy Wheeler was buried.

Wheeler went missing from Franklin High School in Stockton in 1985, when she told friends she was skipping school to go with Shermantine to his family's cabin in San Andreas.

Wheeler's mother Paula told CBS over the phone from Tennessee that the sheriff's office called her and told her the remains were found wrapped in a blanket where Shermantine indicated they would be and that the clothes appeared to match what Chevy was wearing when she went missing.

A sheriff's official confirmed the remains, including a partial skull, were found on the side of a hill surrounded by trees, brush and leaves. Specialized search dogs hit on a scent and crews brought in a back hoe to remove dirt and found the remains.

Sources told CBS that Shermantine and his "Speed Freak Killers" partner Loren Herzog could be responsible for as many as 25 unsolved murders.

Over the weekend, authorities found more than 300 bones in the area where  Shermantine said there might be 10 or more victims from a methamphetamine-fueled killing spree he and a childhood friend were part of in the 1980s and 1990s.

The 300 bones and other items were found 45 feet deep in the well on an abandoned cattle ranch near Linden in San Joaquin County.

Shermantine was convicted in 2001 of killing four people, including Vanderheiden and Wheeler. Herzog, his childhood friend, was found guilty of three murders, but his murder convictions were later overturned on appeal. He was sentenced to 14 years and released in 2010. He committed suicide outside High Desert State Prison in Susanville last month, where he was living in a mobile home after his release.

Shermantine, who is on death row at San Quentin, has been talking with investigators over the last several weeks, offering to give them details about burial sites in return for money.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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