The first thing we shall take a look at is where the killer parked his vehicle, having likely followed Cheri Jo Bates to the Riverside City College Library that evening. Cheri Jo Bates Volkswagen Beetle was ultimately found parked approximately 100 yards west of the library annex, parked on Terracina Drive, and it is likely her murderer parked close by, probably slightly west of her location on the same street. In the 'Confession' letter mailed a month after the attack, believed to be from the perpetrator, it stated "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 round the neck with my hand over her mouth and my other hand with a small knife at her throat." The part detailing her leaving the library annex early is likely true, but the premise that she was accompanying him down the alley on the promise of a lift, is patently false.
The 'Confession' letter portrays a killer seeking revenge for all the "brush offs" he had endured down the years. Would he really be that brazen, to center the investigation towards himself if he knew her. Well probably, after all the police probably thought that as well and could easily have interpreted this statement as a double edged sword. He may very well have been on the fringes of her circle of friends, as opposed to being a close friend of Cheri's. It was mentioned in the article that she received a lot of attention from male admirers.
The idea a random killer, unknown to Cheri and Riverside City College seems unlikely;- there are much easier ways to lie in wait for a random female victim, than commit a prolonged attack in the heart of a college campus, only a matter of yards from the library annex, during opening hours. The crime appears ill thought out and impulsive. Whomever the murderer was, it seems unlikely he would disable her Volkswagen Beetle, not knowing how long she intended remaining inside the library that evening. Had she entered the library at 6.00 pm and left at 9.00 pm, we would have to assume the killer, keeping Terracina Drive under surveillance, would have been prepared to either sit in his vehicle or hover around the area upwards of three hours, with scores of students and other pedestrians passing by, greatly increasing the risk of identification at a later date. The killer would also be unaware of how many people would have been leaving the library, accompanying Cheri Jo Bates that night, and lurking near to her vehicle readying himself for assistance, to then murder her, has many flaws, not only from being observed, but the possibility Cheri Jo Bates could have been offered a lift from any number of friends from the library once her vehicle failed to start.
That is because he had already spoken to her prior to her entering the library. The murderer follows Cheri Jo Bates to the library that evening and approaches her as she is leaving her vehicle. He is likely an admirer of Cheri Jo Bates, something that is not reciprocated. He may very likely have made advances that she rejected, stating she was just entering the library to withdraw some books and through courtesy would explain herself in a minute. Feeling angry and rejected, a trait exhibited out of proportion by some men, the subject took matters into his own hands by tampering with her car, so he could either delay her departure or coerce her into accepting a lift with him.
Cheri Jo Bates returns shortly thereafter, places her books on the front passenger seat, places the keys in the ignition and rolls down the window out of politeness to continue the conversation, yet creating a separation from the unwanted admirer. She then prepares to leave but her car fails to start. Cheri Jo Bates, being an intelligent woman, probably suspected her pursuer may have done something underhand, and feeling upset and annoyed by what is unfolding exits her vehicle, inadvertently leaving her keys in the ignition and states she is heading to the library to seek assistance. Her admirer, despite offering to help, is rejected a further time and follows her to the library. As she reaches the area of the alleyway, he is now furious, drags her into the upper reaches of the alleyway and begins his murderous attack.
The 'Confession' letter stated "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." The friends of Cheri Jo Bates pointed out she was very proud of her Volkswagen Beetle and that she was afraid of the dark. These two factors make it extremely unlikely she would head down a dark alley with a stranger, especially considering she could have returned to the library to seek assistance, which was only a matter of yards away. Leaving her vehicle unlocked, with the window rolled and the keys in the ignition likely reveals that she was already under pressure at this juncture and not thinking straight, something she would never have done if she had gone 'willingly'.
The murderer was not leading Cheri Jo Bates to his car as claimed, as the blood drops testified he was heading in the opposite direction after the crime. The chances he would head away from his vehicle after the murder would beggar belief.
The pathologist F. Rene Modglin stated 'the gastric contents suggest she had eaten a supper type meal probably not more than 2 to 4 hours before death.' In addition the stomach contents contained 'at least 100 ml of thick fluid, with particulate food particles in which are easily recognized reasonably large pieces of beef, along with vegetable particulates and/or celery and onion, and what appears to be milk or cottage cheese.'
Cheri Jo Bates had eaten at approximately 4.00-4.30 pm, placing her time of death between 6.00 pm and 8.30 pm. Students acquainted with Cheri Jo Bates said they were in the library between 6.30 pm and 6.40 pm and never saw her. In addition no confirmed sightings can be corroborated by more than one person thereafter, despite the popularity of Cheri Jo Bates, further indicating her time spent in the library was brief and she likely left prior to 6.30 pm. Something the killer already knew, in advance, as he had spoken to her.
The 'Confession' and Bates letters were purportedly sent by the killer, and these may further connect the killer to the college.
The following is from a 1966/67 Riverside City College catalog "The present library is located on the Terracina Avenue side of the Quadrangle. Its collection includes more than 35,000 books, 400 current periodicals and newspapers, 1,950 reels of microfilm and 2,000 pamphlets. Its indoor and outdoor facilities can accommodate 225 students. The library staff, which includes five professional librarians, offers students and faculty individual assistance.
The services of the College Library are available to students and residents of this area without charge. Students have free access to any of the books and magazines in the collection and are encouraged to use the library for their recreational reading as well as for academic pursuits. The circulation period is flexible and is determined by the demand for the material in question. Usual loans are for three weeks, but shorter periods may be required for assigned reading in limited materials. Longer loans may be made upon request. Borrowers are held responsible for any library materials which are lost or damaged while in their care.
A photocopying machine, where students can secure 8 1/2 X 11 inch black and white copy of printed or typed material, is available at the library for ten cents. Hours of service are: Monday through Thursday 7:45 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.; Friday 7:45 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.; Sunday 1:00 - 5:00; 6:00 - 9:00 p.m."
Earlier the killer had sent the 'Confession' letter, which he typed and photocopied. Sheriff Earl Randol described this letter, "The original of this letter was evidently destroyed or kept by the suspect, as the Press and our department received a carbon copy of the original. These carbon copies were a fourth and fifth copy and difficult to read. A photograph of this letter and the envelope is attached. A reproduction of the confession letter is also attached. It should be noticed that the copies received by the Press and our department were on plain white paper of poor quality. Width of paper is 8 inches. The length of the paper is unknown as the suspect (a peculiarity) tore off the bottom and top of the paper."
Not such a peculiarity if the suspect was attempting to disguise the dimensions of the paper or remove any anomalies or distinguishing features left by the photocopying process, that could possibly link him to the photocopier in question and maybe the college itself.
The idea the killer would disable Cheri Jo Bates vehicle with no knowledge whatsoever on her likely return from the library to the said vehicle, could have placed him in area for at least three hours, observing the Volkswagen Beetle in close proximity. Not the actions of a master criminal and not likely the actions of the murderer that evening.