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Mother of "Speed Freak Killers'" victim speaks out | Crime

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Mother of "Speed Freak Killers'" victim speaks out

STOCKTON, CA -  Convicted serial killer Wes Shermantine wrote from death row for the past several months that 16-year-old Joann Hobson, who disappeared in 1985, was one of several victims buried inside an abandoned Linden well.

Nearly 27 years later, Joann Hobson finally gets to go home to her family.

The San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office announced on Friday that Hobson was identified as one of three victims found inside a Flood Road well excavated in February. Also found in the well with Hobson were 19-year-old Kimberly Billy, who disappeared in 1984, and an unknown set of remains.

For the first time since Hobson's remains were identified, her mother Joan Shelley spoke about the relief she feels having her daughter back and her prison visits with Shermantine.

"[Shermantine] promised me that he would make sure they'd find Joann," Shelley said. "And I believed him, because he had told me the truth all along from the beginning."

Shelley said when her 16 year-old daughter disappeared in 1985, detectives classified her as a runaway. It wasn't until Shermantine and his best friend, Loren Herzog, were arrested in 1999 for a decade-long killing spree across the valley, which included the murders of Cyndi Vanderheiden in 1998 and Chevelle "Chevy" Wheeler in 1985, that a detective told Shelley he felt positive Shermantine and Herzog were responsible for Hobson's disappearance.

Shelley attended Shermantine's sentencing at the Santa Clara Courthouse. She asked to address Shermantine, but was denied because he wasn't convicted for Hobson's death.

Instead, Shermantine addressed her when he took the microphone and revealed a detail about her case that was never made public.

"Joan, that particular night she disappeared, had a date and no one knew she had a date except Michelle, her other sister, me, and Det. Little," Shelley said. "He tried to turn around to talk to me. He said he knew Joann and that she had a date that night, who she had the date with, and that he had killed her."

Shelley visited Shermantine in prison three times. She said he always told her the truth about where her daughter was buried.

"I believe we could have found Joann 15 years ago," Shelley said. "When I went out to the site I knew she was there. I could feel her. I just knew."

Hobson's family said it could take any where from a few days to two months, before Joann Hobson's body is returned to the family.

The sheriff's investigators are performing a nuclear DNA test on her remains and attempting to determine how she was killed. The family plans to have Hobson cremated and her ashes will be at home with her mother.

"She was the size of a 10-year-old child. She was about 4'6" and weighed 80 pounds," Shelley said. "So her death, I feel, was like a little lamb being slaughtered."

Shelley hopes Shermantine continues to tell authorities the locations of more victims, in the hopes that more families can have closure.

"I didn't want to die without knowing where my daughter was," Shelly said.


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