Here's what I wrote about Kolars's response in my book (second edition only):
Finally, after all these years, we have an explanation – of sorts – for why the investigators were willing to buy John’s story. As I originally suspected, the evidence must have confused them. If the edges of the broken glass had been lined with a layer of accumulated dust or grime, then that certainly would have enabled them to determine without question that the window had been broken months earlier. So when Kolar asserts “there is no method to determine when the window was broken,” he is indirectly informing us that no such evidence was found – from which we can infer that the edges must have been clean.This would be consistent with the fact that both John and Patsy were interviewed at length regarding John's break-in story, and repeatedly asked whether the window had ever been repaired. There would have been no reason to question them on this topic if the edges had been encrusted with dirt and dust, indicating an old break. When Kolar mentions that his examination of the photographic evidence "strongly suggested no recent entry had been made," this gives us a clue as to why the investigators were so willing to accept John's story. Because it gibed with their own conviction that no one had recently passed through that window. The bits of spider web visible on the video might also have played a role, as cobwebs can easily be seen as a sign of age. But spiders never weave bits and pieces of their webs, they weave them whole. It looks like the investigators wanted to believe John's story because it appeared to explain the condition of the window on the morning of the 26th, and they couldn't understand why, if the scene had been staged, John would have wanted to undercut his own staging by providing an innocent explanation of that broken window. It never seems to have occurred to them that what they observed that morning was the product of a botched staging, and that John's story was the equivalent of an alibi.
What this boils down to is the presence of some bits of broken glass presumably still sitting in an evidence bin somewhere -- protected, one would assume, by an airtight plastic container. If push ever comes to shove in this case, then that glass will, hopefully, be available as hard evidence of John's big lie. I feel sure that, if these shards have been properly preserved, those edges will turn out to be as clean as they were on the night the window was broken. Seen in the context of the scenario I've presented, the meaning of this evidence will be as clear as those edges.
Oh, and if anyone might want to argue that the edges were clean because the window had been repaired, then John's whole story would be totally irrelevant, it would be obvious that the window had been broken on the night of the crime, and the evidence that no one passed through that window would be seen for what it clearly implied: staging.
OK, now, finally we are ready to examine what, for me, is the most puzzling aspect of the entire case: Patsy's support of John's preposterous story by claiming that she herself cleaned up the broken glass. Since we have no reason to believe John, we have no reason to believe Patsy. Looks like she is clearly lying to support his version of what happened. And this presents a problem for me, since, as I've stressed so often both in this blog and in my book, I'm convinced, for reasons already amply provided in so many of these blog posts, that Patsy could have played no conscious role in either the murder of her daughter or the subsequent coverup.
PR: . . . when I got back, uh, in the fall, you know . . .
TT: Uh huh
PR: Uh, went down there and cleaned up all the glass.
PR: I mean I cleaned that thoroughly and I asked Linda to go behind me and vacuum. I mean I picked up every chunk, I mean, because the kids played down there in that back area back there.
TT: Um hum.
PR: And I mean I scoured that place when, cause they were always down there. Burke particularly and the boys would go down there and play with cars and things and uh, there was just a ton of glass everywhere.
PR: And I cleaned all that up and then she, she vacuumed a couple of times down there.
TT: To get all the glass.
PR: In the fall yeah cause it was just little, you know, pieces, big pieces, everything.It sounds as though Patsy is uncomfortable with this little vignette, providing too many details, trying too hard to convince. And as I've already noted, there could not have been "a ton of glass everywhere" -- it was a partial hole covering roughly half of a small pane in an already small window. Also, she mentions that the "kids played down there," which seems unlikely. Judging from the video released some years ago by James Kolar, that area was a total mess, with all sorts of junk strewn around on the floor. John made the same point when describing how he gingerly let himself down onto that messy floor after breaking in. Not a likely setting for childhood play. Looks to me like Patsy is confusing this area with the train room.
Later, during her 1998 interview, Patsy also says something strange:
TRIP DEMUTH: [Pointing to a photo] What about this mark on the wall?PATSY RAMSEY: Oh, gosh, I don't know if I was in there. I think I would have noticed that because I had all that painted.Demuth is pointing to the smudge located just beneath the broken window. And Patsy says "I don't know if I was in there." She's been describing how she cleaned up all the glass on the floor just under that wall, and she's not sure if she was ever there? Clearly she is confused.
The strangest part of this testimony is her inclusion of the housekeeper, Linda Hoffmann Pugh, in the cleanup procedure: "PR: I mean I cleaned that thoroughly and I asked Linda to go behind me and vacuum." She includes Linda in her 1998 interview as well. And as we know, Linda denied any knowledge of any broken window and accused Patsy of lying.
Was she actually lying? Does her description of what happened really come across as a lie? If this were an out and out lie, contrived in collaboration with her husband, it seems to me that they'd have taken pains to get her story straight. Why exaggerate? Why invoke "a ton of glass everywhere" when only a small amount would have been involved? Why claim this was an area where the children regularly played if she knew from having cleaned up in there how messy that floor was? Why would she let herself wonder aloud whether she was in the area where the breakin, and subsequent cleanup, actually took place? ("I don't know if I was in there.") And if she and John were collaborating to spin a phony tale about an earlier breakin that never happened, why oh why would she be so foolish as to include Linda in her story, knowing full well that if it never happened Linda would deny it?
My first reaction was that John must have manipulated her into lying about this incident, just as he manipulated her into lying about whose idea it was to call 911. On second thought, however, I realized that, if she were lying, she would not have included Linda in her lie. Nor would she have been so obviously confused about the amount of glass, the area where the children played, etc. Then, at one point in our online discussion, an anonymous commenter suggested something called "gaslighting," a term I had never heard before. According to a recent article in Psychology Today,
Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think. Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn't realize how much they've been brainwashed.The more I learned about gaslighting the more it made sense as an explanation of Patsy's confused support of John's window story -- and possibly some other aspects of the case as well, where she appears confused and "can't recall" certain details. And it would also explain why John refused to permit her to be separately interviewed by the police in the early days of the investigation, before he'd have time to work on her.
But certain people commenting here have been bothered by the term "gaslighting," which seems a bit too esoteric and unlikely a recourse for John to have used. Was the suggestion of gaslighting an act of desperation on my part, to "make the evidence fit the theory"?
In response, I will argue that "gaslighting" may be too extreme a measure to apply in this case. What we are really talking about is not an attempt to somehow hypnotize someone into doubting his or her own senses, but the subtle manipulation of an already vulnerable and dependent person into accepting the possibility that there may be gaps in his or her memory. Recall that Patsy had undergone very intensive chemotherapy over a long period, a process known to produce a condition called chemo brain. According to this article from the American Cancer Society, one of the symptoms of chemo brain is "Forgetting things that they usually have no trouble recalling (memory lapses)." Another is "Trouble remembering details like names, dates, and sometimes larger events." Also,
For most people, brain effects happen quickly and only last a short time. Others have long-term mental changes. Usually the changes that patients notice are very subtle, and others around them might not even notice any changes at all. Still, the people who are having problems are well aware of the differences in their thinking.We must add to the effects of "chemo brain" the effects of the heavy medications Patsy had been taking during this entire period to help her deal with the shock of her daughter's brutal murder. Under these circumstances, it would not, as I see it, have been difficult for John to convince Patsy that, thanks to her "chemo brain" and heavy medications, she had forgotten all about his window breakin and her subsequent cleanup of the glass, and to supply her with just enough information to fill in the gaps in her memory. And he might well have reminded her of how important her testimony would be, since she was the only "eye witness" who could corroborate his story. She might well have been skeptical at first, but given the "fact" that John had been "ruled out" as writer of the note, any suspicions of his involvement in her daughter's death would have been allayed. Since she didn't write that note and he could not have written it, it could only have been written by "the intruder," meaning that, in her eyes, John had to be innocent.
Over time, as John continually reminded her of what she had "forgotten," it would not have been difficult for him to gradually implant this memory in her mind until she was sure it actually happened. You can call it "gaslighting" if you prefer, or you can call it manipulation, but the phenomenon of false memory is not at all uncommon and has been long accepted by psychologists. While without question John would not have wanted to include Linda in the memory he'd been implanting, it makes sense that Patsy would, in her own mind, have made her a part of the cleanup process, since that's the sort of thing she always did around the house.
Of course, this is all pure speculation. There is no solid evidence to back it up. But as I see it, the implantation of a false memory is the only explanation of Patsy's involvement in this deception that makes sense. If we pull back to consider the case as a whole, there are just too many reasons to exclude Patsy from any conscious role in either the crime or the coverup, so the notion that she could have deliberately lied to support a story she knew to be fictitious strikes me as, literally, inconceivable.