Rain halts search in California serial killings

Associated Press Modified: February 13, 2012 at 2:31 pm •  Published: February 13, 2012

LINDEN, Calif. (AP) — The search for more human remains in what appears to be a mass grave used by two men known as the "Speed Freak Killers" was suspended because of rain Monday, a day after authorities unearthed hundreds of bone fragments.

The grisly discoveries were made at an old well near the rural Northern California town of Linden. Death row inmate Wesley Shermantine had claimed the well could hold 10 or more victims from a killing spree during the 1980s and 90s.

Along with bones, searchers dug out clothes, a purse and jewelry, on Sunday. The items were found 45 feet deep in the well on an abandoned cattle ranch, San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department spokesman Les Garcia said in a statement.

Investigators, public works employees and volunteers have found more than 300 human bones and had planned to resume the search Monday, Garcia said.

Searchers will resume digging and sifting through the dirt and cataloguing their finds Tuesday, weather permitting, he said. The search is going at a "slow and tedious" pace and is expected to last several more days, Garcia said.

Meanwhile, the sheriff's department has set up a telephone hotline — 209-468-5087 — for people who suspect their loved ones fell prey to the killers.

Investigators can also be emailed at coldcase(at)sjgov.org. The department on Monday asked that email messages include names, phone numbers, the name of the missing person and case number.

Sunday marked the fourth straight day that remains were found with the help of a map prepared by Shermantine, who along with childhood friend Loren Herzog became known as the "Speed Freak Killers" after their arrests in 1999. The map led to burial locations in San Joaquin and Calaveras counties.

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