I'd heard rumors that the new DA, Stanley Garnett, was reopening the case, and attempting to question their son, Burke, but subsequently it became clear that Burke had no interest in cooperating, even after all these years. So it all seemed just hopeless. Now, however, there was this brand new study of the case -- by Lacy's lead investigator. And he wasn't buying any of her nonsense. Whether or not this book actually "blows the lid off the case" as advertised, it was certainly going to renew public interest in it, which as far as I'm concerned is a good thing. Inspired by this new development, I decided to jump once more into the fray by starting this blog. So thank you for that, James Kolar; or on the other hand, damn you for that-- because a small voice inside me keeps insisting this will all be for naught.
I immediately ordered the book. It took a while but finally arrived, and I have now had an opportunity to go over it in some detail (though admittedly not having the patience to read every page, as most of this story is familiar to me). So what do I think? It's an interesting, well organized, readable work. Up until Chapter Twenty-Seven, when he describes his "January 2006 Presentation," Kolar presents a valuable and frequently insightful take on the case, bolstered by some surprising new evidence.
Especially gratifying is Kolar's demolition of Smit's imaginative elaboration of the intruder theory. Referring to a highly illuminating, never before released police video (available on the Daily Beast site), he points to a triangular cobweb sitting in the corner of the same basement window that, according to Smit, the intruder must have both entered and left by. Clearly no one could have gone through that window without disturbing the cobweb -- or any of the layers of dirt and grime depicted in the photo he presents. He carefully assesses Smit's outrageous stun gun theory, giving it more attention, imo, than it deserves, demonstrating its many weaknesses and ultimately dismissing it as the nonsense it is.
Kolar's book is especially valuable for what it reveals about the vaunted DNA evidence. Various bits of partial DNA found on the victim or her clothing were found to originate with six independent sources. Count 'em: six. Significantly Lacy ignored all the others when insisting that one source and one source only had to be from the attacker. The rest of the DNA evidence was simply buried -- until now. As I and many others suspected from the start, and Kolar clearly demonstrates, the famous "intruder" DNA is almost certainly an artifact, with no bearing on the case whatsoever. Unless one wants to posit a highly organized team of six intruders, as Kolar does in a hilarious tongue in cheek scenario presented at the beginning. Spoiler alert. This is not what he thinks really happened, but he doesn't make that absolutely clear for some time. Very funny, James. You had me going there for a while.
In chapter Twenty Five, "The Evolution of John Ramsey's Statements," Kolar wonders at the different versions of what happened as reported by John at various stages of the investigation, and wonders also about certain things he claims to have observed that looked suspicious but were not reported to the authorities until he was interrogated months later. I've often wondered about those things as well, so it's gratifying to learn I wasn't alone.
Unfortunately, as with so many others, Kolar focuses on Patsy Ramsey as writer of the note and stager-in-chief, rehashing many of the same old misconceptions, ill founded suspicions and unfounded "expert" opinions that have taken the investigation round and round in circles for years. The case he makes against Patsy resembles that of Steve Thomas, whose take on the case fell totally flat when presented before justice Julie E. Carnes in a related civil suit. As I've demonstrated, there is no case to be made against Patsy -- but John was "ruled out" and Kolar, like so many others, accepts that curious ruling as Gospel from on High.
The book reaches a fateful turning point with the chapter alluded to above, Chapter Twenty Seven, titled "The January 2006 Presentation." Up until this point, Kolar has presented a probing, well argued case against the intruder theory in all its forms, exposed John Ramsey's misdirection and deceit, thoroughly debunked Lacy's absurd exoneration of the Ramseys, and made the usual case for Patsy as bumbling collaborator in an elaborate coverup. Now comes the moment when he must put everything together to come up with the answer we've all been waiting for. If there was no intruder, then either John, Patsy or Burke must have killed JonBenet. Which was it?
And at this crucial point, the patient, observant, highly professional investigator suddenly transforms into an amateurish, imaginative speculator of the Lou Smit school. Here's what he has to say about the woman who, in his mind, must have written the note:
I didn't quite buy the hypothesis that Patsy had lost her temper and struck JonBenet. . . I just couldn't reconcile the fact that Patsy was, by all accounts, a loving and doting mother, and I had difficulty envisioning her ever brutalizing either one of her children.Well, what about John? He continues for two pages without considering him at all. Could he have had a motive?
In considering the components of this theory, I took into consideration Lou Smit's perspective regarding this loving, Christian family. I asked the following:Who indeed? What about the possibility that John could have done it? Amazingly, Kolar is silent on this topic. As a law enforcement professional he would know very well that "loving" fathers have been known to both molest and murder their daughters. It's happened even in the "best" of families. But he sees no reason to even consider a motive for John. It's a topic he simply refuses to discuss. John's being "ruled out" as writer of the note seems to have leaked out by some strange process of osmosis into his being ruled out as murderer also. Which leads Kolar to the following set of options:
I believed the likely answer to that question was No.
- Did John or Patsy have any motive to intentionally murder their daughter?
I then pondered the theory that the death had been an accident:
It was clear that someone had struck a blow to the head of JonBenet, and that it had not been self-inflicted. If it wasn't Patsy, then who?
- Was it possible that Patsy had lost her temper during an argument with JonBenet, and struck her with an object?
- If the parents didn't intentionally kill their daughter, and if there was no intruder, then why go to all the effort of staging a cover-up?
- Who would benefit?
- Who was being protected?
I'll continue next time with a consideration of the evidence Kolar offers in support of this very odd and unexpected theory.