STOCKTON—The uproar is only beginning here in San Joaquin County. The Sheriff doesn't want Loren Herzog paroled here; and there's a growing number of others expected to file formal complaints in the next few days.
" We don't want him in this county, he's a serial killer," the past 24 hours have been surreal for John Vanderheiden. The man believed to be his daughters' killer is about to be paroled to a place not that far from his home. "These guys killed my daughter, both of them did. It's like relieving it again, we still haven't found her" he says.
"It's a matter of law, the release," Dave McAuley, with the state department of corrections, told FOX 40 by telephone that Herzog must be paroled to the county of his last legal residence if he's rejected elsewhere. "I was hoping at some point to gain access to the DA's file on the investigations leading up to the trial. That would factor into our planning for parole, conditions of parole that would be placed upon him," McAuley says.
Herzog was originally sentenced to 78 years in prison for three murders. The case was overturned on appeal and Herzog received 14 years for manslaughter. But Investigators believe he, and childhood friend Wesley Shermantine, may have killed as many as two dozen people. "Lady justice was cheated because he got away with murder," Shermantine is now on death row and prosecutor Thomas Testa worries about the fallout of this release. "Close to 20-years he was involved in this type of activity and it's hard to believe he could change in a period of just 12-years," says Testa, a Deputy District Attorney.
San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore made public is disdain for the move; and a spokesman says: "the sheriff has been in contact with the CDCR (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) and is expected to receive a briefing this week to explore all options."
"We were threatened during the trial that they were going to take care of myself and the rest of my family." Herzog cannot be paroled within 35 miles of Clements and the Vanderheiden home. But protests are expected from a witness in Tracy and a sexual assault victim in Riverbank making it physically impossible to place the 44 year old parole anywhere in San Joaquin County. Vanderheidens' daughter Cyndi was 25 years old when Herzog and Shermanine cut her throat and watched her bleed to death in 1998. Her father is struggling to make sense of the new parole plan "He just plain got away with murder and that's not right. Our system needs to be better than this" he says.
Right now, the plan is to parole Loren Herzog on Sunday in San Joaquin County. The conditions of his parole are still in the works, but FOX 40 has been told he's a good candidate for a GPS monitoring device.
But this is still a fluid situation and a lot could change between now and Sunday.