The Riverside link to Zodiac has yet to be fully established, despite the obvious inferences suggested in the History Channel documentary- although certainly the place a fledgling Zodiac would most likely have made his mistakes, could a connection be definitively ascertained. This was a point emphasized in the show early on. However, as highlighted in many previous documentaries, trying to shoehorn suspects into certain aspects of the case while blindly disregarding the obvious discrepancies, is fraught with danger. After watching the first episode, it is easy to see how Ross Sullivan has captured the imagination of many, desperate to link the subject to the Riverside murder and the infamous Zodiac Killer- but there are serious drawbacks to this particular suspect.
Michael Mageau, Bryan Hartnell, Cecelia Shepard, Dr. Clifton Rayfield, David Rayfield, the three young women, Donald Fouke and the three teenagers are key players in the Zodiac case, none of whom recollect a man of this height.
Ross Sullivan was an extremely well built individual, who likely therefore had a seven inch wrist, as testified by the Timex watch retrieved from the alleyway, only ten feet from the body of Cheri Jo Bates. 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.'
In addition, apart from the sightings at Presidio Heights, where it's possible Zodiac donned Paul Stine's black-rimmed glasses, not one of the remaining eyewitnesses remember the possible killer wearing eyeglasses. The common assumption when considering a suspect, is to use a side-by-side comparison of the Presidio Heights sketch for likeness. The problem with this is twofold- firstly, we cannot be sure the sketch is a perfect representation of the actual killer, and secondly, there is no evidence to suggest the Zodiac Killer wore glasses in his everyday life.
Ross Sullivan 'apparently' disappeared after the Cheri Jo Bates murder, but the Riverside Police investigation was extremely thorough, fingerprinting and taking hair samples of countless people, that surely had to include Ross Sullivan, had he worked at the library.
It is important to understand the ferocity of the Cheri Jo Bates murder, in which she undoubtedly scratched her assailant. Whether Ross Sullivan 'disappeared' for two weeks or not, investigators would have still checked everybody for scratches to their arms and face, and fingerprinted the suspect, yet still he evaded detection.
Detective Gren stated "There is a strong indication that Miss Bates scratched and clawed her murderer in the struggle for her life."
They would also have taken handwriting samples. If the Riverside correspondence can be matched to the Zodiac Killer, then so too can the handwriting of Ross Sullivan, which clearly must have been undertaken.
The documentary stated that Ross Sullivan can be placed in Santa Cruz, situated on the northern edge of Monterey Bay. This is 96 miles south of Vallejo and 75 miles south of San Francisco. If this were the case, we then would have to assume that Ross Sullivan, despite work commitments, took a round trip of at least 150 miles or more to perpetrate three Zodiac attacks and mail fourteen letters on varying days of the week, between July 4tth 1969 and March 13th 1971, finally implicating and drawing attention to himself and his Riverside exploits in the ''Los Angeles' letter, stating "I do have to give them credit for stumbling across my riverside activity, but they are only finding the easy ones, there are a hell of a lot more down there." Implicating oneself in the Riverside murder of Cheri Jo Bates is not the 'genius' move of a highly intelligent individual, if you worked in the Riverside City College library and knew the victim.
The "twich" and "squirm" link between the Riverside 'Confession' letter and the Zodiac's 'Little List' letter on July 26th 1970 could be a simple as Zodiac parroting key phrases he read in previously published articles on the Cheri Jo Bates murder. The odds of these words then matching falls to something far less statistically significant. It is still a noteworthy connection, warranting further investigation, but must be viewed with far more caution than that advocated.
This is not meant to argue that Ross Sullivan should not be considered as a potential suspect in the Zodiac case, only that a necessary counterbalance is required when considering any leads in an already suspect laden case.
The five part documentary should hopefully generate new interest in the Zodiac Killer investigation and create fresh impetus in a case now spanning five decades- a case that is without doubt grinding under the heavy weight of expectation.
The next episode will air on November 21st 2017.