AMATEUR WITH ROPE HANGS SELF
Many claims are made of evidence of an intruder. Yet, try as I
might, I cannot find a single item to support the idea of an
intruder. There seems to be a vast gap between what I call
evidence and what some others call evidence. I will concede that
it is possible for an intruder to come and go without leaving
traceable evidence. However, when evidence is left and is
understood, it reveals in some measure the profile of the person
or persons responsible. I know of no evidence that establishes an
intruder as perpetrator.
Literally, every scrap of known material evidence such as the
pad, pen, handle, etc. is identified as local and requires no
inclusion of an intruder for explanation. In talking about
evidence of an intruder, every claim is qualified by "missing"
and\or "could be". This is equating potential with actual without
"Could be" means also could be benign, ergo, not evidence of an
intruder. To connect "could be" with an alleged intruder and
disconnect it from other potential cause is purely an arbitrary
selection to fit preferred conclusion. In the category of
evidence, this is totally without merit; ergo, no evidence of an
In the worst of these circumstances, actual evidence is sometimes
ascribed characteristics that it does not possess. This error
leads to more false conclusions which continue to compound and
get farther and farther away from the truth. Only by going back
to square one and seeing the evidence as is can we hope to curb
wild speculation and reveal the reality of the scene.
In reference to the crime scene of the garrote, Lou Smit says:
The person who killed JonBenet,....He did build a specialized
garrotte to kill her." (Smit)
"According to Smit, the garrote used to strangle JonBenet was
very intricate in its design, a tool he believes was used for
murder and for pleasure."
Long before this, John Ramsey had stated:
"And this garrote will be a clue. This was not an amateur device.
This was a professional strangling tool."
These are just three of the instances of hundreds of times that
John Ramsey, Lou Smit, and others have claimed as "evidence"
alleged intruder expertise in the construction and use of a
garrote. Adjectives such as "intricate," "specialized",
"sophisticated" and "professional" are often used.
Is Ramsey's and Smit's evaluation of this evidence as
professional correct or incorrect. You may tend to brush aside
this question as unimportant and insignificant. If so, apparently
you are not alone for I know of no investigation into this matter
at all. Yet, we're talking about reading the evidence. How can it
not be important?
Certainly, it is most important to John Ramsey. He has been
making the claim of professional from the outset. Why is it
important to him? Look to the attachment of professional to
intruder for the primary answer, but we are not done with this
point. There are other relevant questions to be answered.
How does John Ramsey know that the garrote scene is the work of a
professional? Is he so schooled and experienced in this area that
he can recognize professional from non professional work? If so,
then his evaluation circles back upon self as included, thus self
defeating. If he is inexperienced and ignorant in this area, by
what thought and rationale does he conclude the crime scene is
the work of a professional? Does he imagine he knows, but does
not know? Even so, he must have some reasons for calling the
scene professional. What are they? I do not recall hearing the
reasons for his claim of professional. Could it be that he calls
the scene professional for no other reason than is suits his
If his purpose is a situation expressing or implying his
innocence, certainly, this is the right direction. If he and
others regard him a novice with garrotes and that sort of thing,
he is excluded as suspect. Accepting the declaration of
professional with a subsequent profile of such directs focus out
and away to an alleged intruder which is the end product of the
claim of professional. This no minor thing, but rather is central
to the "defense."
Have not Ramsey and Smit set their intruder theory to rest
heavily on the concept, professional? What happens to this theory
if it turns out that the evaluation of professional is error? Can
the intruder theory be sustained if we eliminate the
characteristic, professional? How do we answer this question
except by first going back to square one and do a bit of
evaluating on our own and see what the evidence really tells of
First, let us be clear about what we intend to do. The term,
professional, is often used in a subjective manner, thus a non
issue. However, if we equate professional with efficiency in form
and function, a claim of professional can be validated or
invalidated by objective criteria relying on the physics of the
material as pertains to construction and application. This is the
real evidence that tells us much about the crime scene and the
person or persons who created it.
As it turns out, I do have the background of experience and
knowledge that enables me to evaluate this part of the crime
scene by definitive criteria. Its not that I go around garroting
individuals, but do know the physics involved as well as being
long schooled in ropes, knots, handles and that sort of thing.
Indeed, these things have been so much a part of my life that
evaluation of the garrote scene is almost by mental reflex taking
less than a minute. The read is easy as well as loud and clear.
From a perspective of proficiency, literally every aspect of this
garrote scene is severely flawed. If this were done by a
professional, he did a first class job of staging the scene to
look like the work of an amateur. You can "dumb down", but not
"dumb up", which is the downfall of the perpetrator. Claiming
"professional" doesn't make it so.
First, let's look at the cord around the neck and the knot.
Having only a single-angle picture to look at, I can't say with
certainty exactly how the knot was formed, so this is a little
iffy, but not much. From what I do see and don't see, I think my
conclusions are fundamentally correct.
One end of a rather long cord is passed under the throat and
around the neck. This end is then passed over and under the
other part of the cord after it encircles the neck. It is then
passed over and under itself, then over once more and through the
space created by the first over and under; then pulled tight to
close the knot and leave a small compressed slip loop created by
Aside from the fact that this version of a garrote is inherently
grossly inefficient compared to some other versions, the first
structural inefficiency to notice is the knot arrangement that
compresses against the cord. This causes friction reducing the
free travel of the cord to reduce the loop for the purpose of
strangulation. This is especially true of a small cord easily
compressed, and difficult to release. (This is hardly suitable to
the perverted sexual activity, not explained, but apparently
imagined by Smit.)
The coroners' report states: "A deep ligature furrow encircles
the entire neck." This is in contradiction with what I see in the
picture. This encircling furrow cannot happen with the
arrangement shown in the picture.
Although it is possible to strangle someone with this apparatus,
it will leave tell tell marks far different from those described
by the coroner. Pulling on the long cord leading away from the
neck will apply the heaviest pressure farthest away from the
point of the pull, to the front of the throat. This force cannot
apply circumference pressure to cause the encircling ligature
furrow described by the coroner. Even if the slip feature is held
and pushed as the cord is pulled, it will still tend to lift away
with the degrees of pressure graduated from front to back with
the least at the point of the knot.
(By all means, set up something of reasonable equivalence and
test for yourself.)
If a stick or equivalent is inserted in the neck loop and
twisted, this will equalize the pressure around the neck and
could explain the encircling ligature furrow. However, this has a
problem as well. If the construction allows for cord travel to
decrease the size of the loop to effect strangulation, the
pressure created by the twisting would cause slippage and
neutralize the twisting effect. If there is no slip feature, but
a fixed non slip knot, then it is not a garroting mechanism at
all. The cord looped over itself after brought around the neck
appears to be a crude slip feature, so the twisting idea is
pretty much ruled out.
Lou Smit concluded that hair entangled in the
knot is evidence that the garrote was constructed on the victim.
At least, he got this much right. This tells a lot about the
situation and consequently tells a lot about the person or
persons who created this scene.
If after the cord was put around the neck, dividing the cord
into right and left parts, one part in each hand, the two parts
brought across each other and pulled hard while pressing downward
on the neck would apply a circumference pressure to account for
the encircling ligature furrow. The knot was made AFTER the
pressure was applied and after the ligature furrow created. The
cord was held tightly and close as the knot was made; which is
why and how hair got entangled in the knot.
Now for a look at the handle which has been prominent in
internet photos and "identified" as "professional and complex."
(What profession?) As part of the refutation of this nonsensical
characterization is clear evidence of ignorant amateur by the 17
inch distance of the handle from the slip point and the neck.
Pulling the handle without holding down the victim would result
in energy going into lifting the body and not in decreasing size
of he loop for strangulation. To hold down the body with one hand
and pull via handle 17 inches away with the other places the
elbow at an acute angle with a consequent substantial decrease in
pulling power as well as decrease in control. This elbow angle is
more suitable for eating than applying pressure in a
We now come to the many turns of cord around the handle? Why?
What "professional" quality does this provide? None. The opposite
A cord through a hole in a handle is ideal. A single turn via
slip knot that tightens with pressure and tends to keep the cord
in center is the next best choice. The bunched multi-turns is not
just pointless, but negative in form and function. Use of the
bunched up, unevenly wrapped handle will result in a looser
connection that tends to slip off center as well as uneven
pressure on fingers causing discomfort, thus decreasing
(Do you know of any pull-start engines with numerous turns of
rope around the handle? Surely, if this is a professional
advantage, some manufacturer would use this as a marketing
Again, test for yourself. Construct one handle of single turn and
another of the approximate and bunched turns of the crime scene.
Tie a 50 pound weight to each about 10 inches from the handle.
Lift one at a time, or both, and walk around with this for about
ten minutes; then tell me which works best, i.e., which is
professional and which is amateur.
Why the 17 inch distance and many turns of cord around the
handle? The first part of the answer is the maker's obvious
ignorance of the physics involved and features necessary to the
construction of an efficient ("professional") garrote. This
clearly tell of inexperience in study or practice regarding such
constructions and use of same. The second part is a bit
speculative and goes to probability. The distance to the handle
was a random selection. The multiple wraps could have been simply
a way to use up the rest of the cord (with no thought of how
"unprofessional" this is).
There is also hair entangled in the handle wraps or cord. This
could have come from hair getting on the cord during the neck
knot, or sticking to finger and transferring, or the handle could
have been wrapped while close to the head with some hair getting
picked up in the process.
We now have the matter of the loops around JonBenet's wrists. Mr.
Smit imagines these ties and knots to be something special and
significant to the alleged ritual of the alleged intruder. In
consideration of the gross ineptness of the garrote maker, the
probability is the person or persons started to bind the wrists,
but had no idea how to go about it to make it look convincing. A
half-hearted effort was made, then abandoned, thus accounting for
the "unprofessional" loose binding found at the crime scene.
(With a preformed loop and about 3 or 4 feet of cord, wrists can
be effectively bound in less than 30 seconds.)
According to Mr. Smit, the pedophile intruder fantasized about
what he would do to JonBenet. This implies premeditation and
planning. Yet, the intruder apparently arrived upon the scene
without bringing a constructed garrote, or materials! Certainly,
a monumental contradiction. This alone is sufficient to make Mr.
Smit's theory highly questionable.
There is also the matter of the alleged intruder failing to write
the "ransom note" in advance of entering the house and neglecting
to brings materials for this as well. In other words, there is
not a trace of evidence of planning before the fact by an alleged
intruder. In complement, it is strongly implied that the note and
garrote planning came after the fact of JonBenet's death. When
the facts of amateurism are added, I think we can safely rule out
"professional" in the category of suspects.
This leaves just plain intruder as the residue of Mr. Smit's
theory. The profile here as also determined by the evidence
dismisses the notion of intruder altogether. As a means to cause
death, there are many choices. If the objective was simply to
terminate the life of the victim, strangulation by hands,
smothering, knife or other were available means; all simplistic
and generally familiar to everyone. Yet, this intruder chose
garroting with little knowledge of the weapon.
In Smit's theory the garrote was allegedly used in conjunction
with an unidentified blunt object to cause the skull fracture and
death. The garrote is written off as a sexual tool. Still, Mr.
Smit does not explain why this alleged blunt object is gone while
the garrote was left behind. If both were instruments of death,
does not the presence of the garrote and the absence of the
alleged blunt instrument leave primary focus upon the garrote as
cause? Accidental or intentional? Or was there never the blunt
instrument that Mr. Smit speculates about?
Worse yet, there was no preconstruction of a weapon. A weapon
constructed after the victim is subdued rather than using for the
subduing is hardly a "professional" use of an efficient garrote,
nor even a proficient use of an inefficient garrote.
The crude garrote was constructed on the victim allowing for the
strangulation by cross pulling the cords before the apparatus was
completed. Indeed, as stated above, this appears to account for
the ligature furrow that encircles the neck since the total
garrote design can't cause this furrow.
At this point of constructing the garrote, the job is done. The
garroting action had already taken place simply by cross pulling
the two lead of the cord. The victim has been strangled. The
inefficient handle has no functional purpose. Its strictly for
show, as is the whole garrote scene. Why the show? The answer is
implied by the effect IF the show is imagined to be the real.
The garrote scene divides attention between the head trauma and
strangulation. Without a definitive determination by the coroner,
this opens the door to endless speculation and theories derived
from the speculation. If it is also believed that the garrote
scene is the work of a "professional", attention is directed
outward toward an intruder skilled in garroting.
When it is shown that the scene is the work of a bungling
amateur, the "professional" part disappears from the intruder
profile. This leaves an intruder, who although ignorant of
garrotes, selects this weapon and method in committing the crime.
In addition to all the flaws of the apparatus, the fact that
strangulation was effected before completion of said apparatus
further identifies the scene as staging.
Since the garrote scene is obvious staging, this leaves the head
trauma as the element that the garrote scene was designed to
obscure in terms of importance. This means the head trauma came
first and the perpetrator wished to obscure this fact and
distance self from it. Since there is no known benefit that an
intruder could gain from the staging, there is no motive for an
intruder to do this. Indeed, the staging itself is for the
purpose of "creating" an intruder.
So, by virtue of revealing the non professionalism of the scene,
we rule out an intruder with professional skills in garrote
construction and use. By virtue of the perpetrator's selection of
garroting in the absence of the necessary knowledge and skills,
we question the idea of intruder at all. By virtue of exposure of
the scene as staging, we rule out intruder as possible
beneficiary. This added to other facts completely rules out
intruder as cause. (Unless there is a professional who rigged an
In the final analysis, the significance of all this is that
bungling amateur has been established as cause at the same time a
crucial question has been answered. There remains no "maybe" the
scene is staging. It is proven by objective criteria that the
scene IS staging. What is the potential impact of this fact on
subsequent logical conclusions and final outcome?
Whether by the simple testing suggested, or by extensive
scientific measurement with appropriate equipment, the facts.
reveal the ineptness of the creator of the garrote scene. It is
repeatedly marked by gross errors that no one with experience
would make. It is an ad hoc, throw together, ridiculous
concoction that profiles the creator not as a professional, but
one who without the needed knowledge and skills attempted to
create a scene to lead away from the truth.
I have stipulated in detail with suggested testing to support my
conclusion of bungling amateur. How about the same from John and
Lou to support their conclusion of professional. Isn't this a
Copyright at Common Law, Delmar England, 2000. All Rights Reserved.