The April 30th Cheri Bates “Had to Die” Zodiac Killer letters have been removed as written by any Zodiac Killer suspect. The true author came forward and acknowledged they were forged in order to keep the investigation going.

Below is an update that was posted on our Zodiac Killer TapaTalk forum

On October 31, 1966, 0545 hours, Joseph Bates called Riverside Police to report his daughter Cheri Jo Bates missing. She left a note for her father stating she was going to the RCC library. On October 31, 1966, 0632 hours, a civilian reported that he found a body in the alleyway of Terracina near Fairfax on the RCC college campus. Officers responded and determined the death to be a homicide. The female was identified as, 18 year old, Cheri Jo Bates.

In 1967, Riverside Police Department received a hand written letter in the mail. This letter initially led investigators to believe the murder of Cheri Jo Bates may be associated with the murderer known as the “Zodiac Killer.” The letter and the interpretation of the signature on the letter generated much attention to the investigation and fueled many theories and much speculation regarding the case. In addition, sensitive information was released to the media which added to the curiosity and conjecture.

In April 2016, investigators received an anonymous letter postmarked from San Bernardino, California. This letter was typed and appeared to have been generated from a computer. The author of the anonymous letter admitted to writing the hand written letters. The author apologized for sending the letters and said it was a sick joke. The author admitted that he was not the Zodiac killer or the killer of Cheri Jo Bates and was just looking for attention.

In 2020, the Homicide Cold Case Unit and the FBI Los Angeles Investigative Genealogy Team, submitted the stamp from the letter for additional DNA analysis and subsequent interviews were conducted. The individual linked to the DNA evidence on the stamp admitted to writing the letter and sending it to Riverside Police Department. The author was a young teenager at the time and had a troubled youth. He said he wrote the letter seeking attention and was remorseful for his actions.

Investigators confirmed, the person was not involved in the murder of Cheri Jo Bates or involved in the murders associated with the “Zodiac Killer.” Additional information was developed regarding a separate set of letters sent to Northern California police agencies. The author claimed to be the “Zodiac Killer,” but the author ultimately admitted to sending the letters to keep the investigation going.

Early in the investigation, a potential suspect was identified in the killing of Cheri Jo Bates. Based on the evidence, this person of interest has remained the primary suspect over the years and continues to be the focus of the investigation. It is believed, acquaintances of the suspect have additional information which could potentially lead to the successful prosecution of the suspect. The FBI Los Angeles Investigative Genealogy Team and various additional law enforcement agencies continue to work the “Zodiac Killer’ murders. Information regarding the “Zodiac Killer” can be emailed to

Based on the developments in the case, Riverside Police Department will not be directly involved in the “Zodiac Killer” investigation and will focus its attention on who killed Cheri Jo. Riverside Police Department investigators will continue to cooperate with the handling agencies as needed.

In 2021, Riverside Police Homicide Cold Case Investigators were contacted by a private citizen wishing to offer a $50,000.00 reward for information leading to the arrest and the conviction of the person(s) responsible for the murder of Cheri Jo Bates. The private party has requested to remain anonymous to the public. The reward offer is valid until January 31, 2022.

Anyone with information specifically about the Cheri Jo Bates murder can contact investigators at the following dedicated email: