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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Monday, August 6, 2012

Kolar's Book

I first read about James Kolar's new book, Foreign Faction, in a July 18 Daily Beast review by Carol McKinley, New Clues in JonBenet Ramsey Murder. As I read, it became clear that Kolar wasn't buying either the intruder theory or the odd notion, put forth by former DA Mary Lacy, that DNA evidence  exonerated the Ramseys. This was heartening. Ever since Lacy's notorious letter informing John that he and Patsy (recently deceased) were officially cleared, I had given up hope that JonBenet's killer would ever be brought to justice.

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:
  • Did John or Patsy have any motive to intentionally murder their daughter?
I believed the likely answer to that question was No.

I then pondered the theory that the death had been an accident:
  • Was it possible that Patsy had lost her temper during an argument with JonBenet, and struck her with an object?
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?
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:
  • 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?
  • Why?
And at this point, from here on in, Kolar is off to the races, on a quest to convince us that the person who killed JonBenet, striking her with a single devastating blow that cracked her skull from end to end, was her frail nine year old brother, Burke.

I'll continue next time with a consideration of the evidence Kolar offers in support of this very odd and unexpected theory.


  1. I wonder if he's silent on JDI because he doesn't want a law suit?

    IMO BEI is absurd for many reasons. Too many to go into here.

  2. You have to be nuts to believe that a 9 years old bludgeoned his sister that hard, fashioned a garrote, brutally strangled her and more than that, at that frail age, was clever enough not to leave evidence pointing at him; moreover, such a boy has managed to keep going with his life without revealing some kind of trauma, all those years later.

  3. I interviewed Kolar after reading the book. It's a complicated crime scene with one victim, one killer, and a couple of others who staged the crime scene. So no, the killer never attempted a cover-up or staging of the crime scene.

    Anyone who reads the book can answer the questions posed by those who haven't. That's why you read the book in the first place. To understand how someone could kill, but become a normal, functioning individual just a few years later.

  4. I should add that no matter what the books suggest, I am convinced that this crime was an inside job. The Burke theory's strength is that it can explain how the murder could have happened and been staged to appear as if an intruder did it better than other theories. After all, how could this crime happen in the matter that it did without waking others in the house? If one child killed another, it's easy to see how the parents would do their best to cover it up. John had already lost his other daughter just a few years earlier.

    1. Sorry, but I see no strength at all in the Burke theory. If Burke killed JonBenet, his parents would have been furious with him. The last thing on their minds would have been covering for him. I can see parents covering for a child who murdered someone else's kid. But your own kid? No. They'd have tanned his hide and then called their lawyers, who would have informed them he could not be prosecuted.

      The ONLY reason Kolar came up with this theory is that he, like Steve Thomas, was desperate to find some way out of the dilemma produced by John being "ruled out" as writer of the note. Once we ruled John back IN, then the mystery dissolves and all becomes clear.

    2. The bottom line on this for me is that imo you can't solve a crime through profiling. Profiling is a useful investigative tool that might possibly lead one to a viable suspect. But as I see it, it's NOT legitimate to accuse someone simply on the basis of a psychological profile -- especially if as in this case the profile is itself based on very shaky evidence.

      Kolar dismisses Patsy and John as suspects, simply because he can find no motive for them to do what was done. This despite his awareness of the coroner's report, consistent with chronic molestation.

      He can find no viable motive for Burke to have done it either, but he has no problem manufacturing one -- out of thin air.

      All because John was "ruled out." What a shame everyone bought into the truly outrageous decision to rule out the most likely suspect by far. And then focus on the least likely, by "process of elimination." Ye Gads!!!

  5. DocG, remember that Patsy said that she had lost one child and couldn't survive losing another. I am amazed that Burke was already seeing a psychiatris, bedwetting at such a late age, and seeming disconnected from family. I would love to see his medical records, wouldn't you?

  6. The rationale that I see for why the parents help cover things up is that that they knew Burke was previously sexually molesting JBR. As such, when the sexual assault and murder happen they cover it up to protect Burke and themselves both legally and in the eyes of their friends and the public.

    1. But they could always have pretended they didn't know anything about it. The bottom line is that there simply isn't any evidence that Burke was sexually active and very good reason to assume that, as a nine year old, he had no interest in girls. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. In this case there is NONE.

  7. I had read 3 other books about the murder of JBR, and then the Steve Thomas one. His book was superior to the other 3. But then I read Foreign Faction and couldn't believe it topped the Thomas book, but it did!

    What I enjoyed about both books was that they were filled with bare bone facts, and lots of them, especially in Foreign Faction. Both authors do have their own beliefs and theories, but with the facts and evidence laid out for your perusing, you too can come up with your own theory or choose to believe one of theirs.

    If you can only get or read one book on this case, Foreign Faction is the one to read. If you can obtain two, then also get the Steve Thomas one and read it first. FF will fill in the blanks in the Thomas book.

    As for reading John and Patsy's book, I'd say skip it. Not only is it not-surprisingly biased, but it is full of religious crap as well. I could barely stomach it and can't believe I actually made it through the entire thing.