It will also disregard any preconceptions of the crime formulated by investigators and the 'Confession' letter sent on November 29th 1966, approximately one month after the brutal murder.
The 'Confession' letter author likely played into the suppositions of investigators, who almost immediately ran with the narrative that Cheri Jo Bates had her Volkswagen Beetle tampered with while she was in the library, despite the fact little supports this conclusion.
Let us start in and around the library annex just before opening time.
The 'Inside Detective' magazine recalled that a Mexican-American student noticed Cheri Jo Bates close to opening time and shortly after- who 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.'
It clearly states he had 'noticed her in the library the night in question'- therefore presumably after 6.00 pm.
The 'Inside Detective' Magazine also stated "The participants in the reenactment at the detectives' request, wore the same clothing and sat in the same seats that they had occupied the Sunday night of the murder. They were also asked to park their cars in the same places they had on the night of October 30. It had been determined that Cheri Jo (or a girl resembling her and in similar clothes) had arrived at the library about 5.40 pm and waited for about 20 minutes for the doors to be opened. The girl apparently entered the library as soon as the doors were opened at 6.00 pm, and checked out the books she had come for."
Sergeant Gren stated "The girl was definitely in the library as she checked out the books. She must have been contacted by the murderer as soon as she received her books." The key words here, are she "checked out her books."
The article continued "However, other students who were acquainted with Cheri Jo said they were in the library between 6.30 and 6.40 pm- and did not see the girl during that time." Neither did Walter Siebert, who 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."
It is therefore extremely likely Cheri Jo Bates entered the library at 6.00 pm and left before 6.30 pm, having checked out her books. The four men in work clothes are crucial.
They stated to investigators that "they had seen Cheri Jo near her car the previous night." But what time and where?
It is reasonable to assume it may have been slightly before 5.30 pm, since the Mexican-American student and the female eyewitness saw Cheri Jo Bates at 5.30 pm, 5.40 pm and the time she entered the library at 6.00 pm.
The Riverside City College was undergoing renovation at the time, so these four men may have been passing the area of the college campus around this time- probably working within the college campus on a Sunday, at a time when certain areas were free from student activity. This may be a reasonable supposition, because they were still in the vicinity when Walter Siebert arrived at 7.15 pm, at which time they were sitting on a fence on the north side of Terracina Drive. They may have been taking a break.
Walter Siebert and friends never laid eyes on Cheri Jo Bates that evening, nor did they, or any other person familiar with the young girl, spot her striking lime green Volkswagen Beetle (or at the very least was it reported), despite the fact it was supposedly parked only 30 yards or 90 feet east of the library entrance. Walter Siebert and friends 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." They only said the four men were located across from the position the vehicle "was found", not from the position of the vehicle that evening. Indicating they never saw her vehicle on the evening of October 30th 1966. In fact, not one of the attendees to the library that evening or night stated they spotted Cheri Jo Bates' vehicle in the position it was found. "They were also asked to park their cars in the same places they had on the night of October 30", yet apparently not one parked near the lime green Volkswagen Beetle, or noted its position on Terracina Drive.
She then entered the library, "checked out her books," left before 6.30 pm and possibly drove away, bucking the supposition of detectives, who assumed the perpetrator disabled her vehicle while she was in the library, and wrongly concluded her vehicle remained idle from the moment she parked up, to the following morning, when her vehicle was ultimately discovered.
A perpetrator disabling her vehicle, would had to have done so approximately 90 feet from the library entrance, risking being spotted and then killed her within minutes, despite the fact the young woman's body would have lain in the alleyway for around 4 hours that evening, without anybody walking down the alleyway, and completely negating the screams being heard around 10.30 pm by at least two earwitnesses. It makes little sense, and therefore is highly unlikely.
This is why the 'Confession' letter is highly suspect. It is simply parroting what investigators immediately concluded after discovering the disabled Volkswagen Beetle, and what was widely reported in the newspapers in the aftermath of the murder. The 'Confession' letter revealed no details only privy to the murderer, and even if its author was the killer of Cheri Jo Bates, he was only too happy to concur with the conclusions of the police investigation, especially if it steered the investigators away from what really happened on October 30th 1966, and even more importantly, centered the focus around the library annex and college campus. The 'Confession' letter should have been called the 'Confirmation' letter, as it effectively confirmed to police what they already believed, whereas the truth likely lay elsewhere.
The 'Inside Detective' magazine also stated 'Two young girls who said they knew Cheri Jo, gave a taped interview to a crew from a Los Angeles television station. The girls in the interview, said that Cheri Jo had told them Sunday that she was "going to the library to meet her boyfriend." However, Sgt Gren said that while Cheri Jo had met her boyfriend in San Francisco the weekend prior to her murder, the boy was still in the Bay Area at the time of her death. The statements of the two girls were based on hearsay and not on fact Captain Cross told newsmen.'
It is clear this statement was prematurely dismissed by police, because according to the two girls, Cheri Jo Bates was supposedly "going to the library to meet her boyfriend." This cannot be misinterpreted as going to San Francisco to meet her boyfriend Dennis Highland, unless she was meeting him at a library in San Francisco.
This is from Zodiackiller.com: "The relationship between Barnett and Cheri soured after Cheri returned from San Francisco, where she had visited her steady boyfriend. Cheri informed Barnett that she had accepted this boyfriend's wedding proposal and that she and Barnett could no longer date. (This conversation with Barnett occurred less than a week before her murder.)"
It is clear that the relationships of Cheri Jo Bates were less than clear cut, so it is by no means out of the question that Cheri Jo Bates may have made alternative plans that Sunday evening, once her friend Stephanie Guttmann declined her officer at 3.45 pm that day, to accompany her to the library. Cheri Jo Bates may have originally planned to meet a "boyfriend" after the library closed that evening, but her plans could have changed when Stephanie decided not to go to the library.
Later, Walter Siebert and friends noticed the same four men sitting on a fence, likely taking a break, around 7.15 pm, but they didn't notice Cheri Jo Bates or her vehicle. Therefore, it is unlikely the four men spotted Cheri Jo Bates alongside her vehicle at 7.15 pm, because if they had, Walter Siebert and friends would likely have noticed her and the Volkswagen Beetle too, which they didn't.
Additionally, if investigators tied the two stories together, and assumed the four men noticed Cheri Jo Bates by her vehicle at 7.15 pm, then she would have supposedly been leaving the library. Had she been arriving at the library, then Walter Siebert and friends would have seen her in the library between 7.15 pm and 9.00 pm. But she couldn't have been leaving the library either, because Cheri Jo Bates had apparently entered at opening time and wasn't even spotted in the library between 6.30 pm and 6.40 pm,
If Cheri Jo Bates checked out her books prior to 6.30 pm, why would she still be next to her vehicle at 7.15 pm. Had it been tampered with while in the library, she could have simply sought assistance inside the library or from her arriving friends. The whole scenario doesn't stack up.
The four men must have spotted Cheri Jo Bates on her arrival to the library just before 5.30 pm and relayed this to police, that "they had seen Cheri Jo near her car the previous night." At 7.15 pm, when the four men were spotted by Walter Siebert, Cheri Jo Bates and her vehicle were gone. Investigators likely assumed Cheri Jo Bates' vehicle remained throughout, as they had done from the very beginning, and the vehicle simply went unnoticed by Walter Siebert and company.
Originally her plans were to visit the library to study with Stephanie Guttmann, but possibly her plans changed and she decided to meet with this "boyfriend". The eventual murder had all the hallmarks of a spurned admirer and 'crime of passion'.
The problem we have, is why would Cheri Jo Bates' vehicle have left the library and returned to effectively the same position some 4 hours later. Had she arranged to meet the 'mystery man' outside the library just after checking her books out, gone to a secondary location, before returning her 'passenger' where she picked him up. If so, did he live nearby, and was familiar with the college campus, including the two empty houses along the alleyway. The fact that both windows were rolled down, with the keys in the ignition and doors unlocked, may suggest something erupted on their arrival back at the library.
If he is carrying her books for her, the 'mystery man' may have exited the vehicle, placed the books on the seat, closed the right door, inadvertently leaving it slightly ajar, and then proceeded to disable her vehicle in the heat of the moment to prevent her leaving. This may explain her eagerness to vacate the vehicle and seek help. She is dragged into the alleyway, and the attack begins circa 10.30 pm. The author of the 'Confession' letter, if the killer, knew that by playing into the police narrative of the crime, the investigation would remain squarely around the college campus and make his confession completely worthwhile.