In October 1999, our efforts toward justice for JonBenet Ramsey have landed photos in USA Today, Denver Rocky Mountain News, reporting on Fox news shows, video clips on CBS with Dan Rather, etc. So, we submit to you:
The Clue that Breaks the Case
Some evidence in the JonBenet Ramsey murder points toward her parents, and other evidence seems to clear them. If the whole truth could be discerned, it would explain every piece of evidence, because real events produced every bit of the crime scene. Sometimes, a single key opens many doors, and one piece pulls the puzzle together. JonBenet’s murderer inadvertently put the key piece of evidence into the ransom note.
On Christmas night 1996, at 755 15th Street, in the Boulder Colorado mansion of her parents, John and Patricia Ramsey, JonBenet was murdered. Death resulted from both a severe blow to the head that fractured her skull across the length of her head, and by strangulation with a cord tightened with a broken stick around her neck. The six-year-old girl had also been vaginally assaulted prior to her death. Consider the following observations:
- Patsy Ramsey called 911 at 5:52 a.m. on Dec. 26 telling police that her daughter was missing and that she had found a ransom note.
- At 5:55 a.m. neighbors Fleet and Priscilla White are called to the Ramsey home, along with other friends.
- Ransom note excerpts: “Mr. Ramsey, Listen carefully! We are a group of individuals that represent (sic) a small foreign faction. We respect your business (sic) but not the country that it serves. At this time we have your daughter in our possession (sic). She is safe and unharmed and if you want her to see 1997, you… will withdraw $118,000… I will call you between 8 and 10 am tomorrow to instruct you on delivery. The delivery will be exhausting so I advise you to be rested. If we monitor you getting the money early, we might call you early to arrange an earlier delivery of the money and hence an earlier pickup of your daughter. Any deviation of my instructions will result in the immediate execution of your daughter. … You can try to deceive us, but be warned we are familiar with Law enforcement countermeasures… Don't try to grow a brain John. … Don't underestimate us John. Use that good, southern common sense of yours. It's up to you now John! Victory! S.B.T.C.”
- The note’s time element indicates it was composed around midnight. “At this time we have your daughter… I will call you [by] 10 am tomorrow…”
- Consider the phrase, “I advise you to be rested.” A kidnapper would not normally give such advice to his victims. And no one urges sleeping people to get rest.
- The ransom note refers to JonBenet 14 times but never by name. The note states, “if you want her to see 1997”avoiding the personal “If you ever want to see JonBenet again,” or “see her alive”.
- The letter, abnormally long for a ransom note, demands a relatively small ransom, exactly equal to Mr. Ramsey’s annual bonus.
- In 1968‑1969 the Navy stationed Ramsey at Subic Bay Training Center.
- Detectives found an entire draft of the ransom note in the home, and the legal pad on which the final ransom had been written, along with Ramsey handwriting samples similar to the style on the note.
- A broken window had an obviously disturbed sill, under which police found a scuffmark and below that a piece of broken glass on the basement floor. However, police find no footprints outside the window. It had snowed that night, just hours before the murder.
- There were no signs of forced entry. The alarm system had not been activated. Four people were known to be in the house that night, JonBenet, her nine-year-old brother Burke, and their parents.
- The Boulder police have no evidence pointing to Burke and have never considered him a suspect.
- Detective Linda Arndt, the only police officer on the scene in the hours prior to the discovery of the body at 1:05 p.m., remembers Mr. Ramsey’s demeanor when he initially greeted her as not distraught nor even upset, but cordial.
- Arndt says that the Ramseys did not spend those morning hours in each other’s company, but that Patsy stayed in the sunroom with friends and John stayed mostly in his den, and read his mail in the kitchen.
- When asked that morning who might be responsible for the crime, John gave police the name of an employee; and Patsy gave the name of one of her housekeepers.
- Arndt says that 10 a.m., the ransom note deadline, passed unnoticed. She says that the Ramseys did not remark whatsoever regarding the fact that the kidnapper had not called.
- Arndt says that she asked the Ramseys and their friends to examine the ransom note for clues, and that almost everyone offered ideas to her except Mr. Ramsey.
- Linda Arndt says that she was confused about why the Ramseys would not speak to her. They later refused a formal interview, and refused to take polygraph tests.
- Arndt suggested Mr. Ramsey search the home. When he and Fleet White came upon the corpse in the basement, Ramsey ripped the duct tape from her mouth and picked up the 47 inch long, 45 pound body.
- The circuitous route to wine cellar where the body was found would be very difficult to navigate by a stranger, especially at night, especially with a struggling child, especially when the staircase light switch is not in an expected location on a wall, but above and behind someone entering the stairs.
- Arndt saw Mr. Ramsey carrying the body from the basement, JonBenet’s unsupported arms extended above her head, and realized that rigor mortis had set in, and that she had been dead for some time.
- Such rigor mortis sets in after about six to twelve hours. There was also the scent of decomposition.
- At 1:30 p.m. a detective overheard John Ramsey talking by phone to his pilot and arranging a trip to Atlanta that evening for himself, his wife and son. Det. Sgt. Larry Mason told him, “You can’t leave.”
- The coroner, Dr. John Meyer, found evidence of sexual assault from the previous night: a small abrasion and small amounts of blood in both her underwear and vagina. Three medical experts consulting for the police say that the injuries were also consistent with prior sexual abuse. A black light helped reveal that her body had been wiped clean but that a residue of blood was left on her thighs.
- John Ramsey says that he had carried a sleeping JonBenet from the car straight to her bed that night. The coroner found something in her stomach “which may represent fragment of pineapple.” The party she attended that night had served no pineapple, but police found a bowl of pineapple on the Ramsey’s dinning room table.
- The murderer draped one of JonBenet’s blankets around her body. That blanket held a pubic hair not linked to any family member. Unidentifiable DNA material was beneath her fingernails. An unidentifiable palm print of unknown age was on the wine cellar door. The panties on her body were too large for JonBenet and contained a stain that DNA could not link to any house member.
- Upon viewing the body, Patsy exclaimed that she had never before seen the underwear on her daughter’s corpse. Detectives later found out that Patsy had recently purchased that pair of underwear at Bloomingdales in New York for her 12-year-old niece, but that JonBenet begged to have it kept for her, so Patsy kept it for her. Prior to the murder, even friends of the family knew of this underwear story. If Patsy did recognize the distinctive underwear, and was lying, then she was trying to point the police to the exculpatory evidence, which she knew had been planted.
- Officer Barry Harkopp interviewed next door neighbors and reported that Scott Gibbons saw strange lights and movements coming from the kitchen area around midnight; and neighbor Melody Stanton awoke her husband around midnight after hearing a scream, and he stated he heard “the sound of metal clashing against cement.” The Ramseys say they heard none of this.
- Police found a Ramsey family flashlight on the kitchen counter, which was not normally kept on that counter, but nearby.
- On Dec. 27, 1996 Patsy Ramsey, being exhausted and lying down, reached up and touched the face of a friend, Pam Griffin, the woman who had made JonBenet’s pageant costumes. Griffin thought Patsy was delirious when she asked, “Couldn’t you fix this for me?” as though a sewing machine could bring back her daughter. She then remembers Patsy saying, “We didn’t mean for this to happen” and Griffin got the definite feeling that in her weakened condition, Patsy had revealed that she knew who the killer was.
- Regarding the ransom note, on March 5, 1997, police and handwriting experts clear John Ramsey and Burke as writers. The investigators believe Patsy probably wrote the note and on April 14, 1997, they request from her a fifth handwriting sample.
- The Ramseys have often resisted cooperating with the ongoing investigation, as for example, on Feb. 19, 1997 when they refused to allow police to interview John’s oldest son, John Andrew. A known feud developed early on between the detectives and District Attorney Alex Hunter’s office. Accusations of conflict of interest suggested the reason for Hunter’s frequent conflict with detectives and sheltering of the Ramseys. On Jan. 16, 1998, the Ramseys refuse a police request for a second interview, but on June 25, 1998, allowed Hunter’s office to question them.
- Linda Wilcox, a housekeeper, described the Ramseys, upon finding a flood in their home, Patsy panicking, and John as controlled but “furious,” so filled with “rage” that his eyes “almost changed color.”
- The duct tape roll and any remainder of the cord used were never found in the Ramsey mansion. A footprint one foot from the body made in concrete dust from a High-Tec brand boot could not be linked to any shoe in the house. The 4.5 inch stick used in the ligature strangulation came from one of Mrs. Ramsey’s paintbrushes found among her art supplies in the basement.
- Four fibers on the duct tape have been linked to the red and black jacket that Patsy wore the night before. When Patsy greeted officers at 6 a.m. she was wearing the same jacket she had just worn to the Christmas party. Patsy maintains that she dressed that morning prior to finding out that JonBenet was missing.
- Prosecutors often fail to convict parents who murder a child, because most people cannot even imagine committing such a crime. Sadly, however, Susan Smith drowned her two young boys, just as thousands of parents have murdered their own children, and countless fathers have molested their daughters. Such brutality does happen, and society’s mindset disregarding such behavior results in more victims.
- As a six-year-old beauty queen, JonBenet was publicly sexualized by her parents, dressed provocatively, and coached to saunter like a seductress.
- If the Ramseys murdered their daughter, possible motives include: parents blaming their daughter for their own sexual abuse of her; jealousy of mother toward daughter; sexual incident getting further out of hand than planned; outburst of wrath after sexual assault unintentionally breaks child’s skull. The actual murder and kidnap scheme came about to cover up the initial crimes.
Much of the ransom note is inconceivable from the perspective of an intruder, such as the compliment of “respect” paid to the Ramsey business. But the clue that breaks the case is the phrase, “I advise you to be rested.” No theory of an intruder can explain that phrase, nor much of the above evidence against the Ramseys. However, that key phrase explains the evidence, both the damning and the exculpatory. And it shouts that the parents murdered their daughter and then worked to throw the police off the trail.
On that Christmas night, after Patsy put her son to bed, John began to sexually abuse his daughter. One form of destructive behavior led to another and at midnight, in a burst of anger and emotion, Patsy struck her daughter in the head, cracking her skull. They realized the severity of the wound, and that JonBenet was near dead. Neither wanted to be caught, so they began to conceal their crimes. First, they strangle her, which both gets rid of her, and makes what would have been an accidental death appear to be deliberate. Then they planned to dispose of any damning evidence, but realized that, without evidence pointing to someone else, they would be the only suspects. So, if they were to survive, the resourceful Ramseys would have to rework the crime scene to point to an intruder.
They decided to write a ransom note, which John began dictating to Patsy. As they wrote the note, they made mental notes about what evidence they must dispose of, and what evidence they could gather and plant to divert attention. Their note had to take into account that: it might take them hours to rework the crime scene; the neighbors may have already noticed the commotion and might watch the house or even call 911; John needed to leave the house to dispose of the roll of duct tape, the spool of cord, etc.; neighbors may notice them stirring in the house or might see John driving away or returning way past midnight.
Even though they risked being seen, they were not ready to dump their best alibi. They needed to tell the police that they were asleep all night, and heard nothing. Their desperation to avert justice demanded that they try that alibi. Thus, they planned to “wake up” at 6 a.m. and call police. However, a neighbor or even a police patrol might have seen John Ramsey up at 3 a.m. Their wording in the note guarded against that risk. If that worst-case scenario occurred, Patsy could then admit: “Yes, we found the note last night. We were afraid to call the police because of the death threat. John rushed out in desperation to find JonBenet, and I searched the house. Then when John returned without her, we reread the note, and realized that we had better go to bed to get the rest we needed for the next day. When we woke up, we realized that we needed help, so we decided to called 911. But we thought it better not to mention that we had been up desperately looking for her last night.”
With that pretext, they went to work. John found a pair of unused shoes, and made a footprint next to the body. He then took those shoes, the oversized underpants, and other damning evidence with him as he left the house around 1:30 a.m. He went out of find a public restroom, at a nightclub, a gas station, a diner, or even at a striptease joint or, preferably, an adult bookstore with video stalls. Somewhere along his journey he dropped the damning evidence in the trash. At the restroom, he used the panties that Patsy had recently purchased to pick up a pubic hair, and then rubbed a stain onto the underpants. Meanwhile Patsy decided to rewrite the ransom note, and she authored the final, personal, contradictory lines, “Don't try to grow a brain John. … Use that good, southern common sense of yours. It's up to you now John!” Patsy then saw the broken ends of the paintbrush that John had overlooked and she hid them among her art supplies. Later, Mr. Ramsey returned to the house, planted the lone pubic hair on the blanket, put the stained underwear on the body, and broke the basement window and disturbed the sill (which he later pointed out to Fleet White).
The unidentifiable DNA material under the fingernails was likewise collected by John, or by a few days of normal child’s play. That material did not come from an intruder, which would have suggested that JonBenet fought and struggled, getting the attention of her neighbors, but not her parents. To help explain to the police how they could have slept through the attack, Patsy Ramsey had taped their daughter’s mouth shut.
Some may think this plan too involved for the Ramseys to pull off. However, John had built a successful defense contracting business, and Patsy had long ago managed to become Miss West Virginia. Further, they had help. Book author and FBI criminal profiler John Douglas wrote Mind Hunter, which reads in part like the JonBenet case in the use of duct tape, ligatures, and similar phrases in its ransom note. Investigators found that hardback in the Ramsey’s bedroom.
After rechecking the crime scene, the Ramseys went to bed to rehearse their story. Neither slept that night, neglecting their own advice.