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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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Fantastic Theories - Part One

There is only one theory of the Ramsey case that makes any sort of sense. The essentials can be stated succinctly. John Ramsey has been molesting his daughter, and on the night after Christmas, prior to a trip where they'll be visiting family, becomes convinced she is about to expose him. He consequently decides to kill her, in the least painful manner, by clubbing her over the head. When he notices she's still breathing, he strangles her with the aid of a ligature, twisted by a stick for convenience. To cover for himself, he contrives a staged kidnapping, complete with phoney ransom note and window breakin. (For details see A Scenario.)

As I understand it, John was in fact the prime suspect until an unexpected thing happened: he was "ruled out" as writer of the note by a team of handwriting "experts." Consequently the case was thrown into disarray where it has remained ever since, because once John is ruled out, the only possible alternatives to the scenario I've offered above are too fantastic and literally beyond belief to present in court. Not too fantastic, however, to be widely accepted by a great many people following the case, including some experienced law enforcement veterans who should know better.

Let's start with the intruder theory. There are many variations, but the basic idea is that some crazed pervert, or some embittered former Ramsey employee, or someone else with an ax to grind, or perhaps an inexperienced kidnapper simply needing some money, managed to enter the house while the Ramseys were having Christmas dinner with friends. According to detective Lou Smit, this person could have entered via the broken basement window, despite the fact that there were no signs of forced entry at that point, or any other point, but that's OK because Lou informs us that a "butler door" was seen left open, but oops John himself reported that he'd checked and all the doors were locked and as it turns out the "butler" door had been opened by a police technician, but that's OK because someone might have entered with a key, only why would that person have bothered to lock the door behind him, and besides everyone with a key had been investigated and also ruled out as either note writer or DNA match. Let me pause here to catch my breath . . .

Anyhow one way or another (what does it matter, right?) this person gets in and either because he actually intends to kidnap his victim or he intends to implicate John Ramsey or just to kill time or as a fantasy, he finds a notebook and pen in the house and uses it to write a 2 1/2 page long ransom note, addressed specifically to "Mr. Ramsey," filled with very specific details regarding the ransom amount ($118,000, close to the amount of John's recent bonus), the breakdown into $100 and $20 bills, in the exact amounts, with precise instructions as to when he'd be phoning in with further instructions and several dire warnings about not calling the police. Not bothering to fold this document, he carries it around unfolded for most of his stay, ultimately leaving the three sheets spread out unfolded at the bottom of a spiral staircase where coincidentally Patsy routinely descends each morning to make breakfast.

As the Ramseys return, he hides in the basement, and when all are fast asleep, he makes his way to JonBenet's room, where he attacks her with the stun gun he brought with him for just this purpose (which seems odd for someone who forgot to bring a ransom note) and carries her down to the basement. Alone with her in the basement he apparently can't control himself, so he attacks her sexually and then violently murders her, striking her over the head with a heavy flashlight he'd found in the house, and then strangling her with a "garotte" made from one of Patsy Ramsey's paint brushes.

During the course of this attack, he is either not wearing gloves, in which case some microscopic traces of his "touch DNA" get onto his victim's pullups and mix with the blood in her panties (yes, folks, this is very gruesome -- lest we forget) but for some reason he leaves no prints anywhere nor does he leave any more than the most miniscule traces of his DNA, which seems strange if he wasn't wearing gloves -- or if he is wearing gloves then he leaves neither his prints nor his DNA, however, traces of his DNA manage to find there way onto the crime scene anyhow, for some unexplained reason. 

Although removing a dead body from the house would have been much easier than kidnapping a living child, he decides for some reason not to go through with his kidnapping plan after all. Instead, he redresses his victim, wraps her in a blanket with one of her favorite dolls and hides her in the most remote room in the basement, a room that even the housekeeper was unaware of until shortly before Christmas, when she was asked to store a Christmas tree and some presents there. After stashing the body in this tiny windowless room, he makes sure to latch it closed, using the unusual latch located at the top rather than the side of the door, a latch the police missed when later they attempted to open it.

Our would-be kidnapper, or pervert or embittered former employee, then retrieves the still unfolded sheets of his ransom note, placing them on the spiral staircase as planned, despite the fact that he has no intention of removing his victim from the house, thus no intention of actually carrying out the kidnapping announced in the note, with its detailed instructions which will be meaningless since he never actually kidnaps anyone. He is, of course, unconcerned that his hand written note might be used as evidence against him, because he is someone totally "out of the loop," despite the fact that the only way he could possibly have entered the house was with a key.

He then returns to the basement, finds a hard Samsonite suitcase and uses it to boost himself up onto the window, despite the fact that there is a perfectly good chair in the next room he could have used. He leaves via that window, without leaving a single smudge in the sill, heavily encrusted with dust and grime, or disturbing the spider web in the corner -- failing also to leave a single footprint in the layer of frost that has formed overnight.

Fantastic? Unbelieveable? Not to the many thousands of Ramsey faithful, but also not to certain key individuals in law enforcement, such as, for example, DA Mary Lacy, who took it upon herself to exonerate the Ramseys thanks to miniscule bits of "touch DNA" that she was convinced must be from the attacker, despite the fact that a real attacker not wearing gloves would have left his DNA all over the place and a real attacker wearing gloves would not have left any.

Well, folks you can skip your Twilight Zone episode tonight, thanks to me.

So much for our mysterious, magical intruder. Next time I'll be considering some equally fantastic theories emanating from the opposite side of the fence.

[Added 8-20-12: There's one thing more to be said regarding our mysterious intruder. Let's assume that some day a DNA match actually is found and let's assume the match is someone who lived in Boulder at the time of the murder and has no alibi. How could this person be prosecuted, when, as we have seen, there is no version of the intruder theory that makes any sense at all? The "intruder's" lawyer could challenge the prosecution to explain how his client could have entered or exited the house when all the doors were locked and the basement window was undisturbed, why he wouldn't have prepared a note ahead of time, why he would have written it by hand rather than printed it or pasted together some words from a magazine, why he would have left his note on the staircase but not removed the body of the victim, why he would have wanted to hide the body, how he could have left without leaving footprints, etc. The DNA could be explained as the result of an innocent transfer via some unknown mutual friend. Unless his handwriting was a perfect match, extremely unlikely as the writer clearly made an effort to alter his usual style, there'd be no other evidence than some traces of inconclusive DNA. (And even if the "experts" decided his handwriting WAS a match, his lawyer could cite the many "experts" who were totally convinced Patsy wrote it.)  So no matter what way you look at it, the intruder theory is hopeless.]


  1. Very good. I think you covered nearly everything, but there was one other thing that further adds to the ridiculousness of the intruder theory: the police found a practice ransom note (in the trash, I think??). So we're to believe that on Christmas day while the Ramsey's were out at dinner with friends, the intruder decided that his first draft wasn't good enough and threw it in the garbage? Gosh, what if the Ramseys happened to come home that night and noticed a partial ransom note in the trash? Wouldn't that be awkward? Or maybe the intruder kept the draft on him until he was about to leave and just chucked it in the trash on the way out instead of keeping it in his pocket?

    When you break it down this way, it's almost unbelievable that anyone could believe the intruder theory.

    1. I believe the evidence of what appeared to be a practice note was found on the same pad of paper as the RN came from.

    2. The so-called "practice note" was in fact found on the same pad, as you say. But it wasn't really a practice note, as it consisted only of the words, "Mr. and Mrs." That's it. Sorry but I find it hard to conclude much of anything on that basis.

  2. Ofcourse the butler door was open.Without opening the door the person cannot lay the baseball bat on the cement floor near the butler door(correct me if I am wrong)which had some fibres from the basement carpet.Most of the incident took place in the kitchen and wine cellar near to the butler's pantry,the ransom note ,the pineapple,the legal pad and pen used to write the ransom note and flashlight etc . We usually lock the door when we retire to bed or leave the house but not when near the door (once opened)staying awake the whole night writing the note and staging the crime.

    1. You are being facetious, of course. However, just in case anyone might think the butler door actually might have been open, please read my post titled: "The Lou Smit Show."

  3. In everything you outlined above, the thing that stood out the most for me, funnily enough, was the fact that the intruder would have had to walk around with the RN unfolded. That struck me as so preposterous in the overall scenario that it made me smile. People just don't act that way, and yet you're correct that this is what IDI theorists would have us believe. It just doesn't make sense, and as Judge Judy often says, "if it doesn't make sense, it's not true."

    1. Yes, the fact that the sheets on which the ransom note was written had not been folded is definitely suspicious. Not sure why John wouldn't have had the sense to fold them, but he would probably have been in a panic, with little time to spare and too many other things on his mind.

  4. I just started reading all this and I completely believe everything you have said. But to me what makes more sense leading up to the murder is this:
    The dad offers her some pinapple as a snack and afters she's full or done takes her to the basement with probably the promise of another Christmas present. Then he starts molesting her and she screams, as neighbors said they heard a scream, and with that scream came a blow to the head to shut her up. He could of brought the flashlight with him, not to kill her but because it's a basement and didnt want all the lights on, later becoming the murder weapon. And when he realized what he did had to finish her off and like you have said, staged the rest.
    I dont know that's just my feeling of things and sounds very logical to me. Either way I believe the father is guilty.

  5. I don't understand why an intruder would have had to carry the note around unfolded. Couldn't he have set them down somewhere? Is this assuming the intruder was in the house before the Ramsey's returned from the party? What if the intruder was hiding outside the house and ran in the garage door, as the Ramsey's pulled in, arriving home from the party. (This happened to my aunt and uncle who were victim's of a home invasion). The intruder could have waited in the garage until everyone was asleep and then gone inside the house through the door in the garage that was always kept unlocked. He could have written the ransom note and left it on the stairs before he even went up and got JB. Then, he could have decided he didn't need her to carry out the ransom request. He could kill her and still get the money, which would be easier than taking someone hostage and having them be able to identify you, etc..(assuming nobody found the body) which is why the RN was so convincing not to call the police. The only thing that doesn't fit in this scenario is the pineapple. Why would an intruder feed her pineapple? That has always blown me away. That said, I think your theory about JR is the most plausible, but I'm curious to know why you think the RN would have been carried around unfolded.