Cheri Josephine Bates - Possible Zodiac Victim?


Cheri Jo Bates, a popular 18-year-old girl with blue eyes and blonde colored hair, had been a cheerleader at Ramona High School in Riverside, California. In 1966 she had just graduated and began attending Riverside City College (RCC). With aspirations of being a flight attendant, she was working part time as a clerk typist at RCC and also as a teller at Riverside National Bank.

On October 30th there was a full harvest moon in the astrological sign of Taurus. Taurus "rules" the throat. (When Nikki Benedict was killed on May 1, 1967 the Sun was in Taurus.) In the evening, Cheri decided to go to the RCC library annex to do some studying and check out some books. At one point on her way there she was observed being followed very closely by a 1965-66 Oldsmobile. (Quite possibly this could have been the killer stalking Cheri. Later he could have easily changed cars.) The situation in the library that night was uneventful, but one thing that happened would eventually become very important to the investigation. A brown haired man with a beard, estimated to be around 25 years of age, was seen talking to a young blonde haired woman. While Cheri was in the library a man sabotaged her car by disabling the distributor. He then went back into the library and possibly went to the rest room first to wash the grease off of his hands.

At 9:00 P.M. the library closed. It is unknown how much time went by before Cheri arrived at her VW. As she was trying to start her car this man approached offering to help. As greasy palm and fingerprints showed, he made an attempt to "fix" the car for her. (Kathleen Johns' abductor offered to help her, too.) This could have taken any amount of time but at some point he finally "gave up" and offered to give her a ride. She accepted (again like Johns) and while they were walking in a nearby alley he told her it was "about time." She quizzically asked, "About time for what?" He retorted it "was about time for [you] to die."

He began choking her and there was a great struggle. For how long? We don't know. He then used a small knife to inflict numerous wounds (See her autopsy report below.) and finally cut her throat. A blood curdling scream was heard around 10:30 P.M. and a short time later the sounds of an "old car" starting up were heard. An old Studebaker was seen parked on Riverside Dr. that night. Footprints left at the scene revealed that the killer wore military dress shoes. (Part of his deceptive demeanor.) The killer's paint flecked military Timex watch (the band had a seven inch circumference) was found about ten feet from Cheri's body. Investigation showed that this watch was purchased in a military exchange store (PX) in the United Kingdom. Some hairs were found in her hand. The DNA was tested against that of the Riverside Police Department's (RPD) "local boy" prime suspect.

The RPD has stated that Cheri Jo Bates was stabbed some 42 times thereby  indicating that their "local boy" suspect was the perpetrator. That number of stab wounds would clearly show it as being personal revenge. However, recent (information as of September 1999) FBI DNA tests showed that he was not the right man.  (See  Also, many serial killer victims have been stabbed numerous times and subsequent investigation has shown that the killer did not know the victim.

By the time of day that Cheri Jo Bates was attacked, it was already the ancient Celtic Fire Festival (or the Celtic New Year) in that part of the world. This is called "Samhein" (pronounced "sow-in"; rhymes with "cow") or "The Feast of the Dead." Some scholars believe that human sacrifices were offered up on this festival day. (The 1967 letters said, "BATES HAD TO DIE....") "Samhein" was also the final harvest of the year. It was the Irish descendents of the Celts that brought us Hallowtide or Halloween.

There seems to be a continual connection between water, or it's symbol, and the Zodiac attacks. In this instance the city was Riverside. The old car (no doubt the killer's) was parked on Riverside Dr. The "meeting of sea (or water) and shore was of great importance" to the Celts / Druids. Zodiac seems to have been influenced by their teachings.


To view the External Examination portion of the Cheri Jo Bates autopsy go to the

  Autopsy Files 



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The Water Connection


Water held a very important place in the symbolic teachings of Celtic / Druid lore. Charles Manson studied these subjects and in at least one taped interview affirmed Druidism. Manson instructed the Family that, whenever possible, they were to conduct their "activities" near water or it's symbolic representation. As Manson went so went Bruce Davis - both believed alike.

Cheri Jo Bates was killed at
Riverside City College in Riverside, California. The killer's car was parked on Riverside Drive. In a typed letter the killer indicated that Bates was not the first.

Go back to 1963 and a couple was killed in Santa Barbara near
water. This case is unsolved. In 1964 the unsolved Seaside Honeymoon Murders in San Diego were committed right next to the ocean. In Zodiac's 1968 attack, the couple was murdered on Lake Herman Road, very near the lake itself. In 1969 Zodiac attacked a couple at Blue Rock Springs. He may have left the area using Lake Herman Rd. The killer made his phone call from the intersection of Tuolumne and Springs Road. In September of that year he attacked another couple at Lake Berryessa and made a phone call from near the Napa Car Wash. Came October and Zodiac murdered a cab driver in San Francisco on Washington St. very near to a fire hydrant. At least one suspected Zodiac killing took place in Lake County. Donna Lass (a possible Zodiac victim) was murdered near Lake Tahoe.

On at least one occasion the killer appeared in
Navy-like clothing. Zodiac was also interested in astrology and when the attack dates and times are astrologically charted the three water signs and their associated planets figure prominently.