Riverside Police Department
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Cold Case Unit

Homicide Cold Case Unit

The Homicide Cold Case Unit specializes in investigating unresolved homicides. Assigned detectives meticulously review “Cold Cases” and evaluate to see if recent advancements in DNA technology and other forensic techniques could lead to the identification of the person or persons responsible. Detectives also attempt to identify, locate and interview witnesses, whether known or unknown at the time of the initial investigation. All investigative techniques and available resources are applied in hopes of bringing a resolution to the investigation.

 

Spotlighted Case

 

Linda Chavez

 

In the early afternoon of September 1,1999, a worker found a badly burnt body in the orange groves at Tyler and Victoria. The woman was identified as 23-year-old Linda Chavez from Compton, CA. She was last seen on August 27,1999 in Compton. An extensive investigation was conducted but no arrest was made. Anyone with information about this investigation should contact the Homicide Cold Case Unit at HomicideColdCase@RiversideCA.gov RPD Case# P3-99-244-127

 



Cold Case List

Linda Chavez

 

In the early afternoon of September 1,1999, a worker found a badly burnt body in the orange groves at Tyler and Victoria. The woman was identified as 23-year-old Linda Chavez from Compton, CA. She was last seen on August 27,1999 in Compton. An extensive investigation was conducted but no arrest was made. Anyone with information about this investigation should contact the Homicide Cold Case Unit at HomicideColdCase@RiversideCA.gov RPD Case# P3-99-244-127

 

Laura Elena Morales

 

On July 23, 2000, shortly after 5 P.M., 35-year-old Laura Elena Morales’ husband and children returned home from an afternoon away and found her deceased from obvious signs of trauma to her body.
Riverside Police Department personnel responded to the home in the 11100 block of Doverwood Drive in the City of Riverside and a homicide investigation was immediately started.

The early investigation led detectives to connect Laura Morales’ murder to an August 10th, 1999 sexual assault, which took place about a mile from the Morales home. As part of the sexual assault investigation the suspect was described as a Hispanic male, 25 years old, 5’09”, “Chubby,” with Black Hair and Brown Eyes. A composite sketch of the suspect was also prepared.

During the 22 years since these crimes occurred several interviews have been done and investigative leads followed, but the cases remain unsolved. Detectives are utilizing all current scientific technologies to assist with the investigation but, are confident there are people with information about these crimes that would bring resolution and those responsible to justice. Anyone with information about either of these investigations is urged to contact the Homicide Cold Case Unit at 951.320.8000 or HomicideColdCase@RiversideCA.gov RPD Case# P3-99-222-058 (Sexual Assault) RPD Case# P3-00-205-190 (Morales Homicide)

 

Ralph & Shivany Mitchell

 

On Thursday, February 25, 1999, 29-year-old Ralph Mitchell and his 27-year-old wife of 8 months, Shivany Mitchell, were found shot to death inside their Riverside apartment, located at 1251 Massachusetts Avenue #20. A family member who had not heard from them found them. Investigators believe there may have been a witness to the shooting and the suspect(s) may have confided to someone about the murders. Anyone with information about this investigation should contact the Homicide Cold Case Unit at HomicideColdCase@RiversideCA.gov

Cheri Jo Bates

 

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 https://tips.fbi.gov

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: cjb@riversideca.gov

Baby Jane Doe #1

 

On Tuesday, October 13, 1987, a female baby was found in a dumpster along the 4500 block of La Sierra Avenue, between Collett Avenue and Schuyler Avenue in the La Sierra neighborhood. Her death was later ruled a homicide. Her identity is still unknown.

Along with our Forensics Unit, Homicide Cold Case Detectives have been working closely with the Riverside County Sheriff – Coroner’s Office, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, the Los Angeles FBI Investigative Genealogy Team, and private laboratories to identify this victims through DNA analysis.

However, there is no further information to provide regarding her at this time. Detectives are hoping someone will recognize these basic details and come forward with additional information that can lead to their identities, as well as to identify those responsible their deaths.

Anyone with information about this investigations should contact the Homicide Cold Case Unit RPDUnidentified@RiversideCA.gov.
 

John Doe #1

 

On Tuesday, July 11, 1992 shortly before 1:00 p.m., a citizen called 9-1-1 after finding a man shot in the chest on a sidewalk in the 2700 block of McKinley Street, located in the Casa Blanca neighborhood. The victim, believed to be in his mid-20’s, was taken to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. He still has not been identified.

Along with our Forensics Unit, Homicide Cold Case Detectives have been working closely with the Riverside County Sheriff – Coroner’s Office, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, the Los Angeles FBI Investigative Genealogy Team, and private laboratories to identify this victims through DNA analysis.

However, there is no further information to provide regarding her at this time. Detectives are hoping someone will recognize these basic details and come forward with additional information that can lead to their identities, as well as to identify those responsible their deaths.

Anyone with information about this investigations should contact the Homicide Cold Case Unit RPDUnidentified@RiversideCA.gov.
 

Baby Jane Doe #2

 

On Wednesday, April 13, 1994, a female baby was found on a bus bench near Crest Avenue and Arlington Avenue in the Arlanza neighborhood. Her death was later determined to be a homicide. She has yet to be identified.

Along with our Forensics Unit, Homicide Cold Case Detectives have been working closely with the Riverside County Sheriff – Coroner’s Office, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, the Los Angeles FBI Investigative Genealogy Team, and private laboratories to identify this victims through DNA analysis.

However, there is no further information to provide regarding her at this time. Detectives are hoping someone will recognize these basic details and come forward with additional information that can lead to their identities, as well as to identify those responsible their deaths.

Anyone with information about this investigations should contact the Homicide Cold Case Unit RPDUnidentified@RiversideCA.gov.