Here's the sentence I've found myself repeating over and over again, in one form or other, when responding to skeptics:
If both John and Patsy were conspiring to stage a kidnapping, then the 911 call would not have been made when it was -- with the body of the victim still in the house.
Once this key point is made, then as I see it everything else falls into place. Patsy is the one who made the call, not John. If she had written the "ransom" note she would not have wanted that call made, and if an innocent John had told her to make it, she would certainly have resisted. At that point, there is no reason why he wouldn't have picked up the receiver and made the call himself. (While John has claimed that making the call was his decision, we have no reason to believe his version of what happened. See the third post on this blog for clarification.)
If there were any reason to believe the note was written by an intruder, then we might be tempted to see the call as evidence that both Ramseys are innocent. This was, I believe, the conclusion Lou Smit arrived at, which would explain why he went to such great lengths to defend them. But the intruder theory simply doesn't work. Not only is there no conclusive intruder evidence, no intruder scenario that takes all the evidence into account makes any sense at all.
So. Putting it all together, the 911 call points us to: John Ramsey -- not an intruder, not Patsy.
On first glance this sounds way too simple. How could the entire case hinge on one single sentence? Some of the best minds in law enforcement have been puzzling over this case for years and haven't solved it (though the CBS team seems to think they have). How could I possibly claim to have solved it in a single blow? Certainly there must be many other explanations for that call. I must admit, when this thought first came to me, I had a similar reaction. There has to be a catch. It could not be that simple.
Now before I continue, I must add that there are many other reasons for my reaching the same conclusion and identifying the same culprit, so this is not by any means the only one. But as far as I can tell, the reasoning encapsulated in that sentence is really all that's needed.
Let's take another look: If both John and Patsy were conspiring to stage a kidnapping, then the 911 call would not have been made when it was -- with the body of the victim still in the house.
To understand the above it is first necessary to realize that the "ransom note" is in fact exactly what it seems: a ransom note. And if we rule out a real kidnapping attempt by a real intruder (see above), then we have no choice but to see it as a phony ransom note, written as part of an effort to stage a phony kidnapping. Some have claimed that if the two of them were in it together, they would have needed to present such a note as evidence of an intruder. Not so. They could easily have put together a very different note, perhaps one expressing hostility to John or resentment over some of his business tactics, etc.. Or no note at all, just a broken window. There would have been no need to produce a ransom note unless the plan was to actually stage a kidnapping. And by producing a ransom note without actually staging a kidnapping by getting the body out of the house, they make it look like either a kidnapping gone wrong, or a staging effort gone wrong.
Now I've never in my life heard of anyone staging a kidnapping gone wrong. If anyone can come up with any case in the long history of crime where someone staged a kidnapping gone wrong, please post the reference here. Sorry, I can't buy that, and neither should you. Moreover, if that was in fact their plan, then what was the point of the note, since a real kidnapper who changed his mind would certainly not have left a possibly incriminating note for no reason. So if both were in it together and the 911 call was part of their plan, then their plan could only have been to stage a staging that went wrong. Come again? Yes you heard me right. What that note tells us is that this was not a kidnapping that went wrong, but a staging attempt that went wrong. Which is exactly how most from both LE and the general public saw it. That could not have been part of their plan.
Now some have claimed that the plan I see in that note, with John using it to buy time for him to dump the body the following night under pretext of delivering a ransom, would have been far too risky. And yes, I can't deny it, that would have been a very risky undertaking for sure. But obviously the writer of the note was willing to take that risk, or the note would not have been written in the first place. And there is a long history of murderers taking very similar risks to dump the bodies of their victims in out of the way places.
As might be expected, skeptics have presented a list of possible reasons why both Ramseys might have decided to make that call so early, and under such suspicious circumstances. I've already dealt with their reasons in an earlier post, and will repeat them here, with some slight modifications:
1. The call was made so early because they were scheduled on an early flight to Charevoix that morning, so had no choice but to call 911 as soon as possible.
Response: they could easily have cancelled that flight, either claiming someone was ill, or else explaining that JonBenet had been "kidnapped" and they needed time to collect the ransom and pay it.
2. They must have had a change of heart and decided they didn't want to dump JonBenet's body in some remote place where it wouldn't get a "proper burial."
Response: if they'd changed their minds about dumping the body and decided to call 911 right away, then they would not have mentioned the potentially incriminating "ransom" note at all, but either written a very different type of note or simply reported that their daughter had been assaulted and killed while they were asleep. They would also have removed the body from the windowless basement room, since there would have been no reason for her attacker to hide it.
3. They were in a panic and not thinking straight.
Response: the note was not written by someone who wasn't thinking very carefully about what to say and how to say it. Just about every i is dotted, every t is crossed, the margins are strictly observed, the spacing between words is consistent and the grammar is, for the most part, faultless. Precise instructions are provided, with specific dollar amounts for the ransom and very clear timing information as to when to expect a phone call. Very specific warnings are given, in a consistent, coherent manner. The note is consistent and clearly organized overall, with a beginning, middle and end. While the writer must have been extremely stressed, he or she was clearly in complete control of his or her emotions. If, as so many assume, Patsy wrote this carefully prepared two and a half page note, it's impossible to believe she would have been so out of control as to ruin her own staging by calling the police so soon. And if for some reason she decided to call 911 anyhow, despite all the work she'd put into the note, then she would certainly have had the sense to destroy it before the police arrived.
4. Patsy and John are not professional criminals. They got confused and made mistakes.If anyone can come up with some other reason why the Ramseys would have wanted to call 911 at that time, you are invited to present your theory below.
Response: Sorry, but John Ramsey was the very successful CEO of a billion dollar business, dealing with major tech companies such as Lockheed and Sun Microsystems. While he may not have had any criminal experience, he certainly would have understood very well that calling the police with a dead body hidden in a tiny, remote, basement room and handing them a "ransom" note written by his wife was not the way to stage an effective kidnapping scenario.
5. Regardless of how nonsensical it might seem to you, their staging certainly worked for them, as they were ultimately "exonerated" by the DA.
Response: while John's carefully staged kidnapping scenario was certainly undermined by Patsy's 911 call, he got lucky when the handwriting "experts" decided to rule him out, which shifted the focus to Patsy. And since there was no way to make an effective case against her, the case ultimately went nowhere. This, and not the ransom note was what got him off -- very effectively supplemented by the efforts of his lawyers and media consultants.