Even when authorities had the maps in hand, Shermantine's directions weren't taken seriously and languished for months until Padilla took his own cadaver dogs to the San Andreas site and "got a lot of hits."
The first maps had been misleading, referring to objects like a trailer that had once been on Shermantine family land but had been removed since the bodies were dumped there.
Deputies were finally compelled to search the sites after some remains found in 2003 were identified last year but not connected to the Speed Freak killings until last month.
In Clements, the town of about 400 people that Cyndi Vanderheiden was from, Joe Mehrten remembered how everyone pulled together behind her distraught parents when she disappeared in 1998.
"Pretty much everyone signed up for Cyndi's Search, as they called it," he said. "They searched up and down the river, up in the hills, everywhere. No sign."
Times staff writers Rick Rojas and Diana Marcum contributed to this report.