Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Speed Freak Killers

Herzog's Videotape

Following more than 17 hours of questioning by San Joaquin County Sheriff's detectives, most, if not all, of which was videotaped, Herzog implicated Shermantine in five unsolved slayings that had occurred in northern California, including that of Cyndi Vanderheiden, and in the shooting death of a hunter in Utah. Herzog told detectives that Shermantine pulled the trigger or used a knife in those killings.

Loren Herzog
Loren Herzog

According to Herzog's statement, if it can be believed, the pair of meth-heads was driving a truck in 1984 along Highway 88 in the Hope Valley, Calif., area, several miles south of Lake Tahoe and west of the Nevada border in a somewhat remote location, when they passed a vehicle parked on the side of the road. The vehicle's driver, Henry Howell, 41, a Santa Clara resident, had pulled to the side of the road because he was intoxicated. With little warning and for no reason, Shermantine stopped his truck, got out, and allegedly shot Howell with a shotgun.

Two months later, Herzog said, they were out driving around together again, this time on Roberts Island, located just southwest of Stockton, when they passed a parked 1982 Pontiac. Herzog told detectives that they turned around, approached the car and grabbed their shotguns as they exited the truck. Herzog said that Shermantine shot and killed the driver, Howard Michael King III, 35, while he sat behind the wheel, and then dragged the passenger, Paul Raymond Cavanaugh, 31, out the passenger door and shot him at point-blank range. Witnesses later reported seeing a red pickup truck in the area of Roberts Island prior to King's and Cavanaugh's deaths, and tire tracks found at the scene were later shown to match the tires on Shermantine's pickup.

The following year, September 1985, Herzog said, he and Shermantine met Robin Armtrout, 24, at a park in Stockton. Their purported plan was to go out drinking together, but they went to a pasture near Linden instead, not far from where the men lived. At some point, Shermantine "got carried away," according to Herzog, and, the next thing he knew, Shermantine was beating and raping the young woman. He eventually stabbed her more than a dozen times, and left her nude body on the bank of nearby Potter Creek. When a dove hunter later stumbled upon her naked body, investigators noted that the stabbing wounds were mostly in the back and chest areas. Armtrout was last seen by her mother climbing into a red pickup truck with two men.

Herzog also told detectives that Shermantine later boasted about having done the same thing to Chevy Wheeler.


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