"RANSOM NOTE" - A DIFFERENT LOOK BY DELMAR ENGLAND
Words spoken or written are prints of the mind and identify the source no less than fingerprints identify the fingers that made them.
The analysis to follow proposes a detailed examination of the ransom note in isolation from circumstance. By this method, we shall come to know what is revealed in the note itself rather than an emotional interpretation to fit preconceived notions. I am, of course, familiar with the circumstances of the note, but will consciously strive to keep circumstances out of my analysis except the circumstances expressed or implied by the content of the note under examination.
The full text of the ransom note is as follows:
If you are already familiar with it, you may skip to the
beginning of the analysis.
Listen carefully! We are a group of individuals that represent a small foreign faction. We (do crossed out) respect your business (business misspelled bussiness) but not the country that it serves. At this time we have your daughter in our possession. She is safe and unharmed and if you want her to see 1997, you must follow our instructions to the letter.
You will withdraw $118,000 from your account. $100,000 will be in $100 bills and the remaining $18,000 in $20 bills. Make sure that you bring an adequate size attache to the bank. When you get home you will put the money in a brown paper bag. I will call you between 8 and 10 am tomorrow to instruct you on delivery. The delivery will be exhausting so I advise you to be rested. If we monitor you getting the money early, we might call you early to arrange an earlier delivery of the money and hence. (period after hence) an earlier (delivery crossed out) pickup of your daughter.
Any deviation of my instructions will result in the immediate execution of your daughter. You will also be denied her remains for proper burial. The two gentlemen watching over your daughter do not particularly like you so I advise you not to provoke them. Speaking to anyone about your situation such as Police or F.B.I. will result in your daughter being beheaded. If we catch you talking to a stray dog, she dies. If you alert bank authorities, she dies. If the money is in anyway marked or tampered with, she dies. You will be scanned for electronic devices and if any are found, she dies. You can try to deceive us, but be warned we are familiar with law enforcement countermeasures and tactics. You stand a 99% chance of killing your daughter if you try to outsmart us. Follow our instructions and you stand a 100% chance of getting her back. You and your family are under constant scrutiny, as well as the authorities. Don't try to grow a brain, John. You are not the only fat cat around so don't think that killing will be difficult. Don't underestimate us, John. Use that good, southern common sense of yours. It's up to you now, John!
Listen carefully! We are a group of individuals that represent a small foreign faction. We (*do* crossed out) respect your business (business misspelled bussiness) but not the country that it serves."
The writer proposes to identify self and expresses awareness of a business with which Mr. Ramsey is associated. The tone is respectful; indeed, almost apologetic with the subtle inference that this is a political matter, not a personal one. The *do" crossed out shows an original thought that emphasizes the respect as if something preceding had cast that respect in doubt. This respect may have been clouded with doubt due to a previous conflict between Mr. Ramsey and the note writer in regard to the business.
The situation unfolds to reveal the focus of the remarks made.
"At this time we have your daughter in our possession."
At this juncture, I am looking for demands of an international nature; perhaps the release of a prisoner in exchange for the daughter, or a demand to stop selling firearms to certain countries. It doesn't come. The foreign element indicated in the first few words disappears.
Redundancy in speech is not all that unusual in itself. *Continue on*, *future ahead*, and other such utterances are quite common. Whether a redundancy is significant or not is dependent on context and how the redundancy fits into the context. Only by weighing it in the context can one tell if it is significant or just a careless manner of speech. In other words, it may support, but considering a redundancy standing alone involves a high risk of jumping to an unwarranted conclusion.
"we have your daughter" would have sufficed to depict the circumstance. The obvious redundancies "At this time" and "in our possession" may imply an underlying need of the writer to express something additional to what would have been conveyed by only "we have your daughter."
"in our possession" is suspect, but not conclusive. It could tie to an underlying subconsciously held belief that the daughter is a possession. But possession, which infers control, could also be the translation. (I bring this in to point out that words and phrases that can go both ways cannot be considered as directive in themselves. More information about sequence and manner of thought is needed for a final determination.)
The redundancy, "At this time", is another matter. If a kidnapper is writing a ransom note, it is logically assumed that the kidnapper has the daughter at the time he or she writes the note. So, why this repetition? Looking ahead, we see that "At this time" is also connected to "She is safe and unharmed....."
Again, a redundancy that raises questions. Although it is possible that the kidnapper could have killed the daughter shortly after abduction, since the daughter is the item of negotiations, it is assumed that she is safe and unharmed. Yet, the ransom note writer yielded to an urge to stress what is already logically implied. Why? Only after further examination of the note can it be understood if and\or how these discrepancies fit into the scenario.
".....and if you want her to see 1997, you must follow our instructions to the letter."
*If you want to see tomorrow* is a common expression in similar circumstance. The "see 1997" indicates that the note writer was looking beyond the immediate tomorrow with mind directed at the year 1997. Since the looking to the next year is not often done on Jan. 1st, but usually gets more and more attention as the coming year gets closes. "see 1997" implies that the note was written in the last quarter of 1996. (No particular significance here unless time of year influences the psychology of the note writer.)
"You will withdraw $118,000 from your account. $100,000 will be in $100 bills and the remaining $18,000 in $20 bills."
This strikes me as a rather odd amount for a ransom demand. I cannot recall of ever reading or hearing of a ransom demand that was not in round numbers. Also, $118,000 is a rather paltry sum for a ransom in this day and time. Evidently, the "$118,000 was so strongly impressed upon the mind of the ransom note writer that he or she was not at all concerned that it may appear odd to others. What is even more curious is that apparently the note writer knew, or at least assumed, that Mr. Ramsey had $118,000 in his bank account.
The fact that the writer did not see this as a bit strange suggest that the mind of said writer was not functioning in an analytical and deliberate manner. This helps to explain a lot of other items in the ransom note as well.
"Make sure that you bring an adequate size attache to the bank. When you get home you will put the money in a brown paper bag."
Instead of the kidnapper saying, *Get the money. I will tell you when and where to deliver*, it appears that the kidnapper considers Mr. Ramsey incapable of getting the money in his own way. He or she not only tells Mr. Ramsey to get it from his account, but even instructs him to "bring an adequate size attache" to the bank. There are several "you will" directives when put together create a step by step scene of carrying out this part of the kidnapping\ransoming scenario. This part of the note comes across like the commands of a director on a movie set.
There is also the question of why the command to put the money in a paper bag. Was there to be a delivery in a place where a paper bag would not be conspicuous. If so, where? A grocery store? Why not leave the money in the attache case? There is another curiosity that may not mean a thing, but bugs me a bit. Why not a suitcase to hold the money for delivery?
In a very large number of kidnapping and ransom scenes that I have seen on tv, a suitcase was the container of choice to hold the money. Since there was earlier concern about an attache large enough to hold the volume of money, why the assumption that a paper bag (no size mentioned) will hold the money? Also, since suitcase ties in with attache case in general description, I wonder a bit about the mental jump past suitcase to paper bag. Admittedly, I'm reaching a bit here, but I have a faint impression of negative associated with suitcase, although I can't nail anything down.
What could be of significance is the command, "bring an adequate size attache to the bank." I would have said *take* in this situation. So, would most of those I know. The "bring" in this context I have heard from natives of the Carolinas, Georgia, and probably nearby areas. I have never heard "bring" in this context in the northeast or elsewhere.
This leads me to conclude that there is a very strong possibility that the writer of the note was born and raised in the southeastern United States.
"I will call you between 8 and 10 am tomorrow to instruct you on delivery. The delivery will be exhausting so I advise you to be rested."
"delivery will be exhausting"? Do the kidnappers plan to have Mr. Ramsey run 20 miles or climb a mountain to deliver the ransom money? The note writer clearly anticipates and dreads tomorrow as an exhausting day. What is it that the writer believes or knows will happen tomorrow to make it an exhausting day?
"I....advise you to be rested" - Rested for tomorrow?. This seems more than a bit strange. The kidnappers instruct and advise Mr. Ramsey to be rested for the money delivery to take place *tomorrow.* This assumes that the kidnappers know that Mr. Ramsey will read the note on the day *before* the anticipated money delivery. How do they know this? Was the note delivered to Mr. Ramsey in a way that the kidnappers could and would know with certainty that Mr. Ramsey was aware of the note the day before the money delivery was to take place?
What were the circumstances in which Mr. Ramsey became aware of the ransom note? Was it the day before the expected money delivery event? If so, how did this come about? Certified mail? Special delivery? Courier? What? How? If not, what induced the kidnappers to believe Mr. Ramsey would know of the note a day ahead of money delivery time? Whatever the answer, the note writer took for granted and set forth without equivocation the circumstance of Mr. Ramsey knowing of the note the day before the money delivery.
"If we monitor you getting the money early, we might call you early to arrange an earlier delivery of the money and hence. (period after hence) an earlier (delivery crossed out) pickup of your daughter."
How is Mr. Ramsey to get the money earlier? He is instructed to get the money from his account. The main lobby of most banks do not open until 9:A.M. The writer show confusion and indecision about when to make a call, but the idea of maybe being seen getting the money earlier and prompting an earlier call to
deliver the money doesn't fit banking hours. It also implies a most unlikely blanket surveillance of Mr. Ramsey's activities as well.
When to make a certain call is heavily on the mind of the note writer, and its not about delivering the money; so what call in the writer really concerned about. The note doesn't reveal what the call is about, to whom the call is to be made, or who is to make the call. However, that the call is important to the note writer is not in doubt; nor does the note reveal why the writer regards the time of the call as important. Nevertheless, if there is a critical phone call involved in the circumstances in which the note was found, the person who wrote the note either made the call himself or herself, or knows who did.
"Any deviation of my instructions will result in the immediate execution of your daughter. You will also be denied her remains for proper burial."
The "deviation of" instead of *deviation from" strikes me as a bit strange, but I can't find significance. "execution" is an interesting choice of words. It has a connotation of official termination and something to be feared. The writer is also thinking in terms of "proper burial". Do the kidnappers know Mr. Ramsey so well that they believe the threat of denial of a proper burial will strongly influence his actions? Whatever else the thinking, the connection of daughter and proper burial is in the mind of the note writer.
"The two gentlemen watching over your daughter do not particularly like you so I advise you not to provoke them."
The respect for Mr. Ramsey seen at the beginning of the note has been displaced by contempt and attempted intimidation. Why this sudden shift? I don't know; probably something that happened *off stage* during a break from writing the note. The note does not tell me what and I prefer to not speculate. What is not speculation is that the note writer is emotionally unstable and given to random interjection of thoughts without awareness of the often incongruence of them.
"Speaking to anyone about your situation such as Police or F.B.I. will result in your daughter being beheaded."
"your situation"? Why not *the situation*? Or *the kidnapping*? Or *your daughter's situation*? The focus is on Mr. Ramsey's situation. Why? Another question in need of answer?
"beheaded"? This goes along with official execution via guillotine, but why does the mind of the writer go to this. Even if there is remembrances from reading of the times of execution by guillotine, why does this image take precedence over images more consistent with the situation and times?
Would not a modern kidnapper, especially of the ilk depicted in the note, more likely opt for a knife in the heart, or a blunt instrument to the head, or a bullet in the brain as method of choice? The note writer's mind is upon official punishment (execution), but transferred to daughter in the form of beheading. Not knife through the heart; not death from blow to the head; not bullet through the brain, but beheading. Beheading is removing the head by cutting through the throat. Why this option instead of one of the others. What is it about the head and neck area that draws and holds the attention of the note writer?
"If we catch you talking to a stray dog, she dies. If you alert bank authorities, she dies. If the money is in anyway marked or tampered with, she dies."
The not responsible attitude afforded to Mr. Ramsey at the beginning of note has also shifted to the opposite. Mr. Ramsey is now being held responsible by the kidnappers. He is set as the factor in determining the fate of his daughter.
"You will be scanned for electronic devices and if any are found, she dies."
Where and when is this scanning to take place? There is nothing in the note that even remotely suggests a scene wherein body mounted electronic devices come into play. This is just one of the numerous random imports from low budget gangster flicks. Instead of building a convincing scene as the writer hoped, the end result is destruction of continuity and annihilation of credibility.
"You can try to deceive us, but be warned we are familiar with law enforcement countermeasures and tactics. You stand a 99% chance of killing your daughter if you try to outsmart us. Follow our instructions and you stand a 100% chance of getting her back. You and your family are under constant scrutiny, as well as the authorities.
With the posturing as highly efficient adversaries, Mr. Ramsey is warned by the kidnappers that any failure to follow their instructions to the letter will result in the death of his daughter. This is a heavy load. He is faced with a dilemma and serious choice. What does he do? Does he try to follow the kidnappers' instruction to the letter; or does he go another way and call in help? What actions provide optimum chance of getting his daughter back unharmed? What are the options?
The first option is to do as he is told. The second option is to call in the police immediately. The third option is a compromise of the first two. He is informed that the kidnappers will call between 8 and 10 am. He could go get the money and wait for the call; then decide the next course of action. If things go as indicated by the kidnappers, his daughter would be home by noon. Or he could get the money and appear to be doing as told, but discreetly contact the police and have them work unseen in the background.
The note does not reveal the choices and actions of Mr. Ramsey. All that can be said of this is that his actions necessarily are dictated by his appraisal of the note and kidnappers.
"Don't try to grow a brain, John. You are not the only fat cat around so don't think that killing will be difficult. Don't underestimate us, John. Use that good, southern common sense of yours. It's up to you now, John!"
More rhetoric thrown in for a scene of intimidation and placing responsibility upon Mr. Ramsey. Its gets more personal as respected Mr. Ramsey (and his business) becomes John and addressed with unveiled contempt and derision. The reference to *southern* tends to confirm southeast origin of the note writer.
The S.B.T.C. could be just random selection, but could also be an acronym for an organization the note writer dislikes and regards as *enemy*.
"Victory"? What victory? Does the note writer really believe he or she has turned in a convincing performance?
Let's briefly review:
A *ransom note* of many pages. The note begins with ostensively political motive; moves to monetary motive and ends on personal insult. There is the odd ransom demand of $118,000, which is also assumed by the writer to be in Mr. Ramsey's bank account. The step by step instructions to Mr. Ramsey that reads like a poorly written skit with directing adding nothing to the quality. The numerous inconsistencies about delivery, phone calls and monitoring. The *bad boy* characteristic thrown in here and there to add the needed low-life-kidnappers flavor.
From start to finish, the note alleged to be a ransom note is clearly the narration of a story created by and in the mind of the note writer. It was designed and presented for the sole purpose of hiding a truth the note writer does not want known. The handwriting and other elements of the note were deliberately altered with the intent of hiding the identity of the writer. Unfortunately, for the note writer, he or she left prints that are just barely short of a signed photograph.
This mess and mass of words has not one iota of credibility as a ransom note. There wasn't any kidnapping, any attempt to kidnap, or plan to kidnap. The note is clearly a panic-driven clumsy concoctions of mental reflexes throw together as words in an attempt to divert focus away from the reality of the situation.
If the alleged ransom note is not a ransom note, then what is it? Why was it written? By whom? The answers are in the note. Its just a matter of removing the mask.
Going back to the beginning, we have a circumstance of a daughter allegedly kidnapped. From this, we can assume as fact that the daughter is missing. Where is she? Did she go insane and was carted off to an asylum, or run away. Was the fake ransom note written as explanation of her absence rather than tell the truth?
If we know that the ransom note is fake and was constructed to hide an event involving the daughter, then we know that the fake note was written after whatever happened to the daughter. What did happen to the daughter?
Recall that the fake note said "At this time".... "She is safe and unharmed." If she was not kidnapped and the safe and unharmed had been true, there would have been no reason for the fake ransom note to be set out to try to hide the truth. This means that the writer of the note knew exactly what had happened to the daughter when he or she wrote the note. Writing the note was motivated by what happened to the daughter. The note itself indicates that there was no redemption of the events and the fate of the daughter. This means that the daughter was dead when the note was written. (In the note, daughter and death are connected nine times.) Accident? Or murder? The note writer knows. Who is it?
In light of this development, let's backtrack a bit, pick up the term, execution, and take a closer look. The note writer's mind was on execution. However, since the writer already knew that the daughter is dead, the writer's thoughts about execution could not have been directed toward the daughter. If not, how do we explain thoughts of execution?
Execution if often the punishment for the capital crime of murder. The writer was concerned about the punishment of execution in relation to self and\or someone else. This indicates the writer fears self or someone else being convicted of the charge of murdering the daughter. Was this a situation of being innocent, yet having the fear of being convicted? Or is this a situation of being guilty and fear of the truth coming out? Since the writer chose to carry out an elaborate plan of intended deception designed to hide the facts of the situation, guilty is the most likely conclusion.
Recall that the note writer assumed that Mr. Ramsey would know of the note the day before the money was to be delivered. Since the note was written after the death of the daughter, if we assume the note writer was aware of the correct time, we can fix the time of the death of the daughter as the day before the money delivery issue arises.
The note does not reveal the time frame of events except a general time of between 8 and 10 A.M. to be narrowed by a phone call from the kidnappers with instructions. Nor does the note reveal if the note was made known to others, or when if it was made known to others. If the note was made known to others, the time period from the daughters death (before midnight of the day before the money delivery day) until others became aware of the note was the time available to write the note and carry out any other plans to set the stage for intended deception.
Ironically, or call it poetic justice, a concerted effort by the note writer to draw attention away from self winds up doing the exact opposite.
Look at the punctuation, spelling and capitalization in the original note. Notice that the writer consistently opted to leave out the comma in front of a conjunction, (which is within the rules) but consistently and correctly separated other phrases with commas. Notice the comma properly inserted in addressing a person. Notice a usual marked consistency in the placement of periods; yet there is an inappropriate period after the word, hence.
Notice that the writer had no problem spelling attache and exhaustive, but stumbled on the word, business, with an extras s. Notice the frequent out of place capitalization of the letter f. Most of the note identifies a person well acquainted with the rules of punctuation, spelling, and capitalization. Yet, errors are made within the most simplistic situations. What this adds up to is that the *errors* were conscious decision and inserted deliberately. Why?
Look at the cast of characters created and posited as the kidnappers. "fat cat", "talking to a stray dog", "don't try to grow a brain", etc., is the language they use. These created characters are presented as uneducated thugs. Uneducated thugs are not expected to be expert spellers, or masters of punctuation, and capitalization. The deliberate errors set in by the writer was a conscious intent to connect the alleged ransom note to the alleged thug type kidnappers.
You can *dumb down*, but not *dumb up*. There is no way that uneducated thugs can account for the precise spelling and precise punctuation that makes up most of the note. However, it is no problem for one knowledgeable in spelling and punctuation to *dumb down* by deliberate insertion of errors. This takes the writing of the note away from the *kidnappers* and places the writer elsewhere. This is just one more confirmation of the fact that ransom note scene is phony from the get go.
An actual kidnapper may cut and paste from a newspaper or magazine to create a ransom note to reduce the chance of personal trace; or even try to disguise his or her handwriting. But a long ransom note with the deliberate insertion of errors pointing to a particular stereotype, is a most unlikely scenario. Among other flaws, it presupposes that this stereotype will be the only suspects in the case.
Although a real kidnapper may take some precautions to avoid personal trace, in general, the intent of the kidnapper is to get the money and run. He or she has no intent of hanging around and having his or her spelling and punctuation skills compared to the note. There would be no motivation whatsoever for the kidnapper to *dumb down* when writing the ransom note.
On the other hand, someone who expected to be around to have their spelling and punctuation skills compared to the note would have much motivation to *dumb down* the note to make appear to be written by someone else. Even without the other considerable evidence that the alleged ransom note is a fraud, the very fact that the note was *dumbed down* erases the kidnapper idea entirely and identifies the writer as one tied to the circumstance in which the note was found. The *dumbing down* was motivated solely by the expectation of comparison.
The "dumbing down" of the note identifies the writer not as a long gone kidnapper, but one who is linked to and locked into the scene. The writer of the note holds knowledge that he or she is the writer of the note. The writer holds knowledge of the death of the daughter. The writer is aware that he or she will come under close scrutiny. With the writer holding this knowledge, which he or she wishes to keep hidden, is it any wonder that the writer of the fake ransom note knew with certainty that tomorrow will be exhausting?
Let's take a recap look at just a few things we know from the note:
1. The writer knew of Mr. Ramsey's affiliation with a company. The writer appeared to know of a foreign connection of the company. This may be untrue, but there is strong indication that it is true. The fact that the writer chose the foreign element as the basis for the first motive tells more. Since it was in the forefront of the writer's mind, there is a high probability that the writer had heard, read, or maybe even discussed this connection a few hours before writing the note.
2. The writer was focused upon the unusual $118,000 ransom demand and connected it to Mr. Ramsey's bank account. For whatever reason this figure was firmly set in the mind of the note writer. If, indeed, there was $118,000 in Mr. Ramsey's bank account, this indicates a relationship with Mr. Ramsey close enough to be privy to this information.
3. The vacillations of the note from respect to contempt also indicate a love-hate relationship that swings drastically. Again, there is implied a personal relationship between Mr. Ramsey and the note writer.
4. The term, bring, as used in the note sets some basis to believe that the writer was born and raised in the southeastern Unites States. The word, southern, is some reinforcement of this possibility
5. The writer was much concerned and undecided about the right time to make a particular phone call. If there is a critical phone call connected to the circumstances of the note, it is very likely the note writer made the call or knows who did.
6. The writer was much concerned about a proper burial of the daughter.
7. Having eliminated the kidnapper ruse, we know that the phony ransom note was created by the writer as an attempt to divert attention away from the truth that the writer wishes to keep hidden.
8. We know that the writer deliberately *dumbed down* the note in expectation of a comparison of the punctuation and capitalization skills of the writer with those in the note.
9. We know that if such a comparison was expected, we also know the writer was a constant in the circumstances and likely to be a suspect. We know the writer was aware of this.
10. We know that being watched was a major concern as indicated by frequent mention in the note of being monitored.
11. We know that the note writer concluded that Mr. Ramsey would read the note before the day of ransom money delivery. This means that the note writer was in position to make this happen, or to know of it if someone else made it happen.
12. We know the writer dreaded tomorrow as certain to be exhausting. We know that the writer was under great emotional stress and unaware of the many flaws in the fake ransom note. I don't know, but suspect that the writer was under considerable sedation on that tomorrow.
So in the end, the *ransom note*, a most concerted effort to hide truth and guilt, turns out to be an unintended confession. Now all you have to do to find the individual who wrote the note is find the person with motive and opportunity who coincides with the criteria revealed in and by the note. Know anyone?
Copyright at Common Law, Delmar England, 2000. All Rights Reserved.