Desk-top Poem Solution? Message Board: Possible Zodiac Victim Cheri Jo Bates: Desk-top Poem Solution?

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) ( - on Saturday, April 14, 2001 - 05:59 pm:

Cheri Jo's mother, Irene, had a history of depression and mental illness. She committed suicide in 1969, and prior to that I believe she had attempted suicide at least once.

New information I have received indicates the night Cheri Jo was killed, a witness saw her in the library sitting at a desk and writing something with a ball point pen.
If the desk-top poem was not the work of Zodiac, perhaps Cheri Jo wrote it about her mother.
Hopefully soon I will have examples of Cheri Jo's handwriting to compare.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) ( - on Saturday, April 14, 2001 - 06:21 pm:

I've got a sample of Cheri's final note to her father, taken from the 10/30/67 Riverside Press.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) ( - on Saturday, April 14, 2001 - 07:13 pm:

As an addendum to the above, I wanted to state that of course a witness might have seen Cheri writing with a ballpoint pen on the night of her murder--after all, she had gone to the library to work on a paper she had due, on the Electoral College, if I'm not mistaken.

Whoever this "witness" might have been, she must not have been present at the re-enactment the police staged about a month after Cheri's murder. Someone correct me if I'm mistaken, but I believe that no one at the time could recall having seen Cheri at the library that night. If this report is true, it's yet one more instance of someone offering information long after the fact that by rights should have been manifest at the time the crime was committed.

By Sylvie (Sylvie14) ( - on Saturday, April 14, 2001 - 07:27 pm:

I reiterate what I said on a previous message-- the poem was, I believe written on the underside of the desk, now if Cheri has been doing what it takes to write under the desk, people would have noticed. Plus, think about it Cheri writes the note then it turns out to look exactly like Zodiac's writing, hmmmmm cosmic connection or what??

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) ( - on Saturday, April 14, 2001 - 08:36 pm:

My report indicates the witness came forward shortly after the murder. He knew Bates, and saw her in the library. His information and memory impressed Sgt. Leroy Gren, who remarked "He seems to have a very good memory."

Additionally, two females who claimed to know Bates and were in the library the night of the murder were interviewed by a Los Angeles television station. They had not yet spoken to police. The girls claimed Cheri Jo had told them she was at the library to see her boyfriend.
RPD then interviewed them, and claimed the girls' statements were merely hearsay.

By Mike (Oklahoma_Mike) ( - on Saturday, April 14, 2001 - 11:53 pm:

Like so much other data in this entire case we have conflicting reports as to whether or not the poem was on the top or bottom of the desk. But if it was on the underside of the desk we may be making too much of how this was done. Several have posed the question, how could someone have the time to do this without notice? Well, at every college I've spent time in it is not unusual for a classroom to be empty during some hours in the day. Whoever inscribed the poem may have simply done it while the classroom was unoccupied.
With most classes running 50-60 minutes he or she would have had plenty of time. Since the desk had been in storage when it was found, it could have previously been in ANY building on campus. I think the evidence is clear, a depressed student, who may or may not have been Zodiac inscribed it.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) ( - on Sunday, April 15, 2001 - 12:30 am:

The desk was discovered in the library by a janitor who was moving it to a storage room.
When photographed, the desk was in an unusual position, but that was probably because it was being stored and not used.

By Mike (Mike) ( - on Sunday, April 15, 2001 - 06:53 am:


From the very clear picture on this site of the desktop, it is now inarguable that whoever wrote the poem apparently (unless it was adulterated at a later date) included the "sun symbol" in the first line. I wonder if Cheri Jo ever used such arcane characters in her own writing, and if so, why. (Of course, this does not mean that Z had to have written the poem, since he used the same symbol in his coded messages. He could simply have seen the poem in the paper and noticed the symbol just as everyone else has.)


By Sharkey (Sharkey) ( - on Tuesday, April 17, 2001 - 11:42 am:

Just a few thoughts on the desk. Does anyone know the size of the desk in question? I am taking it to be one of the small individual types, going only by the picture and do to the size of the writing compared to the table itself. I Do think that wether it was written on top of the desk or underneath it is very important in determining who wrote, when they wrote it, and where. There are a couple of things that might help solve this. First, if the photo of the desk encompasses the full desk I would believe it to be written on top. The reasoning being that you do not see any screws or brackets that would be used for the legs. Even if they removed the legs, in order to take a better photo, there would be screw holes and markings. Second, the finish and wood grain. Desks do not have finish on both sides, they are designed for one side to be up and one side to be down. The glare from the photo would suggest finish, unfinished wood wouldn't have that type of glare, especially at the bottom right. It looks to me like they had a constant source of light, (like the old photo lamps) pointed at the bottom right of the desk and that they didn't use a flash. The fact that they did not use a flash, but a lighting source, and that the lighting was not centered, leads me to believe that it was the finished side of the desk. The wood grain? Well, I don't know. It looks like it belongs more on the underside, but whose to say. I wonder if the library still has those types of desks in use, or if they were all replaced.

By Ed N (Ed_N) ( - on Tuesday, April 17, 2001 - 05:26 pm:

There seems to be little doubt that the poem was written on the underside of the desktop (the photographer was adamant about that, according to Howard). The thing that is in doubt is when and where it was written: while still out on the library floor, or in the music room, or after it was in storage.

By Sharkey (Sharkey) ( - on Friday, April 20, 2001 - 06:06 pm:

I know that Allen has strong ties to Riverside. Does anyone know if he had a library card at Riverside? There is a reason behind why I am asking.

By Jake (Jake) ( - on Saturday, April 21, 2001 - 10:27 am:

Peter H wrote in "Lake Berryessa: Zodiac Crime? Part II":
"I am still looking for direct information on any expert analysis of the Ghia door, Bates letters and poem. I am willing to be convinced by competent experts, including Morril."

I don't know about Morrill, but the FBI Lab found that the examination of the Bates letters and the desktop were "inconclusive" matches against the Zodiac letters.

However, the Lab goes on to say that "consistent hand printing char. were noted in the [Zodiac and Bates] letters which indicate that one person may have prepared all of the letters including the Riverside letters and the message found on the desk top."

This isn't exactly a solid conclusion either way, and I think it still leaves the issue open to debate.

Peter H continued:
"Come to think of it, I haven't seen any direct evidence of his 1978 analysis, so I would also have to say that I can't assume that my information on him in that regard is accurate either."

Morrill's ID of the '78 letter is a matter of record. He stated as much to the Chronicle following the determination by four other experts that the letter was phony.

"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Peter_H (Peter_H) ( - on Saturday, April 21, 2001 - 08:24 pm:

Jake: thanks for the specific ref. It's closer to direct than anything I have read on Morrill's work on the Ghia door, the Bates letters or the poem. Is the Chronicle article quotng Morrill available? For that matter, is any direct record of Morrill's work on any of the Z material -- especially the Ghia Door -- available? What is the most direct record you are aware of?


By Jake (Jake) ( - on Sunday, April 22, 2001 - 06:47 am:

Peter: My mistake -- it was the Examiner, not the Chronicle, and here are some salient passages.

"'The last letter was by the real Zodiac,' Morrill declared. 'There is no question in my mind ... If Toschi wrote the last one, he wrote them all.'" (New puzzles further muddle Zodiac case," SF Examiner, 11 July 1978)

"Sherwood Morrill, Prouty's predecessor and now retired, said he is standing by his report to Toschi that the April 24 letter is genuine. He declined Gain's request to examine the letters again.

"'I wrote the report to Dave Toschi,' Morrill said last night. 'It's down in black and white ... I did not write any letter retracting my original opinion. My report stands." ("Four experts term Zodiac letter fake," SF Examiner, 3 August 1978)

I am, unfortunately, not aware of such direct statements regarding the car door. The best I know of is the BCII report that you don't believe.

"This is the Zodiac Speaking..."

By Peter_H (Peter_H) ( on Monday, April 23, 2001 - 07:55 am:

Jake: Thanks for nailing down the information on Morrill and the Toschi letter. AS to the DOJ report: the problem with the DOJ report is that I haven't seen anything other than the bare assertion of what the investigation supposedly "revealed." Without knowing what the investigation consisted of, its not even relevant. No prosecutor, much less a defense attorney, would allow the bare assertion to be presented as proof with detailed backup. At this point, that backup could consist of anything from a match of the dates on the door to a written analysis by Morril and four other experts, as with the 1978 letter.

By Sharkey (Sharkey) ( - on Monday, April 23, 2001 - 11:54 am:

Whatever happened to the desk? Plus, has anyone check student or alumni records for the initials R.H.?

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) ( - on Monday, April 23, 2001 - 12:06 pm:

The desk is in evidence at RPD.

The President of Riverside City College at the time Bates was killed was RH Bradshaw. I discovered that tidbit, although I'm not aware of the police attempting to locate people with those initials.

By Sharkey (Sharkey) ( - on Monday, April 23, 2001 - 12:07 pm:

Another scenario. I don't know the timeframe or all the facts so please keep that in mind, but here is a thought. Yes the Zodiac wrote the poem. The sun symbol is too much of a coincidence. But it wasn't about Bates at all but another victim? The "she will live this time" and other factors of the letter make me believe it wasn't about Bates. Plus, Zodiac, obviously knew Bates name and wasn't afraid to reference his victims in his letters. My opinion is that Zodiac had close ties to Riverside and used the library a lot. I believe that Zodiac wrote this poem but it was long before he developed the Zodiac identity and might have written it about something morbid he read in the newspaper, like a failed suicide attempt. Or, maybe Zodiac knew Bates personally and knew of her mothers problems and suicide attempts? It would be interesting to find out how Bates mom attempt and finally committed suicide. If it was by slashing, I think it would be wise to consider that the Zodiac knew Cheri on a personal level and knew of her mothers problems.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) ( - on Monday, April 23, 2001 - 12:17 pm:

Sharkey, all of the facts are on this site. (At least, the facts that have been made public...and a number that haven't.)
Why don't you familiarize yourself with them before you post?

By Sandy (Sandy) ( - on Monday, April 23, 2001 - 09:26 pm:

My thought is that the killer had been watching her. The poem was about her, but he wanted to watch her for a longer time. He knew he wasn't going to kill her on the day he wrote the note. Everything he did had to be at a specific time, in his demented mind everything had to fit in his time frame. I believe he used a gun to get her to be with him for as long as she did. She didn't know he couldn't use the gun, it would of been too loud. When he covered her mouth with his hand, she must of scratched his face . That made him go into a rage ( don't forget his ego). I don't think he had a plan to rape her, or he would have.

By Bill Bratton (Willy) ( on Friday, May 18, 2001 - 12:42 am:

The desk surface writer states that 1) the subject wore a dress...not a skirt/blouse...or pants, 2) that the "dress" was red, and 3) that it was "new". Does anyone know if this is truly consistent with the actual murder?

Graysmith states that Cheri wore " faded (not new-this is my addition) red capri pants and a long-sleeved pale yellow blouse with a ribbon tie at the throat".

By Howard Davis (Howard) ( - on Friday, May 18, 2001 - 01:39 am:

Bill:All of these points have been discussed. Please check Archives for a ton and 1/2 of posts!

The killer could simply have seen Cheri wearing
a red dress(in the death photos she is wearing pants and a blouse) on a certain day and fantasied(see his remarks in the Confession letter on 'staying awake nights thinking about his next victim')about cutting her (with a knife)etc.,as the poem or ode so vividly describes.Since Cheri was 'blond'(she did dye her brown hair though)she probably did have a red dress as this color sets off that hair color.

The girl in the poem is NOT the one doing the cutting ,as the blood spills "all over HER new red dress...Just wait till next time" is a threat and when ,I believe ,he is too make good on his terrible proleptic statements.

By Bill Bratton (Willy) ( on Friday, May 18, 2001 - 05:05 pm:

Ok. I can see this now as a fantasy prior to the act itself. This does make more sense to me on further readings of the text.

By Howard Davis (Howard) ( - on Saturday, May 19, 2001 - 12:41 am:

Bill:your analysis of the lighting and the inscribed desk was masterful!