The Unsolved Murder of Cheri Jo Bates

Brutally killed in a dark alley on her college campus in 1966, claimed by an infamous serial killer who remains unidentified

Heather Monroe
12 min readFeb 2, 2020


Cheri Jo Bates, “U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880–2012”; Ramona High School; Year: 1965; public domain image

In the 1960s, the city of Riverside, California, was a peaceful community full of families who enjoyed relatively crime-free lives. Unlike Los Angeles, 60 miles west, Riverside was a safe place to raise children. Their illusions of relative safety crumbled Halloween morning of 1966 when a pretty, wholesome coed was found brutally slain on her college campus.

Cheri Josephine Bates was a freshman at Riverside Community College that fall. She was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on February 4, 1948, to Joseph C Bates and Irene Karolewicz. When Cheri Jo was very young, the family moved Cheri and her brother, Michael, to Riverside, where she spent her girlhood.

Cheri Jo graduated from Ramona High School in the summer of 1966. She was a varsity cheerleader, homecoming princess, and active in many extracurricular activities.

Cheri Jo Bates, “U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880–2012”; Ramona High School; Year: 1966, Public Domain Image

Students and friends describe Cheri Jo as an outgoing girl who was “popular but not cliquish.” She had no enemies that anyone knew about and was the apple of her father’s eye. Cheri Jo, the quintessential girl next door, had recently become engaged to Dennis Highland, her boyfriend of two years.

Cheri Jo was a part-time employee at Riverside National Bank. She saved up her earnings and bought a lime-green 1960 Volkswagen Beetle

Michael was in the Navy that year, and her mom lived out of the home, so Cheri Jo lived alone with her father at 4165 Via San Jose.

Cheri Jo Bates’ 1966 home, as it appears today: Authors own work

On October 30, 1966, Cheri Jo and her father went to morning mass at St. Catherine of Alexandria Church. Next, they had breakfast at Sandy’s Restaurant, and around 10 AM, Joseph and Cheri Jo parted company. Joseph was going to the beach that day, and Cheri Jo stayed back to do some studying.



Heather Monroe

Welcome readers! Heather Monroe is a genealogist and writer who resides in California with her partner and their nine children. •True Crime• History• Memoir•