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Dig for human remains resumes at Northern California well

  • FILE - In a Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012 file photo San Joaquin Sheriff deputies and Department of Justice personnel sift for human remains that were excavated from an abandoned cattle ranch near Linden, Calif. Authorities say Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog, dubbed the "Speed Freak Killers," wantonly murdered many throughout California's rural Central Valley before their arrest in 1999. Now, motivated by a bounty hunter's promise to pay, one of those convicted killer's is breaking his long-held secret and leading investigators to burial sites that have yielded hundreds of human bones. (AP Photo/The Record, Craig Sanders, file)

SAN FRANCISCO — The childhood friends killed for the first time less than three months after their high school graduation in 1984. Then they seemingly killed with impunity for the next 15 years, with one man making barroom boasts about their ability to make people disappear.

By the time the hunting buddies were finally arrested in 1999, investigators say the notorious "Speed Freak Killers" killed as many as 20 people during a 15-year spree that terrorized California's rural Central Valley. Some of their victims were left at the scene. Most were never seen again, especially their female victims.

Even after their convictions in 2001, Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog steadfastly refused to divulge any burial sites.

Now, motivated by a bounty hunter's promise to pay $33,000 for the location of the missing, Shermantine is breaking a long silence. Family members of the missing hope the new details will lead to the discovery of their loved ones' remains and closure after years of torment. Two victims have already been identified and hundreds of human remains have been recovered over the last several days.

More are expected to be found as the search resumed Tuesday after a daylong postponement due to rain.

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