The Bates Letters (April 30, 1967) - Conclusions

As it looks, the author of the Bates Letters tried to disguise his handwriting through different character shapes and styles. Furthermore, the killer presumably avoided touching the paper during the process of writing, in order to minimize the risk of leaving fingerprints. Probably, the killer held his writing tool in his fist in a 90-degree angle, like a dagger, when writing the body texts of his messages.
This would be a plausible explanation for the awkward look and the large size of the letters as well as for the apparent strong script impression. It is not unlikely that the changing text orientations have been caused by the moving paper.
Obviously, the Z-like signature has been added at the page ends in different handwriting, assumingly after all three body texts had been written. The page-end-position of the signature allowed the killer to write more precisely, without touching the paper.
Apparently, accuracy has been important to the writer here.
Riverside Bates Letter 1
Therefore, and due to the good consistency of the shape in both of the signed Bates Letters, it can be reasonably assumed that the signature has a particular meaning beyond of just being a letter.
If we should pick just one of the available options, we would say that the signature is a combination of the letter Z and the number 3. If it would be only the letter Z, there would be no need to write its top in flying-bird shape. The line at the bottom of the letter is straight.
Visually, a fusion of the number 2 and 3 would be same compelling as the Z-3 combination, but the numbers 2 and 3 or 23 or 32 would not make immediate sense to us as a signature. If it would represent a victim count of 23 or even 32, such number of victims would have been observed most certainly.
Therefore, we consider this possibility as less likely than the Z-3 combination. V-3 could stand for victim three, but as a possible signature, it sounds weak.
Riverside Bates Letter Envelope 1
We also could not find a symbol that would resemble the signature. Therefore, we consider Z-3 as most plausible.
We find it quite remarkable that, unlike the letters to Riverside Police and Press Enterprise, the letter to Joseph Bates had not been signed. If this was not a simple error of omission, and we do not think that it was, then this could suggest that the author did not consider his relation to Joseph Bates as the same as his relation to the police and the press. Therefore, we believe that Joseph Bates, Riverside Police and Press Enterprise received nearly identical letters for different reasons.
When we look at what the killer actually said with his letters and who or what the recipients actually represent, these reasons become quite apparent.
With his letters, the killer basically said, "It is not because of me why I killed her, it was her own fault. I had compelling reasons for what I did. She deserved it. There are others that deserve the same. Therefore, I will kill again, and I am going to kill more than one person". For the killer, most probably "police" stood for "authority", "media" stood for "society", while "Joseph Bates" was the "father of a victim". From the killer's perspective, this would put Joseph Bates in the "KEEP YOUR DAUGHTERS OFF THE STREETS AND ALLEYS" category.
Therefore, we believe that the killer did not sign his letter to Joseph Bates with his presumably still evolving "nom-de-guerre", because Joseph Bates' daughter, Cheri Jo, had been killed already. The killer arrogantly sent the letter to Joseph Bates to explain his actions and probably also for sadistic reasons. With Joseph Bates, the killer had no unsettled issues, no matter how bad this may sound.
At the same time, the letters to the Riverside Police and Press Enterprise where clearly meant to taunt police and to reconfirm the Confession Letter's threat and declaration of war on society. Again, the killer demonstrates a very strong desire to communicate his actions and intentions to the public.
Also in his Bates Letters, the author shows no sign of guilt or remorse for his crime. He shows no compassion for his viction and her family. Instead, he announces further crimes. Like the Confession Letter, the three Bates Letters clearly bear the hallmarks of an actual or evolving serial killer. What the killer wrote in the Bates Letters again contradicts the theory that the crime had been committed by a heartbroken local boy in a rage.
We see full coherence and consistency of the Bates Letters with the Riverside Desktop Poem, the Confession Letter, the Cheri Jo Bates homicide, the following Patricia Hautz Letter, and the Zodiac Killer case in the overall. The Z-like signature of two of the Bates Letter points very much into the Zodiac Killer direction. Furthermore, we see full consistency with the time pattern of the sending of the letters, particularly but not limited to the communications in connection with the presumed abduction and murder of possible Zodiac Killer victim Donna Lass at South Lake Tahoe.
If the killer was indeed the serial killer that would later call himself "The Zodiac", we consider it as highly probable that the diffidently drawn Z-like signature represents an early form of Zodiac Killer signature in the making, and that the killer's "Zodiac" idea was born and started taking shape in the months after the murder of Cheri Jo Bates in Riverside, California. If indeed the signature would include the numerical value 3, could it be an possible indication for an early form of victim count or score of the Zodiac Killer? Can it be that Cheri Jo Bates was not the killer's first but his third victim?
While evidence is circumstantial and our interpretations and conclusions are deductive, to us there is Zodiac Killer written all over the Bates Letters. Furthermore, the letter envelopes contained more postage than was necessary which was typical for Zodiac Killer letters in the years to come, and the authenticity of the Bates Letters had been confirmed by Zodiac Killer handwriting expert Sherwood Morrill, for whom it was certain beyond any doubt that they were authored by the Zodiac.
We believe that the Bates Letters, though short, contain very important clues. They substantiate the theory that the murderer of Cheri Jo Bates was indeed an actual or evolving serial killer, and that with rather high probability this serial killer was the same individual that would later become the Zodiac Killer.
We believe that the Bates Letters give us another snapshot of the development of the evolving Zodiac Killer. They provide us with very important insights into the early development, mind and psychology of a serial Killer.
We would very much appreciate your thoughts and feedback.
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