Nov. 2, 2006 – RCC reaches a grim anniversary

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By Anthony Whitacre

By Anthony Whitacre

October 30 marks a dark anniversary in the history of Riverside City College, an unsolved murder of a student near campus.

The victim, Cheri Jo Bates, was found dead lying face down, fully clothed on Terracina Drive outside of RCC at 6:30 a.m. on Oct. 30, 1966.

The murder, which has seen national attention over the years due to its connection to the Zodiac Killer, a man who was reported to be responsible for eight murders in the late ’60s.

A few years after Bates’ murder, a letter had been sent to the local police department from the Zodiac Killer taking credit for the homicide.

“Keep your sisters, daughters, and wives off the streets and alleys. Miss Bates was stupid. She went to the slaughter like a lamb. She did not put up a struggle…” the letter read.

Bates was coming out of the library on her way to her car until she came face to face with her killer.

This coming Halloween will be the 40th anniversary of the unsolved murder of Bates and the mystery of her true killer.

The only evidence left at the crime scene was a smudged unidentifiable finger print, handprints and a wristwatch belonging to the killer.

Bates was also found with traces of a struggle and multiple stab wounds that had left her incapacitated. Her body was found abandoned in a driveway; her throat slashed three times, one piercing her jugular and voice box, in the RCC library annex.

18-year-old Bates had been found by groundskeeper Cleophus Martin who was operating a sweeping machine in the early morning around 6:30 a.m.

Retired Riverside police officer Granville “Bud” Kelley had investigated homicides during that time and had worked on the Bates case for over a span of 10-15 years off and on.

“It was overkill,” Kelley said.

In fact, there is evidence that the police know who the real killer is but they are unable to apprehend him.

“We know who did it and why he did it. The Zodiac claimed to kill her but he never did,” said Kelley.

According to Kelley, the killer was actually a former boyfriend of Bates who was dumped because she had vowed to be engaged. When she told him that it was time to call it quits, he freaked out, and that was when, police believe, he followed her and killed her.

The police, however, do not have enough evidence to charge the former boyfriend with the crime.

The Zodiac Killer was known for calling the police or newspapers right after he killed someone and gloat about his latest kill.

San Francisco reporter Paul Avery came down to investigate the murder and when he went back to San Francisco he claimed it was the Zodiac Killer who killed Bates.

Therefore, with no connection to the Zodiac Killer besides a letter, Cheri Jo Bates’ murder goes unsolved but not forgotten by the police department who someday would like to bring Bates killer to justice.

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