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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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.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Basement Window -- Part 2

I've been reviewing my 2005 runthrough of John's testimony regarding the broken basement window. He claims he broke the window earlier, possibly the previous summer. But he's extremely vague about the details. And can't recall whether the window he broke was ever repaired. I'll continue from where I left off in the last post, but this time I'll include some of my sarcastic interjections, as they reflect a justifiable frustration with the manner in which this "interview" was conducted:

Later in the same 1997 interview:
 TT: OK. But on the outside you’ve got that kind of skinny narrow window well. Did you have an difficulty sliding into that or sliding down the wall?

JR: Yeah, well, as I recall, I did it at night and I had a suit on, and I took my suit off and did it in my underwear. But, it’s not easy, I mean you can get in that way, you get dirty, but. 
 "As he recalls," he did it at night and had a suit on. But hey, maybe he did it during the day with a bathing suit on, because John can't really recall ANY of this. Maybe he dreamt it? HE TOOK HIS SUIT OFF? THAT he remembers all right. Because the cop said something about it being so narrow, maybe if John kept his suit on it would have been destroyed in the process. So off it comes!

[If you're wondering why John would have made up such a wacky story, you need to realize that his whole reason for breaking in via the basement window was that it was less expensive to replace than a first floor window, which would of course have been much simpler to break into. If he'd been returning from a business trip, as he claimed, then he'd have been wearing an expensive business suit, which would have been ruined if he'd kept it on while climbing into that filthy window well. And since the whole point of breaking in that way was to save money, he had no choice but to say he took his clothes off. Oh what a web we weave . . . ]
TT: It’s not a graceful way to get in.

JR: No, no.

TT: It’s difficult because of the angles.

JR: Right. 
Again, the "interrogators" are really coddling this guy. If it were me I'd have treated him the way that lawyer treated Arndt, or the way Lin Wood stepped all over Steve Thomas. But no, John isn't under suspicion of accusing someone of leaving the house to pick up his mail. No, John is only under suspicion of murdering his own daughter. So why mistreat the guy, right, why confront him with the OBVIOUS absurdity of his story?
TT: All right.

ST: Tom, let me just ask John this. Do you sit down and slide through, buttocks first if you will, through a window like that or, do you recall how you went through the actual window, John?

JR: I don’t I mean, I don’t remember. Seems like, I mean, I don’t remember, but I think I would probably gone in feet first. 
Again John can't remember. He "would probably have gone down feet first." IF he went down at all. Which he doesn't seem to remember anyhow. If his memory is THAT unreliable why are we wasting our time on his ridiculous story at all?
ST: Feet first, backwards?

JR: Yeah.
Yeah. Thanks, Steve, what I needed at that moment was a prompt, much obliged. [NB: If John had gone in feet first backwards, how could he possibly see where to kick the window? Not that he could have seen anything anyhow, since according to his testimony it was late at night.]
ST: And when you went through in your underwear, were you wearing shoes or?

JR: I still had my shoes on, yeah. 
Right! John took his pants off but not his shoes? C'mon. Or he took his pants off and then put his shoes back on? Just to be able to kick out the window? You never heard of a rock, John? You could have broken in with a rock, you didn't need all that fuss with your shoes. But you can't remember anyhow, so what difference does it make, just tell them what they want to hear.

OK, now for some of my all time favorite stuff, from John's 1998 police interview: 
MIKE KANE: That's fine. I understand. Okay. You said that when you went down in the basement that second time with Fleet, and you were back in that room, you were looking for glass on the floor. Why were you?

JOHN RAMSEY: I was just trying to verify in my own mind that I had in fact broken the window last summer 
 Come again? Did you or did you not break that window last summer, John? Don't you KNOW? 
and it was cleaned up and this wasn't the break I was looking for. If there was a lot of glass there.


JOHN RAMSEY: Because I wasn't sure that that window -- well I did know it hadn't been fixed. But it didn't totally surprise me that it hadn't been. 
John now says he knew already it hadn't been fixed, even then. But last year he told us he didn't know. And it didn't totally surprise him that it hadn't been. Because he already knew? Or because he isn't easily surprised?
You say that earlier you had gone in that same window. Now, can you remember when this was or the  circumstances surrounding doing that?

JOHN RAMSEY: Well I can't remember exactly when it was. I've done it maybe twice, maybe three times during the period of time we owned the house. It was a way that I could get in the house if we didn't have a key that was least expensive to repair. It was one single pane of  non-insulated glass and. I think that was done one summer I came back late in the evening. 
"One summer." I thought it was LAST summer. [Now he tells them he'd broken in like that two or maybe even three times (he can't recall). Like it was a routine entry point when he got locked out. Wonder what Patsy or Burke did when they got locked out?]
Patsy and the kids were delayed, and for some reason I didn't have a key. I don't know why. 
 John doesn't even know why he didn't have a key. Just didn't.
But usually if I don't drive my car I take a cab or something to the airport and back, and I don't have a key and the house keys are on the key ring. 
What is he trying to say? Whenever he takes a cab to the airport he somehow doesn't have a key with him? And what does the key ring have to do with anything? Why doesn't he think to TAKE a key with him on such trips?
But that was the time, it was in the summer I had come back from a business trip. 
Of course no one thinks to ask him WHAT sort of business trip, WHERE did you go John, what airline did you fly with, who did you meet there? 
I think I had a suit on. It was late. It was like about 11:30 at night. It was dark. It was (INAUDIBLE) Amazingly I took the grill off. I think I probably kicked the window with my foot and then reached in and unlatched the window.

LOU SMIT: Were you alone at that time?
 I think this is the first clear, positive response John has given to any of these questions. For once he can actually answer the question without hedging.
LOU SMIT: First of all, now when you drove home, did you drive home when you got in that late that night?

JOHN RAMSEY: I don't recall specifically. 
Back to hedging. But let's examine this response a bit more closely. John doesn't recall whether or not he drove home? I thought the garage door opener was kept in the car. So if he drove home he wouldn't need his keys would he? So why can't he recall if he drove or took a cab?
But I think I took (INAUDIBLE) and it dropped me off. 
He THINKS he took a cab and got dropped off. But maybe not, hey maybe he drove the car and just forgot about the garage door opener. Who can say for sure? Least of all John himself! 
 LOU SMIT: And then they dropped you off there at the house.


LOU SMIT: So you don't have a garage door opener at that time, is that what you're saying? 
No, Lou, that is NOT what John was saying. But he's clearly in need of help, so why not pitch in with a helpful prompt?
OH yes, Right. Another unequivocal statement from John, after some really gooey hemming and hawing.
LOU SMIT: Do you normally have a garage opener?

JOHN RAMSEY: In my car. See I have a garage opener I can get in the house because we never lock the door in the garage that goes in the house. And that was 98 percent of the time how I got in the house.

LOU SMIT: Where would (INAUDIBLE)?

JOHN RAMSEY: Probably the garage, in the garage through that door. And I think I had given my key to John Andrew or somebody. 
And now he's falling apart again. He THINKS he gave the key to John Andrew -- or somebody. If not John Andrew then somebody.
I didn't have it. Very rarely that I use the key to unlock the door into my house because I've always had a  garage.
[Excuse me? Here's what John said about this incident in his book: "I remember a day back in the summer when I had left my keys inside and was locked out of the house." NB: John does NOT say he'd taken a cab and wasn't able to get in with the garage door opener. He does NOT say he'd given his key to his son or anyone else. He says he'd left his keys inside. Consistency is not John's strong suit.]

LOU SMIT: You mean it's normal in the car?


LOU SMIT: Okay. And at that time of night I assume you didn't want to call a locksmith for that?

JOHN RAMSEY: Well I didn't have any way to call. 
No cell phone?  [No phone booth at the airport?]
 (INAUDIBLE) I remember it was late. I could go to my neighbors.

LOU SMIT: And you say the family was gone?


LOU SMIT: And did you ever keys like to the neighbors or anything?

JOHN RAMSEY: Well The Barnhills had a key. I don't know if know if I remember that at the time. 
Well who could expect you to know, John. Clearly you're brain damaged and can't remember roughly 90% of ANYTHING.
It was late. I'm sure I wouldn't have gone over anyway. 
Boy is this ever lame. First of all it wasn't that late, 11:30 isn't that late. Second of all, you knew ahead of time you didn't have a key, so why not call them ahead of time and arrange for them to leave the key somewhere where you can find it?
. . . LOU SMIT: And you say that you went down in there and you had taken your clothing off?

JOHN RAMSEY: I had my suit on, so I took my suit coat off and my pants off so I wouldn't  (INAUDIBLE). I might have taken my shirt off. 
MIGHT have. But maybe not, who'd remember a detail like removing your shirt to climb down into a filthy window well?
But it's not difficult to get in. it would be difficult to get out; you needed something to step on. 
 [Like a Samsonite suitcase, maybe?]
But basically you just open the window and just let yourself drop down on the ground.

LOU SMIT: Have you ever gotten out that way?

JOHN RAMSEY: No. I've (INAUDIBLE) the house.

LOU SMIT: Do you know anyone that has?

JOHN RAMSEY: No, I don't.

LOU SMIT: So you say you just went down into the window well where you kicked out the window. 
Actually John didn't kick out the window. Or even kick out a pane. He kicked a "baseball size hole" in one of the panes. Seems to me it would be a LOT easier to just kick out an entire pane, but no, John is a precision worker, he kicks out only as much of the glass as is absolutely necessary for him to squeeze his hand in there and reach the latch. Of course, it's pitch black. He doesn't have a flashlight. And even if he did it's awfully hard to understand how he'd be able to see anything down inside that very very narrow space. But he DOES it, he manages to kick a baseball size hole in EXACTLY the right spot where he can reach in and unlatch the window. 
Then what did you have to do? What's your next step?

JOHN RAMSEY: Then you had reach in to unlatch the window, and if it's stuck, you just pop it open. 
Yeah, John, just reach in there, in the pitch black dark, through a hole the size of a baseball, just stick your whole shirtless arm in there and reach for that latch so conveniently located where it would have to be for you to reach it. Don't cut yourself, John!!!!
I mean, I don't remember if I slid in face forward or a turned around. 
If he can't remember whether he drove back in his car or took a cab how can he be expected to remember whether he slid in face forward or turned around? WHY do I keep expecting SO much from poor, forgetful John Ramsey? 
Probably turned around, turn around backwards and put your needs on the ledge here and let your feet in and then just drop down. That's probably how I would have done it? 
 Yes, John, that's probably how you would have done it. IF you did it at all. Which clearly you didn't!
LOU SMIT: Now you say that the time that you went into this window, that was nighttime?


LOU SMIT: And you say it was about 11:30 at night? Obviously it would be dark at that time? What's your recollection of the difficulty of getting into the house then? 
Lou FINALLY asks a tough question. But the subtlety is lost on John. 
JOHN RAMSEY: Well I guess I remember the unknown harm is when you drop the last foot or two in the basement. Because that basement room is always kind of a mess. You're not quite sure what  you're going to land in. 
How about deeeeeeep doo doo?

More to come. Don't go away . . .


  1. Great stuff there DocG. JR is funnier than I thought ;-). Keep going, this is really informative and entertaining.


  2. You're pure comedian, DocG!!!!:)....

    ...and an excellent writer (I told you so!).


    1. Thanks. Yeah, part of the plan when I was around 12 or so was to become a stand-up comic. Now that I'm an old guy I do it sitting down. :-)

  3. Ah ha! I've finally made up my mind as to who the GJ was targeting! Doc, Doc,'ve made a big mistake here. This shouldn't be on a blog. It should be in a book! Great job!

  4. Take a look at the Lou Smit question in the 1997 interview: LOU SMIT: "Do you normally have a garage opener?". JR's reply includes: "....And that was 98 percent of the time how I got in the house." It struck me that JR included a percentage reference in that sentence. Didn't we see 99% and 100% used in the Ransom Note? I wonder if his two hired handwriting experts ever noticed any percentage references during linguistic exchanges with him? Leanin' your way a bit, Doc! MWMM

  5. Excellent observation! I have no idea why people think the note reflects Patsy's writing style. Because of the "and hence" from the Xmas message? They both worked on that, so it could have come from John. And yes, I've looked into that and John actually loves to use percentage figures. Uses them a lot!

  6. percentage reference. that's very interesting. i bet it was john who put hence in the christmas card message, but everyone thinks its patsy.

    1. There's more. See

  7. Doc, I just found you! Fascinating stuff and altogether the first blog to ever start to make me look at someone other than PR. I'm interested in reading more. I have questions but I'm doing my homework first.

  8. Flipped my lid laughing at your snarky commentary here, especially the "Don't cut yourself, John!!!!" passage. I guess I needed the humor to lighten the mood when reading about this very dark, sad case. Thank you for doing so much research and work into this.