The first letter
On November 29, 1966, carbon copies of an anonymous letter were mailed to the Riverside Police and the Riverside Enterprise. [see Illustration] Typed using a portable Royal typewriter with either Pica or Elite typeface,it was entitled “The Confession,” and carried a “byline” that consisted of the word “BY” followed by twelve underscores.
Both copies were on low-quality white paper eight inches wide and torn at the top and bottom so as to be roughly squarish, and had been sent unstamped and with no return address from a secluded rural mailbox. Presumably, the author planned on the letters being sent by Postage Due mail.
At least one of the details referred to in this letter had not been made public, and at the time, investigators agreed that it was most likely genuine, though this opinion has changed over the years.
This confession has been double-spaced to make reading easier.
BY _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
SHE WAS YOUNG AND BEAUTIFUL BUT NOW SHE IS BATTERED AND DEAD. SHE IS NOT THE
FIRST AND SHE WILL NOT BE THE LAST I LAY AWAKE NIGHTS THINKING ABOUT MY NEXT
VICTIM. MAYBE SHE WILL BE THE BEAUTIFUL BLOND THAT BABYSITS NEAR THE LITTLE
STORE AND WALKS DOWN THE DARK ALLEY EACH EVENING ABOUT SEVEN. OR MAYBE SHE
WILL BE THE SHAPELY BRUNETT THAT SAID XXX NO WHEN I ASKED HER FOR A DATE IN HIGH
SCHOOL. BUT MAYBE IT WILL NOT BE EITHER. BUT I SHALL CUT OFF HER FEMALE PARTS AND
DEPOSIT THEM FOR THE WHOLE CITY TO SEE. SO DON’T MAKE IT TO EASY FOR ME. KEEP
YOUR SISTERS, DAUGHTERS, AND WIVES OFF THE STREETS AND ALLEYS. MISS BATES WAS
STUPID. SHE WENT TO THE SLAUGHTER LIKE A LAMB. SHE DID NOT PUT UP A STRUGGLE. BUT
I DID. IT WAS A BALL. I FIRST CUT THE MIDDLE WIRE FROM THE DISTRIBUTOR. THEN I
WAITED FOR HER IN THE LIBRARY AND FOLLOWED HER OUT AFTER ABOUT TWO MINUTES.
THE BATTERY MUST HAVE BEEN ABOUT DEAD BY THEN. I THEN OFFERED TO HELP. SHE WAS
THEN VERY WILLING TO TALK TO ME. I TOLD HER THAT MY CAR WAS DOWN THE STREET
AND THAT I WOULD GIVE HER A LIFT HOME. WHEN WE WERE AWAY FROM THE LIBRARY
WALKING, I SAID IT WAS ABOUT TIME. SHE ASKED ME, “ABOUT TIME FOR WHAT?” I SAID IT
WAS ABOUT TIME FOR HER TO DIE. I GRABBED HER AROUND THE NECK WITH MY HAND OVER
HER MOUTH AND MY OTHER HAND WITH A SMALL KNIFE AT HER THROAT. SHE WENT VERY
WILLINGLY. HER BREAST FELT WARM AND VERY FIRM UNDER MY HANDS, BUT ONLY ONE
THING WAS ON MY MIND. MAKING HER PAY FOR ALL THE BRUSH OFFS THAT SHE HAD GIVEN
ME DURING THE YEARS PRIOR. SHE DIED HARD. SHE SQUIRMED AND SHOOK AS I CHOCKED
HER, AND HER LIPS TWICHED. SHE LET OUT A SCREAM ONCE AND I KICKED HER IN THE HEAD
TO SHUT HER UP. I PLUNGED THE KNIFE INTO HER AND IT BROKE. I THEN FINISHED THE JOB
BY CUTTING HER THROAT. I AM NOT SICK. I AM INSANE. BUT THAT WILL NOT STOP THE
GAME. THIS LETTER SHOULD BE PUBLISHED FOR ALL TO READ IT. IT JUST MIGHT SAVE THAT
GIRL IN THE ALLEY. BUT THAT’S UP TO YOU. IT WILL BE ON YOUR CONSCIENCE. NOT MINE.
YES, I DID MAKE THAT CALL TO YOU ALSO. IT WAS JUST A WARNING. BEWARE…I AM
STALKING YOUR GIRLS NOW.
CC. CHIEF OF POLICE ENTERPRISE
Neither envelope bore a complete address; they were handwritten with a felt-tip pen in the following manner.
Daily Enterprise Riverside Calif Attn: Crime
Homicide Detail Riverside
One fingerprint was found on the envelope sent to the RPD Homicide Detail, but it has never been matched to a suspect, and whether it was left by the author, a postman, or a police officer is unknown.
The killer’s claim that “she did not put up a struggle” was contradicted by the numerous defense wounds on her hands and arms, as well as by the flesh and hair found beneath Bates’ fingernails.
While a contemporaneous newspaper report reflects uncertainty as to whether the knife actually broke in her body, no evidence of this event is reported in the autopsy report, and more recent pronouncements from RPD detectives are unanimous that the knife did not break.
Bates’ car had indeed been sabotaged in the manner described, which had not been fully revealed by the news media. The phone call that is referred to near the end of the letter has never been elaborated on by authorities, though researcher Tom Voigt suggests that it was placed to the Riverside Press, rather than the police, and so went misunderstood and ignored.
The letters were delivered on the same day they were posted. The next day, November 30th, both the Enterprise and the local police submitted their copies to the Riverside County Postal Inspector, who in turn notified the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Murder is not a federal crime, but extortion through the mail is, and the FBI briefly considered joining the investigation under this pretense. However, since no specific victim of extortion was named or alluded to, there would be no federal aid in the investigation.
In an unexplained turn of events, what appears to be a photocopy of the “Confession” was attached to an FBI report declassified in the 1990s, but the typescript and number of words per line are different from those in the well-known copy that appears in a photograph of the letter lying either on a detective’s or a reporter’s desk.