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) live.com, 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.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Basement Window -- Part 4

Time to deal with some remaining issues related to the window staging.

Repaired or Unrepaired?

First of all, we must ask the question: why wouldn't John and Patsy have testified simply that the window had in fact never been repaired? What would have been the harm in saying "no, we never got around to replacing that window"? Why did both, on the other hand, insist that they couldn't recall whether that work had been done or not?

If they'd said it hadn't been repaired, then that would have looked suspicious, because normally something like that would have been repaired as a matter of course, especially since workmen had recently been present in the house. If they'd said it had been repaired, then John's story about breaking in earlier would have been beside the point. By playing dumb, they avoided having to deal at all with such troublesome details, effectively blowing smoke in the eyes of their interrogators.

If the investigators weren't sure whether the break were old or new, that would suggest the window might never have been repaired, thus bolstering the significance of John's story. If they'd found it to be fresh, then that would mean it must have been repaired after all. In either case, John and Patsy's story would not have been inconsistent with their findings.

[Added 9-2-12:  To make my point more clearly: if they'd insisted the window had never been repaired, and the investigators had determined the break was fresh, then either it had been broken by an intruder or they were lying. As John well knew, there was "no sign of a forced break-in," so their story about it never having been repaired would mean the window break had been staged on the night of the crime and they were lying. By hedging as to whether or not the break had been repaired they made sure their story would be consistent with the facts regardless of what the investigators found.]

Why Didn't the Investigators See Through John's Absurd Story?

Clearly the authorities were willing to accept John's lame story about breaking the window earlier because it seemed to undermine the intruder theory -- and why would he have wanted to do that? Why, indeed! Herein lies a significant lesson for law enforcement: never take the testimony of a suspect at face value even if it appears to weaken his own case.

New vs. Old

Was the breaking of the glass ever determined to be either recent or old? Wouldn't the authorities have been able to tell by examining the shards? And what makes me so sure they didn't find it to be an old, rather than a new break?

As far as I know, the lab findings regarding the state of the window glass have never been revealed to the public. Nevertheless, simple logic tells us either the breakage was found to be fresh or the investigators weren't sure. If the evidence had indicated an old break, then there'd have been no reason to question John about his previous break-in story, or ask both John and Patsy whether or not it had been repaired. They'd have known it hadn't been, so why bother asking? But they did ask, and at considerable length, in both the 1997 and 1998 interviews. My guess is that the scene confused them. The break must have looked fresh, but where was the broken glass? The possibility that John might have deliberately unstaged by cleaning up most of the glass appears never to have occurred to them.

Itsy Bitsy Spider

In connection with the release of James Kolar's new book, a very interesting video of the Ramsey basement was made public for the first time, presumably by Kolar himself. It's available for viewing as part of Carol McKinley's review of Kolar's book, at the Daily Beast website. The video is especially valuable because it enables us, for the first time, to get a good look at the broken window. Here's a still I captured, providing us with a clear view of one segment:


This photo is revealing. First of all, we can see a fragment of an old cobweb dangling from one shard. If you follow the lines of the web you can see that it's attached to the window frame on the right. On first viewing this puzzled me, because it's easy to associate a cobweb with something that's been sitting untouched for some time. On second thought, however, I realized that if this were an old break we'd be seeing a more fully formed cobweb, rather than a few tiny fragments -- something like the web we see in the corner of the window well, which clearly hadn't been disturbed for some time:


Thus what we see clinging to the broken glass must be broken fragments of a cobweb already in place prior to the time the window was broken. More evidence consistent with a fresh break.

Note also the dangling shard of glass just above the cobweb fragment. It's hard to believe anyone cleaning up after the break would have neglected to detach and dispose of that scary piece of broken glass, which could easily fall to the floor at any moment, especially if she were concerned about children playing in the area, as Patsy had claimed.

Why Did Patsy Lie?

This, of course, is the most troubling aspect of the window saga, especially since, as I've stressed many times, I feel sure Patsy was involved in neither the murder, the writing of the note, nor the window staging, and was, in fact, an innocent victim. In order to understand why an innocent Patsy would nevertheless lie to support John's version of what happened, we need to consider the circumstances facing her in the aftermath of the crime.

Shortly after the body is discovered, Dr. Beuf, their pediatrician, arrives with sedating medication for Patsy. Patsy, apparently "too distraught" for serious questioning, is by all accounts heavily sedated for days and probably weeks. During this time, John hires an attorney, a public relations firm, and two handwriting "experts," whose principal function, it would seem, is to whitewash John. Their decision is made very quickly, so that by January 13, in a Newsweek cover story, it is reported that John could not have written the note, according to what he later describes in their book as "two of the top handwriting experts in the country," who "totally eliminated me as a potential writer of the ransom note," but were unable to eliminate Patsy (p. 140). Since a Newsweek story would require at least a week of lead time, this report would have reached their desk on or around January 6th, less than two weeks after the crime. Patsy very likely learned of it much sooner.

Once John is ruled out, he becomes almost invulnerable, and as we well know from how the case developed, all suspicion falls on Patsy. If John didn't write the note, and there was no intruder, as the BPD certainly seemed to believe, then the guilty party must be Patsy, with John as a possible accomplice. This situation would have given him tremendous leverage over her, and would have made it almost impossible for her to challenge him, least of all in public.

I'm convinced he staged the window scene, breaking the window the night of the murder. To make his story about having broken it earlier stick, he'd have needed Patsy's cooperation. If she'd denied knowing anything about it, and I'm sure she didn't, that would have been very bad for both of them, obviously.

As should be clear by now, we are dealing with a very desperate but also very resourceful criminal, willing to do anything he could to avoid arrest, ruin and, very possibly, the electric chair. Here's more or less what I think he could have said to Patsy when she wondered what his little story about breaking in earlier was all about:
Look, as you know I was ruled out as writer of the note. And as you know very well, you didn't write it. So it had to be an intruder. Which means the window must have been broken by the intruder. But the police are convinced that this type of crime is always done by a family member, they have us in their sights, and since I was ruled out, they've become convinced you must have written that note and may also have killed JonBenet, with me helping you. Ridiculous, I know, but that's what they think.

Sure, I told Fleet and the police I'd broken that window earlier, but there was a very good reason for that. Because if I hadn't, they would have assumed the two of us broke the window that night, to make it look like an intruder did it. So I made up that story, because I had to, I had no choice. Otherwise, we'd have been arrested on the spot and accused of staging. We are in this together, Patsy, and we have to present a united front, because they have no interest in any intruder and are out to get us. So I need you to help me out here and support my story, because if we start accusing each other of lying, that will give them what they need and we will both be done for.
I don't think Patsy would have had much choice. And if she ever doubted John, or suspected he might be manipulating her for reasons of his own, she would readily be comforted in the knowledge that he could not have written the note, and hence, must be as innocent as she was.

If you find this hard to accept, remember the facts outlined in my first two posts and the very simple logic explaining them. Bottom line: if John and Patsy had been conspiring to cover up the murder of their daughter, then there would have been no call to the police that morning. The call destroyed any hope of staging the kidnapping written into the note. If they were both involved in that staging, the call would not have been made at that time, while the body was still in the house. This is basic!

Given this, I can see no reason for Patsy to lie for John unless  he had manipulated her into it, using an argument more or less like the one I've provided above.



39 comments:

  1. Bravo! Brilliant!!!...The first time I do agree with you (in regards of the window)! You're absolutely correct: these spider webs has been attached to the window frame and to the broken glass from the OUTSIDE! Further more, if glass has been broken by JR in the summer as JR claimed, then we should see a LOT of spider webs BETWEEN the broken glass, attached into INSIDE of the window frame, facing the basement. YOU ARE GOOD!!!!!!! You are very good:)....Your analysis is 100% correct: this window is part of the 'staging' and BPD know's that from the day one. And you're correct again, Kolar has published this video on purpose!....(you see, I can be open minded, not 'pain on the a%% person:).

    Why, o why you made Patsy such a helpless victim?! It didn't fit MY psychological profile of her at all!...but the more I'm reading your assay's - the more you managed to 'brainwash' me:)!

    OpenMind

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    1. I'm not sure the BPD knew that, because if they did, their questioning would have been a lot tougher. I think they were genuinely thrown off the mark by John's claim to have broken it earlier.

      I'd prefer to think of it as "enlightening" you, OM. :-)

      In any case, I'm glad to see you're coming around.

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  2. I'm starting to think that John made sure he was cleared from writing the ransom note but not Patsy. After Patsy called 911, this probably became his new plan to insure that he did not get caught. If he hired two people from his own to work with the other four handwriting experts, he needed to guarantee a certain outcome IMO. If both Patsy and himself had been ruled out as the writers of the note and Boulder police determined that the murder was an inside job, they would hire a new team of handwriting experts and John couldn't take that risk. Instead, he guaranteed Patsy's loyalty and his "innocence" by making sure that he was ruled out as the writer of the note but NOT her. If you look at it this way, it not only justifies hiring the experts but the decision that they made. And it was smart enough to fool investigators and allow him to get away with murder. For now.

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    1. I'm really puzzled by the whole process through which John managed to get "ruled out." That decision to me was truly bizarre. I can't see how he could have bought off all six examiners. Maybe he just got lucky.

      As for Patsy, their assessment of her strikes me as more sensible. They should have made the same assessment of John, imo. I can't imagine any truly scientific method by which someone so close to the crime could be ruled out, especially where deception was so likely.

      But no I don't think John would have been able to arrange things that way, but it certainly seems to have worked for him. For now. As you say.

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  3. If the window was broken during the summer and left open throughout fall and winter months in CO, wouldn't the floor near the window be covered by a layer of dirt and dried leaves blown in from outside? This is a basement window on ground level after all. If the floor is relatively clean with a few broken glasses, then it's telling the window was recently broken.

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    1. The broken pane was one of the upper ones, which makes it unlikely detritus sitting in the well could have blown in and onto the floor. Also there was a grate over the window well, which would have prevented all the but the tiniest leaves from getting in there. I think the investigators must have been genuinely puzzled as to whether this was a new or old break. Which would explain why they spent so much time asking them about it.

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    2. There was debris found on the floor of the basement and in the cellar from the window well, hence, Smit thought it was a possible entry point.

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    3. Yes, debris from the window well was found on the basement floor. And there was also an area of the well adjacent to the window that had been swept clean of debris. This is what Smit chose to call our attention to. What he failed to inform us, but is evident from the photos, is the heavy layer of dirt and dust on the windowsill itself, which is clearly undisturbed. He also failed to note that an intruder would not have swept that area clean of debris, but would have stepped over it, crushing it. But we see no sign of that.

      Putting it all together, what seems likely is that someone (i.e., John Ramsey) must have gathered debris from the well and placed it on the floor. As part of his staging.

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  4. Why do you suppose John didn't just leave a door open slightly? That would provide a supposed point of entry for the intruder, and it is both easy to stage and easy to un-stage. (Though I understand that there was no prior plan to unstage, so that wouldn't really be a consideration). Is the broken window just more convincing that a door ajar?

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    1. That's an excellent question. An open door would have been too easy, I think. John probably figured the police wouldn't buy it, especially since there was no other evidence of an intruder anywhere in the house. By staging at the window he produced exactly that sort of evidence. Or would have if he'd been able to complete his staging.

      With the grate out of place, the dust and grime on the window sill smeared, the spider webs broken, and all sorts of window well debris and glass all over the floor, he would have produced a very dramatic entry point for an intruder. The police would still have been suspicious, for sure. But with no evidence of an inside job, and clear "evidence" of forced entry, it would have been almost impossible for them to build any sort of case against the Ramseys.

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  5. All that's left is for this little girl to decide it's time.
    The best solution is to keep the baby in an upright position,
    especially when they are sleeping and right after feeding
    them. When it was determined that the poisoned bottles had come from
    different factories, the possibility that Johnson &
    Johnson (Tylenol's ultimate parent) was somehow to blame was decisively ruled out.
    Also see my page > round cribs

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  6. I don't know if any of you live in the Boulder area. I do. We regularly get hurricane force winds blasting down the foothills in the fall and winter. They swirl in and around buildings with ease and force. Therefore, I believe that had the window been broken in the summer, there would/should have been plenty of dust, dirt and debris all over any item in that room. The grate and window well would make no difference in wind gusts over 80+ mph. That's life in Boulder. Personally, we never rake up leaves in the fall because they blow away in the wind. Out of curiosity, what side of the house; ie. north, south, east or west, was the window located? Oh, NREL is located near by as well as NCAR and they should have records of the fall and winter weather patterns and wind gusts. When it howls here, it can go on for a couple of days. Don't know if this helps.

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    1. Thanks for the information. As I see it, there are already many other reasons to conclude the window could only have been broken the night of the crime, but this is definitely useful, and incriminating, info. By the way, when asked why he never reported seeing that window open the following morning, he said the window had often been left ajar because the basement would get overheated in the winter -- completely ignoring the fact that a broken window would already have been letting plenty of cold air in.

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  7. I think the only hiccup in this theory is the idea that John asked or told Patsy to lie about the window being previously broken. I think for Patsy to not suspect her husband she would need not one iota of doubt. And Patsy being a smart woman who was by many accounts also flighty and naive, she would have to be 100% sure she remembered not only the window breaking but cleaning up the glass with the housekeeper.

    Like you wrote, DocG, one needs to consider Patsy's state of mind during the days, weeks and months following her daughter's murder. Not only was she understandably emotionally distraught she was also heavily medicated. I think it would be super easy to convince someone that something happened when it didn't. Cleaning up glass is something that EVERYONE has done lots of times. Can anyone honestly remember what the source of the glass was one of the times you vacuumed up shards last summer? Are you sure it was when your 9-year-old dropped a drinking glass? Or was it the time the cat knocked over that small vase on the counter? Or when that picture frame fell?

    But don't you remember my breaking the basement window last summer? Seriously? I'd lost my keys. I told you the whole story last summer, Patsy! You cleaned the glass! Don't you remember cleaning the glass? Patsy, you HAVE to remember that! It's very important that you remember!

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    1. Good point! It's clear to me that John manipulated Patsy into corroborating his story, but the manner in which he accomplished that will probably never be known. The scenario I provided is only a guess. He might well have simply played on her confusion and convinced her that she (and Linda) cleaned up the glass even if she didn't really remember it.

      As I see it, the key is the fact that Patsy very much wanted and even needed to believe John, which would have made her especially vulnerable to being manipulated by him. And the fact that he'd been "ruled out" would have made it all but impossible to accuse him of anything without also implicating herself.

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  8. you analysis of the basement window is excellent. you can see the old spiders web dangling off the shard of glass, suggesting a fresh break with an old web hanging off. this is clear evidence of staging. i took a look at carol mckinley's review, and it really gives a sense of being there. there is no way john would climb through without removing the remaining shards of glass.

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  9. patsy was on valium in the days after the murder. i heard she was overdosing because she lost track of the amount she had taken. john could have told her anything about the basement window.

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    1. Thanks Lee, I'm glad you see my point. And you're right. Patsy being so heavily sedated for such a long period would have made it relatively easy for John to convince her of almost anything.

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  10. Doc, I just thought of something that I just didnt see written unless Im missing it. Some of the items in the basement room were new, such as the paint supplies or wrapping paper, etc. Wasnt PR the painter, so we can assume she had been down in this room at some point in the 6 months leading up to the crime. IF the window was broken and not fixed, any person that would have gone down in this room at any point would have felt a draft or clearly seen the broken glass. What would the odds be that somebody goes into this room, sees the broken window and doesnt do anything about it? Plus, PR CLEARLY would remember seeing this window broken prior to the murder and wouldnt have had trouble remembering. Unless a Ramsey family member or housekeeper hadnt gone down into this room since the night JR had to "climb" thru the window, then this 100% proves the window wasnt broken previously. Maybe this is something that has already been considered, but unless Im missing something, doesnt this prove it?
    -J

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    1. The painting supplies were used by workmen painting in the house, not by Patsy. And don't forget, Patsy testified that she knew about that broken window, and had in fact cleaned up the glass -- with the help of the housekeeper, who denied knowing anything about it. But if you're referring to her ability to remember whether the window had ever been repaired, then you do have a point, certainly.

      One can only assume that Patsy did go down into the basement as the holidays approached, because all sorts of packaging materials for Christmas were stored there. And we know that the housekeeper had been down there around the same time, because she and her husband were helping with various Xmas stuff that was being stored in the windowless room.

      So, yes, there is no reason why Patsy wouldn't have known very well whether or not that window had ever been repaired. Not to mention the cold air entering the basement, the scary looking shard of glass ready to drop onto the floor, the bugs that would have entered the house the previous summer, etc. It's obviously a big fat lie.

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    2. Well unfortunately Patsy is not here to testify on this, but all that is needed is testimony from BR, housekeeper, any painter that had been down in that room and answer whether or not the window was broken in the year leading up the murder. I am with you that the basement window is SO important to this case that if even 1 person would testify that they had been in that room and the window was in tact at any point in the months leading up to that fateful Christmas Night, then isnt this alone enought to arrest JR? The window has to have still been broken for JR and PR to not have been involved right? If the window was in tact at any point after that Lake trip by PR, then the Ramseys have lied and lied about a HUGE detail in the case.

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    3. As I see it, the testimony of the housekeeper ought to be sufficient. First of all, she was the housekeeper, i.e., the person entrusted with keeping the house in order, so it would have been her responsibility to report a broken window. Secondly, Patsy, for some odd reason, placed Linda at the scene of the glass cleanup, so Linda's denial means one of them is, without question, lying. It's very hard to see why Linda would want to lie about that incident, but it's not difficult to see why Patsy would, since John's story is, in effect, an alibi, and as his wife she might have felt it was expected of her to back up her husband's story. Also, if the story were exposed as a lie, then she too might have been accused of staging a breakin at that window, along with John. After all, she too was under that "umbrella of suspicion."

      Also, I don't know of anyone other than Patsy who ever came forward to corroborate John's story. As I recall, the gardner also claimed he knew nothing about a broken window. But most of all it simply stands to reason that you don't leave a broken window alone for months, so insects, leaves and cold air can get into the house. At the very least you would cover the hole with a piece of cardboard or something.

      Finally, the fact that both Patsy and John were questioned about that story on two separate occasions and at some length, tells us that the edges of the broken glass must have been clean. If they were encrusted with dust, then it would have been obvious the break was old and there would have been no need to question John and Patsy on this matter.

      The real problem was that the investigators never caught on to the purpose of John's story -- that it was an alibi! As they saw it, if he'd been staging at that window then he would never have made up a story about breaking it earlier. This was classic misdirection, and it worked.



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    4. You really explain every aspect extremely well, so thanks for the thorough response! On a side note, I had watched the 2000 Larry King interview and I honestly dont get how anybody thinks PR is to blame for this crime. She is believable as an angry mother who misses her daughter and wants answers. JR meanwhile seems extremely calculated with all of his responses.
      We know that PR lied to protect JR about the window, but to me the key point is that PR repeated JR's story and not the other way around. So, the only crime PR is guilty of is lying for her husband, whereas JR is the one who started the story about the window in the first place. It seems like too many people say the "Ramseys" as if they are one entity, when clearly they are 2 distinctly different people.

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    5. Yes, exactly. John was the one who came up with that story in the first place. And if you read Patsy's testimony you'll see that she's obviously flustered when explaining how she cleaned it up and how much glass there was, etc. Whenever we see signs that Patsy isn't being completely honest it's always when she's backing up John's version of what happened, never the other way 'round.

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    6. Sorry to keep writing to you, just one last question. Your response will have to be pure speculation, but BR would have had to have heard something whether it be that night or in conversations involving JR and or PR in the days after, so why do you think he has been quiet all these years? Its either because he lost a sister and now a Mom, so maybe he didnt want to lose a Dad. I have speculated that he could be involved which is obviously why he hasnt talked, but you dont need to address that at all. BR could be the key to this whole case with what he has to know, so I just dont know if JR has put the fear of god into him or if he has other reasons for keeping quiet.

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    7. My first question to Burke would be: what did the lawyers ask you? What did you tell them? And then, what did they tell you to do, to say and not to say?

      And yes, I do think Burke could be the key to opening up this case, because there have to be some important facts that he would know, whether they are things he saw or heard that night or things he overhead being discussed between his parents or his parents and their lawyers.

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  11. This discussion on the window once again illustrates how poorly these interrogations were conducted. Once they started playing dumb about the window repair, the next obvious question is: "When was the last time you were in the basement prior to the 25th"? A broken window during a Colorado winter is awfully hard to miss. They both could've been pinned down on so many issues and these investigators missed every opportunity.

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  12. The following was posted today by "Db" but for some reason never made it to the blog:

    This discussion on the window once again illustrates how poorly these interrogations were conducted. Once they started playing dumb about the window repair, the next obvious question is: "When was the last time you were in the basement prior to the 25th"? A broken window during a Colorado winter is awfully hard to miss. They both could've been pinned down on so many issues and these investigators missed every opportunity.

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    1. Yes, it does seem as though the interviewers missed many opportunities to follow up on certain questions, especially when the answers simply weren't credible. I think this probably has something to do with the fact that John was "interviewed" as a witness rather than "questioned" as a suspect. This is something John and his lawyers insisted on and was, I believe, a condition for the interview. So the questioners probably realized that any attempt on their part to challenge John by trying to pin him down would be met by strong objections, and that John could at any time discontinue the "interview," since he was under no obligation to answer any of their questions.

      The DA's reluctance to get tough with either John or Patsy was no doubt a factor in the failure to solve a case that should have been open and shut.

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  13. Just thought I'd point this out, but that video you have the photo stills from is pretty badly done to be "police footage." Although that could be down to the incompetence of the individual.

    Something else I picked up on though, that I'm surprised no one else seems to have:

    There's a scuff mark on the wall under the basement window. There's been no mention of this anywhere to my knowledge, which is odd for a murder investigation.

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  14. You say that workmen and the housekeeper and her husband (and possibly others) had been in the basement prior to the 25th. Surely one/some of them could testify that the window was intact when they last saw it? Virtually all of the discussion here seems to revolve around the cleaning up of glass, or otherwise. But the opposite - that the window was not broken at such and such a date, prior to the 25th - is an obvious line of enquiry too. Was no-one questioned on this?

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  15. It's a bit like the dog that didn't bark in the night. If no-one noticed anything amiss with the window, that indicates that it was intact. They would surely notice if it wasn't.

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    1. You ask an excellent question. And your answer to it also makes good sense. However, there WAS a witness. The housekeeper who, according to Patsy, helped her clean up the glass testified that she knew nothing about any broken window or any glass. And the fact that the interviewers asked both Ramseys if the window had been repaired tells us that no one other than the Ramseys reported a broken window prior to the night of the crime. It also tells us that the edges of the broken glass must have been clean. If there was a coating of dust or dirt then it would certainly have been an old break.

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    2. @DocG, Do you know if the housekeeper is still alive? I would like to see this testimony where the housekeeper said she new nothing about any broken window or any glass. If you have any links to this testimony or know of any sites please tell us all. I enjoyed hearing your comments.

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    3. In the book Perfect Murder Perfect Town, the housekeeper is quoted as saying she knew nothing about any broken window. In an interview with the Globe, she went further, accusing the Ramseys of lying about that window to cover for the fact that it was broken to stage an intruder breakin.

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    4. @DocG, Thankyou for that information.

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  16. In another website, someone said that the cobweb photo was taken after the case. Also, someone questioned the source the photo.

    Is it possible to know the source of the photo?

    My email is kingkong9000@gmail.com

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  17. I have never really thought much about whether he was lying about previously breaking the window. What you said makes absolute sense. I agree this window was broken that night. What I don't understand or agree with is how from this you conclude Patsy didn't write the note or had any part in this. The way I see it they joined forces, this was an equal partnership they each played their part in covering up this crime together.

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    1. To add I believe patsy is equally involved for a number of reasons. her whole demeanor is suspicious. I have noted a few times she has done duping delight in her interviews. Also why didn't she go to bed that night? wearing the same clothes and her part of the bed was fully made. The note does look like her handwriting, especially comparing it to the writing in the photo album. The latest writing analysis found 200 exact samples to patsy's handwriting

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