"The crux of the matter," as defined by The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms: "The basic, central or critical point of an issue."
As I see it, the 911 call is the crux of the JonBenet Ramsey murder, the critical point which, in this case, forces us to make a crucial choice. Very simply, if the Ramseys were collaborating to coverup the murder of their daughter by staging a phoney kidnapping, that call would never have happened. There are two components to be considered in evaluating this assertion. First, the call was made with the body still in the house, and once the police were called in, there was no longer going to be any way to safely get the body out of the house -- and once the body was found in the house, then it would be clear no kidnapping had taken place, thus completely nullifying the effect of the note. Second, by handing the police a patently phoney "ransom" note penned by either Patsy or John, the Ramseys would be handing them a potentially devastating piece of self-incriminating evidence. And if, as so many have attested, this note "screams Patsy," in both content and penmanship, then Patsy would literally have been placing a noose around her own neck by making that call.
Lou Smit made the point very succinctly when challenged by Larry King regarding the absurdities of the intruder theory:
KING: Why would a kidnapper kill the person they're going to kidnap at the scene while writing a ransom note? You're not going to get any money that way.The central dilemma of the case is summarized very neatly in this exchange. Which explains why an experienced homicide detective like Smit would become such an adamant Ramsey supporter.
SMIT: That's true. I don't know what happened during the evening to change this person's mind. But the opposite is also true. If people believe that the Ramseys for some reason inadvertently killed JonBenet, staged this massive cover-up to make it look like a kidnapping, wrote a 2 1/2 page ransom note, brutally garroted their daughter, and then did not bring her body out of the house, no one can answer that question either.
So how to decide? A kidnapper who leaves a potentially incriminating hand-printed ransom note yet fails to actually kidnap anyone vs. parents staging a phoney kidnapping who call the police while the alleged "kidnap" victim is still in the house, supplying the authorities at the same time with evidence against themselves in the form of a now pointless, patently phoney, "ransom" note.
The only solution, as I see it, is to recognize the consistently overlooked fact that Patsy and John Ramsey were two different people, who may well have acted very differently out of completely different motives. Thus Patsy could have made the call in all innocence, accepting the note at face value, while John could be the one who, unknown to Patsy, both committed the murder and wrote the note, in which case he would have been forced to look on helplessly as a panicked Patsy suddenly decided to make the call.
It's been argued, on the basis of what looks like airtight evidence, that John told Patsy to make that call. This is the official version presented in their book. And, as reported by detective Steve Thomas, Burke Ramsey claimed to have overheard his father tell his mother to make the call, while he was pretending to be asleep in his upstairs room. If this version is in fact true, and both John and Patsy wanted that call made at that time, then we have no choice but to accept the intruder theory, as unlikely as it may seem, because, as demonstrated above, it makes no sense to assume both Ramseys, if guilty, would have wanted to make that call before getting the body out of the house.
The simple logic summarized above has been consistently ignored by those claiming "the Ramseys" must have collaborated to cover up a murder committed by either Patsy or Burke, with Patsy writing the note, and John colluding to cover for both of them, apparently to "preserve family honor." In a nutshell, if you accept the testimony of the three Ramsey family members present in the house the night of the murder, that both John and Patsy agreed to make that call, then both must be innocent, meaning that somehow some person with very strange, indeed incomprehensible motives, must have entered the house that night, murdered JonBenet, and then taken the time to write a pointless 2 1/2 page ransom note for no reason anyone has ever been able to explain.
It's been argued that we can't really know what was on John and Patsy's mind when they made that call, and that they could have been motivated by factors we know nothing about. While their actions might seem irrational to us, they might have made sense to them, and we have no way of knowing anything about that. What's invariably overlooked is the fact that Ramsey defenders can make exactly the same case for their very strange intruder, who may also have been motivated by factors we know nothing about. So, sorry, but if you simply must link Patsy and John together as acting in tandem and in perfect accord, then there is no case to be made against them, the 911 call becomes a perfect alibi.
I've been accused of "bending the evidence to fit my theory." And I must admit, yes, I do have a theory, actually several theories, concerning this case, though I don't think I've bent any evidence. I have a theory about the purpose of the note, and the plan behind it. I have a theory about why John lied about breaking the basement window on a previous occasion. I have a theory about why JonBenet was murdered and by whom. Etc. But the dilemma behind the 911 call that constitutes the crux of this case, is not a theory, not my theory, not anyone's theory. It simply makes no sense to assume both John and Patsy would have wanted to make that call if they were collaborating on the staging of a kidnapping and knew the body of their victim was still in the house. That is not a theory, it is simple common sense.
So we are all left with a very stark choice. Either accept the testimony of the two suspects and their son, that John told Patsy to make that call, which leaves us with no case to be made against them, strongly supporting the intruder theory; or conclude that all three were lying, for whatever reasons, and that the call was Patsy's idea, which, in the context of the case as a whole, points to John Ramsey as the sole perpetrator of this horrendous outrage.
Aside from the simple but in my view incontestable logic presented above, consider also:
1. The existence of a very different version of the story, as presented by Patsy in the documentary produced for A&E by David Mills and Michael Tracey:
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.
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."2. The unlikelihood of John asking Patsy to make such an important call if in fact he wanted it made. As should be clear from the recording, she was hysterical, barely able to blurt out their location and the basics of their situation. If John wanted it made, despite the dire warnings in the note, then surely he would have wanted to make the call himself, and would have wanted to make clear to the authorities that their house could be under surveillance and the need to contact the FBI before taking any action. And if for some reason he was unable to stop Patsy from making the call herself, he would have taken the receiver to explain their situation in more detail, and the dangers of bringing uniformed police to their door.
3. If one might want to assume Patsy was the sole perpetrator, told by an innocent John to make the call against her wishes, then it's impossible to believe she would simply have obeyed his instructions without at least attempting to argue against it, pointing to the dire threats in the note. At which point, John could easily have gone to the phone and made the call himself. In other words, if he really wanted that call made and Patsy resisted, there would have been no point in him insisting on her making the call, as he could easily have overruled her by making it himself.
It is, of course, not easy to explain why Patsy would lie about whose idea it was to make that call. On most occasions, when asked, she deferred to the version first offered by John in their first CNN interview. To understand why she might have been willing to support John's version of what happened, I'll refer you to an earlier blog post, entitled White Lies. As far as Burke is concerned, his actual testimony has never been made public, so we don't know the details. He might have thought he heard something of that sort but couldn't be sure, or the suggestion might have been put into his mind by John, or he might have been convinced by John that his support was needed, or his Daddy might wind up in jail. His room was in a completely different part of the house, far from where this conversation allegedly took place, so it's hard to believe he could have overheard exactly what was being said.