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), 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.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Over the years, a wide range of colorful notions regarding various aspects of this case have accumulated. Most appear to have originated with fanciful theories offered in various books and tabloid articles on the case, but their widespread dissemination and acceptance is no doubt due to the popularity of certain Internet forums, where they have come to be accepted as gospel truth.

By referring to them as "folklore," I'm not claiming any are necessarily false. However, in the great majority of cases there is absolutely no evidence to support them, they are simply possibilities tossed out there by people with various theories regarding what might have happened and what the culprit's motives might have been; possibilities that over time have morphed into probabilities, and in many cases well beyond that, into taken for granted truths that many on the Internet continue to swear by.

Let's review some of the more interesting bits of Ramsey case folklore here:

1. The fact that neither Patsy nor John's  fingerprints were found on the "ransom note" means it must have been written with gloves on. A closely related bit of folklore is the notion that both Ramseys deliberately avoided touching the note to make sure their prints wouldn't get on it. What makes either theory unlikely is the lack of any need for either Patsy or John to avoid getting their prints on a document that they themselves admit to having handled and read. If either of them had written the note, that person would certainly have made a point of handling it in the presence of witnesses, to establish a reason for his or her prints to be on it. If none were found nevertheless, that's most likely due to the fact that finding fingerprints is not an automatic process and in many cases no prints are found, simply because the suspect's hands were relatively clean, or due to the technical difficulty of lifting prints from certain surfaces.

2. The fact that Patsy's prints were found on the bowl tells us she served pineapple to JonBenet on the night of the murder.  This one really amazes me. In all likelihood Patsy's prints would have been found on many bowls, dishes, and other utensils since this was her kitchen and she was the one who prepared the meals, washed the dishes, placed them in the cupboards, etc.

3. Patsy's comment, "We didn't mean for this to happen," tells us she must have known something about the murder of her daughter. Yes, possibly. But if so, then why on earth would she have wanted to share such an incriminating thought with anyone else? More likely it was an expression of her guilt in parading JonBenet before so many strangers in all those kiddie pageants.

4. A basically innocent John figured out that Patsy must have killed JonBenet, but went along with the coverup to preserve his privileged lifestyle and/or protect the family honor. It's very difficult to understand how staging a phoney kidnapping and then calling the police on yourself with the body of the victim still in the house, followed by the handing over of a patently phoney "ransom" note written on a notepad from the house, by your wife, and in her handwriting, is going to do anything to preserve either your lifestyle or your family honor. In fact, once the body was found, nothing of either their lifestyle or honor were destined to be preserved. John lost his business, became unemployable and is widely believed to this day to be implicated in one of the most disgusting crimes of the century.

5. According to the FBI, (as quoted by Steve Thomas), the wounds in JonBenet's vagina were inconsistent with sexual gratification and more likely to have been due to staging. This one takes the cake. I'd love to see the original of that FBI report, and I'd love to ask whoever wrote it a few pointed questions. Dr. Cyril Wecht, probably the most highly respected and widely consulted forensic pathologist in the nation, is convinced this was in fact a sexually motivated assault, an assault preceded on past occasions by other such assaults, as there was evidence of chronic inflammation in the victim's vagina, consistent with prior molestation. Steve Thomas preferred to assume, on the other hand, that a mother who had just "accidentally" (his word, not mine) killed the daughter she'd been doting on for years, would get the bright idea that sticking a paintbrush handle into her beloved daughter's vagina was a great way to stage a phoney kidnapping. Followed by the fashioning of a "garotte" to finish her off with, just in case she might have survived. I'm not saying it couldn't possibly have happened that way. I'm just wondering at the mind set of the person who came up with such an outlandish and in fact truly disgusting theory, and why so many would assume he had to be right and that a perfectly normal middle class housewife would suddenly morph into a character from Grand Guignol.

6. The fact that fibers from Patsy's sweater were found on the duct tape placed over JonBenet's mouth and entwined with the cord of the "garotte," tells us Patsy must be the one that placed the tape and fashioned the "garotte." OK, first of all, only four such "fibers" were found on the tape. And they weren't actually fibers in the usual sense, but four traces of fiber, detectable only through a microscope. Also, they were "consistent" with fibers from Patsy's sweater, not necessarily identical to them. In other words, they could have been from some other garment. If anyone in the world would love to see those fibers as evidence, it would be Steve Thomas.  Here's what he had to say on this topic when interviewed by Greta van Susteren:
As you know, on the adhesive side of the duct tape, which was removed from the victim's mouth, there were four fibers that were later determined to be microscopically and chemically consistent with four fibers from a piece of clothing that Patsy Ramsey was wearing, and had that piece of tape been removed at autopsy, and the integrity of it maintained, that would have made, I feel, a very compelling argument. But because that tape was removed, and dropped on the floor, a transference argument could certainly be potentially made by any defense in this case, and that's just one example of how a compromised crime scene may, if not irreparably, have damaged the subsequent investigation.
 In other words, it would be nice to claim these fibers as evidence of Patsy's involvement but unfortunately it just can't be done because under the circumstances innocent transference is always a possibility. Note that Thomas doesn't even mention the fibers found entwined in the cord of the "garotte." As the cord could also, at some point, have had contact with other objects previously handled by Patsy (as for example her paint tote and brushes!!!!), this could also be due to innocent transfer.

7. The "ransom note" was a coded message from Patsy to John, in which she makes him aware of what she's done, expresses her anger with him and warns him to go along with her staging or else. Fanciful theory. One wonders how John was supposed to get that secret message, and wonders also why Patsy would assume he'd want to assist her after she'd murdered his child. One wonders, in fact, why any father would want to go to any length at all to assist anyone who'd just murdered one of his children.

8. John's mentioning to Linda Arndt that the murder looked like "an inside job" can be taken as a confession of either his own guilt or his awareness of Patsy's. Not likely. Why on Earth would he have wanted to do that? Sounds to me like John was insinuating that their housekeeper could have been involved.

9. DNA found in the victim's panties must be that of JonBenet's attacker. Fibers found entwined in the cords of the garotte must be those of the person who fashioned it. Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum. Two very similar arguments, presented by those with totally opposite views of what happened. The sensational location of certain evidence is assumed to tell us something about its origin. Each side naturally assumes the other is spouting complete nonsense, of course. Yet both arguments depend on precisely the same misleading "logic."

The above is just a small sampling of all the various odd notions that have surfaced over the years. I might be adding more at some point, just for fun.


  1. I'm afraid I've fallen for a couple of these over the years.

    One that I never fell for is the fiber "evidence".

    I especially like the "entwined" in the garrote argument. "Entwined" usually gets bold type, italics, all caps, etc. to emphasize that to emphasize that it would be "impossible" for the fiber to be "entwined" if the garrote were not tied by Patsy. The idea that the fiber could simply have been transferred from Jonbenet's body, to the rope, by John (or any other suspect) is discounted as impossible. But of course, it's very possible. These are tiny microscopic or barely macroscopic fibers. They transfer very easily.

    Of interest to those who actually want to evaluated the fiber evidence is this site -

    I quote from the site -

    NOTE: The more matching fiber types that exist in a case, the stronger the evidence of association. Remember that fiber matches between two individuals who share the same environment (e.g. live together or drive the same car) are essentially meaningless.

    IOWs the GBI (Georgia Bureau of Investigation) is telling us that secondary transfer is so common among members of the same household, that fiber matches tell us nothing at all about what happened.

    Of course, facts are not going to convince any PDI loyalists.

  2. This site is also of interest, with respect to John's fibers on the "inside" of the panties.

    This study investigates the persistence of fibers on the inside and outside surfaces of ski masks during transit to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Laboratory and during evidence processing to see if separate examination of the inside and outside is
    valuable and warranted. Twenty ski masks were seeded with test fibers on either the inside or outside only. The masks were then packaged, shipped and processed according to protocol, and the final recovery location of the fibers was documented. Results
    indicated that eleven (55%) of the ski masks showed evidence of test fiber transfer sometime during the study. An examiner therefore cannot be sure that fibers recovered in the Laboratory from the “inside” of an item were actually originally on the inside, and it
    is probably sufficient to process all surfaces of head coverings together."

    In short, fibers transferred, from outside to inside, even though all the protocols for handling the ski masks were rigorously followed. In the Ramsey case it would be understatement to say that protocols were not rigorously followed.

    So, even though I believe John is the strongest suspect, I think the fiber evidence is shaky, even wrt to John. His fibers could have been outside, from innocent contact and transferred inside before JBR was wiped down.

    1. Then of course, there are the brown fibers, which are conveniently ignored. To admit the brown fibers may be there from secondary transfer is to beg the question why Patsy's red and black fibers couldn't be there for the same reason. To insist Patsy's fibers have to be there from primary transfer leaves us wondering who transferred the brown fibers.

      Oh, Patsy wore brown gardening gloves while tying a small knot, yeah, that's the ticket.

    2. I agree that John's fibers could have been innocently transferred, especially since he apparently carried her into the house that night. That doesn't mean we should ignore that evidence, only that it isn't conclusive.

  3. Your folklore #9 is also interesting. Most of those insisting that the fibers "ENTWINED" in the garrote had to be from primary transfer by Patsy, are also insistent that the touch-DNA does not have to be from the killer. It's a strange mindset which basically holds that "anything which supports my view is a fact and anything that doesn't aint". Of course the sensible approach to both the dna and the fibers is to hold that they are inconclusive. Neither the fibers or dna has to be from the killer.

  4. If I could suggest a number 10 it would be BDI theory, in which John and Patsy co-conspire to implicate themselves in 1st degree murder as a way to cover for Burke who is guilty of -Nothing, as far as the law is concerned.

    Even if John and Patsy didn't know the exact nature of Burk's legal liability, one phone call would have given them all the information needed.

    This is also supposedly done for "family honor" as if being suspected of murdering your child is more acceptable than an accident occurring in the home. Truly looney.

    1. Yes. The pattern here is very interesting, and very nicely illustrated by Kolar's book. Instead of citing case related evidence consistent with Burke's involvement, evidence which doesn't exist, he goes to a lot of trouble presenting evidence that a child of Burke's age COULD have done it -- and then treats that as though it were evidence he DID do it. He then goes on to assume Patsy and John would have been willing to go to such great lengths and take such huge risks to cover for him, offering neither evidence nor precedent for such behavior whatsoever. He is forced, therefore, to argue, on the basis of no documentation at all, no psychological studies, no case histories, etc., that both John and Patsy would have agreed that "family honor" must be preserved at all costs, regardless of the very considerable and in fact dire risks. And now, it would seem, the notion that Burke-did-it with his parents staging an elaborate coverup to protect him is now number one on the forum charts.

  5. Regarding #3, I think there may be an even simpler explanation for "We didn't mean for this to happen." If I recall correctly, Patsy made this statement shortly after her daughter's death. I don't know exactly when testing determined the time of death and circumstances surrounding it, or when those results were reported to the parents, but isn't it possible that Patsy may have felt responsible at first simply for calling 911?

    The ransom note when on and on about how JonBenet would be killed if anybody contacted the police or anybody else. Upon reading the note, Patsy immediately called the police. Later that day, they find their daughter's body. I'm sure Patsy didn't mean for that to happen when she called 911. Seems like a reasonable reaction to me.

    Of course, if my recollection of the timeline is off, and Patsy did in fact know that her daughter was dead long before the note was discovered when she made that statement, then disregard this comment.

  6. The thing is, with the body in the house, the 911 call couldn't have had anything to do with JB being killed. Why would Patsy feel responsible?

    1. Remember, we're talking folklore, folks. The reality is that we have no idea what Patsy might have meant by that statement, or even if that's what she actually said. Assuming she actually did say it, we don't even know what "this" meant. Could have meant the death of JonBenet. Could have meant the media circus triggered by their lawyering up so soon. Could have meant the negative response to their lame public relations efforts. Could have meant the presence of unwelcome guests at whatever event she was attending at the time.

      What it certainly would NOT have meant is what so many on the forums feel so sure it must have meant: a confession of complicity in the death of her daughter. Because if Patsy had anything to do with that, you can be sure she'd have confessed it to NO ONE.