August 15, 2021
Los Angeles, California
In a cryptic and rather startling Press Release, the Riverside Police Department Cold Case Unit has just announced they no longer consider the 1966 stabbing murder of a teenager, Cheri Jo Bates as “Zodiac related.”
Riverside Police Press Release (In full)
On October 31, 1966, 0545 hours, Joseph Bates called Riverside Police to report his daughter Cheri Jo Bates missing. She left a note for her father stating she was going to the RCC library. On October 31, 1966, 0632 hours, a civilian reported that he found a body in the alleyway of Terracina near Fairfax on the RCC college campus. Officers responded and determined the death to be a homicide. The female was identified as, 18-year-old, Cheri Jo Bates.
In 1967, Riverside Police Department received a handwritten letter in the mail. This letter initially led investigators to believe the murder of Cheri Jo Bates may be associated with the murderer known as the “Zodiac Killer.” The letter and the interpretation of the signature on the letter generated much attention to the investigation and fueled many theories and much speculation regarding the case. In addition, sensitive information was released to the media which added to the curiosity and conjecture.
In April 2016, investigators received an anonymous letter postmarked from San Bernardino, California. This letter was typed and appeared to have been generated from a computer. The author of the anonymous letter admitted to writing the handwritten letters. The author apologized for sending the letters and said it was a sick joke. The author admitted that he was not the Zodiac killer or the killer of Cheri Jo Bates and was just looking for attention.
In 2020, the Homicide Cold Case Unit and the FBI Los Angeles Investigative Genealogy Team, submitted the stamp from the letter for additional DNA analysis and subsequent interviews were conducted. The individual linked to the DNA evidence on the stamp admitted to writing the letter and sending it to Riverside Police Department. The author was a young teenager at the time and had a troubled youth. He said he wrote the letter seeking attention and was remorseful for his actions. (Emphasis SKH)
Investigators confirmed the person was not involved in the murder of Cheri Jo Bates or involved in the murders associated with the “Zodiac Killer.” Additional information was developed regarding a separate set of letters sent to Northern California police agencies. The author claimed to be the “Zodiac Killer,” but the author ultimately admitted to sending the letters to keep the investigation going.
Early in the investigation, a potential suspect was identified in the killing of Cheri Jo Bates. Based on the evidence, this person of interest has remained the primary suspect over the years and continues to be the focus of the investigation. It is believed, acquaintances of the suspect have additional information which could potentially lead to the successful prosecution of the suspect. The FBI Los Angeles Investigative Genealogy Team and various additional law enforcement agencies continue to work the “Zodiac Killer’ murders. Information regarding the “Zodiac Killer” can be emailed to https://tips.fbi.gov
Based on the developments in the case, Riverside Police Department will not be directly involved in the “Zodiac Killer” investigation and will focus its attention on who killed Cheri Jo. Riverside Police Department investigators will continue to cooperate with the handling agencies as needed.
In 2021, Riverside Police Homicide Cold Case Investigators were contacted by a private citizen wishing to offer a $50,000.00 reward for information leading to the arrest and the conviction of the person(s) responsible for the murder of Cheri Jo Bates. The private party has requested to remain anonymous to the public. The reward offer is valid until January 31, 2022.
Anyone with information specifically about the Cheri Jo Bates murder can contact investigators at the following dedicated email: [email protected]
END OF PRESS RELEASE __________________________________________
Anonymous Donor Offers $50,000 Reward For Info Leading To Arrest And Conviction of Cheri Jo Bates Killer
SKH Comments on Riverside PD Press Release:
To summarize in a few bullet points as I understand it, RPD is saying:
In 2016 an anonymous letter writer claimed he was the one who actually mailed in three separate “There Will Be More” letters and signed them “Z”.
RPD conducted further DNA analysis on this 2016 letter and identified the writer and under questioning, he claimed to have written and mailed the 1967 notes. Police described him as a “young troubled teen.” (Unusual to qualify a teen as “young” raises the question, how young was he in 1967? Age 12? Age 13?)
Based on the boy’s singular “confession” claiming he wrote the 55-year-old notes, RPD has decided to no longer investigate their Cheri Jo Bates murder as “Zodiac related” and will pursue their own “prime suspect” in an effort to connect him to the Bates murder. RPD advises anyone with Zodiac-related info should not contact them, but rather, contact the FBI.
SKH Re. Cheri Jo Bates Letters and Linkage to Zodiac:
Personally, I find the 2016 claim (made 54-years after the fact) by a man now in his mid-to-late Sixties that he wrote the three notes as “a troubled young teenager” difficult to believe. Does Riverside PD have any corroboration? Yes, the letter sent five years ago traces back to him through DNA, but that’s it? As presented in my own investigation, there is much evidence that potentially links Zodiac to the Bates murder. I will not here attempt to restate all of it. (I will also be presenting additional linkage of Zodiac to the Bates murder in my upcoming book, “The Early Years: The Further Crimes of Dr. George Hill Hodel.” (Anticipated to publish in 2022.)
Below are the three letters written and mailed back in 1967 addressed to the RPD, the Press-Enterprise newspaper, and the victim’s father at his home address. (Each letter contained over-postage. ) Note each was signed “Z” before Zodiac ever signed his name “Z” in Northern California which first crime was in 1968. Did the “young teen” just make a lucky guess into the future? I think not.
In addition, we have RPD seemingly completely ignoring “The Confession Letter” and the Riverside Library Poem corroborating the linkage to Zodiac. The typed letter cannot be ignored with its references to “The Mikado” and its promise to spread body parts throughout the city. (This, just one month before George Hodel commits his “Jigsaw Murder” in Manila and spreads her body parts throughout the city.)
I will be presenting much more in the near future, but for now, I find it most curious that Riverside PD has publicly acknowledged their belief that “there is no connection of their victim, Cheri Jo Bates to the Zodiac.” And further, “they will be pursuing their own long-standing prime suspect (previously cleared by DNA?) and hope to present a prosecutable case on him in the near future.”
Maybe even in time for their Department to get the $50,000 reward which offer expires in January 2022. (Though I’m not sure, as paid public servants, they would qualify to receive it in this day and age?) On the 1946 Suzanne Degnan Chicago Lipstick Murder, the two Chicago Police officers split the $25,000 reward, which would be equivalent to $350,000 in 2021 dollars.)
In closing, here is a reproduction of the Bates “Confession Letter” and the Riverside Library Desk Poem both of which are not addressed by Riverside PD in their Press Release discontinuing their investigation of a possible Zodiac link to the Bates crime.
Zodiac usage in Bates “Confession Letter” of Mikado terms:
George Hodel notes/letters in crimes promising “There Will Be More”:
Zodiac “Z” letter identical in Bates and Paul Avery letters: