Upon further inspection, a window in another area of the basement is found to be broken. Packing peanuts from the window well are strewn on the basement floor, a hard suitcase has been observed flush against the wall directly beneath that window, and a scuff mark is seen on the wall just beneath that same window. Would you say that looks suspicious? I would certainly think so. As seems obvious, the window was either broken during a forced entry by an intruder, or someone from inside the house staged it to look that way. Upon close examination it is determined that no one could have passed through that window the previous night, as there was no disturbance of the considerable layer of dust and dirt on the very narrow windowsill, and an intact spider web was found in the opening beside the sill. Looks like someone was trying to stage a window entry, and exit, by an intruder who stood on the suitcase to boost himself out. And since there was no sign that anyone actually passed through that window, the amateurish staging looks pretty obvious. Clearly, this is an inside job.
Unexpectedly, however, a third possibility is offered by the victim's father, who claims he himself broke that window months earlier after having been locked out of the house. Quite a coincidence, no? But the father is believed, because his story is consistent with the condition of the window sill, which shows no sign of anyone having recently passed through it -- and after all, if he staged a breakin why would he undercut his own staging by claiming he himself had broken the window at an earlier date?
John's story regarding that broken window has been analyzed at length in four consecutive posts on this blog, beginning with this one: Clear Evidence of Staging -- The Basement Window. I feel confident I made a strong case therein that this story is a fabrication, concocted to misdirect the authorities from the fact that John broke the window, not months before, but on the night of the crime, to stage a break in by a murderous would-be kidnapper. Recently, however, this interpretation has been questioned by some who seem willing to accept John's story at face value regardless of the many reasons I've presented for doubting it. Their skepticism seems reasonable at first glance, and is worthy of a systematic response, which I will attempt here.
First, let me summarize some of my principal reasons for discounting John's story:
1. In the Ramsey's book, Death of Innocence, John claims that "during a day back in the summer" he had "left [his] keys inside and was locked out of the house." During his 1997 police interview John is less sure: "for some reason I didn't have a key. I don't know why." He then continues as follows:
But usually if I don't drive my car I take a cab or something to the airport and back, and I don't have a key and the house keys are on the key ring.Not at all clear what he is trying to say here. Note that he does NOT actually state that he took a cab, only that "usually," if he didn't drive his own car, he'd have taken a cab. "But I think I took (INAUDIBLE) and it dropped me off." He THINKS he took a cab. This was only a few months ago, why can't he recall? Well, if he said he definitely recalled taking a cab he might be asked what cab company he used, and what the driver looked like. Better to keep things vague.
Now this bit of dialogue:
LOU SMIT: And then they dropped you off there at the house.
JOHN RAMSEY: Right.
LOU SMIT: So you don't have a garage door opener at that time, is that what you're saying?
JOHN RAMSEY: Right.Note that Lou is assuming John took a cab even though he never actually says he did, only that he THINKS he did. And he also assumes John couldn't get in because he wasn't in his car and therefore didn't have the garage door opener available. John gratefully accepts the prompt. But if he couldn't get in because he didn't have access to the garage door opener, then why didn't he say that in the first place, instead of wondering what he did with his keys?
Then, explaining how he would normally get in the house: "Probably the garage, in the garage through that door. And I think I had given my key to John Andrew or somebody." Interesting. According to his book he had left his keys inside the house. Then he couldn't recall what he did with them. Finally he "thinks" he gave them to John Andrew -- or somebody. (Just in case John Andrew is ever questioned on this matter.) But hey it doesn't really matter, because 98% of the time (yet another percentage figure, as in the note) he got in via the garage door opener. And IF he had taken a cab, that would not have been available.
When asked why he didn't call a locksmith, John says he didn't have any way to call. No phones available at the airport? No one thinks to ask him that. Or why he couldn't have taken a cab to the nearest motel and called a locksmith the next day.
Next we hear the story about John removing his clothing. I'll spare you the details on that one, but it's pretty fantastic. For more details on that and other aspects of John's story that either he can't recall, or are vague, or don't add up, I'll refer you to the blog posts linked above.
2. Much of the skepticism concerning my interpretation of this story turns on Patsy's testimony, where she seems to be supporting John's version of what happened. Since I feel sure Patsy was not collaborating with John in either the crime or the coverup, that's probably the most difficult aspect of my theory to explain. So let's take a very careful look at what Patsy actually said:
. . . he told me to come back from out of town or whatever and he didn’t have a key and the only way he could get in was to break the window.Now pay careful attention to this statement. The implication is that John had lost his keys and therefore needed Patsy to return because he had no way of getting in or out without them. But recall what John wrote in "Death of Innocence": "during a day back in the summer" he had "left [his] keys inside and was locked out of the house." If his keys had been left inside, then they'd be there waiting for him after he'd broken in, so he wouldn't have needed Patsy to "come back from out of town" because "he didn't have a key." And if he gained access to the house "98% of the time" via the garage door opener in the car, then he didn't really need the house keys anyhow.
TT: Okay. Any reason why that one wasn’t replaced or the pane wasn’t fixed or anything?What a strange thing to say. She "can't remember even trying to remember that" --- ???? Why would she need to remember TRYING to remember whether or not the window had been fixed? Either she remembered it or she didn't.
PR: No, I don’t know whether I fixed it or didn’t fix it. I can’t remember even trying to remember that . . .
But she does remember cleaning up all the glass:
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.Once again, let's pay careful attention to precisely what Patsy says. Note first of all how she twice reminds her interviewers that this took place "in the fall," as though to make sure they understood she was on the same page as John and not referring to any other incident. Secondly, note the emphasis she places on all the glass she had to clean up: "there was just a ton of glass everywhere." But that could not have been the case. We've all seen the video showing that broken window. The break was limited to the upper half of one pane out of four in a small window. It has been described as "baseball sized" and was hardly large enough for someone to fit his hand through. Only a small amount of glass would have been on the floor, not a "ton."
Note also her concern for the well being of the children who played down there, and how important it was for her to get every scrap of glass cleaned up. Yet some pieces of glass were found by Fleet White when he went down there. How could they have been missed? And take a look at the following still from the police video of that window:
Note the large shard of glass dangling from the edge, ready to fall to the floor at the slightest disturbance. How could Patsy have failed to collect any loose pieces like that, which could so easily have fallen off and possibly cut someone?
Finally, note the references to the housekeeper, Linda Hoffmann Pugh, who supposedly helped with the cleanup. Only, as we all know by now, Linda vociferously denied any knowledge of any broken window or any broken glass.
(All for now. To be continued . . .)