Newcomers to this blog are advised to begin with the first two posts, Just the Facts, Ma'am and Case Solved, which explain in very general terms why I believe I've solved this case. Some important questions are answered in the following post, Misunderstandings, Misconceptions, Misdirections. After that feel free to browse whatever topics might interest you (see blog archive).

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Friday, July 27, 2012

Ironic Isn't It?

Prior to the discovery of the "touch" DNA, it was possible to argue that the intruder must have been wearing gloves. The DNA found mixed with JonBenet's blood could then have been explained as due to saliva. Perhaps he sneezed or maybe he was drooling on her. The gloves would account for the lack of additional DNA and the lack of fingerprints. Nice. As I recall there were Ramsey defenders who made precisely that argument. But the discovery of the "touch" DNA destroyed any such claim. If he were wearing gloves, he would not have shed any skin cells, would he? And if he weren't wearing gloves, then why didn't the investigators find more DNA, and why wasn't a single untraced finger or palm print found? Ironic that the evidence claimed by Lacy to establish once and for all the presence of an intruder only makes his presence even more unlikely.

There's another irony associated with the DNA that cuts even deeper. When John Mark Karr was apprehended, many were certain this was it, this had to be, finally, the intruder. I had strong doubts, as you might imagine. But one of the early news bulletins claimed his DNA had been tested and there was indeed a match. I was, very frankly, stunned. I couldn't believe it, but there it was, in black and white. After pulling myself up off the floor, I wrote the following note of apology to my favorite adversary, the notorious Jameson, a long time diehard Ramsey supporter:

Whew! There is a DNA match. AND a confession. That's gonna be pretty hard to beat. If he's a nutcase out for publicity, then how did he get his DNA to match? At this point my curiosity is stronger than my pride. I'm dying to hear this guy's story, because there are SO many odd things about the evidence that don't add up, intruder-wise. I do NOT like having to admit I'm wrong. But I will also be enormously relieved to learn this case has finally been resolved. And it will be a huge relief to learn she wasn't killed by a loved one after all. If the DNA really is a match, then it looks VERY MUCH like Lacy's got her man. How do you want your apology, Jameson, straight up, or on the rocks?
Jameson was very sweet. (We usually got along pretty well when we weren't tearing each other apart.) She informed me that in fact there was not a match as the DNA had not yet been tested. The report I'd read was incorrect. She also had some doubts about this guys story generally. Whew, what a relief! But that's not the point of my story.

The irony has to do with the fact that Karr was indeed precisely the sort of suspect the Ramsey team had been praying for all these many years. He had it all. He was not an obvious attention seeker. In fact he'd been tricked into confessing by an email correspondent in whom he'd been confiding for some time and whom he trusted not to inform on him. He told this person that he had previously molested several little girls and that he had in fact murdered JonBenet during a tryst in which she allegedly cooperated. He said it was not intentional but some sort of accident. His story might have seemed preposterous under any other circumstances, but the intruder constructed by team Ramsey was already pretty preposterous, so why not?

Word got out that Karr had spent that Christmas with his family in another city, but when it turned out that none of the photographs taken on that occasion included him, it began to look like there might be something to his story. Then the DNA results came in. No match.

At this point you could almost hear the gears spinning around in DA Lacy's brain. For years the Ramseys had been insisting that this DNA was proof positive of an intruder, that it had to be the DNA of their daughter's attacker. After so many other red herrings had sunk beneath the sea, this was literally all they had, it was their last hope and they weren't about to let go. Their chief defender, "master detective" Lou Smit was equally convinced. And he had managed to convince Lacy as well. So this was it, the moment of truth. If she had decided to persist in the investigation of Karr, which at the time made sense -- at least for anyone still clinging to the intruder theory -- then she would have had to admit that the DNA might not be decisive after all. But if she admitted to that, then she'd be throwing the Ramseys to the wolves, they'd be up the fabled creek in their tiny lifeboat with nary a paddle of evidence left in their quiver (forgive the mixed metaphors, it's getting late and I'm tired). If she'd investigated Karr despite the DNA mismatch, and he didn't pan out, what then? She'd have been forced to look more closely at Patsy and John, something she very clearly did not want to do.

Thus, ironically, the DNA that was supposed to lead the authorities to the fabled intruder actually forced them to reject by far the most promising suspect they ever had, and in all likelihood ever would have. Once the DNA mismatch was revealed, Karr was summarily dispatched. Despite his confession, despite the likelihood that he had indeed molested other children and his clear determination to follow that same path, he was released. God only knows what he is up to now. No effort was made to investigate him further -- the now extremely embarrassing case was dropped.

I'm not saying there's any chance his story could be true and that he actually could have killed JonBenet. Nothing he said indicated he had the slightest idea of how he could have gotten into the house (he said he went through the window, but failed to explain how he could have done that without leaving clear traces of his presence) and he never made any effort to explain why he would have penned a 2 1/2 page ransom note, hidden the body in the cellar, "accidentally" clubbed her over the head or strangled her with a "garotte," etc. But in the eyes of the Ramseys, their defenders and the DA herself, all this didn't need explaining. Karr was goofy, the "intruder" must have been goofy, Karr was capable of anything and so was their intruder, so as far as they were concerned, he would have been perfect. But continuing the investigation in the face of a DNA mismatch was more than that creaky lifeboat could handle. Since the DNA absolutely positively had to be that of the intruder, and any other interpretation of that evidence would considerably weaken the credibility of the Ramseys, Lou Smit and Lacy herself, the perfect intruder was allowed to get off, scot free.

Ironic isn't it?


  1. JMK was creepy, but I still feel kind of sorry for him. He wasn't playing with a full deck and was duped into a confession. If not for the dna he might well be in prison right now.

  2. I do not want to steer this topic toward Karr, but I wonder if his manuscript contains the explanations. I also wonder how many have read and thoroughly analyzed it.

    And, please excuse my ignorance, but on what evidence or lack thereof, led Lacy to proclaim Ramsey innocence?

    Who is Lou Grant? The only Lou Grant I recall was a fictional TV character. Too bad Smit wasn't.

  3. Well, since Karr confessed to molesting little girls as a matter of course, he should never have been released without a thorough investigation of all his activities. My guess is that Lacy decided to release him partly because of the DNA mismatch, but also because there was no really credible intruder evidence and certainly nothing that could link him to the house or the crime. By releasing him so soon she spared herself considerable embarrassment, but also put a potentially very dangerous pedophile back on the streets. Another irony surrounding Karr is that he would have been the only one in a position to prove that he was, in fact, the long sought intruder. So in order to prosecute him, they would have needed his full cooperation. Not likely with this guy. It would have been all to easy for him to make a fool of Lacy, she'd have been putting herself in the lion's mouth.

    To my knowledge, there are serious problems with Karr's "confession." From what I recall reading, he never really explains any of the very odd and contradictory aspects of the case. What he wrote in his emails sounds more like a fantasy than an accurate description of what might have happened that night.

    The evidence that led Lacy to proclaim that the Ramseys were innocent was the "touch" DNA. Since matching DNA was found in three different places, that convinced her it must be that of the killer.

    Sorry about the "Lou Grant" bit. I was pretty tired when I wrote that. I meant Lou Smit. It's been corrected.

  4. Off topic, and I now you are coming up with more posts, but I must ask.

    If the plan was to move JBs body, and that plan was ruined by PR's 911 call that was not supposed to be made, how do you imagine the body was going to be moved and where would it be dumped.

    Also how was the ransom going to be handled? It would look bad if the call never came, yet it would be dangerous to fake the call. JR wouldn't be able to place the call because he'd have to be home at the appointed time for the call.

    1. Good questions. There is always the possibility that John hadn't thought his plan through completely. After all, he must have been in a real panic that night. So maybe there is no good answer for your questions that would correspond to his actual thinking at the time. We can't read his mind.

      Nevertheless, it IS possible to formulate a plan that could work, and I have a feeling this is what John coulld have had in mind:

      Convince Patsy to take Burke and go to stay with friends, so they would be safe while he dealt with the kidnappers. Then drive the car to the bank to collect the ransom. This would be the trickiest part, because the bank manager could get suspicious. But there would be no harm in informing him about the kidnapping and asking for his cooperation. Police could be called at this time as well, if necessary. He could insist that they NOT go to the house, for fear of alerting the "kidnappers."

      He could then find a remote phone booth and call his home from there. This would represent the kidnapper's call. Assuming he had an answering machine, the machine would pick up the call to record the "message." Of course there wouldn't be any, but the call would now be registered in the phone companies records.

      He would then return home and move the body from the basement to the trunk of the car. Since the garage is attached to the house no one would see him do this. That night he would dump the body in some remote wooded area, and later claim he was delivering the ransom -- and the note also, as requested by "the kidnappers." He'd tell the police that the kidnappers took the ransom and the note and left without returning JonBenet. Later her dead body would be found in that same area.

      Pretty good plan, no?

  5. I know this is random, but I'll just throw it out there. During a recent repeat of Nancy Grace's episode about this murder, JBR's pediatrician was interviewed and he ADAMANTLY said he never saw any signs, whatsoever, of prior sexual abuse to JBR. But I believe at least 2, possibly 3, other doctors said she definitely had been. Linda Arndt, who witnessed the autopsy, said there were obvious signs of prior trauma to her privates. So why would her pediatrician say the opposite and sound so sure of himself? Could he be the intruder if, perhaps, he had a key?? Was he ever investigated? Maybe he had a thing for JBR after treating/examining her during her doctor visits? I guess my imagination is going wild, as you so correctly point out has happened in this case, for many people. But what if??

  6. The medical experts who read the medical examiner's report tended for the most part to agree that it was consistent with chronic vaginal damage, which implies prior abuse. Dr. Beuf claimed that he had never conducted a vaginal exam of JonBenet, thus he was not in a position to argue one way or the other. I see no evidence he was her attacker, though, that seems far fetched. There is in fact no evidence consistent with any intruder and no reason for any intruder to do all that was done.

  7. Very interesting Blog thanks so much for your & others insights into this mystery. With regard to your July 29th reply. There's no way JR would have wanted the police involvement when collecting his ransom from the bank as the authorities would have immediately secured his phone line & monitored all incoming calls. He would have had to have made the "kidnappers" call before going to the bank. Not sure how that sits with the overall plan.
    I need to read more on JR's window evidence & at what point he was stopped from staging this part of his plan. Seems crucial to me.

    1. Some time ago, I spoke with a local bank manager regarding their policy with respect to large cash withdrawals. He told me that a withdrawal of around $100,000 would not require contacting the police or even writing up a report. The only issue for him would be whether or not the bank had that much cash on hand, not whether or not a large cash withdrawal was suspicious.

      As the CEO of a highly successful business, John would no doubt have been aware of the policies of his bank, and would probably have been trusted by bank employees. And if the bank didn't have that much cash on hand, John could have "negotiated" with the "kidnappers" for a smaller ransom -- which they would have accepted, no problem. Because after all they did not actually exist!

      I see no reason why he could not have called home after leaving the bank. And then quickly returning home so he could be there to "receive" the "kidnapper's call during the same time frame.

    2. 1. The amount of the ransom would have been available in any bank of any size. That amount of cash is a negligible amount of cash on hand.

      2. Any transaction involving $10K or more would have been reported to the Feds due to anti-money laundering legislation and practices.

      3. Whether the transaction would be suspicious would be based on past transactions and the relationship JR had with his bankers.

      4. Your scenario of JR's plan seems very unlikely. Once JR had alerted the police their would have been a part of or watched every move he made. The bank visit, the phone call from a public phone, the moving of the body and the disposal of it would have all been under their watch. The case would have been closed within 24 hours.

    3. See my previous comment, above. According to the bank manager I spoke with there would have been no need to inform the authorities, thus the police would not have gotten involved until John wanted them to. It's possible that some sort of report might have been required, but that would not have been received for at least a day. The notion that every time a businessman withdraws a large amount of cash from a bank the police would immediately be called in seems highly unlikely. In the vast majority of cases it would be a waste of their time.