American School of Investigative Sciences, Inc.
700 Clermont Street
Denver, Colorado 80220
Mr. Darnay Hoffman, Esq.
Attorney at Law
210 West 70th Street, Suite 200
New York, New York 10023
QUESTIONED DOCUMENT EXAMINATION
Date: November 3, 1997
Subject: Patsy Ramsey
Based upon available exemplars compared to the purported "ransom" note in the JonBenét Ramsey murder, the handwriting is probably that of Patsy Ramsey.
Neither the original of the "ransom" note nor original exemplars of Patsy Ramsey's handwriting were available for analysis. Thus the analysis was conducted through comparison of photomechanical reproductions. Access to exemplars was limited. No opportunity to review exemplars of Patsy Ramsey provided police officials was made available. Because of this, the categories of speed and pressure could not be fully examined. In light of these circumstances, the opinion is limited to "probable" rather than "Highly probable" or "definite". Access to further known exemplars would be needed to provide a more definite opinion.
Questioned Document: The Questioned Document (QD) consists of a hand-printed note widely circulated at this time.
Exemplar 1: Exemplar 1 (E- 1) is a note written to a "Miss Kit" dated June 4 (year unknown) in the cursive script of Patsy Ramsey.
Exemplar 2: Exemplar 2 (E-2) is a photograph of JonBenét Ramsey wearing a button which reads "Hello ... I'm Marilyn Monroe" purportedly in the printed hand of Patsy Ramsey.
Exemplar 3: Exemplar 3 (E-3) is a photograph with the words "This is me when I was first born. That's my Mom and the doctor."
Exemplar 4: Exemplar 4 (E-4) is a photograph with the words "I was 1½. I'm having a picture taken."
Exemplar 5: Exemplar 5 (E-5) is a photograph with the words "I was 2. I was going bike riding with my Mom and my Dad."
Exemplar 6: Exemplar 6 (E-6) is a photograph with the words "RAMSEY XMAS ... Ramsey."
Exemplar 7: Exemplar 7 (E-7) is a photograph with the words "Rainbow Fish Players."
Categories of Comparison
Handwriting comparison is based upon eight general categories. Lacking original documents, shape, size, slant, baseline, continuity and arrangement could be compared between the Questioned Document and the Exemplars. Pressure could not be analyzed and speed required estimation. However, of the six categories available, matches in the available categories could be made between the handwriting of Patsy Ramsey and the handwriting in the "ransom" note.
It should be noted that the wavering lines and crude lettering as the note begins indicates a disguised writing due to the use of the opposite hand in parts of it. Use of the opposite hand is a favored practice of the anonymous letter writer. Nevertheless, two issues create difficulty in avoiding identification by use of the opposite hand. First, the writer must have a thorough knowledge of the identifying details of one's own handwriting, which is seldom the case. Second, even if a knowledge of one's identifying details is known, the writer must then eliminate those strongly held habits by adopting an entirely new set of habits that would impair identification according to the categories described above. While some prominent traits may be eliminated, those more unconscious but individualistic traits remain available for comparison. In this analysis, the writer did not successfully identify her own traits for elimination and the unconscious, strongly formed habits of the handwriting of Patsy Ramsey remain evident.
A disguised writing typically contains evidence of the conflicting and persistent habits of the natural handwriting and the effort to suppress those habits while trying to letter with the opposite hand. Irregularities and inconsistencies will appear in the form of hesitations, possible variations of slant, grotesque letter formations, patching up of letters and slowly drawn strokes. All of these elements are found in the ransom note.
Shape is one of the more easily identified categories of handwriting, comparison to the untrained eye. In this examination, shape provides numerous examples of Patsy Ramsey's handwriting in the ransom note. Take, for example, the "R" in Ramsey in the salutation of the note. The note's horizontal loop at the top of the "R" begins with an overhang to the left of the down stroke that forms the vertical stroke at the left. This same overhang is found in E-6 in the second "Ramsey." A similar type overhang occurs on page three of the note in the letters "D" where the note states, "Don't try to . . . " and in "Don't under estimate . . ."
Further on in the letter on page two, the word "Speaking" contains a capital "S". That letter could virtually be superimposed over the capital "S" in "RAMSEY" in E-6. Here, the established habit of a non-curved initiation of the "S" which is then slightly retraced as it moves downward to complete the lower curve and the completion of the letter is obvious. The "S" in the signature, "S.B.T.C." also bears similarity to this habit. The result of this habit in the formation of the letter "S" is to create a squeezing of the upper curve and a resulting smaller upper curve. This also occurs in lower case letters in E-7 and frequently in the QD, for instance, on page one in the "s" in "advise" and "rested" in the sentence, "I advise you to be rested." It occurs on page two in "also" and in "remains" in the sentence, "You will also be deprived her remains . . ." and in other areas, as well as quite prominently appearing on page three in "is" in the sentence "It is up to you now John!"
The effort to disguise the writing and the failure to do so occurs in the upper case "W" at the beginning of the QD in the word "We" in the sentence "We are a group of individuals . . . " when compared to E- 1 in the upper case "W" in the word "Wednesday." In Patsy Ramsey's strong hand, the first cup of the "W" is squeezed and appears much narrower than in the second cup. In the QD, the opposite occurs as the second cup is squeezed and is thus narrower than the first. This opposite squeezing of the cups occurs as the opposite hand reverses a tendency of the strong hand much like a person making a check mark with the strong hand will reverse that same mark if made with the opposite hand. It creates a mirroring, or a reversal, of the direction of the checkmark. It represents a failure of the writer to recognize her own handwriting characteristics and to avoid those characteristics while using the opposite hand.
Patsy Ramsey, like other writers, has a variety of "styles" in making the same letter. The squeezing of either cups of both the upper case "W" or the lower case "w" occurs throughout the exemplars and the QD. As to Patsy Ramsey's habit with the lower case "w", the right hand cup is found narrower than the left in E-7in the word "Rainbow" as it is also found in the word "we" in the sentence, "At this time we have your daughter in our possession." The habits of the strong hand here appear in the opposite hand. The left hand cup of the lower case "w" is squeezed in E-4 in the word "was" in the sentence, "This is me when I was first born." Squeezing of the left cup is found in the QD on page one in the word "withdraw" in the sentence that reads, "You will withdraw $118,000.00 . . . " It occurs on page two in the word "will" in the sentence, "You will be scanned . . ." It occurs on page three in the word "well" in the sentence "You and your family are under constant scrutiny as well as . . ."
A plethora of other similar incidences of the writing habits of Patsy Ramsey found in the exemplars occurring in the QD abound. They are too numerous for purposes of this report, but can be fully detailed upon request.
The category of size requires some estimation in order to identify the handwriting of Patsy Ramsey as that of the writer of the QD. While the QD was written on 11 by 8½-inch lined tablet paper, the exemplars were not. They vary from stationary to snapshots to notes in a scrapbook to cardboard posters. By mathematically comparing the reduced size of the snapshot in E-7 of 2 and 1/2 inches in width to the standard 3 inches of a Polaroid snapshot, an estimation could be reached of the handwriting size of Patsy Ramsey. Once the calculation is made, the "R" in "Rainbow" compares favorably with the size of the "R" in "Ramsey" in the QD. Similarly, the lower case letters also compare favorably as to size.
As with any disguised writing, some variations in size will occur as the anonymous letter writer adjusts to the awkwardness of the use of the opposite hand. These variations occur as naturally as would some variations in the writer's typical strong hand. Size therefore matches in the QD and the exemplars, but must be qualified due to the degree of estimation required to determine the natural size of Patsy Ramsey's handwriting.
As discussed earlier, variations of slant occur in a disguised writing. In the QD these variations are noted more consistently as the note begins, for instance in the "ll" of "carefully" in the sentence, "Listen carefully." The printed slant for Patsy Ramsey in E-2 through E-7 is vertical, known as an A slant. That is the general slant found in the QD, especially as the writing continues onto pages two and three. It represents, again, another category for comparison where Patsy Ramsey is probably the author of the QD.
Baseline represents not only the "baseline" rule provided in a writing tablet or a checkbook, but also the writer's habits as to where letters are presented in relation to the others. In examining the QD it is noted that the tendency of the writer is to often place some letters above the printed rule. This occurs in the word "withdraw" on page one in the sentence, "You will withdraw $118,000.00 . . . " It occurs naturally without a printed rule in E-7 in the word "Fish." It occurs several times in the word "daughter" on page two and in the word "authorities" on page three. The letter "h" represents more than simply a tendency to rise above the rule. In many of the printed letters "h" in the QD it is noted that the vertical line on the left side initiating the letter does not come all the way down to the baseline. This is a tendency, an unconscious tendency of Patsy Ramsey, in "Fish" in E-7.
Additionally, both upper case "Ms" and lower case "ms" have a brace stroke in the middle which do not return to the baseline in both the QD and in the exemplars. Patsy Ramsey also exhibits a tendency to curve the bottom of the "t" to the right in E-3 in the word "That's" in the sentence, "That's my Mom with the doctor." This occurs frequently in the QD. Examination of the original of the QD, or a better facsimile, and examination or more known exemplars would be useful in identifying further characteristics regarding baseline.
Continuity represents the connecting strokes and distances between letters, words and lines of writing. In the case of the QD, spacing of greater than a letter is noted between most words. This is also the case in E-1, E-3, E-4 and E-5. E-2 and E-6 do provide a basis for this comparison, and E-7, because of a limitation of space, does not open the distances between letters as much as in those where the tendency is found in the QD and in the exemplars where it is noted above. -
As to connecting strokes between letters, the QD frequently squeezes letters together to a point at which they abut each other. This trait is minimally observed in E-2, but is seen more extensively in found in E-3, E-4@ E-5, E-6, and E-7. E- 1, because it is in cursive displays less of this, though it is still evident in some in the words "JonBenét" as the "n" and the "B" nearly abut, in the "N" and "a" in "Nationals" and in the signature, "Patsy and JonBenét."
As to the right hand borders of the QD and E- 1, similarities also appear as variations appear in the extent to which the writer is willing to write onto the end of the page. It should be noted here that none of the other exemplars provide areas for comparison in terms of arrangement as a whole.
Speed and Pressure
In the absence or original documents, speed and pressure cannot be adequately analyzed. However, an examination of the wavering lines, the crude formation of letters, hesitations and patching indicate relatively slow writing which would be consistent with the use of the opposite hand. Additionally, a slow writing such as the QD appears to have been prepared should indicate greater pressure. This, however, cannot be analyzed in absence of the original.
Based upon the exemplars available, the handwriting of the "ransom" note and that of Patsy Ramsey have numerous and significant areas of comparison. Shape of letters is one of the more telling areas of comparison, but this category would not substantiate an opinion on its own. The additional categories of size, slant, baseline, continuity and arrangement add significantly to the opinion that Patsy Ramsey wrote the "ransom" note.
This opinion represents an analysis based upon exemplars believed to be in the hand of Patsy Ramsey. It should be noted that the taking of verified exemplars from Patsy Ramsey was not available to the examiner. It is highly recommended that additional exemplars be provided or located and that access to the original Questioned Document be provided in order to more firmly establish the conclusions of this Questioned Document Analysis.
(Signature of Tom Miller)