The fate of a young Bay Area girl who was kidnapped in 1988 may soon be known when DNA test results come back on a small bone fragment found in a Linden well where the ‘Speed Freak Killers’ buried some of their victims, authorities said Thursday.
Hayward police Sgt. Eric Krimm said DNA testing was underway to determine if the 3-inch bone is a match to Michaela Garecht, who was 9-years-old when she was kidnapped from outside a Hayward store, could take several weeks to get back from a forensic lab
Krimm told reporters at an early morning news conference that Garecht’s mother, Sharon Murch, had been told by investigators about the new lead in the case.
“From the investigators I spoke with, she (Garecht’s mother, Sharon Murch) understood the gravity of the situation but is wanting to find closure whichever way,” he said.
The latest development in the case began in February when remains were discovered in a well in an area identified by ‘Speed Freak Killer’ Wesley Shermantine as the site where he and Loren Herzog had buried some of their victims.
Herzog and Shermantine were convicted of four murders and suspected in the deaths of many more in and around San Joaquin County from 1994 to 1998.
The pair was arrested in 1999 and dubbed “The Speed Freak Killers" because they were allegedly high on methamphetamine at the time of some of the murders.
Shermantime is currently on San Quentin’s Death Row awaiting execution while Herzog committed suicide last year.
Authorities were able to identify some of the remains from the well as those of missing Stockton teenager Joann Hobson and they were returned to her family. But instead of burying the remains, Hobson’s mother, Joan Shelley, sent them for further analysis to the Human Identification Laboratory at California State-Chico.
The Chico lab found that the use of large earth-moving equipment had comingled remains and that the bones also contained fragments from at least two other victims – one a younger child.
“I’m not forensic scientist or police investigator …whenever there were other searches for Michaela’s remains I imagined they’d find a fairly intact skeleton," Murch told reporters Thursday. "I understand this is a 3-inch piece of bone. Where’s the rest of her? When they go in there with a backhole and plow into these delicate remains of these delicate children – how can they do that? … It’s just heartless.”
Krimm said bone has now been sent to a second lab in Virginia for further testing and that Hayward police were working with the FBI.
“The results of the testing may not be known for several weeks,” he added.
In a Facebook posting on Thursday, Murch said she was grateful that Shelley had sent the bones for further testing.
“Think of it,” she wrote. “If this precious mother had just taken the box of bones she was handed and had laid them to rest without question, we might never, ever have known if this is Michaela. Never. We might have gone the rest of our lives without knowing."
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