Susan Robin Bender

Left and Center: Susan circa, 1986

Right: Age Progressed to age 45

Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

Missing Since: April 25, 1986

Missing From: Modesto, Stanislaus County, California

Classification: Non-Family Abduction

Date Of Birth: November 27, 1970

Age: 15 years old

Height and Weight: 5’5″ and 130 pounds

Distinguishing Characteristics: Biracial Female; Susan is Caucasian and Hispanic, Black hair, Brown eyes, Susan has freckles and her ears are pierced, she is of Native American descent

Clothing/Jewelry Description: A light colored blouse, a white vest, a light blue skirt with multicolored dots

NCMEC Number: 600289

Details of Disappearance

Susan was last seen on April 25th 1986 in Modesto, California leaving her family’s residence as she had plans to stay with friends in the Carmel area of California. She was last sighted at the now former greyhound bus depot on 10th Street and G Street. According to reports, Susan did not board a bus but was seen getting into a van described as being a full sized olive green 1977 Ford. This occurred during the day. Susan was never seen again.

Susan was reported missing later on. A person was questioned by authorities regarding Susan’s disappearance soon after she vanished because some of her possessions such as her diary, address book, and articles of her clothing were located at this persons home. The person was released due to lack of evidence. This individual has not been publicly named.

Authorities suspect that Susan was abducted and possibly murdered. The “speed freak killers” Wesley Howard Shermantine Jr. and Joseph Herzog are considered possible suspects in Susan’s case. They went on a killing spree that went through the 1980s and 1990s. They killed several females and may have had more then 15 victims.

The men are also considered suspects in the 1993 California disappearance of Phillip Martin, the 1986 California disappearance of Sylvia Standly, the 1988 California abduction of Michaela Garecht, the 1988 California disappearance of Gayle Marks, and the 1982 California disappearance of Ruth Leamon.

The bodies of other victims have been found and Shermantine has cooperated with authorities to reveal the locations of their victims. Herzog committed suicide after he heard that his partner was doing this. Shermantine is currently on death row.

The remains found in 2012 were identified as some of their known victims which included 16 year old Chevelle Wheeler who disappeared on October 16th 1985 from Stockton, California when she skipped school to hang out with Loren and Wesley. They were charged with killing her 2001 and were also charged with the August 29th 1985 disappearance of Joann Hobson who was 16 when she disappeared Stockton as well. Her remains were also found and identified.

Wesley also led investigators to the remains of Kimberly Ann Billy who vanished in Stockton on December 11th 1984. Her case was unsolved until her remains were recovered with their other victims. In 1999, they were charged with killing Cynthia Ann Vanderheiden who vanished from Clements, California on November 14th 1998. They were convicted of her murder in 2001. Her remains were found in the 2012 excavation.

Authorities do not know if the men had anything to do with Susan’s abduction but it’s possible as she vanished in the time that they were killing people and she fits their MO for victims. Susan’s case remains unsolved and foul play is suspected.

Investigating Agency

If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:

Modesto Police Department 209-572-9551

Source Information

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

The Charley Project

The Doe Network