Mischief Night

Zodiackiller.com Message Board: Possible Zodiac Victim Cheri Jo Bates: Mischief Night

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (cache-ntc-af07.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, October 29, 2002 - 10:30 am:

A lot has been made of the fact that Cheri Jo Bates was murdered on the night before Halloween in 1966. It has therefore been natural to ponder whether or not Cheri Jo's killer was into the occult, or if Halloween had any significance whatsoever as to why or when she was murdered.

However, I'm wondering, isn't October 30th traditionally known as "Mischief Night" in certain parts of the United States? As I can't seem to find a legitimate source that adequately explains the history and definition of Mischief Night, I'm beginning to think that such a thing doesn't even exist. Nevertheless, I could swear that Mischief Night was traditionally an evening when kids were allowed to play tricks on adults; when things like toilet-papering the neighbors lawn, leaving doggy-doo on their porch, or egging their car, was more or less tolerated for that one evening.

If my memory serves me correctly, it is virtually extinct now because it grew to outrageous proportions in places like Detroit and The Bronx where buildings were being set on fire and other forms of MAJOR vandalism began taking place. I think police in certain cities continue to gear up for this particular night so as to be ready to combat, if necessary, the mobs of people that often gather together to wreak havoc in public places.

Anyway, can anybody confirm or deny the existence of such a night? Was it the night before Halloween, or Halloween itself? Perhaps Mischief Night is another name for Halloween, I'm not sure.

Also, not that this necessarily has anything to do with Mischief Night, but according to the Celtic calendar, didn't the days run from sundown to sundown? If so, wouldn't this make the night of October 30th, at least from the pagan perspective, the beginning of Samhain, the pagan sabbat from which Halloween is derived?

Anyway, I'm pretty sure that Samhain has been discussed before, but I'm certain that Mischief Night has not. Can anybody tell me anything about the existence of Mischief Night? And, if so, does this figure into the events surrounding Cheri Jo Bates' murder? Certainly, having ones distributor cap pulled off is the kind of crap that someone might be forced to suffer on Mischief Night. [Mischief Night might also be referred to as "Devil's Night" or "Prank Night."]

By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p51-122.as1.clm.clonmel.eircom.net - on Tuesday, October 29, 2002 - 11:11 am:

Mischief night and Halloween are one in the same.
However in some areas (as you state) it did become Oct 30th.To make a long story short, two or three different festivals/celebrations became entwined over the years leading to some confusion.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (cache-ntc-af07.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, October 29, 2002 - 12:01 pm:

If they are the same, then what's up with the Mischief Night tag, why not just say, "Halloween" instead? Does it have to do with the evolution of Celtic Samhain to modern Halloween, tucked somewhere between Samhain and All Hallow Even, perhaps? I'd heard its origins were from colonial America but, again, I haven't been able to find any reliable information.

By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p51-38.as1.clm.clonmel.eircom.net - on Tuesday, October 29, 2002 - 02:37 pm:

The "Mischief night" tag is just that.It was originally the term used for the "Trick or Treat"
activities that occur on Halloween night.
Hence Halloween was All hallows eve; Mischief night referred to the activities of young people doing what they do on that night.

By Alan Cabal (Alan_Cabal) (220.sanfrancisco-12rh15rt-ca.dial-access.att.net - on Tuesday, October 29, 2002 - 03:50 pm:

When I was a child in Camden, NJ, growing up (inasmuch as I did) in the 50s and 60s, Mischief Night was October 30. We kids would go out and perform minor acts of vandalism as cited.

These days, I wouldn't let my kid out of the house on Halloween, if I had a kid. I miss the 50s more each day. The 21st century is only 22 months old and I hate it already. Computers, feh. I'm going off the grid, as soon as I can manage it. Churn out some fiction and vanish.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (cache-ntc-af07.proxy.aol.com - on Tuesday, October 29, 2002 - 05:34 pm:

So far: 2 people and 2 different conclusions. Anybody else have an opinion on this?

From what I can tell, Mischief Night has essentially faded into the woodwork for reasons already mentioned. As Alan stated, it was probably more popular in the 50s and 60s than it would be now; therefore, it may help if I appeal to the . . . how shall I say? . . . wiser members of the board.

Peter, Bill, Howard, Sandy, et al, what can you folks tell me about Mischief Night? Have you heard of it? If so, what are your recollections? Was it on Halloween or not?

Would Cheri Jo have necessarily thought that having her distributor cap/coil wire yanked was a sign that something was amiss? Isn't it possible, if in fact Mischief Night was common in mid-60s Riverside, that she'd chalked-up her situation as the result of vandals playing mischievous pranks? Did RPD ever consider this as a possibility? Could it be that CJB didn't meet her attacker until after she was in the alley walking along the backs of the houses?

By Muskogee (Muskogee) (216-19-219-89.getnet.net - on Tuesday, October 29, 2002 - 05:47 pm:

Scott, you bring up a very good point about the possibility of the distributor cap having nothing to do with the murder. I think they are probably tied together, but it's certainly something we should look at more closely.

For the record, my entire childhood Mischief Night was October 30th. As a very small child I lived in North Carolina in the 70's-80's. As an older child and a teenager (80's-early 90's) I lived in Wilmington, Delaware. It was not as big there, but there were always at least a few kids who pulled pranks.

By William Baker (Bill_Baker) (lsanca1-ar16-4-47-005-056.lsanca1.elnk.dsl.genuity.net - on Tuesday, October 29, 2002 - 06:15 pm:

Scott, unless Cheri Jo was an exceptional young woman, I doubt that she would have recognized her car trouble as being from a pulled distributor/coil wire. If she had, she might have had the comparable expertise to correct it, given sufficient lighting. As for the other possibility, that the pulled wire could have been the act of vandals, and not her assailant, I think the admissions contained in the perp's letter(s) seem to indicate that he knew what was wrong with her car, which is less likely if he had not done it himself.

By William Baker (Bill_Baker) (lsanca1-ar16-4-47-005-056.lsanca1.elnk.dsl.genuity.net - on Tuesday, October 29, 2002 - 06:17 pm:

And no, I wasn't familiar with Mischief Night, although, from a cop's point of view, I regarded Halloween as just that.

By Rachel Orsini (Rachel_Orsini) (pcp01962306pcs.glst3401.nj.comcast.net - on Wednesday, October 30, 2002 - 03:00 pm:

Hi Scott~
I was born on Oct. 30th and for my entire life everyone has always referred to it as Mischief Night.This day was also when the shaving cream, toilet paper and eggs were thrown around my neighboorhood.Maybe it was the same as Halloween but people started to go 'mischiefing' the night before.Everywhere that I have lived also had a curfew for the 30th...

By J Eric (J_Eric) (dsl081-238-156.lax1.dsl.speakeasy.net - on Wednesday, October 30, 2002 - 03:37 pm:

I once heard of October 30th as being "Beggar's Night." Kids came to the door asking for candy--hoping perhaps for the better-grade stuff!--the night before real Halloween. I believe this was in Florida, maybe just after I moved to N.Y. (being, 1965). I only knew of it happening one year. The lame explanation, again to the best of memory, was that the little rascals were too poor to buy or make a real costume for 10/31.

By Jeff (Jeff) (cache-dr05.proxy.aol.com - on Thursday, October 31, 2002 - 06:47 am:

My mom, who is in her early sixties, said that the night before Halloween, in our lttle town in Virginia, all of the businesses downtown closed early and allowed the soaping of windows, toilet papering, etc. without any repercussions and that it was referred to as Mischief Night.

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-154-18-109.bos.east.verizon.net - on Thursday, October 31, 2002 - 09:15 am:


You from the East? Mischief Night was a well-established, if not widely observed, event in southern Connecticut in the 60's

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) (cache-ntc-af07.proxy.aol.com - on Thursday, October 31, 2002 - 10:48 am:

Damn, Peter! If that is the case, why haven't you given me a more detailed post on the subject? What are its origins? 30th or 31st? Pagan? Colonial? What?

Thanks for the input, folks, please keep it coming. Happy belated, Rachel!

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-154-18-109.bos.east.verizon.net - on Thursday, October 31, 2002 - 12:10 pm:

30th. Day before Halloween.
I think its origins are purely adolescent.

By Lapumo (Lapumo) (p51-93.as1.clm.clonmel.eircom.net - on Thursday, October 31, 2002 - 01:30 pm:

" Halloween,holiday observed on the Evening of October 31st in most areas of North America and in some areas of western Europe.The Holiday is symbolically associated with death and the supernatural.Halloween falls on the eve of All Saint's Day,also known as Allhollows or Hallowmas,a holy day in the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches. Originally a Pagan festival of the dead,All Saints Day was established by the Catholic Church in the 10th century,is also closely linked to Halloween. All souls Day on Nov.2,id observed to help purify the spirits of the dead.
The holiday which influenced later halloween customs was Samhain.A holiday observed by the ancient Celts,a tribal people who inhabited most of Western and central Europe in the first millennium BC.Among the celts,Samhain marked the end of one year and the beginning of the next.
Samhain began at sundown on October 31 and extended into the following day.In the seventh centuary AD, the church moved its All saint's day,a holiday for honouring early Christian martyrs, from a day in May to November 1, thus associating it with the old Druid death rituals of October 31.
Celebration of halloween came to America with the early Irish and Scottish immigrants.By then though
it had already started to lose its mysterious overtones and was becoming merely a harvest celebration;a night of bobbing for apples,eating popcorn and telling ghost stories.It was already changing into a holiday for children.
The custom of trick or treating was first initiated by the Irish on Halloween night.It originated with Irish pesants begging for food from the rich.Practical jokes were played on those who did not donate food.Hence the term Mischief or Mischief night/Halloween night which was the original name before Trick or treating.
Beginning in the 1930's, Halloween mischief gradually transformed into the modern ritual of trick or treating.In SOME areas,October 30( one day before halloween)became Mischief night, and vandalism often reached dangerous levels.In Detroit,Michigan, Mischief night became Devil's night provided the occasion for waves of arson that sometimes destroyed whole city blocks during the 1970s and 1980s"

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) (79.philadelphia01rh.16.pa.dial-access.att.net - on Thursday, October 31, 2002 - 04:02 pm:

The anthropologist James Fraser did an extensive study of the origins of primitive superstition titled "The Golden Bough," published around 1900. According to Fraser, Halloween originated with ritual beliefs centered around the fall harvest. It was supposed that the vivifying spirit of the harvested grain, driven from its home, wandered aimlessly about in search of a new host. In order to appease it, gifts were proffered in the form of cakes prepared from the newly-harvested grain. As civilization progressed, the ritual became formalized, although its exact significance was forgotten. Fraser offered numerous examples of similar rituals in cultures that were widely separated geographically.

By Rachel Orsini (Rachel_Orsini) (pcp01962306pcs.glst3401.nj.comcast.net - on Friday, November 01, 2002 - 02:03 pm:

Hi Peter~
Born and raised in New Jersey.Neighborhoods around here were hit Wed night.

By Rachel Orsini (Rachel_Orsini) (pcp01962306pcs.glst3401.nj.comcast.net - on Friday, November 01, 2002 - 07:14 pm:

Thanks for the B-Day wishes, Scott...

By Howard Davis (Howard) (dsl-gte-19167.linkline.com - on Saturday, November 02, 2002 - 01:11 am:

There is a lot of info on the history of Halloween as found on the Google search engine.It certainly had occultic/Celtic origins.See past posts on Bates.
Scott,there were two sets of continuous parallel foot prints going from Cheris car to and in the alley,so she did not meet her killer in the alley.
In the Confession it says he"... followed her out after about two minutes[note detail like in Zs letters].The battery must have been about dead by then.I then offered to help."
If we take this letter at face value the killer pulled the middle wire from the distributor and waited for the battery to fail while in the library as Bates kept trying to start her car.
Her boy friend Dennis Highland told us that Cheri took great care of her car as she worked hard (she worked two jobs)to pay for it,so she must have been surprised when it failed.
Whether she thought it was a prank or not is a matter of conjecture.All she knew was that someone was available and willing to give her a "lift" home.
Like with Kathleen Johns' abductor,he must have been 'friendly'with a 'nice smile' and appeared to be eager to assist her.She no doubt, saw him in the library earlier and may have had some degree of contact with him(it says "She was THEN very WILLING to TALK with me"-this seems to indicate he attempted to talk to her in the past,but without success-the "brush offs"pl., are later mentioned) in the past and felt fairly safe to take the ride.She was deeply fearful of the dark according to her best friend and even had nightmares about the dark!So it face the dark alone or go get help and a ride.
With his shiney military dress shoes on he may have told her he worked at nearby March AFB as an MP or some such story to gain her confidence.
Those footprints show no forced or distrubed indications, as she walked with the Good Samaritan.No,she was no more fearful than some of Ted Bundys victims were!

By Peter H (Peter_H) (pool-141-154-17-121.bos.east.verizon.net - on Saturday, November 02, 2002 - 08:31 am:


"Born and raised in New Jersey.Neighborhoods around here were hit Wed night"

there ya go.

By Warren (Warren) (w205.z064002105.hou-tx.dsl.cnc.net - on Saturday, November 02, 2002 - 09:22 am:

As a kid,I looked forward to Halloween for the candy, although some neighbors gave fried chicken wrapped in foil! (This in the 60's) Pity their houses, friends. Now I look forward to Halloween for the eye candy in the bars. My, the costumes are getting daring. Remember Cheri Jo. Someday that perp will be brought to justice.

By Kendra (Kendra) (pluto.cds1.net - on Friday, November 15, 2002 - 08:52 pm:

Murder in Greenwich is on the USA network tonight, and already, about 45 minutes into the movie, "mischief night" has mentioned several times (referimg to Oct. 30th). I guess mischief night is more widely acknowledged than I had suspected.