Details of Disappearance
Ruth was living with a guardian in Modesto, California in 1982. She became acquainted with two men, both in their thirties, on August 19 of that year. Ruth made plans to meet the men later that evening at Sam's Food City at Carver Road and Teresa Street, three blocks from her home. She was last seen at approximately 8:45 p.m. after she left her guardian's apartment on Clayton Avenue. She said she was walking to Sam's Food City to purchase a soft drink.
Ruth did in fact arrive at the store, but vanished afterward. Her guardian was at work during Ruth's scheduled arrival time at home and did not realize she was missing until approximately 7:00 a.m. on August 20, the following morning. Ruth has never been seen again. Authorities questioned the two men scheduled to meet Ruth during the night she vanished, but both denied any involvement in her case.
Ruth has seven siblings. At the time of her disappearance, she was a sophomore at Davis High School. The reason she was living with a guardian was because her mother had moved elsewhere in Modesto, outside Ruth's school district, and Ruth didn't want to have to transfer schools and leave her friends. Instead, she and her mother made arrangements for her to live with a female friend of the family who knew her mother well. Ruth still spent time with her family on a regular basis, and enjoyed playing softball, swimming and roller skating.
Wesley Howard Shermantine Jr. and Loren Joseph Herzog, the so-called "Speed Freak Killers," are possible suspects in Ruth'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 with 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 took his own life 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 lead 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 contained up to twenty victims. He blames Herzog for all the murders and says he only helped with disposing the bodies.
Ruth had met Herzog before her disappearance; she and a female friend went to the Calaveras County Frog Jump with him. Shermantine and Herzog are being investigated in other missing persons' cases, including Phillip Martin
, Michaela Garecht
, Susan Bender
, Gayle Marks
and Sylvia Standly
. The skeletal remains of victims Kimberly Billy, a 19-year-old who disappeared in 1984, and Joann Hobson, a 16-year-old who disappeared in 1985, were identified, but Ruth's body was not found in the well.
No arrests have been made in connection with her disappearance, but foul play is suspected in her case.