A Mexican-American student: stated 'he knew Cheri Jo Bates and had noticed her in the library the night in question. He said he saw the girl "writing something with a ball point pen" in her blue spiral school notebook." The boy told us he was outside about 5.30 pm, waiting for the library to open at 6, and it was then he saw the girl'.
This statement is open to interpretation, but the Mexican-American student does indicate he saw Cheri Jo Bates IN the library, not outside. He was waiting outside the library at 5.30 pm, but it was only once the library opened at 6.00 pm, that he saw the girl "writing something with a ball point pen" in her blue spiral school notebook. We know two eyewitness saw her approaching Terracina Drive at approximately 6.10 pm. So it is likely the Mexican-American student saw Cheri Jo Bates shortly after it opened. He was likely able to recollect such precise details regarding her ball point pen and blue spiral school notebook, because the library was probably quite empty at this point. The details he gave lends credence to the fact Cheri Jo Bates did enter the library that evening, albeit for a very brief period of time. Detectives could easily have authenticated the accuracy of his statement, from the victim's belongings retrieved from her vehicle or the crime scene
We know that no further eyewitnesses saw Cheri Jo Bates in the library that evening from 6.30-9.00 pm, indicating she spent likely 15 minutes or less in the library. She had earlier misplaced her bibliography, so unless she had already returned home to retrieve it, she may have felt she was unable to do the studying she had planned and went elsewhere. It is also equally possible, that because Stephanie Guttman was unable to accompany her to the library, she may have made alternative arrangements before leaving her residence. Whatever the case, from approximately 6.30 pm to 10.30-10.45 pm, when screams were heard coming from the alleyway, her movements are unaccounted for. It could be argued however, that spending 4 hours elsewhere, was somewhere she likely felt comfortable.
They were later spotted by other eyewitnesses in exactly the same location. Walter Siebert stated that 'he and a few friends were in the library from 7.15 pm until 9, but did not see Miss Bates, whom they all knew. They said they saw four men dressed in work clothes sitting on a fence across from the spot where Miss Bates' car was found, but they did not know them.'
The remaining options appear to be that Cheri Jo Bates left the library that evening with person or persons unknown, or had arranged earlier that day to visit another friend, after Stephanie declined her offer.
Two crucial factors come into play here:
#1. The Riverside light was fading badly shortly after six and 'Detectives learned from the slain girl's friends that Cheri Jo had been "terribly afraid of the darkness."
#2. Cheri Jo Bates vehicle would have been parked on Terracina Drive for upwards of 4 hours.
If Cheri Jo Bates had prearranged to visit somebody that evening, it would suggest the secondary location was within reasonable walking distance. The question to ask would be, how far was Cheri Jo Bates prepared to walk that evening in the dark. Or how far would you be prepared to walk, when you have a vehicle parked right outside the library. There is a reasoned argument to be had, to suggest the secondary location, possibly a friend's apartment or house, was extremely close to the Riverside campus grounds. Quite possibly situated in the adjoining streets.
If Cheri Jo Bates did visit a nearby friend's residence for several hours, they clearly failed to reveal this information to investigators. One could argue they feared being implicated in the crime, being the last person to see Cheri Jo Bates before her death, or they were the actual killer of Cheri Jo Bates, while escorting her back to her vehicle. But if she visited them, when did they disable her vehicle? In a heated argument when they both returned to her vehicle. If the latter were the case, then the 'smoking man', observed by a female student in the alleyway at 9.30 pm may have a reprieve, but it's not the likeliest of scenarios.
Cheri Jo Bates was certainly 'missing' for approximately 4 hours, with her Volkswagen Beetle sitting idle in Terracina Drive, and if she hadn't been abducted, then she was seemingly comfortable in her surroundings, likely with a friend, and possibly very close by.