Cheri Jo Bates was a gregarious, outgoing woman, who easily made friends, apparent by her desire to become an air stewardess, where personality and social skills are key ingredients. This makes it even more strange that such a vivacious young woman, who by all accounts was in a good, humorous and sociable mood that day, could enter the Riverside College library shortly after 6:15 pm, check out three books from stocks, and totally ignore everybody in the library including her close friends who were present in the cramped library from 6:00 to 9:00 pm that evening. In fact, in a reconstruction performed by police two weeks later, none of the 60+ people assembled remember ever seeing Cheri Jo Bates. What makes this crime even more unusual is that nobody set eyes on the young woman from approximately 6:15 pm that evening, until her body was discovered some 12 hours later, the following day on a dirt driveway.
On Halloween morning, groundskeeper Cleophus Martin (48) was traveling along Terracina Drive at 6:30 am, slightly west of the Riverside library annex, when he discovered the lifeless body of Cheri Jo Bates lying face down in the dirt driveway. Her body was discovered on the east side of the driveway between two vacant properties. Cheri Jo Bates had been brutally attacked with a knife. There were signs of a violent struggle with her murderer, with skin and hair present in the young woman's fingernails and hand, that in later years would reveal a mitochondrial DNA fingerprint. A Timex watch with a broken strap was discovered only ten feet from her body, likely wrenched off during the vicious attack.
Riverside police would ultimately distance themselves from any Zodiac connection, initially focusing attention on their own prime suspect, who would eventually be ruled out using DNA analysis some 30 years later. But one overriding question has surrounded this case, on whether the murderer of Cheri Jo Bates was a stranger or somebody she knew?
This typed letter was sent to the Riverside Police and Riverside Enterprise on November 29th 1966 in reference to the stabbing of Cheri Jo Bates on October 30th 1966 - but whether it is from the killer/s or not is the center of much debate in the Zodiac community, and not something that will be covered here.
Screams were heard in the campus area by certain local residents at approximately 10:15-10:30 pm, so if Cheri Jo Bates had entered the library at 6:15-6:30 pm and left immediately after checking out her library books, then she could not have simply been led away from her vehicle on the pretext of help and murdered in the driveway. The screams were heard four hours later, not to mention the numerous people entering and exiting the library from 6:00 to 9:00 pm that evening, would surely have noticed the stricken Miss Bates.
One scenario is offered by Raymond Grant, the outline of which revolves around Miss Bates being abducted by more than one person shortly after her arrival on Terracina Drive, with her books being checked out of the library by a third party, to ultimately generate the impression she entered the library and focus attention in the wrong direction.
Another possibility is that Cheri Jo Bates was approached by an 'unwanted admirer.' Planning to enter the library to check out her reading material, the admirer insisted on accompanying her, but Cheri not wanting to be seen with this man, asked him to get the library books on her behalf. When he returned, again uncomfortable at being spotted with this man, suggested a second location nearby to talk to him. As the hours passed she eventually makes her excuses to return to her vehicle and go home - the library had shut now and she feels safe that nobody will see her with this man. She rolls down the window, places the key in the ignition and prepares to leave, but her admirer makes unwanted advances that escalate. Fearing the situation has got out of hand, she races from the car towards the parking area to seek help and things turn violent in the driveway. However, the problem here is we would have to assume he was able to check out the books from the library using female identification and not be questioned - and furthermore he would had to have disabled the Volkswagen Beetle after the attack, thereby creating confusion as to how the crime occurred. Not very likely.
Would a stranger or persons unknown to the area have begun an attack between two buildings - only yards from them - and inflict numerous injuries on a screaming woman, not knowing if occupants resided within them. I suppose this is a question for the Zodiac Killer at Presidio Heights.
The college was supposedly undergoing renovation, and the Timex watch discovered just ten feet from the body of Cheri Jo Bates had paint splashes on it. Was it a crime of opportunity from somebody connected with the college? As my learned friend pointed out, an abduction is not an improbable proposition, especially if we contend the Kathleen Johns incident was perpetrated by the same person or persons, collectively or otherwise known as the Zodiac Killer. With so much time unaccounted for in the timeline of Cheri Jo Bates that evening, speculation will no doubt continue about the brutal murder of a very promising young future........ "As long as I can remember she wanted to be a stewardess. She had already written to most of the major airlines. It was the only future she would talk about". And this should always be remembered.
Zodiac Killer Solved - Raymond Grant.