Cherokee's investigation of the ransom note, dating from 2005, can be found at the Forums for Justice website under the heading Analysis of the Linguistics and Handwriting in the Ramsey Ransom Note. Since this posting is protected by a very intimidating copyright notice, and since I have no desire to upset Cherokee any more than is absolutely necessary, I will refrain from long quotes and will not be posting any of his very interesting displays on this site.
It may surprise him to learn that I am genuinely impressed with his work, and will go so far as to say that I have far more respect for his efforts than those of any of the other "experts" whose reports I've been considering here. Which is not to say that I accept his findings, only that he alone, of all the so-called "experts," goes beyond the simple minded accumulation of "similarities" to 1. consider the content of the note as well as the handwriting; 2. apply a healthy dose of critical thinking to his evaluations; 3. explain his methods; 4. consider not only Patsy's exemplars, but the single exemplar we have from John, something none of the others bothered to do.
Unfortunately Cherokee shares with literally all Darnay Hoffman's "experts" the fatal flaw of prejudgement. Based on everything I've read of his over the years, he was, from the very start, or at least from the first moment he set eyes on the ransom note, convinced that Patsy wrote it. This is an odd conviction I've encountered a great many times on the Internet, where people tend to set their hearts on Patsy very early on -- no one else will do, and there is no hope that any future theories or revelations regarding her role in the case will ever change their minds. Not everyone is so closed minded, thank goodness, which is one reason I started this blog.
From the beginning, however, it is clear that Cherokee has had his heart set on Patsy from the start, and is bound and determined to see her as the writer of the note, if not the murderer of her child. And this conviction colors every segment of his presentation. It's literally impossible to do full justice to all aspects of his analysis, as he tends to be extremely verbose, and much of what he writes, though interesting and often meaningful in itself, sheds little light on the identity of the note writer. So I'll touch only on what I find especially relevant.
Cherokee makes the point that a handwriting analysis in itself is not sufficient to identify the writer, and here I fully agree. He begins, therefore, with an extremely long and ultimately tedious "linguistic analysis," which purports to demonstrate that, based on content and linguistic style, Patsy and only Patsy, could have written the note. And here, as elsewhere, I have no choice but to invoke the theme I've returned to over and over again in the last several posts: cherry picking.
For one thing, Cherokee sees the note as definitely written by a woman. This idea has cropped up before, of course, but only in the wake of John's being "ruled out," so for those of us unable to accept the intruder theory, there appears to have been no other choice but Patsy. Ergo, if John didn't write it, the note must have been written by Patsy, ergo by a woman. And once that conviction is established, then the race is on to find evidence of the "woman's touch." Cherokee has no trouble finding it:
Further analysis of the note showed that even though the author strove to present a threatening tone, a strange concern for the recipient of the ransom note was present. There was almost a “motherly” quality to the instructions given in phrases such as “Make sure that you bring an adequate size attache,” “put the money in a brown paper bag,” and “I advise you to be rested,” among others.I don't have the time or interest to go over all the many reasons Cherokee sees a "motherly touch" in a document filled with phrases such as "foreign faction," "If we monitor you getting the money early," "Any deviation of my instructions will result in the immediate execution of your daughter" (very motherly, that), "Speaking to anyone about your situation, such as Police, F.B.I., etc.,
will result in your daughter being beheaded," "You will be scanned for electronic devices," "law enforcement countermeasures and tactics," "constant scrutiny," "Don't try to grow a brain," but such is the magic of cherry picking that all such evidence of typically male content can be explained away as deliberate deception, while everything "motherly" clearly reflects the actual author of this very disturbing text. Why would such a "motherly" text be so disturbing? Why? because this is a very disturbed mother, as should be obvious, no? Why not, since she's just murdered her child.
I can't imagine a Pageant Mom like Patsy ever using a phrase such as "foreign faction," not to mention words such as "monitor," "situation," "scanned," "countermeasures," "tactics," etc. And what about those percentage figures emphasized in the note, do they sound like Patsy -- or John? But that's me, and if I try to take that sort of thing too far then I'd be cherry picking, wouldn't I? Sorry, but I'm not. In my opinion, it is not possible to determine from content alone whether such a deliberately deceptive document was composed by a male or female, by Patsy or John. One can speculate all one wants and one can offer all sorts of reasons based on ones ideas about profiling, psychology, what have you, but to my knowledge no science has ever been devised that can help us with that sort of deception, and if one were ever devised you can be sure deceptive individuals would be the first to take advantage of it.
Especially weak in this regard is the notion that phrases such as "The two gentlemen" or "Use that good southern common sense of yours," give Patsy away, as these are just the sort of phrases a "southern belle" such as her would use. Sure, if this were not a document intended to deceive, but the more typical type of "questioned document" most of these "experts" normally deal with, then such phrasing might indeed mean something. But why would someone whose intent was to deceive deliberately insert phrases that could give herself away? Well, one might want to argue that she simply forgot herself for a moment. And sure, that could be it. But the phrases could also be there for some other reason, as a form of taunting for example. We simply have no basis for deciding one way or the other, so what's the point in speculating?
Finally, after what seems like an endless dissertation on all the ins and outs of "linguistic analysis," Cherokee turns to his far more interesting and meaningful "Handwriting Analysis." I'll deal with that next time.