Let's start with the opening scene of our drama, Patsy's discovery of the ransom note and the events leading up to her 911 call. Here's how she relates it in their book, Death of Innocence:
John runs down the main stairs and into the back hallway. I grasp my stomach and run after him. By the time I get to him he is down on his hands and knees, staring at the sheets of paper spread out on the floor in front of him. He is examining the ransom note, under the ceiling lights of the back hall. The note reads:
[Here she quotes the note in its entirety.]
"What do I do?"I stammer.
He shouts. "Call the police!"This gibes beautifully with John's original version of what happened, presented to public view for the first time in their Jan. 1, 1997 CNN interview, five days after the murder:
"Are you sure?"
"Yes. Call them!"
Standing next to the wall phone, I instantly dial 911, and try to make the voice on the other end of the line understand.
CABELL: John, you subsequently read the note. Was there anything in there that struck you in any sense?Compare the above with the version she presents in the documentary produced for A&E by David Mills and Michael Tracey:
RAMSEY, J: Well, no. I mean, I read it very fast. I was out of my mind. And it said "Don't call the police." You know, that type of thing. And I told Patsy, call the police immediately. And I think I ran through the house a bit.
Man: The ransom note said, speaking to anyone about your situation such as the police, FBI etc., will result in your daughter being beheaded. If we catch you talking to a stray dog, she dies.These two versions of what happened are totally inconsistent. The first version informs us that calling the police was John's idea. He is on hands and knees reading the note with Patsy beside him. The phone is on the wall next to her when she makes the call at his behest. According to the second version it is Patsy who decides to make the call. She informs John and he agrees. He then runs to check on Burke (in their book this had already been done). The phone is not right beside her. She runs downstairs to make the call.
Patsy - "I said, 'I'm going to call the police and he said OK. And I think he ran to check on Burke. And I ran downstairs and, you know, dialed 911."
Clearly Patsy lied. The question is: why. Which version is accurate? Or are they both fabrications? Knowing what we know, that John was the one who wrote the note, and Patsy made the call in all innocence, then why would she lie about its circumstances? The answer is not difficult to find. The version in which he tells her to make the call is the first version made public. She is in no position to challenge him on that, because they are both under suspicion and she has no idea John could be involved.
It would clearly have been important to John to convince the world, and the authorities, that the call was his idea. Because if he was against making the call, that would make him look suspicious, wouldn't it? If Patsy had protested privately to John, he could have said something like:
Look, I'm sorry, that's how I remember what happened. What difference does it make anyhow? But if you now go and tell the police you remember it differently, then they'll get suspicious and assume one of us is lying. We have to present a united front or we'll never get through this thing. They are convinced we did it, so we're in this together.So for the most part we see, not two individuals, Patsy and John, but "the Ramseys" as the principals in this case, always in lock step, always supporting one another, never contradicting one another. Well, almost never. For some reason, on the documentary, Patsy blurted out a different version of what happened prior to the 911 call, a version that rings true as far as I'm concerned.
As for what really happened, we have no way of knowing for sure. It's possible they both read the note carefully and had a big argument about what to do. It's possible John physically attempted to restrain Patsy from making the call, but she managed to make it anyhow.
It's also possible that Patsy only skimmed over portions of the note, missing the warnings about not calling the police, and then, before John had a chance to talk her out of it, ran downstairs to make the call. Bottom line: if John had wanted the call made, he'd have made it himself and not entrusted it to a frantic, hysterical Patsy, who could barely get her words out.
Patsy very likely lied about some other aspects of what happened that night. It's possible she could have awakened and noticed that John wasn't in bed. She probably would have assumed he was in the bathroom, taking a leak as men frequently do at night, or sitting on the toilet. Or else making a snack for himself. When asked about it later, however, she claimed she was fast asleep all night and didn't notice anything. John could easily have persuaded her not to mention anything about his not being in bed, as, again, this might make the investigators suspicious.
One might assume that over time Patsy might have gotten suspicious and done some investigating on her own. We must remember, however, that John managed to find two handwriting experts who already, by early January, concluded that John could not have written the note. So if she had expressed any suspicions, he could have responded more or less as follows:
Look, the experts ruled me out, so you know I couldn't have written the note. You know very well you didn't write it. Which means an intruder must have gotten in, murdered JonBenet and written the note. If you bring up any of this stuff with the police all it will do is make us both look more suspicious than we already look. We have to stay on the same page. You have to support my version of what happened, or we are both in trouble.Since many of the investigators were already convinced Patsy wrote the note, her position would have been especially vulnerable, so she would not have wanted to make waves. She was sure John must be innocent, so what would be the point?
There's one other instance where I feel sure Patsy lied, again to support one of John's lies. I feel sure she did it for the same reason as all the others, to maintain a united front. John had been "ruled out" as writer of the note, meaning that in her eyes the crime could only have been committed by an intruder, so she'd have had no reason to suspect John of anything worse than concocting some white lies to stave off unwarranted and unfair suspicions on the part of the authorities. I'll have more to say about this other lie in a future post (see last section, Why Did Patsy Lie?). It's a doozy!