[A note to the reader: This blog entry is longer than most in order to address many of the issues revolving around the still-theorized connection between the Zodiac and Bates cases as well as the developments over the last 43 years.]
Forty three years ago today, a groundskeeper working on the campus of Riverside City College discovered the body of eighteen-year-old freshman Cheri Jo Bates. The young coed had been stabbed to death in an alley way in the last hours of October 30, 1966, and then left in the dirt and darkness until she was found the next morning.
Investigators came upon a man’s Timex watch lying on the ground near the body; the size of its torn wristband indicated that the killer had a wrist measuring approximately seven inches. A heel print at the scene was identified as a B.F. Goodrich waffle design boot in a size range between eight and ten. An autopsy determined that the victim had scratched her killer, and an analysis of traces of skin under her fingernails concluded that the killer was a Caucasian male. The unknown subject had stabbed the victims several times in her chest and at least once in her back, and also slashed her throat using a knife that measured approximately ½ inch wide and 3 ½ inches long.
Investigation revealed that Cheri Jo had traveled to the library, where she checked out a collection of books and then returned to the parking lot and her Volkswagen Bug. The car was still parked in the lot the following day and, when they opened the hood to examine the engine, police discovered that someone had disconnected a distributor wire, thereby disabling the vehicle. Speculation suggested that the killer sabotaged the car in order to create a ruse in which he pretended to assist Bates and offered her a ride. Convinced that the seemingly helpful stranger would take her to his car, Cheri Jo willingly walked away from the library and into the night with the man who planned to take her life.
Although police would later identify several suspects, the case remained unsolved and, in 1969, news of the notorious Zodiac killer reached Thomas Kinkead, Chief of the Riverside Police Department. The letter-writing killer reminded Kinkead of the unsolved homicide that occurred three years earlier. In early October, Kinkead contacted Agent Mel Nicolai at the Department of Justice to report his suspicion that the crimes could be connected. Nicolai directed Kinkead to investigators in Napa, and, on October 17, 1969, Chief Kinkead contacted the Napa County Sheriff’s Office.
Chief Kinkead wrote in a subsequent letter, “One month after the homicide, letters were received at the Press and our department written by the suspect of our homicide. The suspect used a black felt tip pen to address the envelopes and had used upper case print. The confession was typed.”
SHE WAS YOUNG AND BEAUTIFUL. BUT NOW SHE IS BATTERED AND DEAD. SHE IS NOT THE FIRST AND SHE WILL NOT BE THE LAST. I LAY WAKE NIGHTS THINKING ABOUT MY NEXT VICTIM. MAYBE SHE WILL BE THE BEAUTIFUL BLOND THAT BABYSITS NEAR THE LITTLE STORE AND WALKS DOWN THE DARK ALLEY EACH EVENING ABOUT SEVEN. OR MAYBE SHE WILL BE THE SHAPELY BLUE EYED BROWNETT THAT SAID NO WHEN I ASKED HER FOR A DATE IN HIGH SCHOOL. BUT MAYBE IT WILL NOT BE EITHER. BUT I SHALL CUT OFF HER FEMALE DEPARTS AND DEPOSIT THEM FOR THE WHOLE CITY TO SEE. SO DON’T MAKE IT EASY FOR ME. KEEP YOUR SISTERS, DAUGHTERS, AND WIVE OFF THE STREETS AND ALLEYS. MISS BATES WAS STUPID. SHE WENT TO THE SLAUGHTER LIKE A LAMB. SHE DID NOT PUT UP A STRUGGLE. BUT I DID. IT WAS A BALL. I FIRST PULLED THE MIDDLE WIRE FROM THE DISTRIBUTOR. THEN I WAITED FOR HER IN THE LIBRARY AND FOLLOWED HER OUT AFTER ABOUT TWO MINUTS. THE BATTERY MUST HAVE BEEN ABOUT DEAD BY THEN I OFFERED TO HELP. SHE WAS THEN VERY WILLING TO TALK WITH ME. I TOLD HER THAT MY CAR WAS DOWN THE STREET AND THAT I WOULD GIVE HER A LIFT HOME. WHEN WE WERE AWAY FROM THE LIBRARY WALKING, I SAID IT WAS ABOUT TIME. SHE ASKED ME “ABOUT TIME FOR WHAT?”. I SAID IT WAS ABOUT TIME FOR HER TO DIE. I GRABBED HER AROUND THE NECK WITH ME HAND OVER HER MOUTH AND MY OTHER HAND WITH A SMALL KNIFE AT HER THROAT. SHE WENT VERY WILLINGLY. HER BREAST FELT VERY WARM AND FIRM UNDER MY HANDS, BUT ONLY ONE THING WAS ON MY MIND. MAKING HER PAY FOR THE BRUSH OFFS THAT SHE HAD GIVEN ME DURING THE YEARS PRIOR. SHE DIED HARD. SHE SQUIRMED AND SHOOK AS I CHOAKED HER, AND HER LIPS TWICHED. SHE LET OUT A SCREAM ONCE AND I KICKED HER HEAD TO SHUT HER UP. I PLUNGED THE KNIFE INTO HER AND IT BROKE. I THEN FINISHED THE JOB BY CUTTING HER THROAT. I AM NOT SICK. I AM INSANE. BUT THAT WILL NOT STOP THE GAME. THIS LETTER SHOULD BE PUBLISHED FOR ALL TO READ IT. IT JUST MIGHT SAVE THAT GIRL IN THE ALLEY. BUT THAT’S UP TO YOU. IT WILL BE ON YOUR CONSCIENCE. NOT MINE. YES I DID MAKE THAT CALL TO YOU ALSO. IT WAS JUST A WARNING. BEWARE … I AM STALKING YOUR GIRLS NOW.
CC. CHIEF OF POLICE
Police could not confirm a phone call to the police or the local newspaper, The Press-Enterprise. The letter was considered most suspicious. Kinkead offered a disturbing conclusion: “The person who wrote the confession is aware of facts about the homicide that only the killer would know. There is no doubt that the person who wrote the confession letter is our homicide suspect.”
Six months after the receipt of the “Confession,” three handwritten letters arrived at the Riverside Police Department, the local newspaper, and the home of Cheri Jo’s father, Joseph Bates. The first two read, “Bates had to die. There will be more.” A small symbol resembling the letter Z appeared at the bottom of each page. The third letter simply read, “She had to die. There will be more.”
A handwriting expert concluded that the Zodiac was responsible for the letters. At least one other expert agreed with this conclusion yet others would later express their doubts. After the possible connection was reported in newspapers with headlines which read, “Zodiac Link Is Definite,” the Zodiac wrote to say, “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.”
Kinkead’s letter demonstrated that Riverside police had embraced the possibility that the Zodiac was responsible for the Bates murder, however, in later years, the department reversed this position and focused its attention on a suspect who had allegedly dated the victim prior to her death. Further investigation failed to produce sufficient evidence to charge this individual and the crime remained unsolved in 1982, when the department released a statement to the public that read, “In November of 1981, new information came to light which resulted in the assignment of four investigators to work full time on this case. These investigators recontacted numerous persons who were either known to the victim or were known to associate with an individual we believe responsible for this crime. Current and past known associates have been interviewed in depth. All of the physical evidence related to this crime has been re-evaluated and in some instances forensically re-examined.” The statement went on to read, “The alleged connection with the ‘Zodiac’ by certain media and inquisitive individuals was anticipated when a decision was made to release this information. The showing of very old composites and the review of previously examined cryptic writings by some of the media, have resulted in considerable interest by the rest of the media whose knowledge of the ‘Zodiac’ is based on out-dated information linking this investigation with those referred to as ‘Zodiac’ cases. Speculation and creative reporting of this kind could conceivably hamper successful prosecution. The person we believe responsible for the slaying of Cheri Jo Bates is not the individual other law enforcement authorities believe responsible for the so called ‘˜Zodiac’ killings. Our investigation of the Cheri Jo Bates murder continues to be as thorough as possible.”
The new information concerned a sensational story told by a seemingly credible witness who knew the suspect in question. This witness claimed that he had seen the suspect on the night of the murder and then accompanied him back to the scene of the crime in search of the suspect’s watch. Police believed the witness was telling the truth but could not produce enough evidence to prosecute the suspect. If authorities in Riverside were concerned about the impact of media speculation linking the Bates case and the Zodiac crimes, they could not have been pleased when the best-selling book ZODIAC featured the Bates story, forever linking the two cases in the public imagination. Today, any discussion of one case must include the by-now obligatory reference to the other.
Those who dismissed this possible link often claim coincidence, or theorize that the Zodiac simply read of the Bates case and then decided to send the Riverside writings and take credit for a crime he did not commit. I will never forget the first time I walked onto the campus of Riverside City College more than ten years ago in January of 1999. As my eyes studied the scenery, I suddenly spotted a sign for a student production of The MIKADO. Was that a coincidence? Of course. However, when it comes to the possible link between the crimes of the Zodiac and the murder of Cheri Jo Bates, I believe that such explanations seems insufficient as we confront yet another un-happy Halloween and another anniversary of the still-unsolved slaying.
Contested or questionable links between unsolved crimes and those of a known serial killer are often at the center of debate and the source of contention among various law enforcement agencies. Even those investigators who do their best to work together and cooperate in pursuit of a common goal can be mistaken when attempting to determine which crimes where committed by which killer. In the now-resolved and infamous case of Wichita’s “B.T.K.” Strangler, FBI profilers offered their expert opinion that a long-unsolved murder of a young mother was definitely not the work of the then-silent killer who tortured his victims in their homes and wrote letters to the local media. When BTK resurfaced in 2004, he sent his first communication in years to a local newspaper: the envelope contained the photographs he had taken while he killed the young mother, a crime the FBI had determined was not linked to BTK.
The sad truth is that no one can accurately determine exactly which crimes were committed by whom until the persons responsible for those crimes are conclusively lined to those cases, or the killer provides the link himself. Most critics and amateur sleuths focus on conflicting or varying M.O.s, and argue that even the slightest deviation from a rigid pattern is proof that two seemingly different cases cannot be the work of the same individual. Beyond these simplistic terms and confines, another aspect of criminal pathology remains largely overlooked– the signature.
Theories connect the Zodiac to many unsolved cases, however, the killer only took credit for these specific crimes: the shootings on Lake Herman Road and at Blue Rock Springs Park, the stabbing at Lake Berryessa, the murder of cabdriver Paul Stine, the abduction of Kathleen Johns, and the murder of Cheri Jo Bates. The evidence clearly links the Zodiac to the first four cases, and even SFPD Inspector William Armstrong believed it was possible that Johns had actually encountered the Zodiac yet somehow survived to tell her story. The Zodiac appeared to claim as many as 37 victims by the time he vanished in 1974, yet no one knows just how many lives he destroyed during his career. At the end of his campaign of terror, he abandoned his previous nom-de-plume in favor of others, such as, “A Citizen,” “A friend,” and even “The Red Phantom.” The possibility exists that the killer had a career after he used “The Zodiac” as his signature, and therefore it is equally possible that he began his deadly work before assuming that persona. A simple examination of some basic facts raises serious questions regarding the logic behind the assumption that the Zodiac was not responsible for the murder of Cheri Jo Bates.
The term “signature” is simply a fancy word for need, and when homicide investigators study a crime, they search for a motive, a reason for that crime. No one can determine with any accuracy or precision the factors or feelings which may motive and drive a man to murder, but the study of his crimes will reveal his signature. While some murderers may vary their methods of operation, choosing to stab, shoot or strangle their victims in an effort to deceive authorities or engage in experimentation, a killer’s choices, actions and words reflect his needs– even when he attempts to deceive and even when he does not realize that he is doing so. In this sense, the killer’s crimes will reveal his psychological fingerprint.
In my unprofessional opinion as a citizen who as studied this case for many years, the characteristics of the Zodiac appear to be, in part:
#1) The killer’s crimes often appear to lack obvious motive; meaning, no evidence of sexual assault, robbery of significant monetary value, or personal animosity.
#2) The killer makes little to no effort to conceal his actions, often choosing populated or popular areas as the locations of his attacks.
#3) The killer takes risks beyond those preferable to one who has serious fear of capture.
#4) The killer’s crimes appear to be premeditated in nature, and often indicate preparation and planning.
#5) The killer can vary his methods but remains largely consistent in linking himself to these crimes rather than attempting to avoid detection of any connection.
#6) The killer enjoys recounting his deeds, either by telephone or written communication, including a message at a crime scene or handwritten letters.
#7) The killer often provides minor and/or important details: in some cases, the authorities state that these messages contain information known only by the killer.
#8) The killer favors victims of chance rather than preselected targets: couples on a roadside, a couple at a lake on a whim, or a cab driver passing by. The evidence suggests that he selected his targets at random.
#9) The killer can adapt to changing conditions and accomplish his goals, remaining calm under pressure and improvising when necessary. He has the ability to interact with his victims without raising suspicion.
#10) The killer can employ a carefully constructed ruse when it suits his needs. At Lake Berryessa, the killer concocted a curiously-false yet detailed story regarding a prison escape, the killing of a guard, and a flight to Mexico. He lied to his victims and claimed he only intended to rob them before stealing their car but the deception ended with a sudden ambush of violence. The selection of a cab driver and the direction to a pre-determined location also suggests planning as well as the ability to interact with and deceive a victim until the desired time to strike.
#11) The killer does not feel a need to interact with the victim after the initial violence other than to retrieve items he can later use for some known and/or known purpose, such as trophies or a possession which he can later use to prove that he was responsible for the crime. He does not sexually molest his victims, nor does he make any effort to transport them away from the scene of the crime. The killer makes no effort to conceal his crimes in that he does not dispose of or attempt to hide the bodies but prefers to leave them the victims where they fall.
#12) The killer inflicts potentially lethal and often deadly wounds but makes no apparent effort to ensure that his victims are dead before leaving the scene of the crime. In two instances, rather than leaving his victims to die at isolated locations, the killer called authorities and directed them to the scene and the victims, thereby increasing the possibility that they might somehow survive.
#13) The killer’s crimes revolve around and concern vehicles: he drives to the locations where he attacks victims who are seated in vehicles, he asks for and/or takes the keys to the vehicles of his victims, he writes a message on the vehicle belonging to a victim, and he sits inside the victim’s vehicle in order to commit the crime. He even mentions and/or describes the vehicles of his victims in both his telephone and written communications.
#14) The killer repeatedly defines his crimes in reference to the method, the location and/or date of those crimes: referring to the victims he killed “last Christmas,” victims “one mile east of Columbus Parkway,” those people “up north,” and the taxi driver over by Washington and Maple streets. He even writes the location of his attacks on a car door as, “Vallejo,” as well as the dates of those crimes along with others.
#15) The killer often describes his fantasies using vivid details.
#16) The killer enjoys describing the reactions of his victims but makes no significant effort to inflict pain on his victims beyond that which is necessary to the completion of his apparent goal to wound or kill: he does not engage in any acts of obvious or pro-longed torture and or sadism.
#17) The killer alludes to past and future victims, often without providing specific details or information.
#18) The killer often warns of further attacks or threatens more violence unless his demands are met. He will provide elaborate details regarding his potential reprisals.
#19) The killer often states that he will strike again yet many of these threats appear to be nothing more than attempts to frighten the public and/or mislead or confuse authorities.
#20) The killer links himself to and/or claims credit only for crimes which remain unsolved.
These are the undeniable characteristics of the Zodiac, as established by the known facts. Any thorough and fact-based assessment of the behavior of the killer in the Bates case and the author of the “Confession” letter and other Riverside writings will reveal a very similar set of characteristics, and the same psychological fingerprint.
Some skeptics have speculated that the “Confession” may have been written by the someone who wished to deflect suspicion from an individual who had known the victim. However, the author of the “Confession” clearly states that the murder was his way of “MAKING HER PAY FOR THE BRUSH OFFS THAT SHE HAD GIVEN ME DURING THE YEARS PRIOR.” Rather than lead authorities to a stranger, the author directed them straight to a rejected suitor, a jilted lover, an angry acquaintance or even an obsessive friend. A suspect who wished to re-direct the investigation would attempt to implicate a stranger rather than those who knew the victim. A stranger who wished to mis-direct the investigation would implicate someone who had known the victim.
The author of the “Confession” described a scenario which was in keeping with the known facts, and claimed that he had disabled the victim’s car while she was inside the campus library. He further stated that he used this as the basis for a pre-conceived ruse to approach the victim, offer his assistance, and then guide her to a pre-determined location where he planned to execute Bates. The author provided details which police then stated could only be known by the actual killer, and he also offered an elaborate narrative describing the sequence of events, including the disabling of the vehicle, the approach of the victim, the use of the ruse, the walk to the car, the attack itself, and the reaction of the victim. The author mentioned a phone call placed after the murder. The author also alluded to past and future crimes and included an elaborate description of an impending attack which he did not commit (as in, “I SHALL CUT OFF HER FEMALE PARTS AND DEPOSIT THEM FOR THE WHOLE CITY TO SEE”). The author of the three handwritten letters also warned of future attacks.
The behavior of the killer in the Bates case is also similar to that of the Zodiac in several respects. Like the Zodiac, the Bates killer carried out a premeditated act which included careful planning, execution, and the use of a ruse in order to gain the trust of the victim. Like the Zodiac, the Bates killer was capable of putting his victim at ease, and created an elaborate lie so that he could guide the victim towards his predetermined conclusion and the planned attack. Like the Zodiac, the Bates killer did not engage in any sexual activity with the victim and made no effort to transport or conceal the body after the murder. The Bates crime also lacked signs of any apparent or traditional motives such as sexual assault, robbery or personal animosity. The Bates killer also took risks, exposing himself to potential witnesses in the library parking lot and taking the chance that he might be seen talking to or walking with the victim before the attack.
Chief Kinkead strongly believed that the author of the “Confession” was the same individual responsible for the Bates murder, and he clearly viewed the Zodiac as a logical suspect. Kinkead based his opinion on many factors but other information also supported his conclusion. After the Bates murder, Riverside police, the local newspaper and Bates’ father received three virtually identical handwritten letters in April 1967. The Zodiac’s first written attempt to communicate consisted of three virtually identical handwritten letters mailed in July, 1969. The author of the Riverside “Confession” wrote, “SHE SQUIRMED AND SHOOK AS I CHOAKED HER, AND HER LIPS TWICHED.” In his letter of July 26, 1970, the Zodiac wrote: “Some I shall tie over ant hills and watch them scream + twich and squirm.” Theories regarding a possible link between the Zodiac and Bates crimes did not appear in news reports until three month after the Zodiac had misspelled the same word in the same manner as the author of the “Confession.” Although I cannot claim to possess complete knowledge regarding the history of writings linked to murders, I would venture to guess that these are the only two instances in which a killer mailed three virtually identical handwritten letters. This similarity, and the use of the identical misspelling, suggests that the same author may have been responsible for both communications.
I made my first trip to Riverside to conduct research regarding the Bates murder in January, 1999. I contacted the detective then in charge of the case, stated the purpose of my inquiry and introduced myself by name. The detective replied, “Is this the same Michael Butterfield who wrote this article I have in front of me?” I responded by saying that, while I did not know to which article he referred, it was unlikely that anyone else was writing about this case under the same name. The detective then said, (paraphrase), “You’re taking some pretty tough shots at us here.” I did my best to explain my position on the issues but the detective was clearly not interested in discussing any possible link between the Zodiac and the Bates murder.
The detective was adamant in his opinion that Bates had been killed in an act of personal rage. He cited the over-kill aspects of the attack, and, later, he would claim that Bates had been stabbed as many as forty-two times. When referring to the fact that the killer had almost severed Bates’ head with several slashes to her throat, the detective compared the murder to the “rage-killing” of O.J. Simpson’s ex-wife, Nicole Brown. While he never used these exact words, the detective essentially said, “We have it all figured out.”
After that discussion, I was forced to reconsider my own opinions about Bates murder. After all, I thought, these guys know more than I do, they are professionals, they have experience, and I’m just some guy who is interested in this case. Who am I to question their conclusions? I decided that I needed to accept the possibility that the Bates and Zodiac crimes were not connected, and went about the rest of my research. However, in the years that followed that trip, the facts once again forced me to question the opinions of the Riverside police department, and their theory regarding their pet suspect.
Information concerning the Riverside informant raised serious doubts about his story. Known as a respected employee of a major corporation, the informant was deemed credible by the Riverside authorities. Yet, for many observers, the story that he had accompanied the suspect to the scene of the crime on the night of the murder was simply suspicious. Many critics wondered why the man had waited more than a decade before coming forward to tell his story. Further, many questioned the notion that anyone would conceal the solution to a murder case simply because a friend had asked him to do so. The witness did not claim that the suspect bragged about the crime during a drunken bout years later, but that he had traveled to the scene with the suspect and even saw the body of Cheri Jo Bates; therefore, the witness was not one of those people who heard a possibly false confession and did not know what to make of what he heard– this man was there, at the scene, and he knew that the suspect was responsible. Also, this witnesses watched as the case remained unsolved for more than a decade and never came forward, despite the public pleas of the investigators for information, despite the ongoing speculation regarding the Zodiac link, and despite the fact that the Bates family had never received the justice they deserved.
As one who has studied the story told by the witness (according to the details made public over the years), I must say that I am not convinced and find the entire scenario highly questionable. Living with the knowledge that one possesses the solution to an unsolved murder but failing to come forward requires a special kind of person. In my opinion, anyone who could do so, let alone for the reasons offered by the witness, is not an honest or trustworthy human being. Allowing the case to remain unsolved while watching the authorities waste valuable resources and the family destroyed by a grief is inexcusable, under any circumstances. The witness and the suspect had no relationship which would justify protecting the killer– it’s not as if the suspect took a bullet for the witness on the beaches of Normandy.
The witness waited more than a decade to come forward, and, when he did so, he could only offer scraps of information, most of which had already appeared in news reports during that time. The story about looking for the missing watch may have seemed credible but even the most generous critics cite the fact that this story is dubious at best. A killer who was so desperately afraid of capture that he would risk returning to the scene of the murder in order to retrieve that possession was increasing his chance of capture ten-fold by involving another person in his crime. As investigation has proven, the watch did not link the suspect to the crime, so the decision to risk further exposure and possible capture by returning to the scene seemed unwarranted. Confessing his involvement in the murder to another human being put the suspect at eternal risk of being identified as the killer. While some observers may be tempted to believe the story told by this witness, I do not believe this witness is telling the truth, and, further, I do not believe that he ever went to the scene of the crime with the suspect that night. Police had no evidence to link their suspect to the Bates murder and, without the story told by the witness, the case against the suspect was virtually non-existent.
After my trip to Riverside, the report detailing the autopsy of Cheri Jo Bates surfaced on the Internet. The report clearly refutes the scenario described by the detective who claimed that Bates had been stabbed as many as forty-two times. The report indicated that the actual number of stab wounds was far less than forty-two, and that, despite the violence unleashed on the victim, the notion that this was an act of personal rage by someone who had known Bates was not supported by the facts. The theory endorsed by the Riverside police no longer seemed as plausible or correct.
Several years ago, word spread that Riverside authorities had obtained a genetic profile from the hairs found in the victim’s hand and planned to compare this sample with one obtained from their suspect. I predicted that the comparison would not implicate the suspect, and the results proved my prediction to be accurate– the tests proved that the DNA taken from those hairs did not match the DNA of the suspect. At one time, the suspect even issued a statement in which he not only denied killing Bates but refuted many of the stories which had been used to cast suspicion upon him in the past. The case remains unsolved, and the man who killed Cheri Jo Bates remains free– whoever he may be.
I am not one to criticize police or second guess the decisions of law enforcement professionals without cause, and, over the years, I have offered my own opinions about the progress of this case (or the lack thereof). Some observers and critics are quick to ridicule or blame the Riverside police department for the failure to identify and charge the killer, however, I think these investigators were always at a disadvantage in trying to solve such a crime. Since I now believe that Bates was killed by a stranger, I believe that disadvantage was most likely greater than investigators could ever overcome. Those who criticize the Riverside police often claim that these investigators are unwilling to even consider a Zodiac connection because to do so would also mean admitting that their failure to stop the killer back in 1966 ultimately left him free to claim more lives as the Zodiac years later. Again, I cannot blame the Riverside police for the failure to solve this case, and I do not believe that they can be blamed for what occurred outside of their jurisdiction. Those who would blame Riverside authorities for the Zodiac crimes are simply being unrealistic and unfair.
If I had one criticism of the position adopted by the Riverside authorities, I would cite their failure to remain open to other theories and possible suspects. No one would blame these investigators for doubting the Zodiac connection but I believe they would be better served to cooperate with the other agencies involved in those crimes in an effort to have all the evidence compared in order to determine if that connection actually exists. Reports indicated that the Riverside DNA was obtained from the hairs found in Bates’ hand, yet hair contains mitochondrial DNA which differs from and cannot be compared to DNA taken from saliva, blood or semen. However, the partial genetic profile obtained from the Zodiac’s envelope can be compared to any DNA obtained from the envelopes which contained the Riverside writings, or perhaps forensics experts could employ new techniques in an effort to obtain “Touch DNA” from the actual Riverside letters. The watch left at the scene of the Bates murder may prove useful if authorities were able to obtain DNA from its wrist band; such items can often reveal traces of sweat, or even skin. Given the nature of the crime, the killer may have cut himself and, therefore, a re-examination of the victim’s clothing using new technology and new methods could possibly reveal traces of the killer’s blood and therefore yield his genetic profile.
I would hope that Riverside authorities would be willing to explore all of these possibilities and do whatever is necessary to cooperate with the agencies in the Zodiac cases. In the end, any new evidence obtained from a renewed examination of the Bates case may ultimately prove or disprove a link between the cases, or even implicate the suspect favored by Riverside authorities. No matter what the result, the Riverside police department would silence its critics and rightfully claim that its investigation of the Bates murder “continues to be as thorough as possible.”
Forty three years ago, Cheri Jo Bates was a beautiful, vibrant, friendly, out-going young woman who sought to better herself through education. Her loving family had high hopes for Cheri Jo, and they most likely dreamed of watching her graduate from college, find her career, build a life and perhaps even start her own family. Instead, they watched as her body was lowered into the ground, along with their hopes of finding justice. The man who killed Cheri Jo Bates deceived her in order to win her confidence and then used that trust to lead his victim to her death. If the author of the “Confession” was, in fact, the killer, he not only bragged that he had killed Bates but mocked her for ever trusting him in the first place. The cowardly liar also warned, “There will be more.” If the author of the “Confession” was, in fact, the Zodiac”– as some experts and even Chief Kinkead suspected– then his words were not only prophetic, but still continue to haunt and taunt us in ways he never imagined.
October 31, 2009