|The murder of Cheri Jo Bates
37 years of questions, suspects and DNA -- but no answers. Yet.
Oct. 30, 2003
By Tom Voigt
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Cheri Jo Bates was someone her Riverside, Calif. community cared about. A young, pretty college student, Cheri was everybody's girl next door. When she was murdered on Oct. 30, 1966, those touched by her tragedy hoped her killer would quickly be caught. The Riverside Police Dept. (RPD) had never failed to solve a homicide. Surely the hunt would end swiftly and people would be allowed to try and forget what had happened to Cheri Jo Bates.
Unfortunately, things didn't turn out as hoped.
Today marks the 37th anniversary of Cheri's death. Exactly who killed her remains a mystery. However, DNA was recovered from the aftermath of her deadly struggle and police believe it most likely belongs to the man they seek. In attempting to defend herself, Cheri apparently pulled out some of her killer's hair. Her actions were the product of desperation as she struggled to survive. Thanks to science, that desperate act might one day lead police to her killer.
Some believe Cheri was the victim of California's elusive Zodiac killer, who eventually claimed 37 victims and even implied he had killed Cheri. Others, including the RPD, believe Cheri was killed by someone she knew well and even dated, a fellow student from Riverside City College (RCC) referred to on this website as "Bob Barnett." All would agree the best way to identify Cheri's killer is to find a suspect who is a genetic match to the DNA that was found in her hand.
In December 1998, the RPD learned that Barnett was returning to the Riverside area for Christmas after living abroad for two decades. Since the new-found DNA might be the break necessary to finally close the case forever, a search warrant was obtained and Barnett was confronted upon his arrival at Ontario Airport. Skin, saliva, hair and other samples were taken and immediately sent to the FBI's laboratory in Quantico, Va. for analysis. Last year it was learned Barnett's DNA did not match what was recovered from Cheri's hand.
This month I was able to contact Barnett, who is again living overseas. I asked for his
comments on the entire matter. While leery about saying anything that could potentially
cause more of what he perceives to be negative attention from law enforcement, Barnett
made these corrections to the information published at this website (see link above):
What About Zodiac?
Recently I spoke with RPD detective Steve Shumway, currently in charge of the
investigation into Cheri's death. Now a seasoned homicide detective, at the time of
Cheri's murder Shumway was in elementary school.
Back to Cheri Jo Bates
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