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'Speed Freak Killer' Speaks Out In Letter, Search Enters 2nd Week

LINDEN, San Joaquin County (CBS / AP) -- Convicted killer Wesley Shermantine sent a letter from death row to the CBS affiliate in Sacramento. In the letter, he talked about everything from his friend and fellow killer Loren Herzog, to the current search for the remains of victims, to how he feels about his sister.

Shermantine dated his letter from death row Feb. 14, 2012, and it arrived at the CBS13 studio Friday morning addressed to reporter Koula Gianulias.

Shermantine, one of the so-called "Speed Freak Killers," is currently on death row in San Quentin for killing four people in a spree that lasted from 1984 to 1999. However, officials believe he and Herzog are responsible for many more deaths.

In the letter, Shermantine starts by saying "Their (sic) have been nothing but lies. 90% are lies."

The letter comes as the grisly search for victims of Shermantine and Herzog enters its second week and will continue through the three-day holiday weekend.

On Friday, the tedious and grisly search continued with the addition of dogs specially trained to sniff out human remains.

San Joaquin County sheriff's deputies and other searchers this week have extracted some 1,000 human bone fragments from an old well near the farming town of Linden, about 80 miles east of San Francisco. They hit bottom Thursday and spent Friday examining piles of debris taken from the well while ensuring the well itself was thoroughly searched.

The bones are being sent to the California Department of Justice for possible identification through DNA analysis.

Department spokesman Les Garcia said Friday that authorities are using specially trained "cadaver dogs" to examine the debris piles and determine whether other nearby wells also contain human remains. There's a possibility that another well will be dug up, depending on what the dogs find.

The dogs are on loan from Santa Clara County and are the same hounds that turned up two sets of human remains in Calaveras County two weeks ago that were tentatively identified as two women Shermantine was convicted of killing and burying on property once owned by his family.

Searchers are pursuing information provided by Shermantine, one of the two so-called "Speed Freak Killers" who are suspected of murdering as many as 20 people. Shermantine has given investigators maps to the burial sites after Sacramento bounty hunter Leonard Padilla promised to pay him $33,000 for the information.

Herzog, Shermantine's partner in the killings, committed suicide last month after being told Shermantine was cooperating with authorities.

Garcia said the dogs will help searchers determine where to look next after Shermantine provided information about five separate sites where he says the victims could be buried. A sheriff's hotline for people who believe their loved ones could be among the victims being found has received more than 50 calls.

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


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