The January 1969 Inside Detective magazine described the crime scene, stating "The victim of the savage attack was clad in faded red capris, a long-sleeved pale yellow blouse with a ribbon tied at the throat. Her feet were encased in white sandals. A large red and tan woven straw bag was half covered by the body". This large bag can be seen in the crime scene photographs. If Cheri Jo Bates had arrived back at her vehicle after exiting the library and placed her library books on the passenger seat, one might have expected Cheri Jo Bates to have first removed this straw bag from her shoulder prior to rolling the windows, placing her key in the ignition and preparing to drive away (especially if the bag was slung over her right shoulder). This oversize straw bag would certainly have impaired her ability to shift gear in a comfortable manner while driving. If she had removed this bag to prepare to drive home and was forcibly removed from her vehicle in a surprise attack under the threat of a knife or gun, why under any circumstances, would she have placed the bag back on her shoulders under duress (for it to be later found under her body in the driveway) The Confession letter author claimed she was very willing to talk and leave with him, which would explain her grabbing her bag before leaving - but not the condition her vehicle was ultimately found the next morning. If the author was her killer, she had two minutes (according to the Confession letter) to remove the straw bag from her shoulder before he arrived and offered the young woman assistance.
None of the knife wounds to her front torso were immediately life threatening, so a savage attack with somebody thrusting a knife towards her (and into her) while she is mobile and able to run, is unlikely to create a scenario where her bag remained on her shoulder during this period. Her bag is likely to be dropped - and she is likely to move away. The chances that she would be coincidentally reunited with that bag later in the attack is extremely unlikely. The position of the straw bag under her body, on the right side, could suggest she had the bag on her right shoulder when the killer grabbed her around the neck with his left arm and stabbed backwards with his right hand. Her right arm would naturally come upwards to defend herself, with the straw bag remaining in relatively close contact with her body while upright. When the killer thrust her face down into the driveway, her straw bag fell from her right shoulder to the position shown in the crime scene. In other words, she was grabbed and killed in virtually the same spot in the driveway.
To listen to a comprehensive discussion on the Cheri Jo Bates murder in Riverside on October 30th 1966, with contributions from Druzer and Michael Morford, please visit the Citizen Detective podcast on Youtube (running time 3hr 10 mins).