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Preliminary Report on

Was the murderer of Cheri Jo Bates
inspired by a similar crime?

Solar Pons, a moderator at the internet forum, inquired about a crime which happened prior to the murder of Cheri Jo Bates on October 30, 1966.

Solar Pons had read the article about Cheri Jo Bates by John Montgomery from the January, 1969, issue of Inside Detective magazine (which is posted at Tom Voigt“s

About a year and a half before Cheri Jo Bates was murdered, someone attempted to stab to death a student at Riverside City College.

This article mentioned that this similar attack occurred sometime in April of 1965.

from Inside Detective January, 1969

Project MK-ZODIAC has previously investigated this similar attack.

Here are the pertinent facts...

Rolland Lin Taft stabbed [first name redacted] Atwood at Riverside City College on Tuesday, April 13, 1965.

Atwood was 19 years old and was a student at Riverside City College who attended classes in the evening.

Taft was 18 years old and his father was a minister.

This crime occurred near a different parking lot than the one which was near the alley where Cheri Jo Bates was murdered over a year later.

Atwood was attacked by Taft in the parking lot near Cutter Pool at Riverside City College.

Atwood was walking through the parking lot because she was going to where she lived nearby.

Taft was in his car and drove by Atwood.

Taft asked Atwood repeatedly if she would like to go for a ride with him in the car and Atwood declined.

Taft got out of the car and followed Atwood to an area near the parking lot and then, after a brief struggle, Taft stabbed Atwood in her stomach with a hunting knife.

Taft ran away, leaving the knife at the scene of the crime.

After the attack, Atwood asked her neighbors to help her.

Atwood was hospitalized at Riverside Community Hospital at 4445 Magnolia Avenue which was close to where the attack occurred and where Atwood lived at the time.

Atwood lived at 4510 Lemon Street (which happens to have been near the office of the Press-Enterprise newspaper at 3512 14th Street).

Taft lived at 5033 Arlington Avenue (which happens to have been near Ramona High School at 7675 Magnolia Avenue and the home of Cheri Jo Bates at 4195 Via San Jose).

This crime was investigated by Detective R. D. Yonkers of the Riverside Police Department who would later investigate the murder of Cheri Jo Bates.

Taft was arraigned for attempted murder on Wednesday, April 28, 1965, and later convicted.

Rolland Lin Taft was born in the County of Los Angeles on September 21, 1946, and died in the County of Los Angeles on April 20, 1974.

Taft was in jail when Bates was killed, so it was not possible that Taft was the murderer.

Project MK-ZODIAC has theorized that this crime may have inspired the murderer of Cheri Jo Bates.

Cheri Jo Bates was stabbed to death with a knife in an alley near a parking lot at Riverside City College on October 30, 1966.

The Riverside Police Department has never commented publicly about whether or not there is any evidence that Cheri Jo Bates knew either Atwood or Taft.

The Zodiac may or may not have been the same person as the murderer of Cheri Jo Bates.

A few years later, on September 27, 1969, the Zodiac would write the phrase "by knife" on the car door at Lake Berryessa after the stabbing attack in which the Zodiac wounded Bryan Hartnell and killed Cecelia Shepard.

by knife

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If you have any additional information, please email

Also, in the event that for any reason there is any discrepancy in this report, as a courtesy, please advise.

* * *

There was a poem on a desk in the library
at Riverside City College circa 1966
which may or may not have a connection
to this attempted murder by Taft.
To read about this theory
proposed by Project MK-ZODIAC,
click here

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To return to the message to the Zodiac, click here.

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An Investigation of the Zodiac Killer

by Ricardo Eugirtni Gomez

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My name is... cipher