Ruth Ann Leamon

1 AP
Left: Ruth, circa 1982;
Right: Age-progression to age 49 (circa 2015)

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Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: August 19, 1982 from Modesto, California
  • Classification: Non-Family Abduction
  • Date Of Birth: February 25, 1966
  • Age: 16 years old
  • Height and Weight: 5'5, 84 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian female. Brown hair, brown eyes. Ruth has a small cross tattoo on the web of her right hand between her thumb and index finger. Her ears are pierced. Her nickname is Ruthy.
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description: A cream-colored t-shirt with writing on it, Levi's jeans, a gold chain necklace with a cross, and four or five rings.
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    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 residence. She said she was walking to Sam's Food City to purchase a soft drink. She 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.

    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 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 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 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.

    Ruth had met Herzog before her disappearance; she and a female friend went to the Calveras 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. 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.

    No arrests have been made in connection with Ruth's disappearance. Foul play is suspected in her case. She was a sophomore at Davis High School in 1982.

    Shermantine Herzog
    Left: Wesley Shermantine; Right: Loren Herzog

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    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    Modesto Police Department
    209-572-9500

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    Source Information
    The National Center For Missing and Exploited Children
    The Modesto Bee
    California Attorney General's Office
    The Sacramento Bee
    CBS 13
    The Stockton Record
    Fox 40
    NamUs

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    Updated 6 times since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated May 30, 2015; age-progression updated.

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