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.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The "Experts" See Patsy - Part 4: Gideon Epstein on the Distinguished Panel

Before moving on to our next "expert," I want to dwell a bit on an all important aspect of Gideon Epstein's testimony.  Time and again, whenever I find myself arguing against Patsy's involvement and presenting all the many reasons to suspect John and John alone, the "Patsy lovers" remind me of those six "experts" who unanimously agreed that John could not have written the note. And when I argue that this conclusion makes no sense and needs to be questioned, eyes begin to roll.

What they fail to recognize is the equally significant fact that this same panel of experts also found it "unlikely" that Patsy wrote it. They could not rule her out. But nonetheless, the consensus was that she probably did not. Which means anyone wanting to insist Patsy must have written that note also has to go against the "expert" findings of this same panel. In other words, if this was an inside job, as so many rightly believe, then there is something very wrong with the methodology employed by this distinguished panel. And if you want to accuse them of being wrong about Patsy, then you can't avoid the possibility that they were wrong about John.

This rarely recognized difficulty is made painfully apparent when Lin Wood challenges Gideon Epstein to explain how such highly regarded "experts" could have gone wrong:

2 Q.Now, Mr. Epstein, what exactly is
3 your theory about how all these individuals,
4 Chet Ubowski, Leonard Speckin, Edwin Alford,
5 Lloyd Cunningham, Richard Dusick and Howard Rile,
6 got it wrong and you, sir, beginning in the
7 year 2000, almost four years after the murder in
8 this case, and without access to any original
9 handwriting of any party you analyzed, got it

This is an excellent question! For Epstein's answer I'll refer you to my previous post, but here are some highlights:

I believe that that connection
9 was very instrumental in the Colorado bureau
10coming to the conclusion that they did, because
11Howard Rile
[employed by Ramsey's lawyers] had come to the conclusion that he

13Lloyd Cunningham [also employed by the Ramseys] works very closely
14with Howard Rile and they were both on this
15case, and then it was a matter of chain of
16events, one document examiner after another
17refusing to go up against someone who they knew,

18someone who was large in the profession, for

19fear that they would be criticized
 . . .

 I feel personally that the
15other examiners were simply afraid to state what

16they believed to be the truth, or that they

17simply didn't devote the necessary time. . .

I think they simply went along
10with what had been previously said because it
11was the most expedient thing to do.

While Epstein is, of course, questioning their decision regarding Patsy, the exact same reasoning could be applied to their decision regarding John. I made this point in the last post, but want to highlight it here, as I find Epstein's skepticism with respect to this panel especially worthy of close consideration.

According to Schiller's book, Perfect Murder Perfect Town (p. 226, hard back edition), after being hired by the Ramsey legal team, Rile and Cunningham "pored over the original note from 9:00 AM to 12:30 PM," making their presentation just after 2 PM the same day. Their conclusion at the time: neither Patsy nor John wrote the note. When one considers all the various exemplars from both John and Patsy that they would have had to examine in detail, and the various methods one would presume they would have had to employ, it's hard to believe that three and a half hours would have been nearly enough just to get started. And when we contemplate Epstein's words regarding the likely influence of these two on the others, it becomes especially difficult to understand how their conclusions, which have had such a profound affect on the investigation of this case, could have gone unchallenged for so long. To this date, neither their initial report, nor the report of the entire group has ever been made available for either public or professional scrutiny.

YE GODS!!!!!


  1. I enjoy reading your thoughts on this, but I can assure you John did not write the note. I devoted hundreds of hours to this case. I was unaware that the opposing examiners spent so little time for their examinations.

    Gideon Epstein

    1. Mr. Epstein, I must say I'm delighted to see you posting here. I'm perfectly willing to admit that I could be wrong, but as you can well understand I need more than the assurances of a questioned document examiner, even one so highly regarded as you, to change my mind.

      I really hope you'll stay in touch and are willing to answer some questions. Your view of the handwriting evidence has been something of a mystery, since you alone, of all the specialists recruited by Darnay Hoffmann, seem to have kept your report confidential. I, at least, have never been able to find a copy of it on the Internet, or anywhere else.

      My questions:

      1. Did you have the opportunity to examine examples of John's hand as well as Patsy's? And if so, what were they, and who provided them? Would it be possible for you to share them with me (I promise not to post them on the blog without your permission)?

      2. By what standards does one decide to rule out any particular suspect in a case such as this, where the note was written by someone clearly intending to hide his or her identity ? Can you refer me to a publication or publications in your field wherein such standards are defined? Can you summarize in a few words the standards you applied in this particular case?

      3. Are you aware of the court document, written by John Ramsey, that I've reproduced and analyzed on this blog (see I believe I've found some striking similarities between some of John's exemplars and corresponding exemplars from the note. Have you ever seen my comparisons before? And if so, what do you think?

      4. When you examined Patsy's exemplars did you employ a control of any sort, to help rule out the possibility of bias?

      5. What makes you so certain Patsy wrote the note? As far as I've been able to determine, her handwriting is very different, both stylistically and in detail. The similarities widely distributed by Cina Wong could be easily due to cherry picking, as I've argued in my analysis of her report.

      I'd prefer it if you were willing to discuss your take on this case here on the blog, but if you'd feel more comfortable sharing your thoughts privately, you can contact me directly at the following email address:

      Thanks so much for reading here, and commenting. I hope you'll continue -- on both fronts.