Investigators have uncovered over a thousand bones, including fragments of a human skull, along with a woman's purse, shoes and jewelry, in a well near the California dumping ground of "speed freak killers" Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog.
Investigators began searching the area with cadaver dogs, after Shermantine led them to the site on the property his family once owned near San Andreas, earlier this month.
Authorities are investigating if the remains are yet another victim of the serial killing duo, who were convicted in 1999 of six murders, and are suspected in the deaths of as many as 15 people in and around San Joaquin County, Calif.
The remains are being sent to away to state crime lab technicians for forensic analysis, though DNA expert, Robert D. Blasier says there may be some difficulty identifying the victim.
"The longer something stays in the ground or in a well, the harder it is to get any quantity of DNA out of it. If they can find skulls then they can do the dental history. And that would be more likely to produce something useful," he said.
Blasier said the wet conditions would also make it difficult to determine how they died. "There's a lot of moisture. If they were thrown in the well, there's going to be a lot of bacteria that tends to eat the DNA," Blasier said.
Shermantine led authorities to the site after a Sacramento bounty hunter offered him $33,000 to reveal information. Investigators believe, however, there may still be two more burial sites holding a dozen or more victims which Shermantine has not revealed.
"It doesn't make sense for him to disclose the mother lode at first," said Thomas Testa, a San Joaquin County deputy district attorney who prosecuted Shermantine and Herzog in the late 1990s. "It seems more in line with his stated position to give morsels of information at first."