Susan Robin Bender

1 2
3 AP
Top Row and Bottom Left: Susan, circa 1986;
Bottom Right: Age-progression to age 45 (circa 2015)

Bar

Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: April 25, 1986 from Modesto, California
  • Classification: Non-Family Abduction
  • Date Of Birth: November 27, 1970
  • Age: 15 years old
  • Height and Weight: 5'5, 130 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Multiracial (Caucasian/Hispanic/Native American) female. Black hair, brown eyes. Susan has freckles. Her ears are pierced.
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description: A light blue skirt with multi-colored dots, a light-colored blouse, a white vest and a gold bracelet.
  • Bar

    Details of Disappearance

    Susan left her family's home in Modesto, California on April 25, 1986 to stay with friends in Carmel, California. She was last seen at the former Greyhound bus depot on 10th Street and G Street in Modesto, making a phone call. Susan did not board a bus; instead, she was seen entering an unidentified full-sized olive-green 1977 Ford van outside of the station during the day. Susan has never been seen again.

    Susan's diary, address book and some items of her clothing were located at a suspect's home after she vanished. The person was questioned by investigators, but released due to a lack of evidence.

    Wesley Howard Shermantine Jr. and Loren Joseph Herzog, the so-called "Speed Freak Killers," are possible suspects in Susan's case. They were arrested in 2000 and ultimately convicted of murdering several females in the 1980s and 1990s; authorities believe they had as many as fifteen victims. Photographs of both men are posted below this case summary. Shermantine is on death row. Herzog's sentence was reduced from 78 years to 14 years after the court ruled his confession had been coerced. He was paroled in 2010 and then committed suicide in January 2012, after he found out his former partner had begun cooperating with authorities and had offered to reveal the location of victims' bodies in exchange for a payment of $33,000.

    Shermantine led investigators to the skeletal remains of Chevelle Wheeler and Cyndi Vanderheiden, who'd been missing since 1985 and 1998 respectively. He also pointed out an abandoned well in Linden, California that contained some 300 human bones and personal items. Shermantine stated the well contains up to twenty victims, Garecht being one of those. He blames Herzog for all the murders and says he only helped with disposing the bodies. Authorities are in the process of sorting out the contents of the well and attempting to identify the bones. Shermantine and Herzog are being investigated in other missing persons' cases, including Phillip Martin, Michaela Garecht, Sylvia Standly, Gayle Marks and Ruth Leamon. Victims Kimberly Billy, a 19-year-old who disappeared in 1984, and Joann Hobson, a 16-year-old who disappeared in 1985, have already been identified.

    Foul play is suspected in Susan's case; it remains unsolved.

    Shermantine Herzog
    Left: Wesley Shermantine; Right: Loren Herzog

    Bar

    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    Modesto Police Department
    209-572-9551

    Bar

    Source Information
    The National Center For Missing and Exploited Children
    Child Protection Education Of America
    California Attorney General's Office
    The Modesto Bee
    Operation Lookout
    The Doe Network
    The Stockton Record
    Fox 40

    Bar

    Updated 5 times since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated September 2, 2016; age-progression updated.

    Charley Project Home