Desk-Top Poem Scale Message Board: Possible Zodiac Victim Cheri Jo Bates: Desk-Top Poem Scale

By Tom Voigt (Admin) ( - on Wednesday, March 19, 2003 - 10:49 pm:

Here's the poem with scale.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) ( - on Thursday, March 20, 2003 - 04:18 pm:

I don't think I'd ever realized that the penmanship of the text was so small. It seems very different from Z's known missives. Also, it doesn't appear as though Cheri Jo Bates was wearing a 'red dress'? Does this fact seem to discredit the author of the poem?

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) ( - on Thursday, March 20, 2003 - 04:45 pm:

My bet is an attempt was made to conceal the writing, probably due to other students about the library. That certainly could cause a person to shrink their handwriting a bit.

Regarding the "red dress" line, maybe it was simply a case of creative license. You know how writers are...

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) ( - on Thursday, March 20, 2003 - 06:13 pm:

Sure, maybe it was creative license, or maybe it wasn't written by her killer. We know what Morrill's opinion is of the poem, but I simply don't accept it as being 100% factual. Is there an inventory of what CJB was wearing that night that also notes the color and type of fabric of her clothing?

By Muskogee (Muskogee) ( - on Thursday, March 20, 2003 - 06:35 pm:

This really looks like it's about suicide to me. I agree with Scott that I just don't think it's Zodiac's work. I think it is just coincidental. I used to find all kinds of weird, morbid things written in my undergrad library on the desks.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) ( - on Thursday, March 20, 2003 - 10:50 pm:

Scott, I just checked the early newspaper articles and couldn't find any mention of what Cheri Jo was wearing that night. However, I'm sure those details were eventually published.

If only we knew the date the poem was created...

By Lapumo (Lapumo) ( - on Friday, March 21, 2003 - 03:43 am:

Perhaps the author was referring to the blood
(as red) as opposed to the clothing! Depends how you read it.

By Bookworm (Bookworm) ( - on Friday, March 21, 2003 - 07:53 am:

I still think that the red dress is in reference to Cherubim, who according to Webster's dictionary wore red. Below is a link to a painting by Masaccio depicting the eviction of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.

Notice the Cherubim is wearing red. Adam's hair appears red, at least a tint (rh-red hair?). Notice the arched doorway behind Adam. Didn't the library have arched architecture? Finally the leaves in Cheri's hair, the fig leaves in the painting had been painted in after the picture was finished, then later removed.

The dirt around Cheri looked "tilled." Painting and quote can be found with a search for artist "Masaccio." The restored painting seems too explicit to post. "And the LORD GOD sent him from the garden of Eden to till the soil from which he had been taken. And He drove out the human and set up east of the garden of Eden the cherubim and the flame of the whirling sword to guard the way to the tree of life."

By Ed N. (Ed_N) ( - on Friday, March 21, 2003 - 06:57 pm:

Bookworm: the library didn't have any arches that I know of (it certainly doesn't today anyway).

Scott: I was quite surprised to find the writing so small. Graphologically, such writing tends to indicate someone who pays attention to detail, which is something characteristic of Z.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) ( - on Saturday, March 22, 2003 - 01:10 am:

"...all over her red dress. Oh well, it was red anyway."

Don't see where the confusion is there, Lapumo. The author is obviously making reference to a "red dress." CJB wasn't wearing a dress, and the color of her clothing hasn't been [re]established yet.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) ( - on Saturday, March 22, 2003 - 01:13 am:

Oops! It reads, "...all over her new dress" not, "red dress."

If the author of the poem was CJB's killer, why did he mention a dress, and how would he have known it was new?

By Lapumo (Lapumo) ( - on Saturday, March 22, 2003 - 06:23 am:

Of course the crucial thing here is when this poem was actually written.The indication is that it was written before the murder,but how long beforehand?(That's assuming that this poem and the murder were linked in the first place) You appear to assume that this was written the night of the murder.However this could have been written a little earlier by someone fantasizing about a future event.I wonder if Cheri had bought or was planning to buy a new dress for some upcoming event?
I can't make up my mind on this one.There are obvious problems with this poem.However,Morrill did validate it and I personally,am inclined to accept that.The writing looks close enough for me not to dismiss it.I think any differences can be put down to the writing surface,including print size.This would almost had to have been etched into the surface.

By Bookworm (Bookworm) ( - on Saturday, March 22, 2003 - 07:59 am:

Look at the pictures of the Library Annex on Cheri's victim link.

The Riverside Police letterhead (logo) has something with wings but I can't make out what it is.

Also, if you look at Masaccio's "The Trinity," the waffle of the vault and the grooved side columns look like the heel print of the shoe print found at the crime scene. The circular imprint on the heel is just about the same spot as the head of the Father in the same painting.

If you look really close at the "Oh" in "Oh well," the O isn't completely closed and looks more like a C or "Ch" the beginning of Cheri's name.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) ( - on Saturday, March 22, 2003 - 10:04 pm:

Bookworm, the poem features many examples of a letter not appearing "completely closed." Have you ever tried to draw on a desk? The ink doesn't like to have to force it.

By Warren (Warren) ( - on Monday, March 24, 2003 - 07:59 am:

I would be more apt to dismiss it but for the weird sun sign. Of course, that dot could have been coincidental as there appear to be others. Sherwood would have known one way or the other.

By Bookworm (Bookworm) ( - on Monday, March 24, 2003 - 08:23 am:

If you take the first letter of the title "S" and the "Un of the second line (after slash) "Unwilling" it spells sun.

Yes, whoever scratched the poem on the desk probably didn't have the time to be much of a perfectionist.

Let me run this by you. The first line (title) of the poem has a slash, which normally separates lines of a poem put in one line. The lines should be one over the other. Could the slash represent the lean-to that the Santa Barbara couple was put in after their death?

The couple was put on top of one another. Robert Domingos was face down as if in despair "Sick of living," and Linda Edwards was face up on top of him "Unwilling to die," like two lines of a poem. There had to be a reason their killer staged the scene. It seems staged anyway.

In Masaccio's "Trinity," the bones of Adam are face up; Cheri was face down, the reverse of the Santa Barbara murders. I'm assuming Cheri's murderer may have known about the Masaccio painting.

Below is the translation of the inscription above Adam's bones. If you put a slash rather than the "AND" it is similar in form to the first line (title) of the desktop poem.
Compare: "Sick of living / Unwilling to die"

The writer of the poem had to have enough education to know how to use a slash.

By Bookworm (Bookworm) ( - on Monday, March 24, 2003 - 08:41 pm:

The writer of the desktop poem may have read Kierkegaard's "Either/Or." In his second edition is a chapter called "Sickness Unto Death," where despair is the topic, and the analogy of living in a basement is used. The idea for the poem title?

"Provocations" a collection of Kierkegaard writings has the chapters. It's a free e-book that can be downloaded from

In the Allyn & Bacon Handbook on p.499, it says that besides separating lines of poetry, the slash is used "to show choice," like "and/or" or "either/or."

Just found this and downloaded the Keirkegaard book. Read some. It's deep, and a little over my head.

By Howard Davis (Howard) ( - on Monday, March 24, 2003 - 09:21 pm:

There is a great deal that has already been explored concerning the desk(not top)poem in the aged Archives.

By Ed N. (Ed_N) ( - on Monday, March 24, 2003 - 10:14 pm:

Bookworm: I always get a kick out of what you write, but do you actually believe that Z was some sort of highly-educated evil genius that designed every part of his crimes using his knowledge of obscure literary and artworks, as well as historical events?

By Nick (Nick) ( on Tuesday, March 25, 2003 - 01:37 am:

The Zodiac's style and penmanship were atrocious. I find it hard to believe he was a highly educated man. He was exposed to certain obvious cultural influences. A genious I doubt.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) ( - on Tuesday, March 25, 2003 - 02:38 am:

Not all geniouses spell so good!

By Peter H (Peter_H) ( - on Tuesday, March 25, 2003 - 11:48 am:

This adds something to the mix, but it would be more meaningful if we had certain fundamental information that is still missing: what exactly was the configiration of the desk, and where exactly was the poem on the desk? In all the discussion of the poem, I don't believe I have ever seen this. there have been several versions of where the poem was found, but without a diagram of the desk at least, none of these is very helpful.

Anyone know?

By Howard Davis (Howard) ( - on Tuesday, March 25, 2003 - 04:54 pm:

All anti detection books in the 60's(and now)affirm that one should alter his/her writing style (Peter H may have found that Z used a pentagraph-see Archive)and misspell certain words they normally wouldn't misspell, so as to avoid detection, so that, if or when there were a comparison, there would,hopefully, be a non match.
Some writers take the position that one should always 'appear' ignorant of grammar and other accepted writing norms.
Others relate that a mix of both-like the inconsistant misspelling of words,etc.-is the best method of avoiding detection to avoid a match with their true writings.This would be a kind of keep them guessing approach.This may have been what Z chose to do in his writings,but I guess it doesn't seemed to have worked,LOL!
We are all still speculating!

By Bookworm (Bookworm) ( - on Tuesday, March 25, 2003 - 05:30 pm:

I don't know if Z was a genius, but he had enough smarts not to get caught. I do think he was educated.

By Mike (Oklahoma_Mike) ( on Tuesday, March 25, 2003 - 09:29 pm:

Previously, I posted in detail my reasons for believing the poem was written by a depressed individual fantasizing about suicide or describing a failed suicide attempt. Time sure passes, it will be 2 years next month for that post! I will stand on my analysis until new information shows otherwise.
Please note I make no claims to handwriting identification, and have no opinion as to who wrote the poem. But whoever the author, I think the poem clearly had nothing to do with Miss Bate's murder and has been another of many red herrings throughout this case.

By Nick (Nick) ( on Wednesday, March 26, 2003 - 01:03 am:

I tested normal-to-dull on the standard IQ test. You sir, are an obvious GENIUS.

By Sandy (Sandy) ( - on Wednesday, March 26, 2003 - 12:55 pm:

I would like to know if it is true that is was the underside of the desk,not the top? Pam, if you are reading this post,you will understand why this is so important!!

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) ( - on Wednesday, March 26, 2003 - 01:05 pm:

According to Insp. Toschi, who saw it in person in 1967, the poem was scrawled into the top of the desk.

By Peter H (Peter_H) ( - on Wednesday, March 26, 2003 - 01:10 pm:

Why in the world would Toschi have seen it in 1967?

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) ( - on Wednesday, March 26, 2003 - 01:14 pm:

Oops...Toschi saw it in late 1970, soon after the "Avery Discovery" was made. Anyway, a couple of years ago I made it a point to get an answer from him on this issue.

By Peter H (Peter_H) ( - on Wednesday, March 26, 2003 - 01:17 pm:

THe top surface of the top piece? In plain view? Hmmmm. Wonder why it wasn't discovered sooner.

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) ( - on Wednesday, March 26, 2003 - 01:23 pm:

The poem was tiny and not particularly impressive. I'm sure it was noticed but quickly forgotten, at least until the right person saw it.

These days, kids aren't keen on approaching authority figures at the sign of potential trouble...and I bet the 60s weren't much different.

By Bookworm (Bookworm) ( - on Thursday, March 27, 2003 - 08:01 am:

Scratching an entire poem on the desk seems unusual to me. From what I've seen, graffiti is only a word or two. A lot of times it's somebody (heart graphic)somebody, or a name "and" another name. Or it's two word curses.

By Bookworm (Bookworm) ( - on Friday, March 28, 2003 - 10:11 pm:

Do they know where on the desktop surface the poem was located - like at the bottom, top, center, left or right? I checked the archives but couldn't find anything there.

They must have only taken a close-up of the poem.

By Judy (Judy) ( - on Saturday, March 29, 2003 - 12:21 pm:

How was this "poem" actually connected to the
murder of Ms. Bates? Tom, what do mean "until the
right person saw it"?

I seem (seem being the operative word) to remember
Graysmith saying that she was wearing red the day
she was murdered. But, that might not be correct.

I am back with you...


By Howard Davis (Howard) ( - on Sunday, March 30, 2003 - 12:15 am:

The man who took those very pictures of the poem,and still lives in RS, told me several times-once in person,that the poem was on the underside of the desk.He told me, in person,he had to angle his camera ,as the small poem was on the underside of the desk top.He told me in an e mail,that the wood grain was different on the underside, as it was not like the polished varnished top surface,yet it showed grain.
He noted that while taking a series of photos of the desk.This has been discussed extensively in the Archives.Choose between Toschi or the photographer.
Toschi told GS that the writing looked like Zs printing.Of course,the top expert on Zs writing ,Sherwood Morrill,claimed it was Zs printing.The letters are small and Z did write,at times,in 'small tidy letters.'

The poem is blood thirsty ,just like his later torture letter in '70.
If there was a 'Batman theme,'as has been discussed by Ed and others,then I opt that the rh at the end was Red Hood.See Archives.

By Judy (Judy) ( - on Sunday, March 30, 2003 - 07:00 am:

Howard, I believe the poem was found in 1967?
I am curious as to how it became connected to the
murder of Ms. Bates.


By Bookworm (Bookworm) ( - on Monday, March 31, 2003 - 05:59 am:

Would you know where on the desk surface the poem was located? Top, bottom, left, right, or center of the area? The close-up doesn't show this.

By Bookworm (Bookworm) ( - on Monday, March 31, 2003 - 06:01 am:

Does the size of the print say anything about whether Z really wore glasses or not? I know he said he used the glasses as disguise.

By Dave Juday (Dave_Juday) ( - on Monday, March 31, 2003 - 12:16 pm:

" rh " means "Arthur " (that's just my opinion.

By Douglas Oswell (Dowland) ( - on Monday, March 31, 2003 - 03:32 pm:

The small size of the print might be indicative of a depressed state of mind, not inconsistent with suicidal ideation.

By Mike (Oklahoma_Mike) ( on Monday, March 31, 2003 - 07:12 pm:

Douglas, good call on the small letters being consistent with depressed mood!! I admit I missed that indicator, I just focused on content and words not the actual printing. Come to think of it, unless the author was copying e.e. cummings or some similar poet, signing your name (or iniitals) in lower case would also be consistent with poor self-image and possible depression.
Curious how the more we examine the poem and in style, content, and physical presentation we find nothing inconsistent with the premise that it was a poem about suicide rather than homocide.

By Bookworm (Bookworm) ( - on Monday, March 31, 2003 - 09:08 pm:

Doug and Mike,
I didn't realize the print was so small until the scale was done. Thanks to Tom. The wood around the poem looks pretty clean.

If you take the "rh" out of Cheri's name, "ice" can be spelled with the remaining letters.

By Bookworm (Bookworm) ( - on Wednesday, April 02, 2003 - 03:42 pm:

Since Cheri was killed the eve of Halloween, there may be a connection with the Halloween card Zodiac sent and this desktop poem. The title anyway.

"PARADICE" - Halloween Card
The first letters of the words in the title are - S,O,L,U, then "to die"

The first letters could spell SOUL. "to die" could be "two die" or a "pair of dice," and
finally "Par a dice."

Obsessing again.

By Ricardo (Ricardo) ( - on Saturday, April 05, 2003 - 08:09 pm:

Tom's site mentions that the poem was found December, 1966.

according to Graysmith's "Zodiac Unmasked": "the poem was probably written as early as January, 1967, when the desk was stored in an unused college basement"

according to Graysmith's "Zodiac": the poem was "discovered shortly after Joseph Bates received his letter from Zodiac" and "discovered five months after the murder by a custodian at the RCC library in a storage area" (in other words, the end of April, 1967)

Can anyone actually prove that the poem was written BEFORE May 1, 1967?

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) ( - on Saturday, April 05, 2003 - 08:17 pm:

Ricardo, the author you mentioned probably didn't have access to the report found here:

On second thought, even if he did have access to the report, there's no guarantee he would have given the correct info...

By Howard Davis (Howard) ( - on Saturday, April 05, 2003 - 09:41 pm:

All I can say is that Morrell determined that Z was right handed,so the poem could have been placed towards the right side of the desk surface.I will e the photographer of the poem and see if he remembers which positon the poem was on the desk.
The small lettering could have been for purposes of disguise and veiled concealment.The writers mental proclivity could indicate a controlling personality(and that Z was!) and/or periodic depression.Also,a feeling of inferiority,i.e the micro lettering.-but with episodic grandiosity as displayed in the infrequent caps.
I affirm the same personality wrote both this poem and the RS 11/29/66 letters.
I feel the writer was on some kind of a drug when composing this poem (and the '66 missive)and certaintly depicts the same mindset as found in Zs horrible torture letter of 1970.
In keeping with Z traits, I think the rh is a pen name.My best guess is Red Hood,if the BM connection is correct.See what the net has on this BM character and the contextual setting-a college,etc..
He used a number of pen names-the most infamous one being Zodiac.He signed "R.P."on the envelope containing the Red Phantom letter-note in '74 it is caps as opposed to the lower case "rh" in '66. Does this show a gradual escalation of egocentric pathology?
In the '67 RS notes he uses a singular Z.This could indicte culmination of a concentrated form of ego distortion.Note the massive "I"s in Zs latter missives and,of course,the rarely used Z (twice)in the /Halloween card of 1970.Whether this was reflective of the Bates 187 on Halloween Eve remains to be seen.Good FYI though.

By Bookworm (Bookworm) ( - on Sunday, April 06, 2003 - 03:47 pm:

Regarding Batman (name is an animalman combination): What if the "R.P." and "rh" are supposed to be letters in a word like "morph"? The "mo" is missing, but Marco in the "Red Phantom" letter begins and ends in "Mo" with the letters for "car" in the middle. The letters for "morphed" are in the words "Red Phantom."

Remember the Studebaker they were looking for, seen near the library the night of Cheri's murder? The front of that car looked like it "morphed" with style change. I had posted some info on Eduard's message board some time ago. This link is from a history of Studebaker showing the changes in design.

The 18th Century German Studebakers were "blade-makers," 19th Century Studebakers built Conestoga Wagons, and 20th Century Studebakers built cars. Studebaker Automotive closed in 1966, the year Cheri was killed. Cheri was killed by a knife.
"The Staudenbeckers were blade-makers in the City of Solingen, which was (and still is) famous for its cutlery."

By Bookworm (Bookworm) ( - on Monday, April 07, 2003 - 09:55 pm:

Howard or Tom,
Would either of you know if the desktop poem was published by article or photo in any type of public media? I couldn't find anything to suggest that.

I was looking at the Bates letters and the letters were sent to RP's, except Joseph Bates letter. Riverside Press and Riverside Police.

In the Cheri Bates chapter of Zodiac, it says they were looking for a "47-'52 Studebaker." From 1952 to 1966 it was 14 years, the number on the Halloween Card. Also, Riverside Press was located on 14th Street.(legible on letter to Riverside Press on Eduard's website - Other Research)

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) ( - on Friday, May 09, 2003 - 07:54 am:

I still don't see anything that definitively ties the desktop poem to Cheri Jo Bates; that is, unless you blindly accept Morrill's educated and professional opinion. Cheri Jo was wearing faded, red capris pants [thanks for clarifying that for me in the other thread, Lapumo] the night she was murdered which is not at all the same thing as a new, red dress. I still contend that the poem is about suicide and not murder. I guess I need something more than Morrill's opinion before I'll be convinced that the poem is referring to Cheri Jo Bates.

By Scott Bullock (Scott_Bullock) ( - on Friday, May 09, 2003 - 08:07 am:

Howard wrote, "I affirm the same personality wrote both this poem and the RS 11/29/66 letters."

Same personality type, or same person? And what is the source for this affirmation beyond Mr. Morrill?

By Sandy (Sandy) ( - on Saturday, May 10, 2003 - 06:59 pm:

I think the poem was written sometime before,when the victim to be was wareing a red dress.Or it could have been that Cheri Jo was in the wrong place at the wrong time and the poem writer just happend to be close by. The letters I think were written by the killer,but I think he lied about being turned down by her, to throw the police off of a older man being the killer. It worked the police thought it was someone who knew her. Anyone know if she had her watch taken that night?

By Judy (Judy) ( - on Monday, May 12, 2003 - 03:15 pm:

Scott, I have asked this same question previously.
I never got a reply from anyone regarding the link
between the desk top "poem" and the murder of Ms.
Bates. Maybe the question coming from you will get a response.


By Howard Davis (Howard) ( - on Thursday, June 05, 2003 - 02:26 am:

Just spotted your inquiring mind post!The amount of information in the desk poem is sparse due to the paucity of wordage,but some clues-in my opinion,emerge.
The writer goes into unnecessary detail about blood,which I will comment on, as it refers to "her" and "she"( if this indicates Cheri Bates,then we have Z displaying his habit of not calling a victim by their name).Note the over emphasis: "cut.clean.if red/clean.blood spurting ,dripping,spilling;..."This not only indictes a penchant for detail and morbidity,but parallels the writer of the Confession,who was someone inclined to detail and equal gruesomeness. Zs later missives have these traits too.Witness his detailed infamous torture letter in 1970.I have posted examples in the past.The very grisly tone of this brief poem fits the Confession-and many of Zs letters.
The poems confused,messy structure/style, with a lack of following certain literary nicities is not unlike some of Zs letters.There are misspellngs in the Confession,another Z trait.
The "rh"is not unlike the Red Phantom letter which has "R.P."
Zodiac quotes or paraphrases from the Mikado shows a somewhat poetic inclination.Even the confession waxes poetic,"She was young and beautiful,but now she is battered and dead.She is not the first and she will not be the last." Also,we have this terrible poem written in blue ink,one of Zs habits in writing with blue colored ink.
The "new dress" comment could have been an error of sorts.He seems high on drugs!This was her'dress' or the 'clothes' she was wearing and especially, the color of what she had on.There is no striving for total literal accuracy in this 'poem.'I think he was focused on the color-it matched the color of blood,which is red.
We come to the fact,that it is not really clear whether the 'etcher' is recalling stalking her in the past BEFORE("just wait till NEXT time") her murder or whether he is combining both her proleptic or eventual bloody death by knife and/or her 'near death' one evening when he saw her wearing a "new dress"-"she won't die THIS time"(theres that 'time'deal again -it's used twice in a short poem-as in the Confession and Zs latter day remarks in some letters)."this time Someone ll will find her."It says"Unwilling to die"and it could be referring to her tremendous struggle in the alley.The writer of the Confession depicts a person who has a strong fantasy life, as does this unknown poet.The poet 'sees' her "new dress" as being covered in her own blood or "all over"her clothing, as he states on the desk.
Since the poem seems to have been written around the time of Bates; death- and by implication, a knife("cut clean") is mentioned and her murder was bloody and that her capris were red,all leans towardsa crude depiction of her murder and previous stalking.It was the only known stabbing,at that time of a female.The RSPD,and others, certainly felt there was a link to her death and this poem.More later,it's late!
Of course,I accept Morrills judgment here-that the poem and the three '67 notes and their envelopes, were written by the same person who wrote the Zodiac letters.You don't and that's fine.

By Lapumo (Lapumo) ( - on Tuesday, June 10, 2003 - 08:09 am:

The use of the term "unwilling to die" is interesting I think. While the general poem is obviously the creation of the author, these words strike me as being something the author either heard or read elsewhere.
A keyword search using these words does throw up many interesting associations.Nothing exactly specific or something that would favor one connection over another,but interesting all the same.

By Howard Davis (Howard) ( - on Saturday, June 14, 2003 - 01:51 am:

Even like the Mikado!