Case File #0013
The Riverside Murder
The Murder of Cheri-Jo Bates
"BEWARE...I AM STALKING YOUR GIRLS NOW"
In October 1966, 18-year-old Cheri-Jo Bates was brutally murdered near the Riverside City College's library. Police believed the killer had disabled her car and waited for her to return, before offering her a ride. The two then spent almost half an hour in a darkened driveway before the killer attacked her with knife, severing her jugular vein and leaving her to bleed to death. Almost a month later the murderer made contact with both the police and Riverside Enterprise newspaper, sending an anonymously typed letter claiming responsibility for Bates death. Detectives believed Bates had known her killer, who might have been an ex-boyfriend or a potential suitor rejected by her, however no suspects were identified. Six months later identical notes reading "Bates had to die" were sent to the press, police and Bates father. Two of these notes contained a curious symbol at the bottom, which some believe looks similar to one used by the Zodiac Killer, who began his killing spree three years later. Just like the Zodiac, Bates's murderer has never been identified.
Several years before anyone had heard of the Zodiac and his crimes, the murder of a young woman went unsolved in Riverside. On Sunday, 30 October 1966, 18-year-old student Cheri-Jo Bates was brutally murdered near the parking lot of the Riverside City College's library. The killer had used a knife to slash across her chest area three times, once on her back and seven times across her throat, which had been cut so deep she was nearly decapitated. The motive had not been rape nor robbery of her possessions, because her clothes were undisturbed and her purse was near her body.

Cheri-Jo Bates

Police suspected the killer had managed to lure Bates by disabling her lime green Volkswagen, by pulling out the distributor coil and the condenser before disconnecting the middle wire of the distributor. He then waited for her to return to her car and attempt to start it, then offered her assistance in fixing it. Then it's believed the killer offered Bates a ride in his own vehicle, and Bates following him into the darkened unpaved driveway, situated between two empty houses, where they spent half an hour. Detectives were uncertain what transpired during this time, but at some point the man attacked her in the darkness.

Bates Crime Scene

The autopsy revealed the full extent of her injuries. The murder weapon was believed to be a 3 1/2" long by 1/2" wide blade that had severed her jugular vein, larynx and carotid artery, causing her to bleed to death. Her attacker had also been beaten, choked and slashed her face. She had evidently fought her attacker, because blood, hair and skin tissue samples were recovered from beneath the victims fingernails and on her hands. There were several books in her car which indicated she had previously visited the library, which closed at 9:00pm for the evening. What sounded like an "awful scream" was heard by two seperate witnesses at approximately 10:30pm, followed by a "muffled scream" and then what was described as an old car starting up several minutes later. This time frame matched the estimated time of death given by the coroner and is believed to be when the murder occured.

Bates Crime Scene

There was very little evidence found at the scene, but investigators did find a man's Timex watch with a broken 7" wristband, which had stopped at 12:23am, located about ten feet away from her body. The watch was splattered with paint, which was later analysed and found to be common house paint and was later traced to a military PX in England. There was also a shoe heel-print found at the scene which was believed to be a male size 10, as well as several greasy palm and fingerprints in and on Bates car, and detectives attempted unsuccessfully to match these prints to an offender. Initially there were strong suspicions the murder was a crime of passion, perpetrated by an ex-boyfriend, spurned love interest or someone else associated with Bates. Because she spent over an hour conversing in the dark with her murderer, it strengthened the theory Bates knew the unidentified individual.

The Watch recovered from the scene

On 29 November 1966, almost after the murder, two carbon copies of an anonymous letter were sent to the Riverside Enterprise and the Riverside Police claiming responsibility for death of Cheri-Jo Bates. The letter was typed on low-quality white paper, eight inches wide and torn at the top and bottom and a portable Royal typewriter was most likely used with either Elite or Pica typeface. It was entitled "The Confession" and underneath was a typed "BY", then twelve underscores where the name of the writer would appear. The envelope was unstamped, with no return address from a secluded rural mailbox. The letter was considered genuine because at least one of the details within had not been released to the public and detectives believed it was likely from the killer.

The Confession Letter

THE CONFESSION

BY _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


SHE WAS YOUNG AND BEAUTIFUL BUT NOW SHE IS BATTERED AND DEAD. SHE IS NOT THE FIRST AND SHE WILL NOT BE THE LAST I LAY AWAKE NIGHTS THINKING ABOUT MY NEXT VICTIM. MAYBE SHE WILL BE THE BEAUTIFUL BLOND THAT BABYSITS NEAR THE LITTLE STORE AND WALKS DOWN THE DARK ALLEY EACH EVENING ABOUT SEVEN. OR MAYBE SHE WILL BE THE SHAPELY BRUNETT THAT SAID XXX NO WHEN I ASKED HER FOR A DATE IN HIGH SCHOOL. BUT MAYBE IT WILL NOT BE EITHER. BUT I SHALL CUT OFF HER FEMALE PARTS AND DEPOSIT THEM FOR THE WHOLE CITY TO SEE. SO DON'T MAKE IT TO EASY FOR ME. KEEP YOUR SISTERS, DAUGHTERS, AND WIVES OFF THE STREETS AND ALLEYS. MISS BATES WAS STUPID. SHE WENT TO THE SLAUGHTER LIKE A LAMB. SHE DID NOT PUT UP A STRUGGLE. BUT I DID. IT WAS A BALL. I FIRST CUT THE MIDDLE WIRE FROM THE DISTRIBUTOR. THEN I WAITED FOR HER IN THE LIBRARY AND FOLLOWED HER OUT AFTER ABOUT TWO MINUTES. THE BATTERY MUST HAVE BEEN ABOUT DEAD BY THEN. I THEN OFFERED TO HELP. SHE WAS THEN VERY WILLING TO TALK TO ME. I TOLD HER THAT MY CAR WAS DOWN THE STREET AND THAT I WOULD GIVE HER A LIFT HOME. WHEN WE WERE AWAY FROM THE LIBRARY WALKING, I SAID IT WAS ABOUT TIME. SHE ASKED ME, "ABOUT TIME FOR WHAT?" I SAID IT WAS ABOUT TIME FOR HER TO DIE. I GRABBED HER AROUND THE NECK WITH MY HAND OVER HER MOUTH AND MY OTHER HAND WITH A SMALL KNIFE AT HER THROAT. SHE WENT VERY WILLINGLY. HER BREAST FELT WARM AND VERY FIRM UNDER MY HANDS, BUT ONLY ONE THING WAS ON MY MIND. MAKING HER PAY FOR ALL THE BRUSH OFFS THAT SHE HAD GIVEN ME DURING THE YEARS PRIOR. SHE DIED HARD. SHE SQUIRMED AND SHOOK AS I CHOCKED HER, AND HER LIPS TWICHED. SHE LET OUT A SCREAM ONCE AND I KICKED HER IN THE HEAD TO SHUT HER UP. I PLUNGED THE KNIFE INTO HER AND IT BROKE. I THEN FINISHED THE JOB BY CUTTING HER THROAT. I AM NOT SICK. I AM INSANE. BUT THAT WILL NOT STOP THE GAME. THIS LETTER SHOULD BE PUBLISHED FOR ALL TO READ IT. IT JUST MIGHT SAVE THAT GIRL IN THE ALLEY. BUT THAT'S UP TO YOU. IT WILL BE ON YOUR CONSCIENCE. NOT MINE. YES, I DID MAKE THAT CALL TO YOU ALSO. IT WAS JUST A WARNING. BEWARE...I AM STALKING YOUR GIRLS NOW.

CC. CHIEF OF POLICE
ENTERPRISE
Both of the letters were delivered the same day they were mailed and both envelopes were handwritten with a felt-tip pen, whilst neither contained a complete address. A single fingerprint was found on the envelope and sent to the Riverside Police Department, but they were unable to match with a suspect, and there was uncertainty if it was left by the killer as the evidence had been handled by others. There was some doubt concerning the authenicity of the letters, because some of the claims made by the author contradicted the crime scene. The letter writer stated the victim did not put up a struggle, but the numerous defensive wounds on Bates hands and arms disputed this, as well as the skin and hair found under her fingernails. Meanwhile, the autopsy report made no mention of the murder weapon breaking off when the knife was plunged into her body, and detectives unanimously agree this did not occur.
Bates vehicle was evidently disabled in the exact manner described in the letter, however the sabotage was the one detail which investigators did not reveal to the media, and seemed to lend credibility that the letter was written by the killer. But other things mentioned, such as the phone call could not be verified, and may have been placed with the Riverside Press, where it was possibly considered a hoax and ignored. The following day, 30 November, copies of both letters were sent to the Riverside County Postal Inspector who notified the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who would offer assistance if the letter involved extortion through the mail. However, the FBI refused to become involved with the case because there was no specific victim of extortion was named. In an unexplained factor in the case, the FBI came into possession of a photocopy of the "Confession" letter, which appeared different to the known layout of the two letters, with a different number of words per line. Six months after Bates murder, identical copies of another letter were sent to the police, the Riverside Press and victim's father, Joseph Bates, who's address had appeared in the local newspaper after his daughters murder. These letters were written in pencil on lined notepaper and two of the notes read;

BATES HAD
TO DIE
THERE WILL
BE MORE

Joseph Bates Note

Riverside PD Note

Riverside Press Note

The letters sent on 30 April 1967 to the Riverside Press and Police department contained a curious symbol which appeared to resemble the letter Z that began with a strange squiggle much like the number 3. The envelopes were mailed with excessive postage, similar to the later letters sent by the Zodiac. The note sent to Bates father did not contain the Z symbol, and substituted "Bates" with "She". A fingerprint was recovered from the letter sent to the Riverside Police Department, but it was never matched to any suspects. Earlier in April 1967, a janitor at the Riverside City College's library discovered a poem written on the underside of a folding school desk which had been kept in storage for an unknown amount of time.
The contents of the poem, timing and location where it was found led investigators to believe the poem described the murder of Cheri-Jo Bates and was written by her killer. The scrawled poem appears to be some form of suicide note, possibly penned by a student. The handwriting bears little resemblence to the Bates notes sent the same month, and there was no possible way to determine when the poem had been written. At then end of the poem, the initials "rh" were scrawled, which might have been a reference to the RCC's President at the time, R. H. Bradshaw, rather than the intitials of the poem's author. The poem read;
Sick of living/unwilling to die
cut.
clean.
if red /
clean.
blood spurting,
dripping,
spilling;
all over her new
dress
oh well
it was red
anyway.
life draining into an
uncertain death.
she won't
die.
this time
someone ll find her.
just wait till
next time.
rh

Riverside Poem

The investigation into the murder of Bates focused on the possibility that she knew her killer, or the killer knew of her enough to engage in conversation. A likely suspect was identified, who happened to be an ex-boyfriend, bitter over their break-up and her new relationship with a football player. This suspect was investigated as late as December 1998, when a warrant was secured to collect samples of his hair, saliva and skin which were sent to the FBI crime lab to be checked against the evidence taken from the crime scene. However, the samples did not match those of the killer and the local suspect was ruled out of the investigation.
The murder of Cheri-Jo Bates and her connection to the later Zodiac crimes is subject to intense debate amongst investigators and armchair sleuths, but has never been definitively linked as part of the Zodiac's crimes. Some detectives ruled out the Bates murder as part of the San Francisco Bay area murders, whilst others believe it to be one of the murders attributed to the unidentified Zodiac, possibly the first murder he ever committed. Those in favour of the Zodiac being responsible cite the letters sent to the authorities as a clear indication it's the same person, because the Zodiac had a sadistic passion for communicating with the media and taunting the police. Those against argue the handwriting is different to the distinct Zodiac letters and at the time of the murders, the Bates case was discounted by detectives as a crime of passion. The murder of Cheri-Jo Bates has remained as unsolved as the Zodiac murders.

Written by Nucleus