Officials confirm body is missing Silver Springs woman
Lyon County Sheriff Allen Veil confirmed Thursday that the body found at a home in Riverbank, Calif., was that of missing Silver Springs woman Peggy Herlacher, 73. Veil said autopsy reports indicate Herlacher was strangled to death, probably at her home.
Her body was found wrapped in bedding and buried in the garden of a home belonging to the paternal grandfather of James Masterson, 22, Herlacher’s grandson. Masterson is a suspect in the killing. He is being held in Sacramento on suspicion of possessing stolen property.
According to police reports, Masterson had moved into his grandmother’s house on July 17. On July 24, Doug Masterson, James’s uncle, went to the home and found Herlacher’s car gone and jewelry box empty.
The following day, James Masterson was stopped in Sacramento on a driving infraction in his grandmother’s car. Police found Herlacher’s credit cards and jewelry in his possession, according to reports.
Masterson was arrested on suspicion of possessing stolen property. He is being held in the Sacramento Jail without bail, and has declined to speak with police.
Herlacher’s daughter Lethea Love, of Fernley, said Wednesday that police came to her home Tuesday evening to report that investigators had uncovered a body wrapped in plastic in the backyard of 2549 Dobbins Lane in Riverbank.
“They said they are pretty sure it’s mom,” said Love, barely audible through tears.
The home is where Masterson’s maternal grandfather lives, according to Love.
Stanislaus County Assessor records indicate the house belongs to Kenneth Bedore. A call to a number listed for Bedore went unanswered.
Love said that after discovering her mother and nephew missing, she called her niece Michelle Smith in Modesto, who went by Bedore’s house.
Smith said Wednesday that she saw her cousin at the house, and he was sweating, nervous and covered in dirt.
Reports indicate the Dobbins Lane home had been searched once before. But according to Stanislaus County officials, officers returned about 5 p.m. Tuesday and uncovered the body in a flower bed.
Love said the news comes as a shock to the family who for the past five weeks have been trying to make sense of it all.
During the search, Love and her brother Doug Masterson were frustrated that their mother was still missing and feared she’d been left in the desert where animals could get her. The siblings organized three volunteer searches of the desert between Silver Springs and Fernley – the route on Highway 95 Alternate investigators suspect Masterson took to California.
Now, despite the tragic outcome, Love said she was grateful for one thing.
“At least we know now she wasn’t out in the desert being eaten by animals like we’d thought,” she said through sobs.