If both John and Patsy had been separated and questioned intensively immediately after the discovery of the body, then, as I see it, the outcome would have been completely different. Since it was clear from day one that there had not been a kidnapping, and no intruder of any kind was likely to have entered the house, then it would simply have been a matter of deciding whether Patsy or John or both of them were responsible for the murder and coverup. By questioning them separately and comparing their stories, the authorities should have been able to get at the truth. Unfortunately, this never happened, for reasons that have been discussed ad infinitum in the media, the forums, the books, etc., so there's no need to get into all the details here.
Part of the problem was that the police were cowed by the prominence of John Ramsey, an extremely successful businessman, and his very aggressive legal team. It's my guess, however, that the biggest problem was due to the fact that the case hinged on a plan that failed, a coverup that should have been obvious but that, for various reasons, the authorities were never able to get a handle on. It was the failure of John's plan, thanks to Patsy's unexpected phone call, in spite of all the warnings in the note, and his subsequent attempts to cover his tracks, that confused the authorities, making them reluctant to accuse anyone until they could get a handle on what actually happened. And, as we know, they never did.
Once the crucial moment had passed, there were all sorts of opportunities for John and his lawyers to muddy the waters with an independent investigation of their own, something they should never have been permitted to do. As I see it, it was this "investigation" more than anything else that turned an essentially straightforward case into an intractable mystery. If we discount the effects of such tactics and concentrate only on the verifiable facts as they became evident from the start, then, as I believe I have demonstrated, the case would have been solved in short order.
Wasn't it John who told Patsy to make the 911 call?
That is not at all clear. The earliest reference to this story that I've been able to find is from their New Year's Day 1997 CNN Interview:
CABELL: John, you subsequently read the note. Was there anything in there that struck you in any sense?John informs the interviewer that the 911 call was his idea. Patsy is sitting beside him. What is she expected to say, "Sorry, John, you've got that wrong. Calling 911 was my idea."???? I don't think so. The purpose of the interview was to present a united front, attesting to their innocence and the sincerity of their joint effort to find the killer. Accusing John of lying or misrepresenting the truth would be the last thing Patsy would want. What's important to understand is that this version of what happened originated with John, not Patsy.
RAMSEY, J: Well, no. I mean, I read it very fast. I was out of my mind. And it said "Don't call the police." You know, that type of thing. And I told Patsy, call the police immediately. And I think I ran through the house a bit.
Nevertheless, she presents a very different version in the documentary produced for A&E by David Mills and Michael Tracey:
Man: The ransom note said, speaking to anyone about your situation such as the police, FBI etc., will result in your daughter being beheaded. If we catch you talking to a stray dog, she dies.No mention of John telling her to make the call. According to this version, it was her idea, and he merely acquiesced.
Patsy - "I said, 'I'm going to call the police and he said OK. And I think he ran to check on Burke. And I ran downstairs and, you know, dialed 911."
To me, it's clear that if John wanted to call in the authorities he'd have made the call himself, not relied on Patsy to make it. And if he were convinced his child had been kidnapped, he would not have wanted to call 911, which brought uniformed police to his door, but most likely the FBI or at least his lawyer or someone from the security dept. of his company. And if it were Patsy who wrote the note, there is no way she'd have made that call, knowing the body of her victim was still in the house. By the same token, if they were both in on it together, they'd have been sure to remove the body from the house first, before calling in the police. The only interpretation that makes sense is that Patsy made the call in all innocence, with no knowledge of what had really happened and what the note really meant.
Didn't a team of handwriting experts rule John out as writer of the note?
Yes. And as I see it, this decision was a key blunder -- the principal reason the case got so hopelessly bogged down so early on and has remained so hopelessly confused for so long. I have some ideas as to why these "experts" got it wrong, but the bottom line is that there is a huge difference between a fact and an opinion, no matter how "expert." If we pay attention to the facts, it becomes clear, as I've demonstrated, that only John could have written the note.
Unfortunately the decision to rule him out has been treated like a fact and literally never questioned because it was made by so-called "experts." What's often forgotten was that this convocation of "experts" was prompted by John Ramsey's own self styled, self directed "investigation," an "investigation" he should never have been permitted to undertake in the first place.
Handwriting experts are typically called in on cases of forgery, which is usually not that difficult to spot. Identifying the hand of someone who has gone out of his way to disguise it is another matter entirely. There are literally thousands of different ways to do this and no rule one can apply to determine what method was used. In such cases, as the Italian handwriting expert Fausto Brugnatelli informed me, "you never rule out, you only rule in." Brugnatelli is an important factor in this case as he did an independent study of John's writing and found it extremely suspicious. I'll be going into the handwriting issue in more detail in subsequent posts and will be referring to Brugnatelli's important but largely ignored study, still available online.
[Added 10-10-13: Brugnatelli's website has moved. His comparisons can now be found here. (John's exemplars are on the left.)]