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Memorial Service Held for Slaying Victim

Relatives of three victims of confessed killer Robert A. Berdella gathered at a Raytown, Mo., church to memorialize one of the victims, a Canoga Park man.

The service Saturday at Spring Valley Baptist Church was held four years to the day that Robert A. Sheldon was asphyxiated at Berdella’s home. Sheldon was the second of six young men that Berdella confessed last year to torturing and killing in his house between July 6, 1984, and Aug. 5, 1987.

Sheldon’s skull and some teeth were found in Berdella’s house. The skull of another man, Larry Pearson of Wichita, was later found buried in Berdella’s back yard.

The remains of the other victims--Mark Wallace, Todd Stoops, Walter James Ferris and Gerald D. Howell--were not recovered. Berdella told investigators that the bodies were buried in a city landfill.

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Berdella pleaded guilty to killing the men and is serving a life sentence without parole in the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City.

Robert J. Sheldon of Canoga Park had said that he and his ex-wife had planned to bury their son in California, but then decided to have the service in Missouri as a memorial to Berdella’s victims and their families. Burial was in Mount Moriah Cemetery.

Sheldon, his ex-wife, Connie Sheldon of Arleta, and their daughter, Tammy Martinez of Sun Valley, were among the two dozen people who attended the service. Parents of two other of Berdella’s victims, Ferris and Howell, also attended.

Sheldon also is survived by two brothers, Michael Sheldon and Jeffrey Sheldon of Arleta; his paternal grandparents and his maternal grandfather.

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