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).

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Dispelling Some Myths

Myths abound in this case. More than I could possibly deal with in a single post. But here are some of the most persistent and misleading:

1. Patsy Ramsey is responsible for the notorious "and hence" in the Ramsey Christmas message, a phrase that also appears in the "ransom" note.
  • Not likely. The Christmas message was a collaboration between John and Patsy, so technically we have no way of knowing which of them wrote it. We do know, however, that John made use of it in the Newseum interview of Oct. 12, 2000 (this was online at one time, but the link is now broken, unfortunately): "The police as a gov-, …you know, the justice system is a government organization. And hence, should be looked at with some degree of skepticism, and, uh…and, uh…suspicion."  I don't know of any place where Patsy is on record as using that phrase, and indeed it would seem uncharacteristic of her communication style, which always tended toward the colloquial and informal. John, on the other hand, tends to express himself in a more formal, and even academic, manner, so his use of "and hence" would not be surprising.

2. According to detective Steve Thomas, whose book focuses on Patsy, she deliberately avoided the manuscript form of the letter "a" after the murder, as that form was used so often in the "ransom" note. "Writing samples from Ramseys' personal letters and notes she wrote before the killing contain 732 manuscript "a"s that look like the lowercase typewritten "a," but they are written by hand. She switched to a cursive a after the murder." (from this article)
  •  Not so. There are many examples of Patsy's use of the cursive form prior to the murder (see, for example, her pageant entry form, which uses it exclusively). And I've counted nine instances of manuscript "a" in her London letter, which was, of course, penned after the murder.

3. JonBenet's head wound was produced by a golf club or a baseball bat, suggesting an attack by her brother, Burke.
  • Not likely. The medical examiner saw no evidence of scalp trauma during the initial, external examination. It was only later, during the autopsy, when the scalp was lifted from the skull, that an "extensive area of scalp hemorrhage" was seen. A blow from a hard object such as a golf club would have punctured the scalp and drawn blood, but no sign of external bleeding was seen and in fact the medical examiner only noticed the head blow later, during the autopsy. As far as a baseball bat is concerned, I've seen someone accidentally struck very hard on the head by a baseball bat and it produced a huge, and very scary, bulge on the scalp. Again, no sign of any such injury was seen by the medical examiner. The most likely cause of the large crack across JonBenet's skull would be the maglite, with its heavy rubber tip, not likely to produce any scalp abrasions, but capable of cracking her skull if delivered with sufficient force. In this case, we are talking about a blow that's been described as powerful enough to fell a grown man. Since it's unlikely that frail, nine year old Burke was capable of inflicting such a drastic wound with a rubber tipped flashlight, Kolar's contention that he's the one who murdered his sister seems highly unlikely. The maglite, by the way, had been thoroughly wiped down, as were the batteries inside it, suggesting that this was, in fact, the murder weapon.

4. Patsy's handwriting resembles that of the "ransom" note.
  •  This one is especially hard to dispel, since it's so widely accepted, almost as an article of faith, by so many following this case. While it's true that some certified document examiners, as well as some self-appointed "experts," have found similarities between certain letters penned by Patsy and certain letters in the note, side by side comparisons of both documents and complete words reveal two very different styles -- as demonstrated several times on this blog, for example, here, here and here. There are, moreover, some highly questionable letter-by-letter comparisons to be found in the various reports linking Patsy to the note. 
  • Cina Wong, for example, has offered a long list of "matches," many of which don't really match at all, and there are others in which the significance of what appears to be a match is questionable. I'm not permitted to reproduce her examples here, due to copyright restrictions, but in one case she displays two letter "d"s that do indeed look very similar, until one blows them up to examine them in more detail. And when one does that one sees that the "d" in the note is formed with three separate strokes, while Patsy's "d" is formed with only two. So what can the purely visual similarity mean if the manner in which the letters was formed is different? Since Wong offers no explanation of how she decided whether or not any two letters actually match, and also takes no account of any mismatches, the count she comes up with is meaningless, since it could easily have been produced simply by cherry picking letters that might look similar to her and ignoring everything else.
  • In another report, Wong's associate David Liebman observes that "the 2nd downstroke of the "X" is higher than the lst" in exemplars from both Patsy and the note. What Liebman fails to take into account is that the two "x"s look completely different from one another. All that matters to him is that one stroke is higher than the other in both cases. Since one can easily imagine that certain strokes are going to be higher than other strokes in literally everyone's handwriting, it's very difficult to see how he can count this as a match - but he does. Another similarity found by Liebman is his observation that  "The left margin decreases downward" in some of Patsy's samples and in the ransom note. Wong also notes this same instance of "margin drift" in both. Only there is no margin drift at all in the ransom note. None. Some of Patsy's samples do in fact exhibit margin drift, which should count as a difference. But both Liebman and Wong count it as a match. My guess is that they were provided with a crooked xerox of the note by Darnay Hoffman -- and neither noticed that the "margin drift" in the note was an artifact of Darnay's hasty xerox method. Some experts!
  • A considerable portion of Tom Miller's report is devoted to the letter "w." And again, what interests this "expert" is not any similarity between Patsy's hand and the hand that wrote the note, because the "w"s in question look totally different. In fact Patsy's "w" is written in longhand. What he focuses on is in fact a difference: "In Patsy Ramsey's strong [i.e., right] hand, the first cup of the "W" is squeezed and appears much narrower than in the second cup. In the QD, the opposite occurs as the second cup is squeezed and is thus narrower than the first." This should count as a difference, no? Not to Miller, who assumes that the note was written by Patsy with her "weak" (i.e., left) hand. In his view, "This opposite squeezing of the cups occurs as the opposite hand reverses a tendency of the strong hand much like a person making a check mark with the strong hand will reverse that same mark if made with the opposite hand." What is going on here? First, Miller is assuming the note was written with the left hand, which may or may not be the case. Second, he is already assuming the note was written by Patsy, since there is nothing in the comparison itself that tells us anything about whether or not she wrote it. And, yes, it is true that if it was written with the left hand AND if it was written by Patsy, then it looks like the reversal was caused by the shift from her "strong" to her "opposite" hand. However, if the note was not written by Patsy, then it tells us nothing at all. It's evidence that Patsy wrote it ONLY if we know ahead of time that she did in fact write it. Which is what he is apparently trying to demonstrate. If you think I'm exaggerating I invite you to check out Miller's report for yourself. The rest of Miller's report is equally questionable and once again, as with the others, based largely on little more than cherry picking. My analysis of his report can be found here
  • The bottom line regarding this particular myth: there is no real evidence linking Patsy's hand to that of the note. And in this case we can safely agree with the document examiners hired by the Boulder authorities, whose report, based on far more, and also more reliable, exemplars than the clearly inadequate ones used by Darnay's "experts," found little reason to suspect her of writing the note. As I've demonstrated, her writing looks nothing at all like the note and any resemblance between certain letters is probably no more meaningful than the resemblances one could find between letters written by all sorts of people using the same manuscript style. Similar "matches" have been found, for example, in the writing of Chris Wolfe, as demonstrated here in a very interesting video. The only reason so many see any resemblance between Patsy's hand and the note is due to the fact that they've managed to convince themselves of her guilt and have thus been in some sense "brainwashed" into seeing what they expect to see, or even in many cases what they actually want to see.


  1. I have a question about the stunt gun theory. I don't believe it was ever used but then how could we explain the small circular marks on her body?
    I'm curious to know what you think.
    Also, the reason I have such a hard time with an intruder theory is because a stranger would make a lot if not some noise going up and down the steps on top of ten other things he did that night. And we have to believe Ramsey's just remained sleeping while all the killing and assault is going on!!!

    1. First of all, the stun gun theory is pure speculation, based ONLY on Smit's interpretation of some autopsy photos. He made some measurements based on those photos and then went shopping for a stun gun that fit the bill. Predictably enough, he found one. After he found it, he made a big deal about the "exact match" between the electrodes on the stun gun and the wounds on JonBenet's head and back. But the "exact match" was produced by his diligent efforts to find an exact match, not by a match with any item directly or even indirectly associated with the crime. If he had a suspect, and that suspect owned a stun gun with the same measurements, THAT might mean something. In the absence of such a suspect (and of course there wasn't any) the match he produced means nothing. It could have been produced by any number of items in any number of ways.

      Second of all, James Kolar, in his book "Foreign Faction" discusses some pieces of toy railroad track found in the basement whose tips also match the same wounds. It's very possible she could have fallen on or been pushed against those tracks during the assault. And it's also possible that those wounds could have been caused in any number of other ways, who knows?

      If her body had been available for direct examination it might have been possible to test for the residue from a stun gun, but it had already been buried and the Ramseys refused to permit exhumation. End of story.

      My problem with the intruder theory is that none of it makes sense. There was no reason for any intruder to take the time to write his note while in the house, no reason to leave the note without actually taking his victim, etc., etc. Whether he would have made enough noise to awaken anyone is a different matter entirely. A careful intruder might have been able to move through the house in relative silence. And he could easily have silenced JonBenet before she had a chance to cry out.

  2. have you read this? very interesting i think.

    1. Yes, it's interesting. Seems like this person has convinced himself that LHP and her husband killed JonBenet. One of the amazing things about this case is all the many suspects who've popped up in people's minds as THE one who MUST have done it. And in just about every case people have come up with what look, to them, as ironclad evidence of guilt. We have "Santa," we have "Santa's" wife, we have the photographer who went nuts and wound up running naked in the street, we have Chris Wolf, who's girlfriend was sure he did it, we have someone known as "bootman" (forget his name for the moment), who apparently owned both HiTec boots AND a stun gun, we have Fleet White (named by a young woman who accused Fleet and his father of sexually abusing her), we have the bizarre story told by "Nancy," who claimed she wrote the note, as dictated by someone involved a conspiracy to kidnap JonBenet, we have someone who convinced himself there was a group of child molesters who regularly photographed JonBenet and ultimately murdered her with the cooperation of the parents -- in this case the conspirators were so high up in government that no one was brave enough to talk -- and of course we even have the ultimate suspect, John Mark Karr, who actually confessed. My oh my! Maybe they all did it, ala Agatha Christie.

      In each case it's possible to bring certain bits of evidence to bear that make the chosen suspect look guilty. The problem is that guilt has to be established in the light of ALL the evidence, not just selected bits and pieces chosen to support each person's pet theory.

      As far as LHP is concerned:

      1. she dropped out of high school in her sophomore year and her husband doesn't seem to have had much more of an education -- that already rules them out as the note was obviously written by an educated person with an excellent grasp of English grammar and a large vocabulary;

      2. the writing on the note does NOT resemble Patsy's hand, though of course many will disagree, because they've literally been brainwashed into accepting that myth. In any case, none of the "experts" who've examined it, on either side of the fence, have ever suggested the note could be a forgery of either Patsy's or John's hand. So if the motive was to set up either Patsy or John, then how does a hand written note that in fact is NOT by any means obviously written by either of them, accomplish that? And if the motive was NOT to set up either Patsy or John then what reason would LHP and her husband have to deliberately use a pad from the house to write their note?

      Finally, it's hard to believe LHP would have even dreamt of kidnapping JonBenet since she would have known very well she'd be a leading suspect and would be very thoroughly scrutinized. The case made in this video, or book or whatever, is interesting, but that's about as far as it goes. What stands out for me is the assumption that Patsy and John have both been ruled out "scientifically," which is by no means the case. If the murder had to have been done by someone familiar with the house, the best candidate by far would be one of the Ramseys.

  3. i agree, and disagree, if you have read the link, and it is correct as far as evidence goes, there is an amazing amount of this against the pugh's, even as far as nylon rope wrapped around a stick, to duct tape and paper from the ramsey's home, they also have the most motive. i believe whoever wrote the rn, did so well before the murder. I also believe that even someone with little education, could still accomplish this with help, or two heads together,has it not been said, that the letter was rambling from one thing to another, to suggest uneducated writing, even though there was the use of educated grammar. even if not the case. i think that the misspelt words were deliberate,even if jr wrote the rn. is it so hard to believe that someone with little education would think they would be caught?, anymore than to percieve someone of jr's intelligence would risk all he had going for him? and that's the one thing that makes me question his guilt, he had more than enough back up from his ex wife and children of his good character. the fact remains, that it is most likely someone who knew that house well,and was closely connected to the family, if not someone in the family itself murdered jbr, i do not agree with other blogs i have read, that a 9yr old boy would have been capable of this, although he may have overheard something, and my gut tells me patsy did'nt do it, if that's anything to go on, but that's just me, not evidence.

    1. Every possibility has to be considered. However, there is not one single trace of evidence directly implicating either LHP or her husband. It's a case based entirely on assumptions of various kinds, based on the fact that the Pughs had access to the house and various items in it. That's not enough. As far as Linda's lawsuit against the Ramseys and her accusations against Patsy, she was put up to that by Darnay Hoffmann, the same guy who hired "experts" to finger Patsy as writer of the note. Looks to me as though Linda was manipulated by Hoffmann, who wanted to use her to get at Patsy. He dangled out the promise of a book deal also. Also, by that time Linda was furious at Patsy for naming her as a leading suspect, so she had reason to turn on her. Prior to that, she was defending her, telling everyone what a great person she was.

      In any case, John's obvious lies about the broken basement window are enough to tank any intruder theory, regardless of how likely it might seem that some particular person or persons could have broken into the home. Once we realize the scene at the basement window was staged by John, then that's it, as far as I'm concerned.

  4. ok doc, where can i find details about the basement window on your blog please.Also what are your thoughts on the dna, that we now know is more than what was origanally found to be?

  5. For a thorough analysis of the window evidence and John's testimony, see and then read the following 3 posts.

    My analysis of the dna evidence starts here: and continues on the following post.