As is the reserve of many Zodiac researchers who have aligned towards a particular suspect, the temptation is to cherry pick the Zodiac case details that promote their suspect, while glossing over or ignoring details that clearly threaten the legitimacy of their suspect, and Ross Sullivan is no exception to this rule. One such example is to do with Ross Sullivan's height of 6'2" to 6'3", not including heel height. With the exception of Bryan Hartnell, who admitted he was not a good judge of height, the eyewitnesses generated a range of 5'8" to 5'10". This is often explained away by proponents of Ross Sullivan, by the fact that the viewing angles of the three teenagers and Donald Fouke somehow skewed their perception of height, while on the other hand wholly endorsing the sketch's accuracy as a near identical likeness to Sullivan, disregarding the fact that eyewitness composites and facial recollection have long been recognized as notoriously unreliable.
Nearby residents reported screams around 10.30 pm. One woman interviewed stated she heard screaming and yelling "Then I heard a muted scream, and then a loud sound like an old car being started up - this was about two minutes after I heard the first scream." This may be the clearest indication yet, of how much the young girl fought to ward off her attacker, and as the skin under her fingernails and hair in her hand demonstrated, her murderer undoubtedly would have received deep scratches to his face or hands, or both. As in many cases where a knife is used in a prolonged attack, the assailant will invariably suffer wounds to their hand, as the soaked knife slips from their grasp. Fingerprints and palm prints were also retrieved from grease marks on her Volkswagen Beetle where the killer had disabled her distributor.
Riverside City College Library staff in later years detailed how Ross Sullivan was high on their list as the murderer, an unnerving man, who wrote morbid poems. However the correspondence also stated "A couple of years ago I had called the police to ask about our suspect and was told he had an alibi for that night."
The police were rigorous in their investigation tracking down potential suspects, as one magazine reported 'Detective teams have contacted all of Cheri Jo's known friends and people she had worked with during the past six months while working part time at a local bank'. Detectives also performed a reenactment on November 13th 1966, recalling 65 people back to the library, who were present the night Cheri Jo Bates was murdered, taking fingerprints and hair samples.
When somebody is murdered it is incumbent on police to rule out family, friends, work colleagues and people Cheri Jo Bates knew, as their first port of call, before widening their net further afield. Ross Sullivan not only worked in the RCC Library, he knew Cheri Jo Bates, and was a 'strange' character according to RCC Library staff and additionally police stated he had an alibi. It is these indicators that point to the likelihood he was checked out. This being the case, his fingerprints would almost certainly have been taken as routine practice and cross checked with the suspects fingerprints, as were the 65 library goers present in the library on October 30th 1966. To believe Ross Sullivan slipped through the cracks is highly improbable. Furthermore none of the library staff ever mentioned seeing scratches on Ross Sullivan's hands or face in the days or weeks after the murder, and neither did police, who without question would have been looking for tell tale injuries clearly sustained by the murderer. Detective Gren "There is a strong indication that Miss Bates scratched and clawed her murderer in the struggle for her life."
Riverside detectives were also present the following Saturday during the funeral 'About 250 mourners, composed mainly of students who had known Cheri Jo Bates at Ramona High and City College gathered for the services at St Catherine's Catholic Church. Police photographers unobtrusively took photographs as detectives scanned the faces of those attending the services.' Killers have been known to attend their victim's funerals, however on this occasion, a murderer with scratch marks would obviously have been foolhardy to have done so.
A Timex watch was found 10 feet from Cheri Jo's body, torn off her assailant's wrist. One can see by the photographic link above, that the watch buckle is secured and through its supporting sleeve. The strap has been torn from the watch face, This, when reattached would give us an approximation of the murderer's wrist size, and likely an indication of body type. But without doubt, (assuming of course the watch isn't a plant or ruse) the watch could have been used to eliminate certain suspects on a preliminary basis, that would have included Ross Sullivan, who by all accounts was a large framed man.
The Department of Justice Report stated 'Heelprints identical to those worn by Air Force personnel and a Timex wristwatch indicating the suspect had a 7" wrist circumference was found at the scene of the crime. The measurement of the heel indicated that it would have been attached to an 8 to 10 size shoe.'
Chief of Riverside Police Thomas Kinkead wrote: “The person who wrote the confession is aware of facts about the homicide that only the killer would know. There is no doubt that the person who wrote the confession letter is our homicide suspect.” Some people disagree.
Zodiac researchers make the point that it is possible Ross Sullivan may not have murdered Cheri Jo Bates, yet still be the Zodiac author of the 'Desktop Poem' and the three Bates letters, which have been confirmed as Zodiac material by Questioned Documents Examiner Sherwood Morrill. Therefore if Ross Sullivan is Zodiac and the 'Confession' letter was sent by the killer, it had to have been typed by an unknown third party, neither Sullivan or Zodiac. Then we have the dubious position of two separate authors.
There is a striking similarity between the misspellings on the 'Confession' letter and the 'Little List' letter mailed by Zodiac on July 26th 1970. The 'Confession' letter states "She squirmed and shook as I choaked her, and her lips twiched", and the 'Little List' letter states "Some I shall tie over ant hills and watch them scream + twich and squirm."
The problem being, is if you argue this as a connection to Zodiac being the author of the 'Confession' letter, who is also the murderer of Cheri Jo Bates, who isn't Ross Sullivan, then Ross Sullivan cannot be Zodiac. You cannot have it both ways.
One of the last things Cheri Jo Bates did before she ultimately lost her battle for life, was to scratch her killer, something that would have pointed police in the right direction and effectively incriminated or excluded Ross Sullivan as her murderer. The police claimed he had an alibi, which also meant they would have seen his face and hands, likely excluding him as the murderer in this case.