The Case Against "Bob Barnett"
This information concerning the prime suspect in the Cheri Jo Bates murder was revealed to me in confidence on Sept. 10, 1999. My source wished to remain anonymous.

  • Cheri Jo Bates was murdered the night of Oct. 30, 1966, the victim of multiple stab wounds. The attack occurred on the campus of Riverside (Calif.) City College (RCC).

  • "Bob Barnett" (not his real name) was routinely considered a suspect because of his close relationship with Cheri. Initially cleared of suspicion, Barnett became a prime suspect about 1968 when the Riverside Police Department (RPD) heard testimony of an informant who claimed Barnett had bragged about being responsible for the killing. This informant was in jail when he came forward with the incriminating information about Barnett, but passed a polygraph test. His story has remained consistent.

  • Like Cheri, Barnett was a student at RCC during the fall of 1966. In fact, Barnett and Cheri dated in the weeks before her death. Barnett had also attended school with Cheri prior to RCC.

  • Barnett was mentioned several times in Cheri's diary. (The diary is still in police custody.)

  • The relationship between Barnett and Cheri soured after Cheri returned from San Francisco, where she had visited her steady boyfriend. Cheri informed Barnett that she had accepted this boyfriend's wedding proposal and that she and Barnett could no longer date. (This conversation with Barnett occurred less than a week before her murder.)

  • Barnett and Cheri engaged in a very public argument on the RCC campus just days before her murder. During the argument, Barnett allegedly slapped Cheri. A passerby heard Barnett say, "Have you changed your mind yet?"

  • The evening Cheri was killed, Barnett was playing basketball with his buddies. Cheri called him for reasons unknown and Barnett immediately left the game, saying "That bitch is going to the library."

  • At about 9:30 o'clock the night of the murder, a female student passed a man standing in the alley where Cheri would be attacked just minutes later. Although they didn't know each other, the female student and unknown male said "hi" to each other. The stranger was standing in the shadows. It was later determined that from his vantage point he could have easily watched Cheri's VW Bug while she was in the library. Several years later, RPD showed the female student a photo lineup which contained Barnett's picture. Although she could not identify anyone in the lineup, she initially had described clothing on the unknown male that matched what Barnett was wearing the night of the murder.

  • At about 1:30 a.m. on Oct. 31, only hours after Cheri was murdered, neighbors witnessed two men in the area of the crime scene with flashlights. The men appeared to be searching for something. After about 15 minutes, they left. This info lead police to believe Barnett had an accomplice. Barnett's best friend failed a polygraph test. (Barnett later took a polygraph test on the advice of his lawyer. He cooperated at first, but when the tough questions were asked he simply refused to answer. The polygraph examiner finally said, "Get him the #!*@ out of here.")

  • In spite of promising circumstances, the case against Bob Barnett was at an impasse.

  • In the early 1990s, Barnett's former best friend finally admitted that he had seen Barnett the morning of Oct. 31, 1966. He had "accidentally" run into Barnett about 2:30 a.m. at a restaurant called "The Green Turtle." Barnett had asked him for a ride to RCC in order to look for something he had misplaced.

  • To police, Barnett's friend would not admit that he had any knowledge that a crime had occurred. He eventually took a polygraph test, which indicated he was truthful except regarding questions that might implicate himself in Cheri's murder.

  • Another friend of Barnett's came forward and admitted that a sobbing Barnett had claimed, early on the morning of Oct. 31, 1966, that he had "snuffed Cheri." This friend also passed a polygraph.

  • Although Barnett had no military affiliation, his sister worked at Norton Air Force Base at the time of the Bates murder. That could explain the origin of the military shoeprints and Timex watch found at the scene. While the watch was determined to have been initially sold at a military installation, exactly which installation remains a mystery. (Barnett's sister is not suspected of being an accomplice. The assumption is that she might have given the shoes and watch to Barnett as a gift. Barnett's family members did admit he had a watch similar to the one recovered at the crime scene and that they never saw it again after Bates was killed.)

  • When Cheri's body was found, two to three strands of hair were recovered from a clot of blood and tissue in the palm of her hand. At the time, technology would only show that the hair, blood and tissue were that of a white male with sandy-blond hair. Barnett is a white male and, at the time, had sandy-blond hair. (Tissue was also recovered from under Cheri's fingernails, but was too decomposed to gather DNA from by the time it was attempted in the early 1990s.)

  • In December 1998, information was developed that Barnett was returning to the Riverside area for Christmas. RPD managed to get a warrant and met Barnett upon his arrival at Ontario Airport. RPD took skin, saliva, hair and other samples from Barnett, which were then sent for DNA analysis to the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Va. Barnett was described as having displayed a passive, "What took you so long?" type of attitude with detectives, sending their suspicions of his guilt soaring even higher.

  • UPDATE: The DNA results were a conclusive non-match.