Remains identfied as teens who disappeared in 1980s | Crime
FRENCH CAMP, CA - The nearly three week-long efforts of an forensic anthropologist and scientists with the Department of Justice have determined three people were killed and hidden for years inside an abandoned Linden well.
Forensic experts were able to identify two out of the three remains found inside the Flood Road well in February, which is believed to be a burial site for serial killers Wes Shermantine and Loren Herzog. Letters from Shermantine to investigators helped locate the victims' remains.
Bureau Chief for the Bureau of Forensic Services Jill Spriggs said the remains were very degraded, but they were still able to make DNA identifications for 19-year-old Kimberly Billy who disappeared from Stockton on Dec. 10, 1984, and for 16-year-old JoAnn Hobson, who also disappeared from Stockton on Aug. 29, 1985.
The third victim has yet to be identified.
"There were personal items found in the well at the time we made the discovery, but because we are now shifting the investigation from a missing person's case to a homicide investigation, we can't comment on the belongings because it's evidence," San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore said.
Spriggs said Nuclear DNA testing, which takes the unique genetic code from inside cells, was used to identify Billy. For JoAnn Hobson, DNA from her mother (Myochondrial DNA) was used to identify her remains.
"In the Richmond laboratory, we do have a missing persons section, where family members can submit DNA reference samples and they're searched against unknown remains," Spriggs said.
Kimberly Billy's husband, Michael Billy, said the news his wife's body was finally found allows him and Kimberly's mother to be at peace.
"I'm so happy that her mother now knows what happened to her," said Michael Billy, who was in prison for unrelated drug charges during the time his wife disappeared. Billy was at one time considered a suspect in her disappearance.
Billy said he was told by detectives at the time Kimberly Billy disappeared that her car was found near Harding Way, the interior was covered in blood.
Billy said he knew of Shermantine and Herzog, who lived next door to his friends' house in Linden. It wasn't until recent years, that Billy suspected the two serial killers may have been involved in his wife's disappearance.
The Department of Justice continues to investigate the third set of remains in the hopes the victim can also be identified.
Bounty hunter Leonard Padilla has a hunch on who that third victim could be because of numerous letters Shermantine has sent him.
"We think it's the black lady that Wesley keeps telling us," Padilla said. "He keeps talking about a pregnant black woman in the same well as Hobson. So, we think that's who it is. He told me it was out of Stockton that she was kidnapped out of Stockton."
Shermantine told Padilla there are more victims out there and they're buried in that another well on that same Linden property.
"There's people from Stockton, Oakdale, Modesto, that would fit into that other well with 12 bodies," Padilla said.
The FBI has joined the investigation.
"We've turned information over to [FBI] and they're working with us on future excavations," Moore said. "The process of identifying additional search sites is currently in progress."
No cause of death has been determined for the victims.