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Bone Fragment Found in Mass Grave Not Michaela Garecht's

A bone fragment found in a Central Valley mass grave where the "Speed Freak Killers" dumped victims was thought to belong to 9-year-old Michaela Garecht, who was snatched outside a Hayward store in 1988.

By Bay City News Service

Bones discovered at a well in San Joaquin County last October are not those of Hayward kidnapping victim Michaela Garecht, police said Wednesday.

Michaela Garecht was abducted on Nov. 19, 1988, at age 9 as she rode her scooter with a friend to the Rainbow Market on Mission Boulevard in Hayward.

In the more than 24 years since, her family has been working with Hayward police who had found a possible connection to Michaela's disappearance to the "Speed Freak Killers" -- Wesley Shermantine, 45, and Loren Herzog, who hanged himself at age 46 early in 2012.

The two are believed to have buried their victims in a Linden, Calif., well after killing a number of people in the 1980s and 1990s.

They were dubbed the "Speed Freak Killers" because they were allegedly high on methamphetamine at the time of the killings.

Shermantine, who has been convicted of four counts of murder and is on death row, sparked interest in Michaela's case when he said in early 2012 that Herzog, who attended Linden High School with him in the 1980s, may have abducted Michaela.

Herzog was convicted in 2001 of three counts of murder and accepted a plea deal in which he was sentenced to 14 years in state prison. In 2010, he was paroled to a trailer outside the High Desert State Prison in Susanville.

Authorities said he killed himself there the night of Jan. 16, 2012.

A bone fragment that was found in a first well in Linden last February was identified as that of a juvenile between the ages of 5 and 14 and was sent to be tested as a possible match to Michaela in October.

Initial results were inconclusive, but after further testing Hayward police said today that the bones belong to a previously identified murder victim with no connection to Michaela or any other Hayward case.

The identity of that victim is not being immediately released, police said.

A mitochondrial DNA profile was developed from the bone fragment and compared to Michaela's DNA profile, which it did not match, police said.

A second well in Linden is being excavated as part of an FBI investigation that kicked off on Monday.

Hayward police said they have no information to lead them to believe that Michaela's remains will be discovered in that second well.

Her abduction is still an ongoing investigation, police said.

Copyright © 2013 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

Nadja Adolf January 10, 2013 at 08:57 AM
That poor Garecht family. So many years of waiting and suffering. I pray that they will get the answers they need, and whoever took their daughter is caught and punished.

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