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).

NB: If anyone has trouble posting a comment, email it to doktorgosh (at), and I'll post it for you.

Notice to readers of my Kindle book: I recently noticed that, on certain devices (though not all), the Table of Contents begins with Chapter One and omits the Introduction and Preface. Since the Introduction is especially important, I urge everyone to make sure to begin reading at the very beginning of the book, not the first chapter in the Table of Contents. Thank you.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

That Elusive Intruder

As I posted earlier, the police who first came on the scene reported no unlocked doors, no forced entry, and could find no sign whatsoever of an intruder's presence.  Nor was anything missing from the home. In the weeks, months and years that followed, however, a long list of so-called "intruder evidence" emerged, most of it from investigators hired by or sympathetic with the Ramseys. For a list, I'll send you to one of the most thorough and also impartial JonBenet websites, The JonBenet Ramsey Case Encyclopedia.

You can go to this website, read what's been presented on both sides, and form your own conclusions -- but I'll warn you: what is imo at heart a very simple straightforward, literally open and shut case was turned into the most complicated, confusing, convoluted, zany and bizarre circus you could ever imagine by the strenuous efforts of "Team Ramsey" to toss anything and everything they could think of into the eyes of a very overmatched and confused Boulder police department. Thanks to the eagerness of the District Attorney, Alex Hunter, to give the obvious suspects  every benefit of the doubt in every possible way shape manner and form. Meanwhile, the Ramseys found one excuse after another to delay interrogation, preferring to rely on their own investigative team.

Abandon Hope Ye Who Enter Here

The unforgettable message at the gate of Dante's Hell, but applicable also to anyone bold enough to enter the maze produced by all this bogus "evidence." It's only after a very thorough examination and evaluation of all the many little details and all the claims associated with each and every one that I feel sufficiently Virgil-like to guide my faithful readers through this morass. If ever you might attempt to express some skepticism regarding the intruder theory with one of the Ramsey faithful, you will be sure to hear what I call "the mantra," a long long list of all the many pieces of "evidence" telling us that an intruder had to have been present. Absolutely positively. Never mind that no intruder, not even a drug crazed lunatic, would have done all the things this intruder supposedly did. I'll deal with that aspect in another post.

What is implied by "the mantra" is that anything and everything found in the house that can't be readily explained or sourced must be taken as proof positive that an intruder was present. But every single item on the long long list is the sort of thing that can be found in any house at any time. I've seen things out-of- place in my house that I've wondered about for years until something jogs my memory and I finally recall how it got there. What the law enforcement people noticed, and not just the BPD but also the FBI, was the lack of any real pattern to any of these miscellaneous "clues" and the lack of anything  conclusive.

And if we think a minute we see how easy it would be to have found something conclusive. Any sign of disturbance of the grate or around the grate. Unaccounted for footprints leading toward or away from the house. Signs that someone squeezed through that very tight basement window and displaced the heavy incrustation of dirt on the sill and frame. A ransom note written on paper not taken from the home, with ink from a pen not found in the home. Signs on the floor that someone had walked in from the outside, mud or dirt on a carpet for instance. A clear entry or exit point. A clear breakin point (the basement window is not such a point since the dirt on the window sill and frame was never displaced). Etc. Etc.

And that coupled with the logical problems of any intruder theory, e.g., the reason for the note, the reason why the body was hidden, the phone call that never came, etc., makes it very difficult to accept that an intruder could have been there. The intruder theory has been rejected as unsound by a great many very experienced people in law enforcement for very good reasons.

Here are some examples of what's been tossed out there by Team Ramsey. Each and every item took a huge amount of time and trouble to investigate and in literally each and every instance the source was ultimately tracked down, though this process has literally taken years:

An unidentified palm print -- ultimately identified as that of Melinda Ramsey, JonBenet's half sister.

A photo of an unidentified Hi-Tec boot print -- Burke Ramsey owned a pair of Hi-Tec boots. 

A photo of an opened "Butler door" -- turns out it had been opened by a policeman.

A photo showing fresh grass protruding from under the grate leading to the broken window -- turns out the grate had been lifted by a policeman before the photo had been taken.

A photo showing abrasions on JonBenet's body that seem consistent with stun gun marks, discovered by "master detective" Lou Smit.  This "stun gun evidence" is a perfect example of the lengths to which team Ramsey has gone when constructing their mystery intruder. Since there is no conclusive evidence of any such person, it has been necessary to concoct evidence out of thin air. Anyone can take some marks from a photograph, shop around for something that seems to fit those marks, and then assert that the marks "must have been" made by that object. If Smit hadn't found a stun gun with the necessary measurements he'd have found some other object that filled the bill, something the Ramseys were unlikely to possess, such as a plumber's tool or maybe something only a dentist or optometrist might use. Anything that might prove useful in concocting a reasonable doubt defense.

All the stun gun theory proves is that Lou Smit was not operating as an objective investigator but, on the contrary, a Ramsey advocate. What's most troubling about this whole issue is the way so many reasonable people have taken this absurd theory seriously, to the point of going to considerable trouble to "refute" it. It's not worth refuting. Why bother? There is no stun gun evidence, there was never any reason whatsoever to believe a stun gun was used on JonBenet, it's just a myth concocted to manipulate public opinion.

Other candidates include a wayward baseball bat, some rope in a bag found in the bedroom of John's oldest son, various unsourced fibers, the list goes on and on. All these various items are what can be called "Red Herrings," i.e., the sort of thing any good defense lawyer would come up with when faced with such an obviously open and shut situation, where his clients are clearly the leading and in fact the only suspects. So don't be deceived by this so-called "mountain of evidence." An effective district attorney would have simply laughed and got on with his case. But not Alex Hunter. He was determined to track down every single bit of detritus the Ramsey team might find. So things dragged on forever. And ever. Endlessly.

Oops, I forgot the most important example of "intruder evidence," the notorious DNA. I'll get to that in the next post, but for now I'll leave you with the following observation, from an impeccable source:

 From The Guardian, Jan 17, 2012, CSI Oxford: behind the scenes at Britain's top forensic lab:
Rigour, continuity, integrity of procedure are all. . . Because the thing about DNA evidence, strong as it is, large as it looms in the public's imagination, is that it connects a human and an object. It doesn't prove when the two came into contact. Nor does it necessarily prove they were actually in direct contact at all. "It's not just the finding of the evidence," says Ros Hammond, a senior scientific adviser who has worked on many high-profile cases. "It's how did it get there, and can we rule out any other way it did so? And what does it mean?" (My emphasis, natch)


  1. Great blog! I've read them all after following a link from a forum.

    You lay this case out very clearly. I quite agree with you about the handwriting analysis. JR shouldn't have been ruled out. Prior to seeing what you had to say, I was committed to PR as the ransom note author. Not any more.

    Your latest posting begs a question. Any chance any of the DNA evidence might be manufactured?

  2. Thanks. Glad to learn my posts make sense to you.

    And no, I don't think the DNA evidence was manufactured. It was developed, as I understand it, by law enforcement, not the Ramsey team. It's real enough. The question is: what does it mean? I'll be writing about the DNA soon so stay tuned.

  3. Here’s one problem I have with the JDI scenario. It’s been determined that in all probability the injury to JBR’s neck causing the triangular shaped bruise happened first of all, perhaps from someone grabbing her shirt collar. The head wound came almost immediately afterward. But, JBR, though she certainly did not regain consciousness, lived 45-90 minutes after the head wound was inflicted. If JR were the perpetrator, why would he allow this time to pass between the infliction of the head wound and the actual ligature strangulation, especially if this murder were premeditated? How do you reconcile this time discrepancy? If the murder were premeditated, why not just kill her and be done with it? To me, the time lapse between the head wound and the ligature strangulation supports a BDI scenario more, i.e., his parents didn’t discover she’s been wounded until 45-90 minutes after the fact, perhaps when they were going to bed and were insisting JBR go to bed, too.

    1. Any attempt to recreate what happened during the committing of this crime and why is bound to be extremely speculative. However, the sequence of events you've postulated is actually very close to the scenario I've proposed, in which John initially clubs JonBenet on the head and assumes she's dead. However, "After writing the note, John could have returned to JonBenet’s body, only to discover that she was still breathing. To be sure she was dead, he might have strangled her."

      All this is very speculative. Which is why I prefer to rely on the known facts of the case, which as I see it speak for themselves. It would be quite a stretch to see the timing of the two attacks as some sort of Burke did it evidence.

    2. Hello. I am enjoying your blog. I was just wanting to make sense of a few things. I believe I read somewhere on here that Dr.Cyril thought that the head wound was inflicted post-mortom and someone else I think said that the garroting was possibly post-mortom. Please can you clarify this? I think this makes a difference to the possible motive.

    3. I realise it may be impossible to know for certain which came first (head wound or garroting) but I was just wondering if they had established which it was? By the way, I think your reasoning is sound, as far as we can know anything for certain. It does make sense to me as to why the police would have been called with an incomplete staging at the window.

    4. Dr. Wecht's theory is that JonBenet was killed accidentally during an episode of "erotic strangulation." So for him the strangulation came first, and then the head blow. As he sees it, if she'd been struck over the head first, then there would have been a lot more bleeding. This has been contested by several other forensic pathologists, who feel sure the head blow came first and are not bothered so much by the relative lack of blood.

      As I see it, Wecht's theory does make some sense, but doesn't really fit all the evidence. First of all erotic strangulation is done with a piece of cloth, for example a scarf, something soft and smooth. Strangulation with a length of narrow cord would NOT be very erotic. Also, JonBenet's hair was found to be entwined with the knotting on the "garotte," which means the device must have been constructed right on top of her, and would have been pulling on her hair as it was being constructed. If she'd been conscious, she'd have been struggling and it would not have been possible to tie that rather elegant knot. Finally, once the victim is dead, then that's the end of it, there's no reason to bludgeon her.

      I think it most likely that John struck her over the head first, from behind, to "mercifully" kill her in such a way that she would feel nothing and not see her attacker. If then he noticed she was still breathing, he may have decided to finish her off by strangling her -- but by that time she'd have been unconscious.

    5. if u striker her head first how are you sure blood won't splatter? And if blood splatters wouldn't it be on JR ?

  4. How would he get her out of the house? Stuff her in some luggage and load her in the cargo area of the plane, then dump her in a swamp in the Atlanta area? Putting her in his car would be far too risky. I'm really trying to see the JDI theory and not dismiss it without learning all you have to say, but I don't see how the timing would rule out BDI. BR could have struck JBR with a golf club, say, she could have fallen in the train room. She might not have been missed by her parents, who were busy, for 45-90 minutes, or who might have thought she was asleep.

    I'll say this, whether one agrees with you or not, your blog is very interesting and sparks a lot of questions. I appreciate it even when I don't agree 100%. And I'm not a stubborn person who clings to my beliefs. If I see I'm wrong, I have no problem admitting that and saying someone else is right, so I enjoy reading what you have to say. I wish I could read your book, but I do not read a word of Japanese.

  5. Putting her in the car would not have been risky. The garage is attached to the house, so he could easily have placed her in the trunk without being observed. The note instructed him to collect the ransom, so if someone noticed his car leaving the house he could later have said he was on his way to the bank. (He would of course have gone to the bank and collected the ransom money as demanded in the note.) He could have dumped the body that night in some remote spot, claiming later that he was delivering the ransom.

    My take on BDI has nothing to do with timing but with overall credibility. I don't see a frail 9 year old delivering such a blow or strangling anyone with that carefully crafted "garotte." If Burke had actually managed to do this, I feel sure his parents would have been horrified and called the police immediately. He was too young to be indicted but it would have been important to find psychological help for him. I don't see them taking the huge risk of concocting such an elaborate coverup. Nor would there have been any reason for them to call the police so soon, before their staging was complete.

    I'm glad you find my blog interesting and hope you'll continue reading here. But I'm puzzled about your reference to a book. What book did you have in mind? I too don't read Japanese so maybe you've got me confused with someone else.

  6. JR could have easily placed JB in the trunk of the car without anyone noticing. But I think even then forensics could have determined that JB's body had been in the trunk. JR, however, isn't a career criminal, so he's allowed some missteps along the way. Oh, even in BDI, I don't think BR fashioned the garotte. I think "if" BDI that was JR covering up. I don't think BR was frail, just skinny, and he had walloped JB in the face with a golf club previously. What keeps coming back to me is Steve Thomas saying, "Someone really hated that kid." PR, I am sure, loved and cherished JB. BR, if he hit her, well, he didn't hate her. I'm not sure JR loved his second set of kids like he loved his first. I think he had them for PR. She wanted children.

    I'm sorry, I thought your book had been published in Japan. I would love to read it, but I don't read Japanese. If I have you confused with someone else, please accept my apologies.

    I am beginning to believe JR is a viable suspect. There's no reason to rule him out. And I do believe FW is pretty sure JB was not in the wine cellar when he first checked it that morning. I know it was dark, but FW knows something, something we'll never know because he'll never speak of this.

    1. She was wrapped in a blanket, remember? But there would have been no reason to keep her wrapped in that blanket when her body was dumped. So the police would have had no way to connect the blanket with the crime and thus no reason to test for its fibers in the trunk.

      It's conceivable, though imo highly unlikely, that Burke could have struck that blow. So it's conceivable, I suppose, that John might have decided to cover for him with an elaborate kidnap staging. This, apparently, is what Kolar thinks, along with Patsy writing the note. Well, Patsy could not have written the note, but it is possible, though highly unlikely as I say, that John could have decided to cover for Burke -- for fear that HE might be accused of doing what Burke did.

      But why Kolar thinks this a more likely scenario than one in which John molests and kills her, is beyond me. It's as though he's giving John a "Get Out of Jail Free" card.

      As far as the wine cellar is concerned, I think John probably hid the body in a remote corner of the room, possibly under some other stuff, which is why Fleet didn't see it. When John went down there, he would have screamed and then, under cover of darkness, moved the body into the open and then turned the light on. So he could say the body was "right out in the open" when he found it. A hidden body is harder to explain.

      As for my book, I've never written a book on this case, in any language. You definitely have me confused with someone else. I wonder who.

  7. Lousy blog...this case solved in 2014.....its in the book IT'S ME!

    1. You'll have to do better than that. For starters: How did you get in? Why did you write the note?