CHAPTER 1: Can You See My Hand?
Quite clearly, she had reasons for what she had done and therefore could convince herself that she had done nothing wrong. That was why she passed the polygraph.
John Douglas, Mindhunter
On Christmas Night, 1996, six-year-old beauty princess, JonBenet Ramsey, was killed in the home of her parents in Boulder, Colorado. This is the story how and why the law failed, and continues to fail to address the facts and manner of her death.
The law in the United States, its Constitution of personal freedoms and protections, and the lawyers who administer it, all must take some responsibility for failed justice in the death of JonBenet Ramsey. In fact, this ancient legal system clunks like an oxcart on an interstate highway, one justice for the rich, one justice for the poor. “The system” oozes a polluted mix of media, money, greed and political power when it merely pretends to address justice.
Had the law performed as envisioned a hundred years ago, even fifty years ago, John and Patsy Ramsey would have been tried for their apparent complicity in the death of JonBenet. Instead, their public relations maneuvers, their books and interviews, their lawsuits, and especially their lawyers, have squeezed puss from the blind eyes of justice.
As citizens, sane persons are asked to imagine the horror of JonBenet’s last moments over and over, thanks to the constant replay on tabloid television and in tabloid headlines. We look to our own consciences, our own obligations to our children, and cannot believe that John and Patsy, devout Christians and respected members of the community, could have been involved in such a crime. We saw Patsy raise her finger on national television and warn parents in Boulder, to “Hold your babies close. There’s a killer out there.” Her voice cracks and our hearts break as John methodically recounts how they were a “normal” family. Yet, we have seen photographs and videos of JonBenet, six years old, wearing glamour make-up, scantily clad as a Las Vegas showgirl. We must ignore these images in order to accept John’s freak show concept of “normal.”
The years go by. What was floated as a bizarre “intruder theory” begins to spark more attention than the actual evidence. The evidence includes the longest ransom note in history, written and found at the scene of the crime by the mother of the dead little girl. The Ramsey’s move to Atlanta, Georgia, recalling their beautiful daughter lovingly and pocketing a $600,000 advance on their book, The Death of Innocence. They then move to Charlevoix, Michigan, and John makes a failed run for the Michigan state legislature on an “I’m innocent” platform. They granted interviews every now and then, be it on Larry King or in the National Enquirer, or in church on Sunday. Their story changes as JonBenet’s brother, Burke, grows older – Oh Yeah! That’s right. Burke was awake at the time of Patsy’s phone call to 911 on the morning of December 26, 1996. His is the voice on the tape saying, “What’s happening? What do you want me to do?”
The cameras roll with Patsy crying, or preparing to cry, on the late night news. Years after the murder, we hear that John Ramsey was locked in a bathroom of his new mansion in Atlanta by a mysterious intruder posing as a workman. This makes the national headlines. “Good press, bad press, any press,” Patsy Ramsey often said. Yes, any press. John Ramsey seems prone to intrusion, and Patsy Ramsey seemed as though she invited it.
Hal Haddon, the genius of the Ramsey’s criminal defense team at Haddon, Morgan & Foreman, sequestered in his law office mansion in Denver’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, moved on to a fabulously wealthy NBA star, Kobe Bryant, and his firm won a dismissal of rape charges. Bryant’s victim was hounded to silence by the press coverage. The rest of the phalanx of the Ramsey’s criminal defense lawyers have moved on as well, to new cases, less notorious cases, profitable cases that attract less scrutiny from the press. The press has moved on. It broke camp the day Boulder District Attorney Alex Hunter announced that the grand jury investigating the death of JonBenet Ramsey would not file charges. It would not issue a report. It would not release the original of the ransom note. And, according to Colorado law, the grand jurors would be silenced (on pain of contempt of court and/or felony charges) should they divulge any of the testimony or evidence they heard. With nothing left to report, the JonBenet Ramsey judicial inquiry, as well as the body of the child herself, would be abandoned! Next victim, please.
Tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that, another little girl will be murdered by her mommy or daddy, brother, uncle, aunt, step-parent or guardian, maybe for bedwetting or crying too long, maybe for sexual pleasure or revenge because a new boyfriend doesn’t like small-voiced backtalk, maybe for convenience, maybe by accident. Her adult caretakers will be taken into custody, questioned separately, and lacking a reputation as “credible millionaires,” or any evidence pointing toward other suspects, one or both of them will be charged with murder. Their public defender will seek a plea bargain that spares their lives. The local DA will ask for life imprisonment, or the death sentence if he has strong enough evidence. The newspapers that tell lurid stories of kinky sex, child abuse and violence against murdered children will be used to light fireplaces, wrap fish or perhaps the glassware and dishes for a family moving to another Boulder. Their stories die, but, the JonBenet story doesn’t die.
The next little girl’s name will not become a household word synonymous with mystery, not if her parents are poor. The elements that keep JonBenet’s story and name alive, unlike that of most child victims, are those of mystery, incomprehensible evil, fairy tale and gothic titillation. Sadly, these elements deeply affecting the human psyche inevitably attract humor. When Saturday Night Live created a skit diffusing the horror of the story with its obviously ridiculous aspects including the behavior of police and parents, lawyers and media, John and Patsy threatened to sue. With their money adding to the appeal of the story is the bizarre role of the legal system, now used to silence critics and leave the American people increasingly to distrust and scorn their hope for equal justice. The legal system will grind on, freeing the rich and the guilty, sometimes the rich and the innocent; but very reluctantly the poor, regardless of guilt or innocence. Lawyers earn few fees from working stiffs and the poor.
The media will continue making “special” stories starring Lizzy Borden, the Lindbergh’s kidnapping, Patty Hurst, O.J. Simpson, Princess Diana , Michael Jackson and Ramsey “news” or “history” specials. The beauty princess’ murder is not quite so gory as that of Lizzy Borden’s parents, not so glamorous as the Lindbergh kidnapping, lacking a trial, but like those other trials and “crimes of the century,” hers is filled with curiosity, sexual innuendo and taboo.
Contrary to what Patsy Ramsey said and to some portrayals in the press, the little beauty princess didn’t enjoy the child beauty pageants in which her mother entered her. JonBenet didn’t lust for the competition, nor crave the endless lessons and practice. There were signs that she was growing increasingly apprehensive of her mother’s incessant pressure to compete. Her childhood friend, Lindsey Phillips, while visiting JonBenet, couldn’t help but notice the pageant trophies in JonBenet’s bedroom. “They’re not really mine,” JonBenet confided in Lindsey. “They’re more my Mom’s trophies.”
Patsy Ramsey had dyed JonBenet’s hair from a light brunette to blonde during their last summer in Charlevoix, Michigan, in 1996. Judith Phillips, Patsy’s former friend, immediately noticed the little girl’s blonde hair when the family returned to their 15thStreet mansion in Boulder. Judith asked Patsy why she had dyed JonBenet’s hair.
“It was the hot summer sun in Charlevoix,” Patsy claimed.
As a professional photographer who had photographed Patsy, JonBenet and Burke over the years, who had worked with numerous models sporting both natural and artificially colored coifs, Patsy’s lie seemed disingenuous. Judith attributed this to Patsy’s upbringing in the South where belles are born blonde, naturally, where cosmetics belie innocence and closets are built to hold family secrets.
Normal maternal expressions of love don’t revolve around a five-year-old bleached blonde in satin hot pants. Patsy lied to Judith about JonBenet’s hair because she must have felt there was something socially unacceptable about the applications of artificial “beauty” inside their home to a supposedly perfect child. Her lie suggests a kind of embarrassment on her part for wanting to make her child more beautiful, more competitive, more fetching for the eyes of judges.
It was, in fact, Patsy’s talent for small and large deceptions, and the willingness of the Ramseys’ lawyers, and lawyers in general, to use larger and more consequential deceptions, that led in part to the failure of the investigation in the death of JonBenet. When the arts of deception are privileged, as they are in the case of wealthy citizens in America, all other Americans become potential victims. The self-deceptions of the prosecutor who says, “I don’t make up the rules,” cops muted under the code of the blue brotherhood and the kind of finger – pointing by plea bargains, all cheat the system. Journalists and bureaucrats listen, and bring all the tenderness of tarantulas to each new celebrity case. Defense lawyers, so conspicuously typical in the case of JonBenet, adopt the deceptions of their clients and drive the American jurisprudence system into one that allows the wealthy to ignore the law as prosecuting lawyers incarcerate more poor and uneducated suspects in the United States of America than any other nation in the world.
Can You See My Hand?
Defense lawyers use a lot of tricks to capture the imagination of a jury in their opening arguments. A defense lawyer raises the palm of his hand toward the jurors and asks, “Can you see my hand?” The lawyer gives his shoulders a shrug, tosses a glance over his shoulder to the prosecutor, takes a moment for eye contact with each juror, then rhetorically and dramatically answers his own question. “No,” the defendant’s combatant says, turning his hand over, “you can only see half of my hand.” He lowers his head to engage the jury, “The other side is what I’m going to show you.”
The criminal lawyer then goes on to explain that the reason everyone came into that courtroom that day is to uncover the truth, both sides of the story, including the side of the hand that the prosecutor had concealed. Only he, the advocate of the defendant, can and will reveal “the whole truth.” Of course, his slight of hand has as much to do with truth and much more to do with theater.
JonBenet’s sensational case came on the heels of the O.J. Simpson “Trial of the Century,” when Johnny Cochran, Barry Scheck, F. Lee Bailey and the rest of O.J. Simpson’s legal “Dream Team” proved that a reasonable doubt of guilt can be bought. Unlike a homicide in the busy metropolis of Los Angeles where murder goes on around the clock, no one in the Boulder DA’s office had the kind of experience Marcia Clark brought to the O.J. Simpson prosecution. JonBenet’s murder, in December, was the first in all of 1996 in the City of Boulder, Colorado. Between 1989 and 1998, Alex Hunter’s District Attorney’s Office handled only 57 murder cases. In those 57 homicides, only a handful went to trial.
Hunter didn’t have the kind of courtroom talent and political power the Ramseys could muster against an indictment, nor did he have the stomach for the ridicule he would suffer if the Ramseys were charged and then acquitted because the prosecutors couldn’t make competent use of the evidence. It might appear that Hunter willingly ignored his duty to prosecute the only feasible suspects. Moreover, his willingness to play the puppet to the Ramsey defense team by sharing police discovery and evidence, leaking information to the press and indicting possible witnesses who might implicate the Ramseys, pales compared with the monumental damage he did to the American criminal justice system.
While a presumption of innocence causes the American legal system to protect the rights of its citizens, that same glorious presumption, taken to the absurd lengths found in the Ramsey case, poisons the reservoir of faith American citizens once had in their system of retributive justice; and equal treatment under the law. With Patsy Ramsey’s death, twelve persons will never hear the evidence against her and John Ramsey in a courtroom. No one will determine the guilt or innocence of the parents. Instead, an expensive and manufactured reasonable doubt will replace the American courtroom with a 24/7 inundation of a crackpot intruder theory, and an occasional crackpot who claims to be an intruder. By delaying a decision, Alex Hunter gave rumor and gossip time to soften public outrage into speculation. Shirking his office’s decision to charge, he convened a grand jury. By then, the purchased evidence and testimony of the Ramseys’ experts, and their gossip show interviews, had reduced common sense to irrelevancy. “Guilt beyond a reasonable doubt” diminished to an impossible public relations standard. The “umbrella of suspicion” was cast by a rich woman’s parasol.
Hunter tossed his obligation to a grand jury because he knew that the proceedings there would be agonizingly slow and, more important, conducted in secret. The rules of procedure for a Colorado grand jury would shift the responsibility to find probable cause to indict from Hunter to a dozen gagged citizens. In time, Boulder’s next DA, Mary Keenan Lacy, would adopt the intruder theory and permit grand juror interviews. L. Lin Wood, Ramsey lawyer for their “Shut Up!” lawsuits, made it perfectly clear than any deviation from the intruder theory would make the proponent of common sense a defendant in a civil action. Without the DA’s direction or approval, the public will never be allowed to know what the grand jury thought of the evidence.
Evidence in a grand jury comes by subpoena. Retired cop, Lou Smit, defender of the Ramsey’s through his worldwide circulation of an “intruder theory,” demanded that he be allowed to testify. With Ramsey legal aid, and no lack of faith, Smit forced the issue through a petition to the court. Dr. Andrew Hodges, who produced a monograph on the bogus ransom note and identified Patsy as its author, was not allowed to testify. The lead Boulder Police Detective, Steve Thomas who, like Smit, had resigned from the investigation, did not testify. Most incredibly, only Burke Ramsey testified, although the power of the grand jury subpoena could have forced John and Patsy’s testimony. The evidence, such as the ransom note, remains hidden. The jurors, forbidden by law to speak, yet speaking, issued no report, and the door closed to a prosecution of the leading suspects in the death of JonBenet.
An Apparent State Of Facts
A criminal charge, especially a charge of murder, doesn’t just pop out of a hat. For a cop to pull over a motorist and give him a speeding ticket, the police officer should have a reasonable belief that the motorist was speeding. Did the motorist pass him or others who were exceeding the speed limit? Did he go through a radar trap? Did someone report the speeding automobile? The officer needs to see or smell, taste, touch or hear something that would give a reasonable person the belief that the motorist was speeding. Once that threshold of a reasonable belief is established, probable cause exists. Once the officer has that “probable cause,” he can issue a traffic ticket.
The motorist isn’t guilty beyond a reasonable doubt at that point. He can go to court and fight the ticket with lawyers, witnesses, if there are any, scientific or factual evidence that supports his innocence; or he can admit guilt and, with less expense than claiming innocence, plea to a lesser charge. Plea bargains, cheap and easy, sell well. A traffic fine for the innocent or guilty, beats paying a lawyer for a trial and exoneration.
According to Black’s Law Dictionary “probable cause” is:
An apparent state of facts found to exist upon reasonable inquiry…. which would induce a reasonably intelligent and prudent man to believe, in a criminal case, that the accused person had committed the crime charged.
Determining probable cause is not equivalent to brain surgery, nor an exercise requiring three years of legal training. Cops do it every day of their lives. In fact, the common occurrence for police officers of finding probable cause and arresting a suspect contributed greatly to the bureaucratic in-fighting between the Boulder Police and the Boulder District Attorney. With regard to the death of JonBenet, Hunter and his office would have the public believe that they found themselves at a loss to determine any cause, probable or improbable. Perhaps this had something to do with the fact that Hal Haddon, mastermind of the Ramsey defense team, provided an umbrella of legal protection few but the Ramseys could afford. As for those who might produce probable cause, and who could not be forced into silence, Ramey money and Haddon’s political influence opened courtroom doors for their prosecutions.
Counting The Bullets
Patsy Ramsey called 911 on the morning of December 26, 1996, at 5:52 a.m. “Send help! Send Help!” she cried. By then, as the autopsy report has since revealed, JonBenet was already dead and cold in the cellar of her home. Evidence points to the fact that Patsy knew it at the time. She had found what was purported to be a ransom note, but strangely, she never seems to have believed the threats of the kidnappers to “behead” her daughter if she so much as talked to a “stray dog” before she called 911. Patsy then immediately began calling her friends: the Whites and the Fernies; their minister, Rol Hoverstock; JonBenet’s pediatrician, Dr. Francesco Beuf; and she called her parents and sister. The police should have taken the threats of the kidnappers more seriously. The hysterical phone call didn’t cause the police to think to park their squad cars anyplace other than around the house, alerting everyone in the neighborhood that something had occurred, including the alleged kidnappers who had said they would kill JonBenet at any sign of police involvement.
Patsy’s failure to wait for help from law enforcement to arrive, which it did in a matter of minutes, before recklessly filling her house with friends brings into doubt her belief in the authenticity of the ransom note. Parents of any child they genuinely believed to have been kidnapped surely know that the presence of all these people would contaminate the crime scene. They had watched the spectacle of the O.J. Simpson trial where the Los Angeles Police Department’s laboratory was called a “cesspool of contamination.” Did the parents not know their crowded house would bring into doubt any evidence pointing to the criminal intruder, one who would soon be sought as a murderer? The precipitous violation of all the terms of the ransom note raises the question of the parents’ knowledge that the child was not in the possession of a “small foreign faction.” Common sense suggests no residential crime of breaking and entering, nor that her parents thought their daughter was merely endangered, but that they knew she was in fact dead. Or, were they shrewdly, rather than carelessly, creating a botched crime scene?
The Ramseys provided Officer Rick French, the first Boulder Police Officer on the scene, with the ransom note. “Note” hardly describes the 376 words of this two and one-half page document. Unlike a typical ransom note, it was a letter full of personality, and anything but foreign in its phraseology. The letter grows immensely personal in its final sentences with,
“Don’t try to grow a brain John. You are not the only fat cat around so don’t think
that killing will be difficult. Don’t underestimate us John. Use that good southern
common sense of yours. It is up to you now John!”
The 10:00 a.m. deadline set forth in the ransom note came and went. John Ramsey had obtained the money, but then John and Patsy Ramsey took no anxious notice when the telephone failed to ring. Didn’t it perhaps cross their minds that they had, by violating the terms of the ransom note, sent the kidnappers packing? Did it bother them that if so, and if the kidnappers were true to their word, their daughter would now be beheaded? According to accounts of their behavior, this wasn’t on their minds at all.
By 1:05 p.m., the seven hour charade of a kidnapping was seriously compromised when John, asked by Detective Linda Arndt to search the house again, retrieved his daughter’s stiff, blue-lipped corpse from the basement. He carried her upstairs with his arms outstretched as if his daughter were a department store mannequin. No “small foreign faction” had left with the child after all. Now, the police realized they had a murder on their hands.
Arndt recalled the look on John Ramsey’s face as they knelt over JonBenet’s body. She claims he glared at her, that his eyes were cold and inscrutable. His look so alarmed her that she mentally checked the number of bullets in her service pistol. Then, untrained in homicide investigations, Arndt placed the body under the Christmas tree, thus twice removing the body from the crime scene, covered it with a blanket, thus producing further contamination, and joined the family and guests in the Lord’s Prayer. Arndt must have missed the recent courtroom coverage of the O.J. Simpson case, and the same kinds of mistakes made by criminologists for the Los Angeles Police Department.
Commander John Eller of the Boulder Police Department, after discovery of the body, incomprehensibly directed his officers to continue to treat the Ramseys as victims, a truly perplexing decision given that JonBenet’s corpse lay underneath the Christmas tree. As victims go, John and Patsy should no longer have been seen as primary. Given statistics on children found murdered in their own homes, the parents could now be considered primary only as suspects. The police had been searching the house for clues for several hours at this point and had found not a single piece of evidence pointing to an intruder.
Volumes can and have been written about the flawed police work that morning, but John and Patsy were not victimized by the Boulder Police Department that morning as they once maintained. It was the consideration of the police for their grief that let them escape the interrogation the circumstances dictated.
One investigatory flaw stands out: the probable cause contained in the ransom note. Among the myriad errors and oversights on the morning of December 26, 1996, was the Boulder detectives failure to question the oddity of so long a note, its stylistic peculiarities, and the fact that it was found to be written with a pen belonging to the Ramseys, on a pad of paper belonging to the Ramseys. The FBI agents who arrived later that morning had noticed the peculiarities in the ransom note, and this was before police discovered its paper and pen originated in the Ramsey kitchen. The police found a “practice” note in that pad, and noted that the pen that wrote the note had been neatly put back in its place. To some, if not most, the ransom note seemed a weird fiction made up by its author. And after close analysis, as good as a fingerprint made by Patsy, with it’s hidden confession.
The writer of this note not only claimed to be from a “small foreign faction,” but filled pages with gruesome analyses of politics, death and grief. As the FBI came to point out, kidnappers, least of all those from a “small foreign faction,” do not waste time on their target’s emotional issues, nor their well being. “The delivery will be exhausting so I advise you to be rested.” They do not warn of electronic screening capabilities. They do not ask a “victim,” whose company the local newspaper had just reported grossed a billion dollars, for a paltry $118,000. Your ordinary terrorist also would not know that John’s bonus from Access Graphics was $118,000 plus change. Would someone “inside” Ramsey’s company snatch his bonus away at the price of his daughter’s life?
What parents in the Ramseys’ position would not pay a million dollars, or two million dollars, for return of their prettiest possession? $118,000 shows just how cheap a value the author of the ransom note put on their daughter’s life. To the Ramseys, in the eyes of the kidnappers, JonBenet was more or less worth the value of her father’s sailboat, the Miss America. John also had at his disposal for his family’s travel to Michigan on the morning of December 26, 1996, one of his private million dollar plus airplanes. Quite oddly, John didn’t want to cancel this planned travel before his daughter turned up dead. He called his pilot that morning to prepare the plane for flight. The police had to tell John that he wasn’t traveling anywhere that morning.
Curiosities and clues abound in the text of the ransom note. Most significantly, Patsy’s handwriting characteristics have been repeatedly and consistently identified by experts as those found in the ransom letter. Of the handwriting specimens taken from every suspect in the case, only Patsy’s could not be eliminated, even by the Ramseys’ experts. This alone should provide sufficient probable cause to have arrested her. Perhaps, someday, when the Confidentiality and Publishing Agreement between the Ramseys and one of their handwriting experts, Donald Vacca, expires, Vacca may be willing to discuss his work in aiding and abetting the Ramsey defense team. Unlike a lawyer, a handwriting expert does not have a license, and, thus, cannot face the loss of his license for telling the truth about the probable guilt of a lawyer’s client.
Donald Vacca, a 25-year veteran of the Denver Police Department, had retired from law enforcement and, at the time of JonBenet’s death, was augmenting his pension with work as a handwriting expert. He worked out of his home in Evergreen, Colorado. The Ramseys’ criminal defense team contacted Vacca to perform a handwriting analysis on the ransom letter that Patsy had “found.” He has not published a written report proclaiming Patsy’s innocence. The source of his paycheck in this case may explain why he has published no report at all.
As one of the several handwriting experts immediately retained by the Ramseys in their criminal defense, Vacca became involved in an attempt to cover-up early on, before Newsweek published the facsimile of the ransom note. The handwriting experts had taken several individual glyphs of letters out of context and published a newspaper advertisement asking if anyone knew of someone whose handwriting showed these characteristics. “Do you know anyone who writes an “M” like this?” the advertisement read. If so, one may impute, contact team Ramsey in order to turn all those fingers pointing at Patsy in another direction, any other direction. Of course, this ridiculous diversion produced no results.
Hide And No Seek
The twisted path of justice in Boulder had its elements of humor, and these were not lost on Denver radio talk show host, Peter Boyles. He opened with a musical cut from Warner Brothers “Looney Toons,” and invited discussion of the Boulder Police Department’s investigation. Boulder’s reputation as a playground for gray-haired hippies and leftist politics allowed musings as to which “small foreign faction” was at work in the Ramsey household. The ransom note, the smoking gun of the JonBenet murder investigation, survived as the number one source for probable cause to arrest Patsy. And where is it now? It lies hidden away, now in Boulder District Attorney Mary Keenan Lacy’s archives of the secret deliberations of the disbanded Boulder Grand Jury. Lacy, for her part, attended Patsy’s funeral in June, 2006, then made a fool of herself with the arrest of Mark John Karr two months later.
With the original note out of the public domain, the Ramseys’ lawyers may remind the police, the District Attorney’s office and the press that handwriting experts, like any other forensic witnesses, are apt to testify in favor of whoever employs them. Thus, with a wizardly sleight of hand, the original evidence disappears and all handwriting experts, who depend on originals to identify the speed and pressure of a handwriting, are deprived of all but photocopies of the ransom note. When the press reported that even the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) could not identify the disguised handwriting as that of Patsy, it misstated the facts. When the writer of a ransom note disguises the handwriting, say, by using the left hand instead of the dominant right hand, positive identification is only somewhat limited, not eliminated, by the attempted deception. Can we positively identify Clayton Moore as the Lone Ranger while he wears his disguise? No, the purpose of the mask is to hide a major identification factor, the skull casing of the eyes, at a glance. Nevertheless, we and tell the shape of the head, face, nose, lips and jaw, the skin, eye and hair color. We can identify the voice, the nuances of speech patterns and accents. And, when placing a photograph of Moore next to one of the Lone Ranger, we can identify with some degree of certainty that it probably is Clayton Moore, and positively not Bozo the Clown. And since we are dealing here with the reality of a ransom note used to cover-up the horrible death of a child, and not a television fiction requiring a suspension of disbelief, we must trust our senses and common sense to see through the superimposed mask in the handwriting to make an identification.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) position is that Patsy Ramsey possibly, but not definitely, wrote the ransom note. Meanwhile, those handwriting experts from the law enforcement community involved in the murder investigation have positively eliminated every suspect but Patsy. What has not gained enough attention regarding the ransom note’s author is her ambidextrous ability. One curiosity of the ransom note is the change in the handwriting as the note progresses from fairly crudely drawn characters to more substantially well formed letter structures. Peter Boyles concluded on his radio program that the writer switched hands in mid-letter. In fact, an ambidextrous person such as Patsy, is quickly able to establish new muscle memory and adapt to the change in handedness.
According to John in their New York Times bestseller, The Death of Innocence, their attorneys “hired two of the top handwriting experts in the country to analyze the note.” Even the Ramseys’ own hired experts, though eliminating John, could not eliminate Patsy. Not surprisingly, these privately hired, anonymous experts emphasize only a very low probability that Patsy wrote the note. Even less surprising, their written reports are not accessible. Without these reports, other handwriting experts cannot review the work of the Ramseys’ handwriting experts, or identify what features in the ransom note and what specific specimens of Patsy’s handwriting in general they relied upon in reaching their opinions.
In 1997, victims rights attorney, Darnay Hoffman, employed three independent handwriting experts; David Liebman, Cina L. Wong and Thomas C. “Doc” Miller. All three concluded, without consulting each other, that Patsy wrote the note. Their analyses are contained in affidavits, filed in the Boulder District Court, and they have been posted on internet websites devoted to crime. Patsy denies having altered her handwriting style after JonBenet’s death.
Messages In Pen And Ink
“There is no instrument used in more crimes than the paper and pen.” So states theCriminal and Investigations Handbook. While stereoscopic microscopes and ultraviolet light have technologically advanced document examination as a forensic science, so have breakthroughs in psychology as a tool of advanced methods of criminal investigation. The famous Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) profilers borrow from psychiatry, forensic psychology and criminology. Related to the graphic characteristics of Patsy’s handwriting are certain verbal mannerisms and psychological identifiers. According to Dr. Andrew G. Hodges, a psychiatrist and psycholinguist, these subconscious characteristics are resonant, dissonant and embedded in the ransom note.
Dr. Hodges had worked on the O.J. Simpson case and with the FBI in the extension of psycholinguistics to forensic investigation. He became aware of JonBenet’s murder in the same way as millions of others. He read about it in the newspapers, saw replays on television of the six-year-old’s sexual sauntering for beauty pageants and heard each new detail in the case over the morning radio. Dr. Hodges read the ransom letter once it was published and applied his knowledge in linguistic profiling. Phrasing, word choice and echoes in the juxtaposition of ideas, words and syntactical patterns convinced Dr. Hodges that the ransom note is tantamount to Patsy’s “confession.” An FBI agent referred Dr. Hodges to the Boulder Police Chief, Mark Beckner. Dr. Hodges offered Chief Beckner a summary of the results of his analysis on December 5, 1997. The Chief listened politely, and then declined to consider Dr. Hodges’ work.
This refusal of assistance originating from outside the Boulder Police Department became a hallmark of the Ramsey murder investigation. Detectives from the Denver Police Department offered their expertise in the early moments of the discovery of the kidnapping on the morning of December 26, 1996. No thanks. Bill Haigmaier from the FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crimes, profilers made famous in Hollywood, saw the evidence pointing to John and Patsy. Sorry. The Ramseys’ hired profiler, John Douglas, did not approve of profiling that contradicted his paid for intruder profile. The Boulder Police Department didn’t use the FBI’s profile that pointed to Patsy. Why the District Attorney’s office preferred the Ramseys’ hired opinion to that of the FBI and unpaid experts with a civic interest in the case is a question to be asked, and asked again.
Dr. Hodges persisted nevertheless, and tried to submit his work to the grand jury. Had Alex Hunter allowed psycholinguist Dr. Hodges, M.D., and his research associates, to testify to the grand jury as to their analysis of the ransom note, he would have had more probable cause for Patsy’s arrest. DA Hunter had already punted on the decision to not charge the Ramseys by sending the matter to the grand jury. No need for the testimony of Dr. Hodges and many others. The control of information provided to the grand jury precluded it from indicting the Ramseys.
The ransom note was intended by the murderer or a complicitor to throw dust in the eyes of the police by staging a kidnapping. The police detectives’ failure to question the validity of this crucial piece of evidence provided, as it was surely meant to do, an opportunity to violate the crime scene and confound the investigation in its first critical hours. What the writer of the note could not have consciously intended was to embed extraordinary underlying messages about the author’s own psyche at the time of the writing.
Dr. Hodges performs a psychological autopsy of the subconscious mind of the writer of the ransom note in his book, A Mother Gone Bad. He believes the note was written immediately after the murder. He then establishes Patsy’s likely mental condition through interviews with her associates, other writings of hers and her own public statements. Finally, he relates the various psychological roots of her southern upbringing and Miss West Virginia title to the traumas of ovarian cancer, loss of image, sexuality and likely jealousy of JonBenet’s success to the psychological profile derived from the ransom note. He looks at the manner in which the little girl was murdered, filtered through the images of Patsy’s own emotional and physical losses and rejection. The note’s own fantastic length and laughably low ransom demand give clues to the writer’s interest in something other than an efficient and profitable kidnapping.
The note, addressed to John Ramsey, advises him to “Use that good southern common sense of yours.” According to Dr. Hodges’ reading of the outlandish concern of the kidnapper for John’s performance, Patsy is trying to tell, not John, but the police:
…not to get fancy but to just think about the most logical explanation for the crime. Boulder (Colorado), a murder rate of one, Christmas night, parent’s home, no phone call from the “kidnapper” between 8 and 10, bizarre motive, etc … 
Not only does Dr. Hodges find the “psychological fingerprints” of Patsy all over the ransom note,  but adds to this that common sense would question the writer’s claim to be “foreign,” yet to be familiar with the family joke about John’s good southern common sense (when he came from Michigan), and advise rest before making the drop.
Dr. Hodges’ book did not sell well. His second book, Who Will Speak for JonBenet?, applies the science of psycholinguistics not only to the ransom note and Patsy, but to the closed minds of Chief Mark Beckner, and prosecutor Michael Kane, who led the grand jury deliberations. His second book also expands his analysis of Patsy’s mental state prior to the murder. He concludes that Patsy not only wrote the note as a cover-up, but participated in the child’s death with John’s involvement and assistance. Dr. Hodges’ anger and bitterness for being ignored when he believed his work could help unravel the mystery and bring about justice is palpable. Boulder police officers who resigned, journalists who saw the calamity to the justice system mounting, and common citizens shaking their heads and thinking helplessly, “What can I do about it?” share the same anger and bitterness.
Don Foster, a professor in linguistics at Vassar College, is another citizen who voluntarily applied his professional expertise to the Ramsey case’s prime piece of evidence. Professor Foster had received worldwide recognition for his controversial work in identifying the authorship of a previously unknown work by William Shakespeare, Ted Kaczynski as the Unabomber and Joe Kline, the originally anonymous author of Primary Colors. Hunter contacted Professor Foster and interested him in analyzing the ransom note. The linguistics professor came to the same conclusion as various handwriting experts, psycholinguistic and FBI profilers and a legion of other investigators: Patsy Ramsey wrote the note. Professor Foster explained his findings in March, 1998, to police and prosecutors.
While Dr. Hodges studied the ransom note for psychological fingerprints, Professor Foster examined it for stylistic similarities between it and Patsy’s Christmas letters, personal notes and other available writing samples. He analyzed the grammar, syntax, word choice, punctuation, characteristic use of parts of speech, etc.
District Attorney Hunter learned from the Ramsey attorneys that the professor had sent Patsy a note of condolence before doing his analysis of the letter. So had many, many other good citizens, stunned by the savagery of the crime. Rather than acknowledging the change in circumstances now that Professor Foster had studied the actual text of the ransom note, Hunter rejected the expert’s opinion. No matter which expert said to the DA that the note was Patsy’s creation, Hunter rejected their work. If such reports were to be acknowledged as valid, as they surely would have been by a fully informed and attentive grand jury, the arrest of Patsy would become inevitable. For some reason, that result was an anathema to the grand jury.
Professor Foster’s note with his condolences irreparably damaged his credibility for Hunter. Shakespeare’s most extravagant comedy or tragedy couldn’t envision a story with so faithless an ending as Professor Foster’s damnation as a faithless and untruthful expert.
Alex Hunter’s Medea
Nobody wants to entertain the appalling thought of a mother murdering her own child. Yet, when such an event seems entirely possible, these same normal people will crave all of the details. Again and again such stories become literature, even good literature. Euripides’ Medea tells the story of a witch who murdered her two sons in a jealous rage. Her husband, Jason, planned to abandon her in order to marry an Athenian princess. Tabloid trash? The Greek audience left the theater aghast, but so satisfied with the story that the play has survived for thousands of years, and Western Civilization still ponders the darkest thoughts of the human mind.
A confusion of moral values within the American legal system installs the ghastly crimes against JonBenet in the imagination of a worldwide audience, and offers no “judgment.” The Ramseys had the money to intimidate the Boulder District Attorney’s office, and, by doing so, to escape their “day in court.” The judicial system has no obligation to provide an ending to a crime.
The ending of the Ramsey case is left to the folktales of American society with no better ending than a savage killing and no justice for the child. In this “fairy tale” ending did the jealous queen want to get rid of the Cinderella princess? Look how quickly the popular press went from accusing John to accusing Patsy. In fairy tales the king is usually not guilty of killing his princess, although he will often abandon her for his son or second wife. The law in this case is guilty of not correcting this habit of the human imagination to create a fairy tale in this individual case where it may or may not be true. The obligation of our justice system is to ascertain truth, not to collude by its silence, nor to make a better story.
The decision on Hunter’s part not to indict came in concert with the directives of Hal Haddon, to accept any “bad fact,” any fact that pointed to the Ramseys’ involvement in their daughter’s death, as a non-fact, a false fact or an irrelevant fact. Hunter faced the “bad fact” of Professor Foster’s sympathy note to Patsy and dodged it. If he accepted the truth of the expert’s analysis, he would have to face, on national television, a criminal defense team with courtroom skills his office didn’t have. The District Attorney could have, and should have, left the decision for a jury to decide if Professor Foster’s note to Patsy compromised his later analysis of the ransom note. If, after seeing the ransom note, the jury finds his expertise compromised by his original impulse to sympathize, why exclude it? Both his sympathy and his reading of the note are parts of the truth. Would not the Grand Jury wish to hear “the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?”
Hunter complained to tabloid reporter, Craig Lewis, and other members of the press that his office needed a “break,” a new revelation, in order to indict the Ramseys. The bad fact is that District Attorney Hunter ignored all the breaks that came his way except for immediately reporting them via a press leak to the Ramseys’ defense attorneys. While this did not necessarily render the leaked evidence inadmissible in court, it provided the Ramseys’ lawyers with access to evidence that they had no right to receive prior to the filing of charges. It armed the defense with the argument that no “fair” trial was possible, and thus provided a basis to dismiss the prosecutor’s case, or grounds to appeal a conviction. John and Patsy’s lawyers, and the press, then spun real evidentiary facts out to the public with their own response, which was to trivialize, deny or calumniate the source.
Interestingly, as came to light through the persistence of the New York Post in its slow capitulation to a Ramsey lawsuit over Burke’s possible involvement in the death of JonBenet, lawyers for the Ramseys and the District Attorney’s office had evidence regarding Burke that neither side wanted the press to examine. Burke was a few weeks shy of being ten years old at the time of his sister’s death, and, under Colorado law, he could not be charged with the crime of murder at so tender an age. One may speculate that the grand jury was prevented from issuing a report because only one of the three persons in the Ramsey household on December 26, 1996, Burke, was called to testify. The information provided by police interviews with virtually every other potential witness was provided to the defense lawyers and leaked to the press. Burke’s was not.
Hunter fumbled every fact discovered by the police that was favorable to the prosecution. He did this inexcusably, knowing that the defense would be prepared to deflect any derivative truth. He wanted a confession, and while ignoring the note, decided that nothing short of that was going to bring either parent into custody. He insured the impossibility of successful prosecution beyond a reasonable doubt, and placed his only hope upon the mounting evidence, known by the defense, to prompt a confession. Such confusion and caprice, as he well knew, invariably leads to plea bargains. Haddon and company were confident enough in District Attorney Hunter’s incompetence to rest assured their clients would never have to confess or enter a plea based upon a confession. The eyes of justice, blind to probable cause in this case, were no longer connected to a mind that judges beyond appearances; they only closed tighter throughout the investigation.
The Crime Scene
Dr John Meyer performed the autopsy on JonBenet’s body on the morning of December 27, 1996. In addition to the causes of death, blunt trauma to the head and strangulation, he found acute and chronic vaginal trauma. The autopsy report provides a gruesome picture of JonBenet’s last months, as well as her last minutes of life. John and Patsy, through their phalanx of lawyers and public relations firm fought against the release of this report, as they had fought against the release of any incriminating evidence since the beginning of the investigation. How could they explain, or deny, chronic vaginal trauma in a six-year-old? How long had the parents been clueless to the ongoing visitations of their intruder?
Only a single obscene act by an unidentified “kidnapper” between 10:00 p.m. on Christmas night after the family arrived home, and sometime later that evening or early the next morning, would explain the acute vaginal trauma, not chronic abuse. The Ramseys’ pediatrician and close personal friend, Dr Francesco Beuf, does not accept the evidence of chronic sexual abuse. How does he explain it or deny it? Does he ever say from a medical point of view how or why her hymen was reduced to a rag and the wall of her vagina repeatedly abraded? No, he describes JonBenet as a “very much loved child.” Being “very much loved” would seem to have very little to do with sexual innocence inside the Ramsey home.
The Ramseys explain that JonBenet’s 33 visits to her pediatrician in the last three years of her life were because of her mild asthma and the fact that they had very good health insurance which they were not shy about using. Dr Beuf states that JonBenet suffered from “mild” vaginitis, as if that’s normal in a four to six-year-old girl. That is patently ridiculous. Could this have contributed to her bedwetting problem which Dr Beuf certainly knew of? It does not explain the feces JonBenet would leave in her bed, either. Vaginitis does not necessarily prove chronic sexual abuse. Yet, chronic sexual abuse could explain vaginitis in a child JonBenet’s age, where very little else can.
Vaginitis, however oddly present in a little girl, does not present the same symptoms as chronic sexual abuse, although it may arise from molestation. The autopsy did not identify JonBenet’s “mild vaginitis,” as a possible source of the signs of chronic abrasive penetration, because it was not a possible source. Only someone with frequent intimate access to JonBenet could explain the condition documented by Dr Meyer’s autopsy.
Long after JonBenet should have been potty trained, certainly as late as the fall of 1994, her toilet behavior was odd. By 1995, in addition to more frequent soiling of her bed with faeces and urine, JonBenet often did not want to use toilet tissue on herself. She would call out, “wipe, wipe,” for assistance from adults. This might help to explain the vaginitis, but not the curiously immature behavior in a bright and extraordinarily precocious child.
Dr Beuf spoke out on behalf of his wealthy personal friends, the Ramseys, to deny sexual abuse. He clearly had a vested interest in denying the presence of sexual abuse, because if he had suspected or identified it and had failed to report its symptoms, the autopsy findings would have exposed his complicity or stupidity since his patient had turned up sexually tortured and dead. His reputation as a competent doctor would have been ruined. The Ramseys’ selective use of the testimony and/or friendly opinions of personal friends; such as Dr Beuf and Mrs Beuf, Susan Stine, and John’s older children and former wife, does not explain away clear scientific evidence of chronic trauma to JonBenet’s vagina. Who came and went from JonBenet’s bedroom for sexual gratification long before she was murdered? Is this or is this not relevant to the murder investigation? Apparently, Hunter thought not.
The autopsy report found pineapple in JonBenet’s digestive tract, and the police found a half empty bowl of pineapple in the kitchen with Patsy and Burke’s fingerprints on it. No one served JonBenet pineapple at the party she had attended earlier that evening at the home of Fleet and Priscilla White. The parents claimed that JonBenet had been brought from the car asleep and put to bed immediately. How did the pineapple get into the child’s body shortly before she was murdered? How are those fingerprints on the bowl explained?
JonBenet, You WILL!
Nedra Paugh’s epitaph could read, “Girls, you have only your looks.” JonBenet won the titles of Little Miss Charlevoix, America’s Royal Miss, Colorado All-Star Kids Cover Girl, Little Miss Colorado, Little Miss Christmas, and on and on, all by the time she was six years old. With her parent’s money and her aunt’s and mother’s Miss West Virginia titles, promoted by Grandma Nedra, JonBenet had supernova power in the child beauty pageant circuit. Little JonBenet was expected to be crowned Miss America someday. That JonBenet was somewhat of a tomboy offstage, curious, bright and less than eagerly committed to winning beauty pageants, mattered little to Patsy, or to the matriarch, Nedra Paugh.
For some time prior to her death, JonBenet had begun to rebel against her obligations to the child beauty pageant industry. She had watched her mother lose her hair to cancer treatments and worry over wigs and scarves. Now she saw the color of her own hair changed from dishwater blonde to a southern belle’s big hair, sunny blonde. She had to take endless voice and dance lessons to learn routines for pageant performances. She had to sit still for lipstick, mascara, powder and rouge. Patsy, her sisters and mother understandably relived their pageant experiences through JonBenet. The Paugh women’s investment in the beauty pageant world would seem to have grown out of proportion.
Of course, not every child entreated to sing and dance for a panel of beauty pageant judges is sexually molested. Nevertheless, the connection between being dressed and taught to move like a show-girl or call girl and being regarded as a sexual toy is not counter-intuitive. Every child, especially a bright little girl, can have a proprietary sense of her own body and appearance. Yet, JonBenet died at a point in her life when her rebellion against the beauty pageants, denied by her parents, had begun to appear to witnesses outside the home.
Once, while Judith Phillips was visiting the Ramseys, Nedra Paugh pulled one of JonBenet’s costumes from a closet, a pink and frilly overstated outfit. Judith asked what the family would do if Colorado’s Royal Miss began to complain, or refused to practice and submit to future beauty pageants. “We will say, JonBenet you WILL!” said JonBenet’s grandmother.
Hunter hired Marilyn Vanderbur-Atler, former Miss America and sexual abuse survivor, as a consultant on child sexual abuse and beauty pageantry. Vanderbur-Atler noted that she believed her father would have murdered her before he would have let her publicly expose his sexual abuse of her. The intuitive connection between premature presentation of a girl child as a sex object in beauty pageants and the abuse of that child as a privileged object of pleasure is not far-fetched. That connection is certainly one of the reasons that the Boulder Police Department has left John and Patsy under an “umbrella of suspicion” and not a “sunbeam of innocence.”
Burke Awake, Burke Asleep
The 911 call from the Ramsey home at 5:52 a. m., December 26, 1996, supports probable cause. Both of the Ramseys stated to the police that Burke was asleep on that morning, and that he was not awakened when his parents discovered the ransom note. The audio enhanced 911 tape of Patsy’s frantic telephone call to the Boulder dispatcher that morning identified Burke’s voice in the background. Four years after the murder, long after electronic enhancement of the 911 tapes, the Ramseys admitted that Burke was awake. Why did they lie? How long had he been awake?
“What did you find? What do you want me to do?” Burke’s voice asks from the background.
“We’re not talking to you,” John responds.
John shows a cool head under fire. Burke’s sister has been kidnapped! Patsy is on the telephone with 911, screaming for help. There’s a ransom note that threatens beheading. There’s a corpse in the basement with a ligature so tightly bound around its slender throat that the groove in the flesh was a half inch deep in places. Is JonBenet in your room, Burke? Did you hear anything, Burke? What have you been up to, son?
It struck investigators as odd that John and Patsy did not wake their son after finding the ransom note to ask him if he had heard anything. The first police officer, Rick French, found Burke sleeping, or pretending to sleep, in his bedroom. How likely is it that a nine-year-old boy could go back to sleep knowing that the police were on their way and his sister had been kidnapped? While John and Patsy may claim that their bedroom on the third floor was too far removed from JonBenet’s room on the second floor to hear an intruder, Burke’s bedroom was on the same floor as hers. They shared a common playroom. Considering the extraordinary time taken to molest and murder JonBenet, write a two and one half page ransom note, wipe off the little girl’s body and clean her bedroom, Burke would have to be drugged, or emotionally traumatized, not to admit being awake. Finally, as the boy aged and could no longer be silenced, the parents admit their son was awake while all hell was breaking loose in their home.
John, in carefully selected and prepared interviews, emphasizes his and Patsy’s “normal” behavior, their “normal” household and their “normal” family. Should his normal voice convince us? Is it normal to refuse to talk to a nine-year-old boy about a crisis concerning his sister? Is it normal to ignore the threats of a ransom note so thoroughly and immediately? Is it normal to proceed with vacation plans to Michigan on the morning of the day your daughter has been kidnapped? Is it normal to put on your make-up at 5:30 a.m. for a private flight? Is it normal to spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours dressing and training your daughter to enroll in beauty pageants, only to dismiss it as a “Sunday afternoon thing?” Is it normal to invite friends over to witness your shock and grief at your daughter’s kidnapping? Is it normal to finger your housekeeper and your family friends, as well as your business associates, for the murder of your daughter? Is it normal to host a freak show display such as the Ramseys did on December 26, 1996, including your daughter’s garroted and sexually abused corpse under the Christmas tree, and then to refuse to talk to police?
No one considered the Ramseys’ immediate lawyering up as normal. No one considered the video tapes of JonBenet’s off-key songs and sexually charged pageant acts as normal. John and Patsy’s behavior throughout this case reveals them as anything but normal parents. Their public relations spin is that no one knows how they would act or react under the same circumstances as the Ramseys. Possibly, but most parents do know they wouldn’t react the way the Ramseys did. Few parents would have lied about their son’s presence during the 911 call on the morning of the murder. And, John and Patsy on tape continued to deny Burke’s presence during the 911 call, even though his voice is on tape. They claim that they learned from Burke’s lawyer during grand jury testimony over two years after JonBenet’s death that Burke was awake, only pretending to sleep, when the police arrived. That’s anything but “normal” communication with their child.
La Mancha Law School
When suspects, even rich people under an uncommitted “umbrella of suspicion,” deny the obvious to cops, antennae go up and the denials become part of the probable cause for arrest. Well, as Don Quixote de La Mancha must have taught to Hunter in law school, “Facts are the enemy of truth.” Rather than move forward, the District Attorney gingerly ferreted out explanations from the defense team; did someone know JonBenet, and know she loved pineapple, and possible seduce her with a bowl of the fruit without her parent’s knowledge? Might that person also keep the girl quiet upstairs through the use of a stun gun? If so, even Hunter must have wondered how a stunned and unconscious JonBenet would have been able to swallow. Such fiction reminds one of Johnnie Cochran’s theory that Nicole Brown Simpson was murdered by Columbian drug lords who mistook her for her cocaine addicted friend, Faye Resnick.
A few minutes before 1:00 p.m. on December 26, John received permission from Detective Arndt to go and search the house. Accompanied by his friend, Fleet White, he made a bee line to the wine cellar where JonBenet’s body lay. John hurried into the pitch dark room and cried, “Oh, my God!” Then, he turned on the light and proceeded to disturb the crime scene, disregarding Arndt’s instruction not to touch anything. He ripped a piece of black tape from JonBenet’s lifeless blue lips, then picked her up and hurried up the stairs. It was 1:05 p.m. Did John’s earlier disappearance from the gathering that morning have something to do with his quick discovery of the body once he received permission to search the house?
The black tape removed from JonBenet’s mouth showed no evidence of her being alive when it was placed there. Why would a kidnapper tape shut a dead girl’s mouth? That black piece of tape had more to tell. Curiously, red fibers matching the sweater Patsy wore on Christmas night, and was wearing again the next morning when she greeted the police and her other guests, were found on the sticky side of the tape. Someone wearing Patsy’s party clothing must have been in proximity to the black tape just before it was placed over the dead girl’s lips. Lou Smit, the Ramsey’s religious friend and investigator, whose primary contribution to the case is the elaboration of a far fetched “intruder” theory, has postulated that the intruder brought the tape and the rope (the only elements of the staged crime scene that were not found at the house). Are we to believe, given the evidence, that the intruder somehow was able to expose his tape to Patsy’s party sweater before placing it on the dead girl’s lips? Or, are we to postulate that we are dealing with a cross-dressing intruder who took the clothes from Patsy’s room and wore them to the murder?
The police discovered that the handle of the control device the kidnapper used to strangle JonBenet was broken off from one of Patsy’s paintbrushes. The paint box was near the door to the wine cellar and the coroner would later find Patsy’s clothing fibers from the broken wooden handle inside JonBenet’s vagina. According to John and Patsy’s “We’re Christians” defense, the very depravity of staging this scene of torture and molestation must be seen as proof of their innocence. Christians could not do such things. Ergo, some non-Christian must have worn the sweater to the murder, broken Patsy’s paintbrush to probe JonBenet’s tiny vagina and then used it for a garrote. Somebody who didn’t live at that house fed pineapple to JonBenet, although that was not an unchristian thing to do. Somebody other than Patsy drew the tiny heart on the palm of the dead girl’s hand in red ink, just as Patsy used to do before bed when the child was alive. This is not an unchristian act. Somebody else. Somebody else. And, this “somebody else” wants to convince the police that all they really wanted was not the child’s death, but $118,000. To demand only $118,000 for the life of a millionaire’s child, would a real Christian bid so low?
A lot of crises had disrupted the Ramseys’ lives in the several years before JonBenet’s murder. Patsy’s wealth gave her the privilege of receiving cancer treatments from Johns Hopkins University Hospital. She would travel by air to Baltimore and return exhausted. She made most of those trips without John. Friends of the family brought them cooked meals, and wondered why John seemed to keep his distance from Patsy’s ordeal, seldom traveling with her for treatments. Nedra dismissed John’s absence from the bedside saying it was his job to make the money. Patsy’s main job was, as it had always been, to take care of her high-priced body.
JonBenet now rode in the front seat of the car with her father while her mother was in treatment. Patsy, while employed at Hayes Microcomputer Systems, had introduced herself as “the former Miss West Virginia.” Now, the spotlight had shifted. She was the mother of “Little Miss Tiny Colorado.” Nedra, recognizing another beauty in the wings, began to press for beauty titles for JonBenet. Patsy Ramsey was history.
While the former Miss West Virginia remained secluded at home in Boulder, protected by Nedra from visitors and the risk of air borne germs, John maintained his interest in money, airplanes and sailboats. Dr Andrew Hodges identifies, in Patsy’s Christmas letters of 1995 and 1996, as well as through his many interviews with those who knew the Ramseys, the dark realities concerning the effects of Patsy’s cancer treatments on her marriage. Not only had Patsy suddenly gone from beauty queen to menopausal invalid, but she could sense the change in the relationship between John and JonBenet. The six-year-old’s precocious sexuality had replaced her mother’s sexuality, now depleted by cancer and surgery.
The autopsy reports an eight and one-half inch long fracture from the top of JonBenet’s head downward and back behind her right ear: a blow sufficient to have felled a 300 pound man. It can’t be explained with an, “Oh, she fell out of bed.” The autopsy reports that the ligature found tightened around JonBenet’s neck was imbedded up to one-half inch deep in places into her young flesh. Would a kidnapper have realized that the crack on her head was enough to kill the child that was to be ransomed? And, thereafter realizing the failure of his plan, why did he stage the elaborate scene of sexual torture? Why, after such a staging, knowing he would leave the body behind, would he also leave a ransom note? It would have been reasonable to think that the body would not be discovered until it began to decompose, whereas leaving a ransom note would assure a search of the house, and massive police scrutiny. Why did he so savagely finish her off? The control device around JonBenet’s throat is identical to devices used for lashing things in place in the Boy Scout’s Manual. Its brutal application as a garrote opens speculation as to the age of the offender. After entering the house and having affected so much damage undetected, couldn’t the kidnapper(s) have left the grounds with an extra 76 pounds and retained the possibility of a $118,000 ransom? The sexual gratification also does not fit within the profile of abduction for ransom. The Ramseys’ profiler, John Douglas, acknowledges that the two motives are not known to overlap.
Patsy had long fancied herself an artist, and so certainly would have appreciated the “art” in the staging of her daughter’s death. She might have recognized the method of the garrote as one described by a book on her nightstand, a spy novel by Alan Folsom entitled, The Day after Tomorrow. Folsom’s thriller includes not only the use of a garrote, but multiple beheadings. The movie “Ransom,” may have suggested to the intruder/writer that the bagman would be “screened for electronic devises,” and that the kidnapper was “familiar with police procedures.” Patsy, even when heavily drugged, might have mentioned the intruder’s uncanny plagiarism of the book on the bedside table, but she did not. The ransom note threatens beheading and the corpse in the cellar has been virtually “beheaded” by a garrote.
How tragic, that an obviously phony ransom note and a clumsily staged crime scene should successfully cause the Boulder Police Department to bungle its investigation. How comic, that Hunter’s political career should require exoneration of such an amateurish and flimsy hoax. How embarrassing the inability of both the police and the prosecutors to effect any credible arrest or conviction. How real the threat of a lawsuit by the Ramseys for anyone who presents evidence of probable cause to indict someone living in the Ramsey house rather than a mysteriously inept intruder.
Cleanliness Next To Godliness
One can only imagine how long it took to stage the crime scene finally revealed to the police. Did the author of the ransom note do it alone, or was there an accomplice? JonBenet’s corpse had been washed and her clothes had been changed. Her bedroom, or any other room where violence had occurred, had to be cleaned and vacuumed. The body, bludgeoned and strangled, had to be wrapped in its blanket and arranged in the wine cellar along with JonBenet’s favorite nightgown. The ransom note itself takes at least twenty minutes simply to copy. To compose it, and write it with an intention to disguise the handwriting might take as much as an hour, perhaps longer, even for an ambidextrous person. The methodical strangulation and extraordinary cleanup of all traces of the intrusion and its aftermath betrays considerable calculation by the intruder. But, why the heart drawn in the hand? Why the favorite nightgown?
The coroner’s report can but estimate the time of JonBenet’s death as between 1:00 and 1:30 a.m. based upon the progress of that pineapple snack in her digestive tract. If John knew where his daughter was, and that she was dead, the twelve hour wait before “discovering” the body in the wine cellar must have been maddening. If the parents anticipated a kidnapper’s phone call, why didn’t they react to the passing of the 10:00 a.m. deadline? During that wait, John was absent for some time just before 10:00 a.m. He went downstairs and noticed a window he had broken months earlier when he had forgotten his keys. He closed it. Patsy peeked through her fingers at Officer Rick French between sobs that morning. Detective Arndt noticed that the couple did not sit near each other to give comfort. John disappeared again soon after Detective Fred Paterson sealed JonBenet’s bedroom as a crime scene, sometime after 10:30 a.m. This behavior is odd, very odd. His daughter is kidnapped, they’re waiting for the kidnapper to call, and John wanders downstairs to close a window, tampering with evidence while he kills time?
Just before 1:00 p.m., hours after John had first been let go to wander the house, Arndt gave him the go-ahead to search the house again. This time, he brought his daughter’s mangled body from the basement, and the lone Boulder police officer on the scene, Arndt, realized that the kidnapping had changed to murder. It took six more hours for detectives to obtain a search warrant that would permit the coroner to remove the body from the house. The autopsy wasn’t begun until the following morning at 8:15 a.m. In all that time a lot of evidence began to erode or vanish; a lot would simply be ignored. At no point did detectives separate John from Patsy for individual questioning.
Smit’s First Freebie
With their obvious sentimentality for Christmas and envisioning JonBenet as an angel, John and Patsy ordered the inscription on JonBenet’s headstone in Atlanta. It describes her short life as ending on December 25, 1996, although the autopsy report suggests a time of death after midnight, between one and two in the morning on December 26.
For those who attended St. John’s Episcopal Church with the Ramseys in Boulder, and who shared their values and beliefs, the thought of the Ramseys being calculating and brutal murderers reaches beyond difficult to impossible. Yet, the evidence developed through the years, reduces faith in their innocence to common sense acknowledgment of their possible involvement. They were rich, they were white and they had it all. Above all, they were Christians! To their defense arrived Lou Smit. He cemented his position supporting the Ramseys during a chance meeting with them in front of their mansion on 15th Street. They prayed together in Smit’s car. Smit says his investigation led him to his intruder theory. Critics say his religion did.
Before Hunter hired Smit as a special investigator to the murder case, he acknowledged that he had already made up his mind:
I told Alex, “Look, I don’t know if you’re going to hire me, but I’ll
give you a freebie,” Smit recounted. “Whoever wrote this note did
not do it after the murder.”
Given his reputation for detail, Smit’s denial of alternative possibilities for the time when the ransom note was written, the most important piece of evidence in the case, put Smit in a position to undermine the confidence of Hunter in the Boulder Police Department’s work from the time he entered the investigation. With Smit’s assumption on the ransom note, he denied the possibility of two persons’ involvement in the crime; one who killed, the other who wrote the note. He resigned as the special investigator for the Boulder District Attorney’s Office a week after Detective Steve Thomas resigned from the Boulder Police Department. When Hunter called for the grand jury to take over the case, Smit sued Hunter to testify before the grand jury. When the Ramseys were not indicted, Smit sued Hunter a second time to regain possession of the “Power Point” presentation he had made before the grand jury. His theory claims that someone wandered around the Ramsey house for hours before the family came home from the White’s Christmas party, waited for everyone to go to bed, then used a stun gun to overpower JonBenet, fed her pineapple, sexually molested her, murdered her, or vice versa, cleaned her up, cleaned up after himself and disappeared as mysteriously as he had appeared.
Smit released that Power Point presentation as another “freebie” to the press.Newsweek gets it one year. NBC’s Good Morning America, the next. He worked “for free,” taking no compensation from the Ramseys. (Well, he got some legal strategy for grand jury pleadings, which is tantamount to lots of money.) Smit did not have to face a citation for contempt of court for making public his grand jury testimony. Linda Hoffman Pugh, however, the Ramseys’ housekeeper, only won her right to air the contents of her testimony through a legal action brought by Darnay Hoffman.
Smit bases his intruder theory on the apparent absence of motive in John and Patsy’s history as parents and good Christians in the community. Since neither John nor Patsy had a history of abusing their children sexually or physically, Smit surmises that no motive existed in them to commit this particularly perverse crime, or to have covered it up. For Smit, Steve Thomas’ theory that Patsy murdered her child in a rage over a bed soiling incident is “pulling a motive out of the air.” He insists that whoever committed the murder must be a person who thinks and acts like a criminal.
For a career police officer to believe that good citizens are incapable of criminal behavior reveals a psychological and a statistical blind spot the size of a planet regarding the nature of domestic murder. Had interrogators been able to interview John and Patsy, a motive may have been immediately identified; precipitous rage, or fear, jealousy, intoxicated revenge, or frustration over spilled pineapple or bedwetting. No one will ever know what such interviews would have determined. Smit claims that JonBenet was a “pedophile’s dream.” He ignores who made her that way. That John married a former Miss West Virginia, and let his trophy wife in turn groom their daughter as a sexually nuanced exhibitionist doesn’t bespeak a Christian sense of modesty.
The retired investigator notes that the “intruder” left no footprints in snow outside the home because there was not much snow left that hadn’t melted (by mid-day). He does not explain why no shoeprint, or even a suggestion of one, could be found in the moist earth. He finds evidence of an intrusion at the basement room window that John admitted he himself had broken months earlier. The window lay under a grate that would render it invisible to a stranger. Police reported cobwebs on the window. Smit doesn’t see cobwebs in his crime scene photographs. These photographs were blown up for examination by two separate entomologists, both of whom saw the spider’s webs in place. He refused to accept an earlier police examination that found the window “undisturbed.” A locksmith examining pry marks on the doors (reported by the Ramseys) failed to find any evidence of a forced entry. Neither hair nor fiber evidence, nor any fingerprints were found on the broken window to the basement. The window was so small even a midget in a spacesuit would have trouble squeezing through that opening and not leave a thread, a footprint or a clue.
Smit places much emphasis on a suitcase below the window. Could an intruder have used that suitcase as a step to crawl from the basement? Probably not, as Fleet White recalls placing the suitcase below the window while John and he searched the house earlier that morning. Smit ignores the facts that disturb his theory with regard to the suitcase, with regard to footprints, with regard to the spiders’ webs, the lack of fingerprints, the lack of an alternative forced entry, the lack of necessity to leave by the basement once entry was gained and the absurdity of leaving a pre-drafted ransom note behind after the death of the child. Would an intruder smart enough to leave no physical trace of himself and ethereal enough to pass through unopened doors and windows, be stupid enough to forget to take his useless ransom note with him? Smart or stupid, could the intruder not have realized that the body, sooner or later, would be found with or without the diversion of the ransom note? The question is: why did the intruder(s) WANT the body to be found bludgeoned, bound, molested and strangled, yet dressed and covered with a blanket?
Smit frequently stressed the presence of a footprint from a HiTec brand shoe near the place where JonBenet’s body was found. This never proved an intruder, as Smit insists. It proves a footprint. A footprint that was made by none other than Burke in the room Patsy used for hiding Christmas presents because she thought the children never entered it. A mysterious palm print on the door to the room where JonBenet’s body was found turned out to be Melissa Ramsey’s, JonBenet’s step-sister. That pubic hair found on the blanket wrapped around JonBenet’s corpse wasn’t a pubic hair, but simply a hair from Patsy. The foreign DNA under JonBenet’s fingernails and on her panties that Smit insists must have come from the intruder comes from two different sources. It is so slight and degraded that it is virtually useless as evidence. Dr Henry Lee, a crime expert, explained that the DNA can include or exclude blood groups, but cannot identify a single individual. The deposit could have been days, weeks or months old. It could have been a trace from a kid’s party. Dr Lee tracked down such DNA samples in other panties mass produced in Thailand. Two dots of DNA in an otherwise scrupulously scrubbed down crime scene, and corpse? Henke. Very henke.
Finally, Smit believes that whoever killed JonBenet subdued her with a stun gun. Months before testing the stun gun theory on live pigs, Smit claimed this was the answer to the puzzle of JonBenet’s murder being so quietly accomplished. The manufacturer of the stun gun discredits Smit’s theory because the marks are not consistent with the design of their product. That the media feeds the intruder theory to Ramsey junkies may sell soap, doesn’t make the theory any more credible. In the O.J. Simpson trial lots of ridiculous speculations piled up so that unreasonable “doubt” based on imaginary evidence became “reasonable doubt.” This frequent defense team tactic often works, much to the embarrassment of the American criminal justice system. That the media would want to profit is understandable, but that Hunter’s office should openly abet such tactics is shameful.
Perfect Murder, Perfect Town, by Lawrence Schiller, who later produced a made-for-TV movie based on his book, raises Smit to the status of folk hero for his stubborn insistence on the intruder and stun gun theory. He is portrayed with the star power of Kris Kristofferson in the movie. Although the intruder theory provides the Ramseys and their attorneys with “reasonable doubt” for their public relations campaign, and might have convinced a jury had the Ramseys gone to trial, it does not provide any evidence to contradict the much more substantial evidence of “probable cause” to charge the Ramseys. Smit asserts that the perpetrator could not have written the ransom note after the murder. This is an opinion. It is not evidence. No matter when the note was written, the note itself is evidence, and all agree that whoever wrote it was involved in the staging of the crime if not the murder itself.
After years of investigation, and years of witness interviews, no one has found any credible, physical evidence of an intruder. Even finding the owner of a HiTec shoe matching the shoe print found near the body would not, without other evidence, amount to probable cause. What, exactly, have the Ramseys been paying for? Beyond publicity, they bought time and the indifferent doubt that comes with it.
The Ramseys and their attorneys continued to look for evidence of an intruder for nearly 10 tears, but couldn’t find more than their ally, Lou Smit, had postulated; until the arrival of wing-nut confessor John Mark Karr. David Williams and Ellis Armstead, investigators who worked the case in the first critical years for the Ramseys, well paid as they were, found nothing to substantiate an intruder theory. Of course, when Carol McKinley at Fox News reported there was no evidence of an intruder, the Ramseys sued the reporter and the network. The suit was ultimately dismissed. The judge stated that the Ramseys would be better served by the court of public opinion rather than by civil actions in the dismissal.
The Politics Of Delay
Ellis Armstead, by his constant presence and interference was a huge source of frustration for Boulder Police detectives trying to put their case together against John and Patsy. When police detectives arrived to interview a relevant witness, they often found that Armstead had already been there to take a statement that would favor the defense. This strategy gave the Ramseys several important advantages.
When a police investigator takes a statement, the information becomes discoverable to defense attorneys only after charges are filed. However, statements taken by the defense before charges are filed don’t get into the hands of the prosecution unless the information is favorable to the defendant. The defense investigator getting a jump on the police has an opportunity to lead the witness to make the “right” kind of statement. In the Ramsey case, leaks from Hunter’s office reached Haddon’s law firm, and thus provided Armstead with the knowledge as to whom the police next planned to interview. By getting to the witness first, Armstead could influence not only what the witness said, but what that witness would recall in any subsequent police interview.
Ellis Armstead himself acknowledged his professional, rather than moral commitment, to John and Patsy once he resigned. “It was not like I was naive. It wouldn’t have changed how I did anything. It really didn’t matter to me whether they did it or didn’t do it.” In Armstead’s own words, he exposes an utter absence of moral character, the sickness and greed within the American criminal justice system.
Crimes And Suspects
Boulder has become well known, especially since the Ramsey case, as “twenty square miles surrounded by reality.” Outside of Boulder, in the real world, the criminal justice system often careens out of control, but rarely so egregiously as it has in Boulder.
The Ramseys’ famous CNN interview of January 1, 1997, raised as many doubts of their innocence as they’d hoped to quell. Ramsey attorneys immediately recommended a top drawer Washington public relations firm, Rowan and Blewitt. John and Patsy thereupon hired Pat Korton, a crisis management expert, of that high powered firm. The couple had grown furious with the Boulder police who looked at them as suspects. The police, on the other hand, were furious because John and Patsy continued to refuse to talk to them, “on the advice of counsel.”
The Ramseys decided to engage the court of public opinion to mitigate the overwhelming common sense deduction of their guilt. Part of Korton’s public relations strategy was repeatedly to echo Patsy’s tearful claim that “somebody is out there” and point to any crime in Boulder as proof of that statement. Unfortunately for them, no child has before or since the death of JonBenet been sexually tortured for hours, and then murdered in her own home while her parents slept. There have been no comparable faked kidnappings or stylish ransom notes.
Susannah Chase, a University of Colorado co-ed, whose blood was smeared down an alley from one block to another, had little chance for justice. Her assailant remained free for over ten years until a chance DNA test match in her death lead to a suspect, Diego Olmost-Alcade. Her murder occurred in Boulder on December 21, 1997, a year after JonBenet’s. There was never enough manpower to work her case as it languished unsolved. The Ramsey team attempted to tie Chase’s murder to JonBenet’s. Months later, a teenager in the Mapleton Hill neighborhood was attacked and molested in her home by an “intruder.” The attack occurred after the mother and daughter had watched the Miss America Beauty Pageant on television. See, the internet “cybersleuths” say, intruder, Miss America Pageant – the guy who killed JonBenet is still at large. While authorities protected her identity, the Mapleton teenager will never receive justice, nor find the peace that comes with the arrest and conviction of an assailant. The case is stale, and, most importantly, dismissed as having nothing in common with the murder of JonBenet. In Boulder, there is only one murder case that really matters, and only a conviction in that one will ever satisfy the fairy tale stature of the case. With Patsy dead, and the secrets behind her authorship of the ransom note forever entombed, the case will never be “solved.”
Though Patsy in her CNN interview warned America that a killer was on the loose, both the Mayor of Boulder, Leslie Durgin, and the former Boulder Chief of Police, Tom Kolby, denied that JonBenet’s killer was at large. They were not just trying to calm the community, nor trying to avoid a lawsuit for negligence should another such murder occur, but stating the truth, given the absence of evidence of forcible entry or exit. Would-be kidnappers do not operate “on the loose” and maniac child killers do not leave three page ransom notes.
In 2001, Katie Couric and NBC’s Good Morning America was willing to replay Smit’s intruder theory for sweeps (ratings week), and by doing so, to give credibility to his preposterous story. Time magazine did the same in 2000; the difference being that they could not publish the gruesome autopsy photographs that Smit was permitted to use on Good Morning America. Those same photographs had entered the Ramsey controversy in January, 1997, when The Globe, obtained and published some photographs less gruesome than those Smit put on the air. The private investigator and lab technician who supplied them to The Globe went to jail after John and Patsy decried their use as shameless abuse. The media, now selling Smit’s version of the crime, has raised Patsy as a victim, the innocent mother of overzealous police work. And, for Patsy, these revivals returned the former Miss West Virginia to the limelight. Smit need not worry about being charged for his pornographic display of the dead child’s body. Once again, long after her death, the invasion of JonBenet’s privacy is welcome as long as it behooves the image her mother wanted for herself.
Soon after the murder, when friends and family had gathered in Atlanta for JonBenet’s funeral, John lost his friend, Fleet White. White found John and Patsy’s use of cheap theatrics on CNN as disgusting as the tabloid journalism the Ramseys decried. The two argued as White insisted that John act like a responsible parent with a murdered daughter and cooperate with the police. John didn’t cooperate and the friendship ended. Soon after, John fingered White as the intruder and murderer.
Patsy titled one of the chapters in their tell-all book, The Death of Innocence, in the chapter,”Tell It Often, Tell It Loud.” Here the Ramseys followed the tactics used successfully by the O.J. Simpson defense team to accuse the Boulder police of a “rush to judgment” at the beginning of the investigation. Through that “judgment,” the police overlooked evidence of harder-to-find suspects. As in Simpson’s defense, which claimed that none of the “invisible” evidence of Columbian drug lords, police planting evidence and laboratory conspirators was taken seriously, the Ramseys insist that all the evidence of an intruder was there, but happened to be “invisible.” The invisible clues were unfairly ignored they say in favor of visible evidence, like the ransom note, or the fibers from Patsy’s sweater under the tape covering the dead child’s mouth. According to the Ramsey version of their daughter’s death, the Boulder police never bothered to look beyond the Ramseys for suspects.
Nonsense. The protestations of John and Patsy forced the Boulder police to invest hundreds, if not thousands, of man hours identifying, locating and interviewing any conceivable witness or unlikely suspect. In all, they considered 147 alternate suspects, and cleared each and every one. They needed to do so, not only because it was their professional responsibility, but to avoid the Ramseys’ accusation that the police failed to consider anyone but them as possible suspects. Ellis Armstead and his staff did not work under intense public pressure to investigate every person on the list. Most of the people on their list were as improbably suspicious as Santa Claus. (And, Santa Clauswas on their list). Armstead worked at the direction of the defense, beating the police to key witnesses and putting no public effort into developing alternate suspects. The Ramseys never complained of theirs or their lawyers’ “rush to judgment” in fingering friends and identifying an occasional poor and helpless man or woman as a suspect. With the Karr arrest in Thailand, John reminded all not to rush to judgment as had been the case with Patsy and him when the case was fresh and the intruder theory had no traction. Mary Keenan Lacy, Boulder’s wildly pro intruder theorist and current District Attorney, even quoted John’s “poignant advise” not to rush to judgment in her news conference at the bogus arrest of Karr.
Praise The Lord
That night I went to bed in tears. This shouldn’t be happening in America. Whatever happened to the Ten Commandments? Specifically, “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” Am I mistaken, or don’t they predate the First Amendment by several thousand years? How much better our world would be if we would just observe those simple statements laid down 3500 years ago.
That’s powerful spin from The Death of Innocence! Patsy Ramsey argues for a theocracy over American law, and it was England’s theocracy that launched New England’s settlers! Books commissioned or written by the Ramseys are as certain about their innocence as about the existence of God Himself. To look for evidence of their guilt is to act sinfully, as Patsy has recruited God as her witness. Belief in the Ramseys’ innocence, at least in their friends’ eyes, must be a test of faith. Yet, for those who believe in “things visible to see,” believing the Ramseys’ story about what they were doing on the night their little girl was being tortured and killed (We were asleep) requires a leap of faith at which Kirkegaard might blanch. As Linda McLean writes in JonBenet’s Mother: The Tragedy and The Truth, published in 1998,
Sometimes I envy Patsy her unshakable faith. She believes
that God is the Lord of her life and that somehow He will reveal a
purpose from all of this tragedy and heartache.
The Ramseys used religious affiliation as an integral part of their public relations strategy. On January 5, 1997, Korton called the media before Sunday services at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Boulder to invite them for a Ramsey photo opportunity. Reverend Hoverstock, again, a close family friend, told his congregation, as God’s messenger, that the Ramseys were innocent.
After the service, Korton directed the congregation out of the front doors of the church. It appeared to the press as though the congregation was acting as a shield for the Ramseys as they united against a mob of reporters. John and Patsy appeared to walk a gauntlet between rows of aggressive cameramen and reporters; the press Korton had invited. “Tabloids!” all media that covered the staged event were now called. With such orchestrated hypocrisy, Korton managed to
use everyone from the back rows to the pulpit as human camera fodder. The photo opportunity successfully set a religious tone, and an anti-tabloid tone, for the case as it flew ever further out of control.
Silence Of The Damned
To bolster their claim of innocence, the Ramseys employed one of the most highly respected “profilers” in the United States, John Douglas. Novelist Thomas Harris inThe Silence of the Lambs based his character of Mike Crawford, the FBI’s head of its emerging staff of criminal profilers, on John Douglas. The movie, “Silence of the Lambs,” made John Douglas famous. John hired Douglas to disseminate a “profile” of a theoretical intruder. In his book, The Cases that Haunt Us, he describes the killer as a relatively young, white male with a grudge against Ramsey. The killer determined to take and defile Ramsey’s most valuable thing in the world, JonBenet. Except for being female, John Douglas’ intruder matches the profile of Patsy in Dr Andrew Hodges first book, A Mother Gone Bad. Dr Hodges sees Patsy as jealous of the relationship between her husband and their precociously sexual daughter. Douglas, however, denies the possibility that Patsy wrote the ransom note. The famous profiler does admit that the ransom note is a key piece of evidence, likely written by the murderer, and before the murder. That’s Lou Smit’s position. Douglas admits that the $118,000 ransom figure indicates a person who wants to hurt John, yet he can’t fathom the personality revealed in the note. Has one of the most renowned profilers in the world failed to notice the resemblance between his employer’s wife’s personality and the “intruder?” Douglas will admit only to working for John, not Patsy, and John does not fit his profile. Patsy fits Douglas’ profile to a “T.” When Dr Hodges completed his research and published his second book, Who Will Speak for JonBenet? he found the personality of the ransom note writer to match the mother of the dead child. Profilers say that the retired John Douglas has “gone Hollywood.”
Bill Hagmaier of the FBI’s Child Abduction and Serial Killer Unit, assisted the Boulder plice in the Ramsey investigation, as did others skilled in profiling. Hagmaier and his colleagues disagree with Douglas’ opinion that the Ramseys were not involved in their daughter’s death. Instead, these experts agree that the “kidnapping” was a staged crime and that the evidence at the crime scene points to the parents.
On June 1 and June 2, 1998, the Boulder police met members of the Hunter’s office to present their case for charging John and Patsy Ramsey. Hagmaier and his team attended. According to former Boulder cop, Steve Thomas, Hagmaier stated, “if the parents are involved, Mr Hunter, something needs to be done.” Hunter’s response to the disgruntled police and profilers was that the decision to charge was a political one. Recognizing that the Ramsey case had become an embarrassment to law enforcement, the FBI disentangled itself and returned to headquarters.
In the end, Hunter showed that he had no stomach for the office he had held for 28 years. For months after the Ramsey investigation, things began to go wrong. He frequently didn’t bother to show up for work. He had his moments, standing in front of the cameras, claiming he had “no mercy left” for the child’s killer. Early in the case he shook his finger and said, “We know who you are.” Back then we may have believed it was only a matter of time before the Hunter would bring JonBenet’s killers to justice. We now know how much he was posturing.
We Did It!
In 1995, Los Angeles District Attorney Gil Garsetti lost his job because, despite “mountains of evidence,” his prosecutors could not defeat O.J. Simpson’s clever, skilled and highly paid “Dream Team” defense. The protracted and televised Simpson trial demonstrated that even the science of DNA is no match for money and the expert rhetoric it buys. In Boulder, a few years later, Hunter had hoped to avoid an embarrassment such as Gil Garsetti faced. Haddon, Morgan & Foreman, the “Dream Team” of Colorado would have faced Hunterr’s plea-bargainers in a courtroom. Better to stall than to take the kind of abuse on nationwide television that the LA prosecutors did.
On the afternoon of October 13, 1999, hundreds of persons, members of the media and citizens, gathered to hear the announcement of the grand jury investigation into the murder of JonBenet. The brilliant autumn colors of Boulder brightened the atmosphere, and the air grew electric under the shadows of dozens of antennae mounted on the mobile television vans. The announcement of the grand jury’s deliberations was to be released by Hunter. A carload of teenage girls drove by the Boulder Justice Center on Canyon Boulevard and shouted out in unison, “We did it!” The air split with peals of laughter.
Inside the courthouse, Hunter called a reporter to tell him there would be no charges. Craig Lewis from The Globe walked Hunter from his office to the doors leading to the microphones and cameras. Lewis stopped inside the building, hidden from the eyes of the world. Hunter faced the cameras.
“The Boulder County Grand Jury has completed its work and will not return. No charges have been filed.” Hunter praised the American criminal justice system, claiming he had never been so proud of it and the work of the grand jury. The crowd of reporters, cameramen, news program producers, gofers, gaffers, grips and groupies outside the Boulder County Justice Center had anticipated both the announcement and Hunter’s self-congratulatory rhetoric. Members of the media had been tipped by Hunter. The Ramseys would never be charged. The story lost its energy. The media offered a few polite good-byes to those it had used. Released from their duties to report, their mop up interviews and old stories waited in the files of newspaper morgues. The media camp in Boulder broke, the reporters scattered and the media vans set out for the next scandal ridden entertainment. What a pity! Boulder is a journalist’s dream assignment with upscale restaurants, well-placed sources, the Flatirons to the west for extraordinary background shots. Best of all, Boulder had a district attorney’s office as full of leaks as a colander. The story died, and the myth began.
Child Of Time
The Boulder police had to accept Hunter’s decision with more profound sadness than the media. Most outside the media who followed this case were surprised. The claim that Hunter’s district attorney’s office didn’t have “sufficient evidence to warrant the filing of charges against anyone who had been investigated” was untrue. Boulder police knew it. Hunter and his staff knew it.
The cops who had worked the Ramsey case continue to bear the heckling and jeers of residents and college students. Chief Tom Kolby, Commander James Eller, Detective Steve Thomas and Detective Linda Arndt are honorable cops who wanted justice for JonBenet Ramsey. They all gave up their careers due to the political decisions and miscalculations of Hunter. The originally bungled case, even though redeemed by subsequent thorough and careful investigation, was never honored by a district attorney’s office whose willful subterfuge of police work and common sense gives the Boulder Police Department the high moral ground in this case. Alex Hunter can claim that no charges were filed because a District Attorney must believe he can obtain a conviction or the charging becomes a violation of ethics. This is not true. The District Attorney has an ethical obligation to honor the rights of suspects and victims. Does the coach of a sports team have an “ethical obligation” to refuse to let his team compete if he fears another team might win? “Probable cause” means a fair chance of being right in filing a charge. It guarantees no more than the equal qualification of prosecutor and defense attorney to enter a disputed field of evidence.
Thanks to the keen edge of American voyeurism, the immediacy of the press and a criminal justice system that left values in a sewer of easy plea bargains and publicly elected law enforcers with a lost, warped and greedy vision of decency, few believe in “justice,” American style. In Boulder, the District Attorney has one justice for John and Patsy, the credible millionaires, and one justice for John Karr, incredible lunatic. It goes back to a joke circulating on the internet regarding this absurd case: “If you want justice done right, you have to buy it yourself.”
In this case, the citizens in the “Republic of Boulder” learned that for people with enough money, murder can go unsolved until the public relations campaign has been sufficiently ginned up to manufacture the dumbest murder mystery in the world’s history into the most spectacular solved, unsolved, true, untrue story of the American empire. Boulder citizens (or is it comrades?) learned that their District Attorneys, Hunter and Lacy, never had the courage or the ethics to bring charges against the rich and powerful John and Patsy Ramsey. Hunter claimed a lack of evidence. Liar! Hunter did not seek re-election.
By 2006, Boulder’s District Attorney, Mary Lacy, demonstrated the low point in the Ramsey case with the faithless arrest of John Karr. If Hunter could not find probable cause to arrest anyone who was at the house Christmas Night, 1996, how could Lacy have created the international hoax of Karr’s “confession?” Instead of acting as the chief prosecuting officer, Lacy became the lightening rod for acceptance of the intruder theory. She poisoned the investigation with a lapse in judgment meriting ethical charges. To entrust public safety to Lacy or to expect a forthright and professional performance of her duties to the public, is to ask for another helping of green cheese from the Man in the Moon. Boulder deserves her. In lock step, for nine elections over 36 years, Boulder citizens prefer members of the absurd left Democrat party to any moral consideration for justice.
 John Douglas and Mark Olshaker, Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’S Elite Serial Crime Unit, Pocket Books, New York, 1995, p. 286.
 Interview with John and Patsy Ramsey (CNN television broadcast, January 1, 1997).
 Steven Thomas, JonBenet: Inside the Ramsey Murder Investigation, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 2000, p. 397.
 Black’s Law Dictionary, West Publishing Company, Fifth Edition, 1979, p. 1081.
6Ann Louise Bardach, “Missing Innocence,” Vanity Fair, October, 1997, p.328.
 “Good Morning America,” Interview with Detective Linda Arndt, ABC television broadcast, September 13, 1998.
 Andrew G. Hodges, M.D., A Mother Gone Bad, Village House Publishers, Birmingham, Alabama, 1998, p.66.
 People v. Miller, 99CR2023, (District Court of Jefferson County argued February 27, 2001).
 John and Patsy Ramsey, The Death of Innocence, New American Library, New York, 2000, p. 146.
 Cf. www.google.com – JonBenet Ramsey.
 Joseph J. Grau, Editor, Criminal and Civil Investigations Handbook, Second Edition, “Forensic Investigations – Questioned Documents,” McGraw-Hill, New York, 1963, p. 27-14.
 Others, Lou Smit and John Douglas, have suggested that the note, because of its length, fantastical quality and the distraught emotional state of a person who would have just committed a murder, must have been written at leisure, before the murder, by an “intruder” waiting for the Ramseys to come home from the White’s Christmas party.
 Hodges, Ibid., p.82.
 Ibid., p. 126. Dr. Hodges has published a second book, Who Will Speak for JonBenet? on the psycholinguistics found in the ransom note, as well as the subconscious statements of many involved in the investigation. His work in his first book, A Mom Gone Bad, represents the analysis, and the confession of Patsy Ramsey, he hoped to present either to the police or to the grand jury. The work is convincing and demanding reading. It is not the kind of book that leaps off of the shelves at airports.
 Professor Foster has since agreed with other scholars that the poem more ostensibly belongjs to John Ford.
 Donald Foster, a professor of linguistics at Vassar College, found an elegy from Elizabethan England and signed “WS.” on microfilm records at Oxford’s Bodleian library. By applying his disciplines in linguistics and research, he determined that William Shakespeare wrote the 578 line poem in 1612. Since publishing his work, a firestorm of debate has run through the academic community, questioning every detail of Professor Foster’s research. His use of computer models used in analyzing word choice and phrasing to the vagaries of taste and style preferred by one scholar to another draws comments.
 Improper leaks from the district attorney’s office in the JonBenet Ramsey case merited investigation, and, if substantiated, may have lead to charges of prosecutorial misconduct on the part of Alex Hunter and his staff. Hunter’s replacement, Mary Lacy, worked with people Alex Hunter hired over his 28 years as D.A. For her, taking action against her coworkers for their ethical gaffs and/or crimes is not politically imaginable. As to grievances against Lacy for her gaffs, biases and caprice in the case, the chances are slight for ethical prosecution. And, as to the Ramsey defense team, the evidence would have to come out of the district attorney’s office. It is a classic Catch 22.
 John and Patsy Ramsey, The Death of Innocence, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 2000, p. 154.
 Lawrence Schiller, Perfect Murder, Perfect Town, Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 1999, p. 76
 Don Gentile, the National Enquirer, April 3, 2001.
 Dr. Andrew Hodges attempts to answer the question of motive in the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. That chronic and acute sexual molestation of the little girl by her father led to a jealous rage in Patsy Ramsey. Dr. Hodges can only make an educated guess using psycholinguistics (in addition to the statistical probability that it is persons within the household who most often kill children.) There is no direct evidence at this time that John Ramsey was sexually abusing JonBenet or that Patsy Ramsey knew of or participated in any sexual abuse. The other male in the house, Burke Ramsey, has not been proven to have been sexually active with his sister either.
 Douglas, Ibid.
 Alan Folsom, The Day after Tomorrow, Warner Books, New York, 1994.
 Schiller, Ibid., pp11-14.
 Todd Hartmann, “Standing in her Shoes,” The Rocky Mountain News, May 5, 2001, pg.17a.
 Ibid., p. 18.
 Chuck Green, “Smit’s Theory a Stale Story,” The Denver Post, May 7, 2001, pg., sec. B.
 “Henke” is a term used by police to describe a situation or circumstances that leave a matter unresolved or questionable.
 Smit claims that marks on the back and face of JonBenet Ramsey’s corpse came from an Air Taser stun gun. Police state the unexplained abrasions may have come from a button or snap.
 Charlie Brennan, “When the System Falls Short”, The Rocky Mountain News, December 18, 2001.
 Boulder Police have long since cleared Fleet White as a suspect.
 A term popularized by the defense team of O.J. Simpson, and used to acquit hire.
 Ramsey, Ibid., p.242.
 Linda Edison McLean, JonBenet’s Mother. The Tragedy and The Truth, McLain Printing Company, Parsons, West Virginia, 1998, p. 132.
 Schiller, Ibid., p. 89-92.
 John Douglas and Mark Olshaker, The Cases that Haunt Us, A Lisa Drew Book/Scribner’s, New York, 2000, page 332.
 Hodges, pp. 231-232.
 Chapter 32 of Steve Thomas’ book outlines the evidence found to support probable cause for the arrest of Patsy Ramsey. The Boulder police presented the probable cause they found in the case.
 Thomas, Ibid., p. 311.
 Video store receipts show Hunter rented movies with such titles as “Wet Cotton Panties” and “Hotel Sodom” during his waning days in office.
 Alex Hunter on network news broadcasts, October 13, 1999.