First, let's dispose of the intruder theory. I'll do this as quickly and simply as possible, though much more info is available on this matter in both the blog and my book. A pedophile would have had no reason to write a ransom note. Someone entering the house with the intent to kidnap would have prepared a note in advance. Someone deciding to kidnap while already inside the house, such as a burglar, would not have taken the time, trouble and risk to pen such a long and detailed note, dotting every i and crossing every t, adhering closely to the margin, etc. Someone attempting to frame Patsy or John would not have written the note in his own hand (disguised or not), but attempted a forgery. None of the above are assumptions, by the way. All are logical inferences based on the nature of the note itself and the fact that the note was penned on paper torn from a notepad found in the Ramsey home.
We are thus left with either Patsy or John (or both) as writer(s) of the note. (It was not written by a 9 year old.) As I see it, the key fact in this respect is that Patsy is the one who called the police, not John. Before getting into a discussion of who wanted the call made or whether John could have prevented Patsy from making the call, etc., it's important to pay attention to one key point: if both were in it together, that call would not have been made at that time, while the body was still in the house.
Why do I feel so confident this must be the case? Because the note is very clearly an attempt to stage a kidnapping. This is so obvious, I'm almost embarrassed to mention it. If the Ramseys simply wanted to provide the police with a note demonstrating the presence of an intruder they would have written a completely different sort of note, not a ransom note. Again, this seems so obvious it's hardly worth mentioning, but to many the difference doesn't seem to matter. Of course it matters. A ransom note is either genuine or phony. If the victim is actually missing from the house, then the note might well be genuine. But if the dead body of the victim is found in the house, as was JonBenet's body, then the note is almost certainly phony -- an attempt at staging that somehow went wrong. And the most likely suspects become those present in the house when the murder occurred. Why would the Ramseys want to cast suspicion on themselves by handing a clearly phony ransom note to the police? And if Patsy wrote it, why would she want to hand them evidence that might well be used against her?
Based on the above considerations it seems clear that the call would not have been made if both were in it together -- meaning that one must be guilty and the other innocent. The guilty party would have killed JonBenet and written the note, the innocent party would have been unaware of what really happened and would have taken the note at face value, as evidence that JonBenet had been kidnapped. The fact that the call was made by Patsy and not John then takes on a significance that no one investigating the case has ever appreciated, so far as we can tell, since both Ramseys have consistently been treated in tandem, as a single unit joined at the hip.
We must now consider what happened prior to the call and whose decision it was to make it. As seems clear, to me at least, one of them, the innocent party, wanted that call made and the other, the guilty party, did not. According to John's initial statement, during their first CNN interview, he told Patsy to make the call. And that became the official version, as elaborated in their book, The Death of Innocence. However, an alternative version of what happened can be found in a documentary by Michael Tracy and David Mills, produced for A&E. In the transcript of the full-length documentary (this does not appear in a shorter version), we find the following:
Narrator: 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."This completely contradicts the version of what happened according to their book, where John is on his hands and knees reading the note, with Patsy beside him, right next to the telephone when she asks him what to do and he tells her to call the police.
We find still another version in Darnay Hoffman's 2001 deposition of Patsy as part of the Chris Wolf lawsuit. (43 minutes and 40 seconds into Part 4: https://youtu.be/GyllbtpF_sU?t=43m40s -- unfortunately the audio is out of sync):
Darnay: Whose decision was it to call the police when you found the ransom note?
Patsy: John and I [hesitates] we just said "what'll we do -- call the police." I don't know whether it was specifically one decision or the other."
Yet another contradiction, as the description provided in their book specifically states that it was John who told Patsy to make the call.
Why would different versions exist if they were accurately reporting what happened? And why would they have been motivated to hide the truth? In any case, we cannot simply accept at face value John's assertion that he wanted that call made and told Patsy to make it. To determine whose idea it was we need to dig more deeply into the evidence and the psychology of the situation.
Let's first assume that Patsy is the one who killed her daughter and wrote the note, without John's knowledge. The warnings in the note would have been intended to frighten John into not calling the police, thus giving her time to get rid of the body. But when could she have done that? One might assume that John's trip to the bank, to collect the ransom, would have given her that opportunity. However, any attempt to dump the body during banking hours, in broad daylight, would have been awfully risky. Her car could have been spotted near the site where the body would eventually be found; she might have been seen carrying the body out of her trunk and into the woods; John could have returned early and wondered where she'd gone; and what about Burke, what would she have done with him? Other than that, I see no opportunity for her to remove the body without John's knowledge. Thus, as it seems, the note would have done nothing for her because sooner or later the police would have to be called in and they'd have found the body in the house. NOT an effective way to stage a kidnapping.
Moreover, if Patsy had written the note, she would certainly have balked if and when John told her to call 911. She'd have reminded him of the warnings in the note, and made it clear that calling the police was too dangerous. And if, at that point, John insisted that the police be called regardless, I see no need to force Patsy to call, when he could so easily have lifted the receiver and called 911 himself.
Turning now to John, what stands out to me is how well that particular note could have worked for him had the call not been made. I won't go into detail as I've already covered that ground very thoroughly on this blog, particularly here. (A more complete scenario can be found in Chapter Three of my book). If in fact John wrote the note, there is no way he'd have told Patsy to call 911, knowing full well that the body was lying there in the basement waiting to be discovered when the police arrived. He would almost certainly have pointed to all the dire threats in the note, insisting that the police not be called or the "kidnappers" would behead their beloved child. The need to buy time before the police are called is, in fact, one of the main reasons for the note. As I've written, his plan would have been to dump the body the following night, under the pretense that he was delivering the ransom. Only after he'd gotten rid of the body, and all the other evidence, would he have wanted the police called in.
In the face of all the above considerations, the fact that Patsy is the one who made the call looms large. It's not easy to understand why she would have wanted to call the police in the face of all the threats in the note, and against her husband's will. Perhaps she was simply in a panic and, as she herself has attested, acted spontaneously, without thinking. Perhaps John was acting strangely and she simply wanted someone else there with her at that time, for her own protection. But if she were in fact the one who wrote that note, there is no way she would have meekly consented to call the police just because John asked her to. And I see no reason why John would have insisted when he could so easily have made the call himself.
Some have assumed that a guilty John would not have permitted Patsy to make the call, that he would physically have restrained her. But he would literally have needed to sit on her all morning to prevent her from calling if that's what she'd decided she must do. There was a phone on every floor and she could easily have found a way to call despite all his efforts.
One more question remains. If Patsy made the call herself, on her own volition, and against John's will, why would she have consented to the version in the book, where she makes the call at John's request? This is indeed a subtle and complex question that can't be treated in a few words. I refer readers to the blog post titled White Lies, for a thorough analysis of the psychology behind their conflicting testimonies.
Once we recognize that "the Ramseys" are a fiction, that John and Patsy are two different people, with two different sets of motives, and, more important, once we recognize that one must be innocent and the other guilty -- then many other aspects of the crime come into play. Who is more likely to have sexually assaulted the victim? Who is more likely to be responsible for the signs of chronic sexual abuse? Who is more likely to have inflicted a blow that "could have felled a 300 pound man"? Who is more likely to have devised the intricately knotted "garotte" that strangled the victim? Who is more likely to have broken the basement window to stage an intruder break-in -- and then attempted a feeble alibi by concocting a tall tale about breaking in months earlier? Who was responsible for lawyering up from the first day onward? Who refused to cooperate with the police while his wife was in a drug-induced stupor?
Finally, as for the decision on the part of a team of handwriting "experts" to rule John out as writer of the note, this too has been covered in depth on this blog and in my book. To save space here, I'll simply refer you to the opinion of John's favorite lawyer, Lin Wood, as encapsulated by Judge Carnes in her summation of the Wolf case:
Defendants argue that the opinions of plaintiffs' expert should not be admitted because the field of forensic document examination is not sufficiently reliable. In their Brief in Support of the Motion in Limine, defendants argue that the "science" of handwriting analysis does not meet the reliability standards of Rule 702: as the theoretical bases underlying this science have never been tested; error rates are neither known nor measured; and the field lacks both controlling standards and meaningful peer review.------------------------------------------------------
One thing I'd like to add, in response to some of the skeptics reading here. While I feel sure I've solved this case, I could be wrong. I might have missed something essential, some facts may have escaped my attention, my logic could be flawed, and there may, after all, be aspects of this case that are beyond any attempts to deal logically with what happened. As I make a point of stating in my book, any suspect is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, during a trial in which he or she is represented by council.
Nevertheless, while none of us, including me, can be sure our theory of the case is correct, I do believe, as demonstrated throughout this blog, there is more than enough evidence to bring John Ramsey to trial for the murder of his daughter on the basis of probable cause. If in fact Patsy is the guilty party, or even Burke, or possibly an intruder (however unlikely) John's lawyers will have ample opportunity to make a case for his innocence, if only on the basis of reasonable doubt. Ultimately it will be up to a jury to decide, no question. However: I see no excuse for allowing this case to linger any longer without a trial, as the evidence for probable cause is simply overwhelming and cannot easily be dismissed.