The Bonita Papers
Melody Stanton awake abruptly from a deep sleep - the prior stillness of the Boulder night has been pierced by the harrowing scream of a child. She assumed it was somewhere between midnight and 2:00 a.m., but didn’t look at the alarm clock. The scream lasted three to five seconds and stopped as abruptly as it started. Melody momentarily wondered what to do, but thought that surely the parents would hear and come to the child’s rescue. Although still bothered by the scream and the thought that a child had been injured, Melody eventually went back to sleep.
The public image of Boulder, Colorado has constantly changed during the last few decades. Once surrounded by farmland and frequently invaded by the local wild habitat of deer and elk, it has always been a small town by most standards and even now only boasts a population of 96,000. The western end of town slopes upward to meet the climb to the Rocky Mountain National Forest pathway to the winter recreation for which Colorado is famous. As home of the University of Colorado, Boulder had the Visage Of a quiet college community with the expected hippy populace and seasonal traffic found in university towns. But anonymity began to fade when it was chosen as the setting for the 1970s sit com Mork & Mindy that launched Robin Williams into fame. This t.v. comedy about a young college coed and her alien roommate helped create a new facade for Boulder a town inhabited by young progressives.
New industry began to claim Boulder as its home major health food and herbal remedy manufacturers were abundant; Celestial Seasonings, an herbal tea conglomerate which offered the health conscious an alternative to caffeine beverages, became a synonym for the town. High tech computer oriented businesses were also coming in vogue. Affluence had begun to overtake the formerly low profile farming community.
With its new urban portrayal, the town soon caught the attention, of freshly graduated, soon to be professionals as the quintessential place to live, raise a family and partake in the year round recreational opportunities afforded by Colorado It had smog free air, a panorama of mountains, an almost nonexistent crime rate, and yet was only a 45 minute drive to Denver where many of these young professionals were embarking upon their careers. With its new yuppy population and collegiate atmosphere, the last decade saw Boulder become a forerunner for cities dedicated to healthy lifestyles. It was one of the first towns to pass ordinances against smoking in any Public facility, including restaurants and bars. The town hosts the internationally known Bolder Boulder a 10 k run which has been equated with the Boston Marathon. Bicycle and jogging paths wander everywhere throughout the city, and rock climbing, mountain hiking and skiing facilities are within a few minutes drive from downtown.
But this utopian image of healthy lifestyles and an upwardly mobile population was beginning to tarnish due to a rising crime rate and the antics of the rebelling youth of the University of Colorado. The University had grown to 20,000 students, with increasing enrollment each year. C.U.'s Buffalos had become a highly ranked college football team playing in annual college bowls. Public attention from these sporting events created interest from graduating high school seniors throughout the United States.
Local newspaper headlines began to depict a town with a large out-of control university student population. Riots, illegal bonfires and alcohol related arrests were becoming the norm. In spite of the rampant increase of student related crimes, Boulder has managed to escape the escalating statistics for violent crimes impacting other cities across the nation. There was only one homicide in Boulder in 1996 the murder of JonBenet Ramsey on Christmas night.
John Bennett Ramsey was born on December 7, 1943, the first of two sons, to James ("Jay") and Mary Bennett Ramsey in Omaha, Nebraska. His brother, Jeffrey, was born five years later. A former Air Force pilot and decorated World War II veteran, Jay worked as a flight instructor in several private schools after leaving the military. Shortly after Kin's birth, Jay was appointed as the Director of the Nebraska Department of Aeronautics. In 1957 Jay left his home state of Nebraska and this job to move his family to Okemos, Michigan, not far from Lansing, were he eventually became head of the Michigan Aeronautics Commission. It was rumored that during his career in Michigan he was twice considered for appointment as head of the Federal Aviation Administration once during President Kennedy's term in office and again after the election of Richard Nixon. But neither opportunity was ever offered to Jay, and he remained as Director of Michigan's Aeronautics Commission for 22 years until his retirement in 1979. Jay Ramsey had a reputation both in his professional and in his personal life of being reserved and authoritarian traits he would pass on to his eldest son.
The Ramsey sons were raised in a home environment dominated by their father that stressed responsibility and achievement. By all accounts John seemed to live up to his parents' expectations. There was a remarkable physical resemblance between John and his father, and John inherited many of his father's personality characteristics as well. Even in his teenage years John was considered intelligent, ambitious, focused and. above all, a very private person.
John's growing years were spent in Okemos and he graduated from Okemos High School. He was on the high school track team his freshman year, but that was the extent of his sports ambitions. John's interests leaned toward academic and leadership roles, and he was a member of the school's honor society. John did display some musical interest and played in the high school band fox two years. He was a very popular student throughout his school years many of his friends still fondly remember the private flights they shared with John in planes piloted by his father.
John enrolled at Lansing's Michigan State University after graduating from high school. He became president of the Theti Chi fraternity and joined the Reserve Officers Training Corps. In 1966, John graduated with a degree in electrical engineering.
While in college he met his first wife, Lucinda von Pasch, also a student at Michigan State, and they were married in July, 1966 after graduation. Seen after their marriage, John enlisted with the U. S. Navy and was accepted into the Officer Candidate School in Rhode Island after completing officer training, he was transferred to California and eventually to the Philippines for two years of active duty at the Subic Bay Training Center. While John was stationed at SBTC he received his pilot's wing". He continued to move up in the ranks of the military, and his record if filled with numerous commendations for his performance and character. John was noted as an outstanding officer, highly intelligent and well respected by his fellow officers. In 1971, John left active duty and went on reserve status in older to return to Michigan State to obtain his master's degree in marketing.
John's and Lucinda's first child, Elizabeth, was born on July 15, 1969, and on November 14, 1971, the second daughter, Melinda, was born. John moved his growing family to Atlanta, Georgia in 1973 where John started his career path in the computer industry. There his first son, John Andrew was born on July 24, 1976.
Soon after the arrival of the third child, the marriage began to unravel, and the Ramseys were divorced in 1978. Then a family of middle income means, Lucinda was awarded $800 a month in spousal and child support, the family station wagon, the modest family home and custody of the three children. It appeared that the divorce was cordial, and John and Lucinda remained on friendly terms. The children maintained a close relationship with their father and usually spent the weekends with him.
John admits that contributing to the marital problems was an affair he had with a secretary at his company in the late 1970s. Although this was the only affair John would admit to during either of his marriages, other women would eventually confirm that they too had had sexual relationships with John.
No matter which friend or co worker you talk to, they all describe John as quiet, reserved, non-confrontational and slow to anger - some even called him cold. In spite of the reserved public appearance, John was known as a loving and devoted father.
Patricia Ana Paugh Ramsey was born on December 29, 1966 to Don and Nedra Paugh in Parkersburg, West Virginia where she resided until her graduation from high school. Patsy had two younger sisters Pam and Paulette. Don Paugh was employed at Union Carbide as an engineer until his retirement. As a junior high and high school student Patsy was popular, serving as a cheer leader and president of the student body, and excelled in academics. She also was active on the school's speech and debate team, and twice made the state championship as a member of this team. Patsy has always been described as an outgoing and caring person.
Patsy enrolled at the University of West Virginia in 1975. Soon afterwards her parents moved to Charleston, West Virginia, where she lived until she finished college. Patsy and her younger sister, Pam, were involved in the pageant circuit, winning at county fairs and other local beauty contests. Nedra had become a driving force behind the sisters' pageant participation, and both daughters always acquiesced to their domineering mother's wishes. In 1977, while still a college student, Patsy entered the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City as Miss West Virginia. This was her third, and finally successful, attempt at the title of Miss West Virginia. Her sister, Pam, won the same title three years later. Although Patsy was not selected as a finalist in the Miss America competition, she did receive a talent – award for her dramatic reading of an essay she composed, “Kiss of Death,” and was awarded a $2,000 scholarship. Years after her competition in the Miss America pageant, Patsy stayed active in the organization and often served as a judge and worked on their fundraising campaigns. Her Miss West Virginia dress and sash were proudly put on display in her bedroom whenever the family home was opened for public tours. She once said that although people would forget her name or the state she represented, they would always remember her affiliation with the program and “hold it in the highest regard.''
Patsy graduated magna cum laude with a degree in journalism from the University of West Virginia. In the summer of 1979 she moved to Atlanta, Georgia to take a job with McCann Erickson Advertising Agency. Still following Patsy's moves, the rest of Patsy's family left Charleston, West Virginia after Don Paugh's retirement from Union Carbide and also moved to Atlanta.
It was in Atlanta that John and Patsy met in 1979, only a year after his divorce from Lucinda, while both were living at the same apartment complex. They were married the following year on November 15, 1980 at Atlanta’s Peachtree Presbyterian Church – a church that would be revisited for two family tragedies in the ensuing years. Many long time friends of both John and Patsy thought the union between these two individuals was strange because of the opposite nature of their personalities. Patsy was extremely social and gregarious, while John was reserved and very quiet. He was never open with his affection even in the early courtship stage of their relationship. When out with friends for an evening, John sat at the dinner table while Patsy danced with other males in the group.
After the marriage, Patsy worked with John at Microsouth a company owned by John and ran out of their home. John's business specialized in selling and setting up computers manufactured by other companies. Patsy gave up her career after the birth of her first child and concentrated on social and charitable work. She volunteered for fundraising for the local children's hospital, and was a member of Atlanta’s Garden Club and the local Junior league - a national charitable organization with local affiliations, the members of which are the wives of the affluent community leaders and businessmen. John did not actively participate in the Atlanta social life, but he did become a deacon at the church the family attended. After Patsy gave up her working career, her and John's roles in the marriage became very defined Patsy took control of the household matters, including the raising of the children and John was free to pursue his rising career in the computer industry and frequent travel schedule. Although Patsy was in charge of the household, John still kept tight rein on the family's financial affairs. Patsy was given a checking account to pay household bills and personal expenses, but generally was not privy to information on John's income and investment matters.
If there were any problems in the marriage, it was handled in the typical Southern tradition of 'sweeping it under the rug" by all outward appearances everything looked perfect on the surface. Some friends say the Ramsey family was too perfect almost "make believe".
John maintained his reserve officer military career even though he owned his own business. In 1993 John was retired by statutory requirement although his official discharge would not come until 1995. After his military retirement John formed a new company with partner, Tom Woolsey named Advanced Products Group. This company was one of three companies that merged in 1989 to create the existing entity of the Boulder based Access Graphics, a wholesale computer products distributor. Access Graphics occupied the tallest building on Boulder's quaint and colorful Pearl Street mall. The majority of businesses on this pedestrian mall were art shops, coffee houses and boutique stores. John eventually became President and Chief Executive officer of Access Graphics, a company that employs over 500 people and has offices in Mexico City and Amsterdam. In 1989, Lockheed Martin, one of the nation's largest aerospace corporations, purchased 73 percent of the stock in Access Graphics, making John a director of Lockheed.
John eventually hired Don Paugh as vice president in charge of operations. When the company moved to Boulder, Paugh stayed in a Boulder apartment maintained by Access Graphics when it was necessary for him to be away from the family home in Roswell, Georgia. Paugh relished the life style afforded by Boulder and spent more time there than actually was necessary for company business. Because of his frequency in town, he became one of the primary babysitters for the Ramseys' children. At one time, Nedra and Patsy's two sisters, Pam and Polly, were also put on the payrolls of Access Graphics. Nedra retired in 1993 because she disliked not only the town of Boulder, but the apartment provided by Access Graphics. In fact, she was not hesitant to tell anyone how much she disliked Boulder and everything about it. In spite of her attitude towards the town in which her daughter and son in law now lived, she continued to support the marriage. She once remarked, 'As long as Mr. Ramsey brought in the money, we’ll spend it.” She remained a very strong influence in Patsy’s life, either visiting her often in Boulder or through Patsy's many trips back to Georgia.
The formation of John's new company brought many changes in his and Patsy's life. In 1991 after two years of commuting between Atlanta and Boulder, John moved his family to Boulder the new headquarters of Access Graphics. A two story, red brick tutorstyle house, located at 711 15th Street in one of Boulder's older affluent neighborhoods, was selected for raising their family. However, major remodeling would have to be done prior to fitting the community image and life style required of the president of one of Boulder's fastest growing corporations and his socially prominent, Southern belle wife.
A third story was added to the home which contained a home office and a massive master bedroom, said to be 1,500 square feet. A spiral staircase was constructed to join this new third floor to the second level where the children's bedrooms were located. When completed the house contained 15 rooms, including a newly constructed catering kitchen for Patsy's many parties, four bedrooms and five full and three partial baths. Some of the basement area was also remodeled, including the addition of a wine cellar although no wine was ever kept in storage there.
The renovation and decorating, rumored to cost $700,000 was completed in 1992 and the Ramseys settled into their new residence, which was to become a showplace for the community. The house now had 2,050 square feet on the main floor, 2,692 square feet on the second floor, and was valued in 1997 at $806,500 in the family's first year of residency, the home was included on the City's Christmas tour not only was the exterior fully illuminated with multi colored Christmas lights and adorned with holiday season decor, the inside of the house was professionally decorated with a different, but equally ornate, Christmas tree in every room. Patsy and her children greeted touring guests at the front door wearing matching Christmas outfits.
As their home in Boulder was being readied for its new occupants, John and Patsy also bought a $300,000 vacation home perched upon a bluff overlooking Round lake in the resort town of Charlevoix, Michigan. It too reflected the lifestyle of the increasingly wealthy Ramseys and was included on the annual Charlevoix tour of homes. Shortly after the Ramseys purchased the home they "donated" it to be auctioned for hosting a wine and cheese party as part of a local fundraising effort. Docked on the lake was the family's 34 foot sailboat, Miss America, and other small boats owned by John. John had acquired an interest in expensive toys. He also now owned two airplanes which were kept at the Jefferson County Airport near Boulder a single engine Cessna and the larger King Air which was used for family trips.
Access Graphics was becoming one of Boulder's fasting growing companies, and in 1996 the Boulder Chamber of Commerce named John Ramsey "Entrepreneur of the Year.' The company grossed over $1 billion that year, and in November was featured in an article in the local paper, the Boulder Daily Camera.
Patsy, who had always been in the center of Atlanta’s social life and active in many groups and organizations, found it difficult at first to gain acceptance among the affluent Boulderites and make her entrance into Boulder society. But Patsy was an ambitious, gregarious southern charmer, and she soon edged her way into some of Boulder's social circles. One avenue was St. John's Presbyterian Church which the family started attending soon after their arrival in town. Patsy taught Sunday school at the church and helped organize a foyer dinner group for monthly social gatherings, each family taking turns as the host. She also became a volunteer fundraiser for the local hospital and Opera Colorado the Denver area's premier opera production company.
Patsy, who had always demonstrated an artistic flair, also enrolled in oil and acrylic painting classes at the nearby University of Colorado. By cultivating this raw talent, she not only was learning an appreciation and understanding of art, she was making new social connections.
Friends said that Patsy was one of those people that could never be alone she needed people around her all the time. Her many activities provided sources for these relationships, and she had accumulated a large circle of friends. But apparently she had made some enemies along her climb up the social ladder. Some former friends were dropped to be replaced with wealthier, more socially prominent ones. Everyone, old and new friends, remember her as wanting to be "where the money was". No expense was ever spared be it for a party in the Ramsey home or a function she planned for John's company. For Patsy, everything had to be done on a grand scale.
In spite of this desire for social status and wealth, to all who knew her, Patsy's fundamental religious convictions and sense of family value were her most deep set characteristics. Her loyalties to her mother ran strong. Even though many considered her mother, Nedra, not a likable person and often bizarre, unless you were willing to accept Patsy's mother as part of the friendship you would not be befriended by Patsy.
Patsy was also very involved in every aspect of her own children's lives, including their school activities. She often volunteered for classroom projects organized a science fair at the school, and even spearheaded a fundraising effort to purchase laptop computers for the entire third grade classroom in which her son, Burke, was a student. Because she over scheduled her life, trying to accomplish in one day that which would take a normal person two days to finish, she had a reputation of always being late. Perhaps because of the pace of her day-to-day life, Patsy was constantly on a roller coaster of emotions – going from extreme highs down to deep depressing lows. She was also known to cut off long-time friends if they did something with which she did not agree. Patsy was a dichotomy one moment extremely social and giving, and the next not speaking because of some perceived wrong-doing. She would remain a friend as long as you did what she wanted. This personality quirk would have astounding impact on former friends during the aftermath of the impending tragedy.
Although 14 years younger than John, Patsy worried about maintaining 'her image as a former beauty queen. In the early 1980s, after her marriage, she had had breast enlargement surgery. Reconstructive surgery was performed on her chin, which was starting to recede, in the summer of 1996. Patsy was also sensitive to John’s concern about her appearance. Weight gain had always been a battle for her, and she constantly dieted.
With success and change came tragedy, and John and Patsy's Camelot existence was starting to crumble. John's oldest daughter, Elizabeth, at the age of 22, was killed, along with her fiancé, Matt Derrington, on January 6, 1992 in a car accident on icy Chicago streets. Matt was driving Beth to the Derrington's family home to meet his parents for the first time. John suffered tremendously from the grief caused by the death of his first child. This father, who had been described as cold reserved, was often found crying alone at night – sometimes hiding to do so in the attic of his home in Boulder. In spite of his divorce from Lucinda, he had remained very much a part of his children's lives in fulfilling his role as father. Within a few months of the death of Beth, John's father also died.
A year later, Patsy began suffering from health problems, and Was diagnosed in July, 1993 with grade 4 metastasized ovarian cancer. Her illness was further complicated by the rupturing of the breast implants done in the 1980s, necessitating additional surgery. Patsy began chemotherapy treatment at the National institute of Health in Bethesda Maryland. During Patsy's year of fighting the cancer, the entire household was under stress.
John continued with his high paced work and travel schedule, leaving Patsy to make the grueling trips to Bethesda, Maryland for chemotherapy by herself. Although she was responding well to treatment, at times the after effects of the chemo forced her to seek medical assistance at Boulder Community Hospital. Nedra virtually moved into the Ramsey house to take care of Patsy on a 24 hour basis. Patsy, who had always been recognized for her devotion to her children, seemed to become closer and more focused on their lives during her bout with cancer. Even while going through the rigors of chemotherapy and losing her hair, she still appeared at the children's school when a volunteer was needed. In 1995, the cancer went into remission and Patsy thought the Ramsey family's period of tragedies had come to an end.
John's and Patsy's first child, Burke Ramsey was born on January 27, 1987 in Atlanta, Georgia. After the move to Boulder, Burke was enrolled at Flat irons Elementary School kindergarten program and then transferred to High Peaks Elementary when graduating to the first grade. Although considered intelligent by his teachers, Burke appeared to lack self-motivation and had motor skill problems which made it difficult for him to transfer his thoughts to paper, whether in the form of handwriting or typing.
Due to John's work schedule and his often absence from the family Acme for business travel, Burke and his father had little time together. One of the pastimes Burke did enjoy with his dad was operating remote control model airplanes. John also taught Burke to whittle with a small red Swiss army knife, a gift his parents had brought back for him after a trip to Switzerland. The Ramsey housekeeper often complained about following the youngster from room to room picking up the shreds of wood he left from his whittling. But true to the legacy of the Ramsey males, Burke’s major fascination in life was anything and everything relating to airplanes. He even had a video for self taught pilot training. John and Patsy both insisted Burke learn other skills and encouraged him to actively participate in sports. He joined a local youth baseball team, and his mother hired a personal basketball trainer for him.
JonBenet Patricia Ramsey was born on August 8, 1990 in Atlanta, Georgia the namesake of both John Bennett Ramsey and affectionately called "Johnny B" by Patsy and Nedra. Almost from birth, Patsy, her mother and her two sisters started making plans for the beautiful little girl's reign as Miss America the unfulfilled dream of the Paugh women.
In her short lifetime, JonBenet had entered eight to ten pageants, and had won the talent and personality awards at almost every one. Her first pageant was the summer of her fourth year when she was crowned Little Miss Charlevoix. JonBenet was also bestowed the titles of America's Royale Miss, National Tiny Miss Beauty, Colorado State All Star Kids Cover Girl, and little Miss Colorado 1996, and was next scheduled to compete in the Little Miss Hawaiian Tropic contest a performance she would have to miss JonBenet belonged to a group of child performers, the American Kids, who performed and entertained in the local, area. Her last performance with the group was, on December 22, 1996 in the Southwest Plaza Mall in the southwestern suburbs of Denver. Some say it was JonBenet's best performance. Both John and Patsy supported JonBenet in her pageant appearances. Since Patsy was a former Miss America contestant, many of the pageant mothers looked to her for advice, and she was considered by both pageant mothers and daughters to be a caring, considerate influence. If anyone was skeptical about Patsy's involvement in the pageant world because of her former beauty queen status, Patsy would go out of her way to be cordial and kind to win over their trust. Nedra and Pam also often joined the pageant trips, and Pam would do hair and make up not only for JonBenet but also for other pageant contestants.
Although John's participation was mostly limited to being an observer, he did occasionally offer advice to his daughter. Just before one pageant appearance, John had taken his daughter aside and told her, "Your beauty is a gift, but it is important to develop the good person you are inside, because if you ever lose your outer beauty, you will still be a beautiful person because your beauty inside.”
JonBenet appeared to enjoy her participation in the pageant life and never showed signs of rebellion toward the rigors demanded for the continuous lessons, rehearsals and costume fittings. Her favorite part of the competition was the sportswear modeling, when she could wear blue jeans and casual clothes. She excelled in the talent competition, and her favorite routine was the "Cowboy Sweetheart" song which she sang wearing a pink cowboy dress and hat. Not only was this her favorite song, but she liked the costume best because it was pink her favorite color.
Like her mother's bedroom, JonBenet's room took on the appearance of a shrine whenever the Ramsey residence was readied for one of the City's tours Pageant dresses, sashes and trophies were on display throughout the room.
Unfairly to the memory of this child, in the eye of the public JonBenet is forever locked into the image of a pre pubescent seductress her hair bleached with blonde highlights, bright red lipstick, painted up eyes, and costumes befitting Las Vegas showgirls. Outside of this pageant world, JonBenet was described as a normal, happy six year old. She had attended the pre school programs at First Presbyterian Church and was currently in the kindergarten/daycare program at High Peaks Elementary School, the same school attended by her brother. Her teachers all praise JonBenet as very bright, exceedingly mature, and remarkably caring – the type of student every teacher would wand in the classroom. JonBenet displayed a great desire to please adults.
One time during a school party, there was not enough cupcakes for all the students, and the teachers asked for volunteers to share. JonBenet was the first to raise her hand to give up her treat. I don't need a cupcake I'll take something else." The teachers did note that sometime in December 1996, JonBenet developed a clinginess to her mother which they thought unusual for the ordinarily independent, self assured child. It had always been apparent that there was an extreme closeness between JonBenet and her mother, appeared to be overly protective, but this change in JonBenet appeared to be an even more exaggerated degree of closeness.
JonBenet was a creative child, spending hours on ceramics, craft projects and painting. Also, as one would expect from a pageant star, she loved to play dress up and singing and dancing, particularly tap dancing. She was enrolled in modeling lessons, tap dance lessons, and piano lessons, all of which enhanced her performances at the pageant competition. Once she insisted on taking violin lessons, and her parents bought her a special child size violin. JonBenet soon became bored with the violin and these lessons were abandoned. Her ambition in life was to be a figure skater – in the meantime she practiced with her inline skates.
JonBenet's grandmother, Nedra, admits that both she and her brother, Burke, were spoiled and were seldom disciplined. But Nedra would balance this observation, in typical grandmother fashion, by saying that the children were very well behaved and mature a fact confirmed by friends of John and Patsy who were also acquainted with the children. In spite of the material benefits available to the Ramsey children, neither appeared to be pampered. because both Burke and JonBenet were exposed to world travel and many social situations, they had achieved sophistication and social skills not normally found in children of their ages.
But "normal" is not an appropriate word to describe JonBenet. Her flawless beauty certainly set her apart from other six year olds. Her extraordinary gift for entertaining was blatantly displayed to the public in the videos of her pageant performances immediately after her death. She demonstrated poise and maturity very untypical of a child her age, and she was as comfortable talking to adults as she was with playmates. People seemed drawn to her. Bill McReynolds, a retired University of Colorado journalism professor and the man hired to play Santa for the last three Christmas' in JonBenet's life, was so touched by this child that he retired his Santa suit after her death. He could not bear the pain of the memories of the last Christmas he shared with JonBenet. The first year that he appeared at the Ramsey home as Santa, JonBenet took him by the hand and gave him a tour of her home. After Santa had given out the presents and was about to leave, JonBenet handed him a gift. This was the first time he had ever received a gift from a child while in his role as Santa. The gift was a little bottle of gold glitter which JonBenet told him was star dust. He carried his vial of "star dust" with him as his good luck charm through open heart surgery the following summer. McReynolds saw an angelic glow in this child a magical, spiritual quality that shared with the observer the perception of life filled with wonderment and innocence. But this Santa also saw a pensive and ethereal side of JonBenet which traversed her spirit way beyond her six years. While Patsy was undergoing treatment for the cancer friends noticed that the children showed signs of emotional neglect. Although Nedra was staying at the family home on a 24-hour basis, her time and attention was entirely consumed with Patsy's care. During this period, JonBenet assumed an introverted role in the family. Children are always sensitive to changes in the family structure and habits, but yet neither Burke nor JonBenet were told the nature of their Mother's illness.
Although in good health, JonBenet had one problem that caused concern to her parents. in one of her visits to the family's pediatrician in 1994, one of 33 visits in the last three years of JonBenet's life, Patsy noted on the office records that she was concerned with the wetting and soiling of underwear. Patsy's mother, Nedra, related that the family would often wake her up shortly after she sent to sleep to take her to the bathroom in hopes of preventing middle of the night accidents. Until recently, JonBenet wore pull up diapers, but Patsy quit using them because she thought the absorbent material would prevent her from feeling the wetness and waking up. Now when she had a bedwetting incident during the night JonBenet would usually get up and change her own clothes. Sometimes he would go into her brother’s bedroom and crawl into the extra bed to avoid going back to her own cold, web one. Plastic sheets were always kept on JonBenet’s bed, and the housekeeper, Linda Hoffman Paugh, said that the only housekeeping chore Patsy did was changing JonBenet's bedding.
JonBenet was not the only child in the family who had a history of bedwetting... Burke also had the same problem past the age when most children start sleeping through the night without a bedwetting incident. Patsy had also had problems in toilet training Burke and out of frustration kept him in diapers past the age of three. Although mostly patient and caring with the children, observers occasionally saw the side of Patsy that became irritable and angry with her children. In many of her dealings with her young children, Patsy seemed to let them take control over her instead of becoming the firm and guiding instructor.
SEQUENCE OF EVENTS
As the clock was ticking off the minutes left in the life of JonBenet, the holiday season of Christmas 1996 brought social gatherings typical of a family prominent in the community. The Ramseys entertained with a dinner party in their home on Monday, December 23, attended by approximately 40 people. Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus, played by Bill and Janet McReynolds, arrived and gave out presents to all. A special activity was planned for the children each one was allowed to decorate and take home their own gingerbread house. While some mothers would have been horrified at the thought of the mess created by a dozen children around the kitchen table working with tubs of frosting, piles of jelly beans and bowls filled with M&Ms, Patsy thrived on these types of activities with her children.
The next day, Tuesday, December 24, JonBenet performed at a recital in the afternoon, and the family attended church services at St. John's. The Ramseys had dinner at a local restaurant, Pasta Jay's, owned by a close friend, Jay Elowsky. The remainder of Christmas eve was spent driving around town looking at Christmas lights. Every year during the Christmas Season the city erects the outline of a star with white lights on a nearby hill overlooking Boulder. The family stopped to gaze at this illuminated symbolism of the Christmas season which looked down upon then from the far away hillside. JonBenet insisted they let her out of the car so that she could walk through the star – her child wonderment wanting to experience the feeling of catching a rainbow.
The evening travels concluded with a brief visit at the home of Fleet and Priscilla White. Fleet owned an oil exploration business and had moved to Boulder two years ago from California. The families had met when the Whites rented a home two houses away from the Ramseys before purchasing their current residence. The Whites also had children, Fleet, Jr. and Daphne, closely matching the ages of Burke and JonBenet, and the children had become playmates when they were close neighbors.
After arriving home that evening and putting the children to bed, the parents began preparing for the arrival of Santa. Patsy retrieved the presents which had been hidden in the basement. John snuck away to the neighbor's house across the street, Joe Barnhill, to retrieve a bicycle stored there as a surprise gift for JonBenet on Christmas morning. Barnhill and his wife, an elderly couple, were more acquainted with the Ramseys than most of the neighbors. They even shared "custody" JonBenet's dog, often keeping the dog at their residence.
As in most households on Christmas morning, it was the anxious children who awoke their parents. JonBenet had slept in Burke’s room that night so he could awaken her early – too early. When the ritual of unwrapping of presents could begin. Patsy tried to get the children to slow down so that everyone could savor each present as it was unwrapped. But as with all excited little ones on Christmas morning, the presents were all opened within minutes - many of then not even visible beneath the piles wadded wrapping paper
After the morning of gift giving and a pancake breakfast among the four Ramseys, Burke and JonBenet invited young playmates over to show off the new toys. Patsy had packing and gift wrapping to do in preparation for leaving the next morning for their home in Charlevoix where they would spend the rest of the holiday week with John’s grown children, John Andrew and Melissa, and Melissa’s boyfriend, Stewart long. Melissa was a registered nurse at the Kenneth Stone Hospital in Marietta, Georgia, and her boyfriend was a medical student. John Andrew, although attending College at CU in Boulder, was spending the Christmas break with this mother in Atlanta.. This trio of young folk were to join the other Ramseys in Minneapolis for the rest of the leg of the journey that would take them to Charlevoix.
John, Patsy, JonBenet and Burke were also scheduled to leave for Disney World in Florida immediately after they returned to Boulder from Charlevoix. In celebration of Patsy's 40th birthday on December 29, the family was taking the Disney World Cruise. Patsy had to pack for the two separate trips. A few winter clothes were placed in plastic sacks for the Charlevoix holiday, and suitcases were packed with summer clothes for the Disney World Cruise. John spent part of the day checking the personal jet, parked at the Jefferson County airport, that would fly his family to Michigan the next morning.
That evening would bring another holiday gathering dinner with Fleet and Priscilla White and their family and guests. While getting ready to attend the dinner party, Patsy tried to persuade JonBenet to wear a red sweater and black velvet pants that would match the outfit that Patsy was wearing. Like most independently thinking six-year-olds, JonBenet had other ideas about her evening attire. She insisted on wearing her black velvet jeans and matching black velvet best with a whit crew-neck sweater with a sequin star on the front – an outfit she had helped pick out at a local Gap store. To complete her outfit, she wore a small gold ring on the middle finger of her right hand, a gift from her maternal grandmother, Nedra Paugh, a bracelet on her right wrist – a Christmas gift from her mother, and a gold cross necklace given to her by her aunt Pam.
The Ramsey family arrived at the White residence at approximately 4:30 p.m. With a houseful of relatives and guests, tables were set up in both the living room and dining room in order to provide everyone with a seat. Seafood, including crab, a favorite of the Ramsey children according to Patsy, was one of the main courses served for the holiday meal. After dinner, John and Fleet planted themselves on the living room floor and helped their daughters construct paper jewelry from kits given out by the Whites as gifts to the children attending the dinner party. The evening ended soon after some local carolers, entertaining in the neighborhood, came to the Whites' house, and Fleet and his son went outside and joined in the singing. The Ramseys John, Patsy, Burke and JonBenet, bid goodnight to the Whites at approximately 8:30 p.m.
While driving home, Patsy stopped at the houses of friends to drop off gifts a gift basket for Susan Stine and perfume for Roxanna Walker. Burke accompanied her to the door of the Stine's residence, but John and JonBenet remained in the car as JonBenet had fallen asleep. Patsy also had brought along a gift basket for John and Barbara Fernie, but because it was getting late and JonBenet was already asleep, Patsy decided to deliver this last gift some other time. The family arrived home at 9:00 p.m.
According to the official statements given by John and Patsy, John carried his sleeping daughter up to her bedroom on the second floor of the family home. Patsy ran ahead of John to turn down JonBenet's bed. After John laid his sleeping daughter on her bed, Patsy changed JonBenet's black velvet outfit she had worn to the dinner party, and put her to bed wearing the white shirt she had worn to the dinner party and long white thermal underpants. JonBenet, exhausted from the day's activities, never woke while Patsy changed the clothes.
Burke went to bed after a few minutes of working with his father on assembling a toy he had gotten for Christmas. John and Patsy both stated that Patsy went to bed immediately and that John read a book for a few minutes before turning off the light and himself falling asleep. John occasionally took Melatonin tablets, a sleep aid found in health food stores. John said he wanted to get to sleep quickly to be ready for the flight the next morning, so he took one of the tablets that night. John and Patsy both say they last saw their daughter alive at approximately 10:00 p.m.
Winter nights in Boulder are quiet, usually filled with nothing more than the soft cooing of owls nestling in the trees or the flapping of the wings of dilatory Canadian geese lingering during a long flight to some more tropical climate. Tonight did not appear to be anything more. Neighbors noticed that the Ramsey house appeared very quiet – even lights normally left on were not visible. The only disruption to the ethereal darkness was the child’s scream heard by Melody Standon.
In the official statement given to the Boulder Police, John said he awoke at approximately 5:30 a.m. and went into the bathroom to take a shower. Patsy got out of bed shortly after him, put on the clothes she had worn to the Whites' dinner party the night before, fixed her hair and applied her make up. She headed down the stairs from their third-floor bedroom to start coffee brewing and fix a light breakfast. She still had last minute packing for the trip to the families summer home in Michigan. The private jet was scheduled to leave Jefferson County Airport at 7:00 a.m. and the airport was about a 30 minute drive from the Ramsey’s home. As she came down the back spiral stairs leading from the bedrooms, she noticed papers lying on one of the landings. She turned at the bottom of the stairs and started to read the hand written letter as it still lay on the stairwell:
Listen carefully! We are a group of individuals that represent a small foreign faction. We respect your business 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 wand her to see 1997 you must follow our instructions to the letter.
You will withdraw $118,000.00 from your account. $I00,000 will be in $100 bills and the remaining $18,000 in $20 bills. Make sure that you bring an adequate size attaché 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 a earlier pick up 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, F.B.I., etc., 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 any way 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 that we are familiar with law enforcement countermeasures and tactics. You stand a 99% chance of killing your daughter if you try to out smart us. Follow our instructions and you stand a 100% chance of getting her back. You and your family are under constant scrutiny as sell 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 is up to you now John!
Before she finished reading the note, Patsy ran upstairs, pushed open the door to JonBenet's room and saw she was not in bed. Patsy began screaming for John. With panic in her voice, she told John that she had found a ransom note and that JonBenet was missing. John, still not completely dressed and having difficulty comprehending what Patsy was screaming about, but understood that JonBenet was missing, told Patsy to call the Police. While Patsy was running downstairs for the phone, she yelled at John to check on Burke. After making sure that Burke was safely in his bed, John also ran down the stairs to the kitchen. Still clad only in his underwear, John hunched on the kitchen floor reading the note as it lay on the floor while Patsy called 911. At 5:52 a.m. Patsy’s call came in to the Boulder Regional Dispatch Center and was answered by dispatchers Mary Hester and Kim Archuletta.
The dispatchers heard the hysterical voice of a woman on the phone saying that her daughter had been kidnapped.
Officer Rick French was dispatched to 755 15th Street in Boulder at approximately 5:52 a.m. on the report of a possible kidnapping. He was met at the door by the distraught Patsy and by John who told him that their six-year-old daughter was missing and their nine-year-old son was asleep upstairs. Patsy, hysterical and apparently confused about the sequence of the mornings events, told officer French that she went into JonBenet’s bedroom at approximately 5:45 a.m. that morning to wake her up for the trip and saw that she was not in bed. As she was coming down the spiral staircase she found the note stating that her daughter had been kidnapped. John then lead French through the house and pointed out a three page handwritten note which still lay on the hallway floor next to the kitchen.
French noted that Patsy, dressed in a red turtle sweater and black pants, was pacing back and forth, but eventually settled in an overstuffed chair in the sitting room located at the southeast of the main floor. Patsy stared at French her eyes riveted him, but tried to conceal her actions with her fingers splayed over her eyes.
French did a quick inspection of the interior of the house and found all the doors locked, including the door leading from JonBenet’s bedroom to the second floor balcony. There were no signs of the missing child. French inspected the basement during this search, but was not able to open one room in the basement on the south end of the house because of a top latch. John told Officer French that too had personally checked for unlocked doors and windows – John said he found the house locked up as it had been left the night before.
When asked about the security alarm system, John told French that it had not been engaged for several years. While the remodeling of the residence was still in process, JonBenet, then only a toddler, had dragged a small bench over to the key pad to the system and began hitting the keys. The interior alarm was so deafening that they couldn't even hear to telephone the security company to notify them that it was a false alarm.
Almost immediately police cars and sirens were heard coming down the street. Since the Ramseys had not used the system since they had moved into the new house, they didn't know the code to shut it off. Because of this mishap and a couple of subsequent false alarms, they had decided not to activate the system.
After his cursory inspection of the house, French took a statement from John regarding the events of the prior evening. John related that the family had arrived home around 9:00 p.m., that Burke and Patsy had gone immediately to bed, and that he had read to JonBenet for a few minutes before he went to bed. Apparently the morning's stress had also confused John, as the sequence of events he related to French about the prior evening would differ at his later official statement.
Arriving almost immediately after the first officers on scene were John and Barbara Fernie, close friends of both John and Patsy. They were soon joined by Fleet and Priscilla White, with whom the Ramsey family had spent the evening of Christmas day just hours before the disappearance of their daughter. Patsy confirmed that she had called both the Whites and the Ferniest after notifying the police. Bill and Heather Cox, guests staying at the Whites’ home, also appeared. Barbara Fernie called the Ramsey’s pastor, Rev. Rol Haberstock from St. John’s Presbyterian Church, and asked him to come.
According to the family friends, the hysterical Patsy was alternating between noncoherent praying to God and Jesus and screaming, " They have my baby.” At one point Patsy screamed at John, “You have to give them the money and get out baby back.” John, attempting to comfort his wife, responded, “We’ll get her back. She'll be okay.''
Within minutes of arriving at the Ramsey home, Fleet decided to look around the house. His own daughter had been missing a few months ago, and after the police were called they found her hiding under her bed. Fleet was hoping that JonBenet too was just hiding somewhere in the house. Since everyone had been told by the police officers not to go upstairs, Fleet went town to the basement. He noticed that the lights were on. He found a small piece of glass from a broken window in a room used for model trains. In checking the latch for the window he discovered that it was unlocked, but closed. Fleet also noticed a blue suitcase was sitting underneath the window. He continued with his search by opening every cupboard and door. He opened the door to the wine cellar, reached inside, but could not find the light switch and could not see inside the room. The wind cellar is completely formed by cement and has no windows. Finding no evidence of anyone entering or leaving from the basement area and no trace of JonBenet, Fleet went back upstairs.
Patrol Sgt. Reichenbach, responding to the call to go to the 15th Street address, passed a time and temperature sign in a mall parking lot on his way to the Ramsey home. The temperature in Boulder that morning was 9 degrees. A light dusting of snow lay sprinkled on the ground, mostly visible on the neighborhood lawns. Upon his arrival at the residence Reichenbach conducted a brief inspection of the outside of the premises. In addition to the newly fallen snow, portions of the yard were covered with one or two inches of crusty snow from a prior snowfall. He noted that no footprints were visible in the new snow that adhered to the grass and pavement areas surrounding the house nor in the old snow still remaining.
Det. Michael Everett, the Lead Crime Scene investigator Boulder police department, was also told to report to the Ramsey residence to assist in the crime scene search with Det. Sgt. Tom Wickman, the supervisor in charge of the crime scene. When they arrived they too inspected the outside of the residence. They discovered a basement level window with a broken pane. As they were inspecting the window well for any evidence of entry, they noticed that the grate placed over thee window well was covered with a spider web which appeared undisturbed, making it unlikely that anyone had entered through that window.
According to John and Patsy, Burke had remained asleep during Patsy's morning screams and commotion of people coming and going from the residence. At approximately 7:0 a.m., John decided it was time to wake Burke. It had already been decided that Burke would be taken to the White's residence where relatives were still staying for the holidays. John, accompanied by Fleet, went up to Burke's room. John woke his sleeping son, “Why don't you get up, buddy. You're going over to White's house to see Fleet, Jr." Burke's only reaction to the disturbance of his sleep was, "Okay." Burke put his clothes on, grabbed his Nintendo and a couple of Christmas toys to take on his visit to his friend's house, and followed his father and Fleet downstairs. Fleet immediately took Burke outside to his vehicle and drove way. Never once did Burke ask why policemen were at his house. The only conversation that passed between the two during the ride was occasional mention of Burke’s Nintendo he got for Christmas which he had brought with him.
Det. Linda Arndt, a member of the Sexual Assault and Crimes Against Children team of the Boulder police department, was called at home, informed of the reported kidnapping and instructed to respond to the Ramsey residence to assist the officers already on scene. She was told that the local phone company had been contacted to set up a "trap" on all incoming phone calls. In fact, this "trap" was activated even prior to Arndt arriving at the Ramsey residence. On her way, Arndt stopped at her office to pick up a hand-held tape recorder and meet with Det. Fred Patterson who would accompany her to the scene of the crime. Arndt and Patterson stopped briefly at a local mall parking lot to meet with Reichenbach, who had just left the residence, to be briefed on the situation at the Ramsey house. Reichenbach told the two detectives that French, the first officer on scene, said that "something didn't seem right".
Arndt and Patterson arrived at approximately 8:10 a.m. and were met by French. Also already on the scene were Boulder Crime Scene investigators Barry Weiss and Sue Barcklow. Weiss was photographing the interior and exterior of the residence, and Barcklow was attempting to obtain latent finger prints. Two victim advocates, dispatched from the Boulder police department, were with the Ramseys, trying to give comfort to the victimized parents.
The original ransom note had been collected into evidence, transported to police headquarters and copies returned to the Ramsey home. Some of the detectives were working on obtaining the ransom money – Lafayette State Bank was contacted about providing the cash. Family friend, John Fernie, had also been to his bank and arranged for the $118,000 to be available within an hours notice in the denominations required by the ransom note. Fernie noted that $118,000 was a relatively insignificant amount compared to Ramsey’s wealth. According to Fernie, "They could have asked for $10,000,000 and obtained that amount.
Arndt met with John Ramsey, explained the procedure for the telephone "trap", and asked permission to also hook up the portable tape recorder she had retrieved from the police department. She instructed him on using the tape recorder should a call come in from the kidnappers. During this discussion with John he was able to carry on a conversation, and was focused and articulate with his words. He sometimes even smiled and joked.
Det. Robert Whitson arrived at the Ramsey residence at approximately 9:30 a.m. to inform John that the FBI had been notified and were assisting in the investigation. Whitson briefly talked to John about security for the home, and John again stated that he had personally locked up the house on the night of December 25, and that he rechecked that morning and found everything was still locked. Whitson and Patterson then asked John for samples of his handwriting. John went to a counter near the spiral staircase and picked up two letter-size pads of white lined paper. John handed both pads to Det. Patterson explaining that one pad contained prior writings of Patsy and the other his prior writings. Patterson took the pads and made a notation on the tope of each indicating which one belonged to Patsy and which one belonged to John.
Whitson later showed the notebook indicated as Patsy’s to Detective Jeff Kithcart. As Kithcart examined the notepad, he discovered among the pages a sheet of paper with the beginning of a note in a similar ink and handwriting style as the ransom note. This page, apparently a false start for the final note, only contained the words, “Mr. and Mrs. R”
Arndt then met with the distraught and visibly shaken Patsy. Looking disheveled and physically exhausted she had been peering at the detectives from her chair in the sitting room. Barbara Fernie and Priscilla were at her side, along with the Boulder police department victim advocates. Patsy, appearing dazed, spoke softly when she talked and seemed to be staring vacantly into the distance. Intermittently collapsing in tears, she told Arndt that the family had arrived home at approximately 9M P.M. the evening before, that she had put JonBenet to bed wearing a red turtle neck shirt and white long johns, and that she had gone to bed immediately after that herself. As she had also told French, Patsy said that the next morning she discovered JonBenet was not in her room and then walked down the stairs where the ransom note lay. When asked who had a key to the house Patsy stated, "The only person in Colorado with a key is my housekeeper Linda Hoffman-Pugh.” Patsy brought up the housekeeper's name again when Arndt questioned her on who might be responsible for the kidnapping.
"Linda asked to borrow money from me on December 24. She needed $2,000 – for family dental work, I think. I was suppose to leave her a check on the kitchen counter before we left for Michigan." Patsy explained that Linda had family problems, not only with her husband who was a "drinker", but also with her two grown children. Patsy told Arndt that Linda's husband, Mervin Pugh, had also been hired a few months ago to do some chores around the house. Patsy had previously told one of the detectives that the handwriting in the note did somewhat resemble Linda's writing, but she admitted to Arndt that the words in the note were not words that Linda would use.
Although Patsy was able to cast suspicions on the housekeeper during this conversation, she seemed unable to focus on other questions being asked and her thoughts were scattered. She asked Arndt what the police were doing and repeated several times, “Why couldn’t I hear my baby.” After the brief interview with Patsy, Arndt returned to the den. Since the room in which Patsy sat was a distance from the kitchen and den area, Arndt had little contact with her after their initial conversation and could not monitor her actions, so she asked French to remain with Patsy.
The gingerbread houses made by JonBenet and Burke at the family party only two days before still sat on the dining room table – a melancholy reminder of the laughter and innocence of childhood that had filled the home so recently. Also visible on the dining room table was a bowl of half-eaten pineapple chunks and an empty glass – apparently a late-night snack left from someone the night before.
Arndt met again with John to go over instructions for him should the author of the ransom note call. John was to get very explicit instructions from the kidnappers, he should demand to talk to JonBenet, and he was to tell them that he would not be able to get the money until 5:00 p.m. John dutifully made notes of these things he was to say when the kidnapper called. Arndt looked down at the list being created by John and noticed that he had placed an asterisk next to the notation "talk with JB”. At the time Arndt thought it odd that John would want to somehow highlight this instruction.
When not talking to an officer, John stayed by himself, and strangely, there was no interaction with Patsy. The victim advocates who had remained at Patsy's side assumed that John and Patsy were either divorced or estranged, because of the lack of communication between the two of them that morning. John seemed to pace the floor nervously in the area between the dining room and den, but ran to answer the phone every time it rang. Arndt observed that when John did sit down, one of his legs bounced up and down in nervous spasms.
In order not to tie the up any lines, all outgoing calls made from the Ramsey home were done on cell phones, belonging to John Ramsey and John Fernie, located inside the residence. John did answer two phone calls which caused him to react by sobbing and having difficulty talking. One call was from his son, John Andrew, and the second from his daughter, Melissa.
No one seemed to notice at first that the suspected kidnappers had not called by 10:00 a.m. the appointed time according to the ransom note.
Arndt again went over the prior day’s activities with John, who repeated the sequence of events as he had to Officer French: After the family had arrived home from the dinner party at the Whites residence, Patsy and Burke went immediately to bed. He read a book JonBenet and tucked her in bed before he himself went to bed. When Arndt asked about the locking of doors, John replied, “I personally checked all of the doors and all of the windows in the house this morning, and all the doors and windows were locked.” John also told Arndt that there were no interior lights on in the residence when he went to bed that night.
Noted by several investigators during the search of the house was a paper bag containing children's clothing sitting in the doorway to the den. Priscilla White, trying to busy herself during the tense waiting hours, inspected the bag and, finding that it contained winter ski pants, jackets and boots for JonBenet and Burke, moved it to a cloak room.
As 10:30 a.m. approached, some of the detectives and the victim advocates starting leaving the Ramsey residence. Photographs of JonBenet and a physical description were obtained in order to provide information to local police departments about the missing child. Before leaving, Weiss showed Arndt the areas of the residence that had been processed for evidence. Weiss had processed the first floor glass door on the north side of the house, as John told him that was the only residence door which did not have a securing deadbolt. Also, the spiral staircase leading from the main floor to the second floor bedrooms was processed for fingerprints. The handrail of this staircase was decorated with a green Christmas garland, as were other areas of the Ramsey home. Arndt and Weiss then made a brief inspection of JonBenet's bedroom. Weiss had noted when the officers arrived that there was frost on the patio outside her bedroom and there was no sign of footprints or other evidence of disturbance of the frost. The officers continued on the second floor inspection to the laundry area adjacent to the children’s bedrooms. The detectives noticed a red garment soaking in the laundry sink. They entered the third bedroom which had been John Andrew's bedroom but was now unoccupied, and then into Burke's room.
Outside of Burke's bedroom was the spiral staircase that lead up to the third floor where the master bedroom and home office are located, and down to the main floor front entry area. Weiss and Arndt did a visual inspection of them master bedroom and adjoining office. Arndt noticed that John had hastily dropped his navy blue bathrobe on the floor next to his desk. She also noticed on John's nightstand next to his bed was the book Mindhunter by John Douglas, a former FBI agent. Douglas' book depicts his background and work in the field of murders, murderers and criminal research. Arndt thought this book was rather gruesome late night reading material.
The detectives returned to the second floor and sealed JonBenet's bedroom with crime scene tape to prevent anyone from entering that room.
Soon the only police official remaining was Detective Arndt, along with John and Patsy and the family friends. T hen even John left to pick up the family's mail, and was gone approximately an hour and 20 minutes. When John returned Detective Arndt noted that he sat in the kitchen and opened the mail. John still remained in a room by himself not making contact with Patsy or any of the friends who stayed to console the family.
Arndt again talked with Patsy who had now relocated to the den area and laid down on the couch. Barbara and Priscilla were still by Patsy's side. Patsy again asked what the police were doing. Arndt told her that she was attempting to locate the housekeeper and that the FBI was now involved in the investigation. Patsy and Arndt started discussing the ransom note. Patsy told her that she could not think of any significance to the $118.000 figure requested by the kidnappers. She also observed that at whoever wrote the note must not know John since the referred to him as a Southern and he was from Michigan. During this conversation Patsy, looking physically exhausted, started crying many times and was often unable to speak. Again, she repeatedly said, “Why didn’t I hear my baby.”
It was approaching 1:00 p.m. and still no word had come in from the kidnappers. In order to give John something to do to keep him from pacing the floor, Det. Arndt told Fleet, “I need your help in keeping John’s mind occupied. Could you ask him to recheck the house top to bottom to see if anything belonging to JonBenet had been taken or left behind?" Fleet, hesitating, responded, “I think it would be better coming from you.” Arndt located John and asked him to assist Fleet on this search.
John went to the basement door with Fleet following. Fleet first took John to the train room to show him the unlatched broken window that he had discovered on his first excursion into the basement. John explained to Fleet, "I broke that window last summer when I misplaced my house key and had to break in." They searched for broken glass on the floor and found one small splinter. John and Fleet then looked in a broom closet and another small room. While Fleet was still checking other closets, John walked to the wine cellar and tried to pull open the door. Because the top latch was secured, the door would not open. John reached up, undid the latch, and opened the door. Fleet, who was about 20 feet away, heard John exclaim, "Oh my God, oh my God," and went running to the room where John was standing. As Fleet approached the door, John flipped on the wine cellar light switch. Fleet saw the body of JonBenet laying on the floor.
John said he saw the white blanket on the floor as soon as he opened the door, and when the lights came on he saw his daughter laying on the blanket. The sides of the blanket were wrapped over her legs, her head was pointing toward the inside of the room and her feet pointing towards the doorway. Her hands were tied together and laying above her head, and tape covered her mouth. John knelt beside JonBenet and felt her pale white cheeks. He ripped the tape from his daughter's mouth and flung it aside. John then tried to untie the rope binding her hands and discovered that her arms were stiff. 'Fearing that she was dead, John let out a scream of despair. Fleet ran up the basement stairs to the main floor. Appearing extremely distraught, he grabbed a phone, dialed two or three numbers, but then hung up. He turned to go back to the basement door, but then stopped and yelled for someone to call for an ambulance. All eyes were riveted on the basement stairwell door as John's scream was heard by everyone else still in the house.
John slowly climbed up the stairs carrying JonBenet with his arms around her waist. Her motionless arms reached above her head and her lips were blue. Responding to Arndt's instructions to lay her down, John placed his daughter on a rug inside the doorway at the top of the stairs. Arndt immediately reached out to the child to feel for a pulse in her neck. The skin as cold to the touch and an odor of decay had already started to set in. JonBenet appeared to have been dead for some time. Rigor mortis had begun and the lower part of her neck and right side of her face showed signs of liver mortis - a condition caused from the settling of block in the lower part of the body after the heart stops pumping blood. A bright red mark, about the size of a quarter, was visible on the front of her neck. A white cord was attached to her right wrist. John asked Det. Arnt if JonBenet was alive, and when she replied negatively, John moaned.
Arndt instructed John to go back to the den with Patsy and call 911 and ask that the detectives return and a coroner respond. Arndt then picked up JonBenet and carried her to the rug located inside the living room. After Arndt laid the lifeless body on the floor, a load guttural moan and wail was heard coming from the den apparently made by Patsy. John reentered the room where his daughter lay. He grabbed a lap robe that was laying on a nearby chair and asked Det. Arndt if it was all right to cover her. Not waiting for a response, he laid the blanket over JonBenet’s body. Arndt told John that he could say goodbye to his daughter, but not to touch her hands, move her body or lower the blanket that Arndt had readjusted to cover JonBenet’s clothing.
John first knelt down next to his child and stroked her hair, softly calling out, "my little angel." Then he laid next to her body with his arm around her. Crying sounds appeared coming from him, but no tears were visible. John rolled away and came back up to a kneeling position, looking briefly towards the hallway. John turned to Arndt and said, “It has to be an inside job. It has to be somebody that knows the family. Nobody knows about the wine cellar in the basement.”
Patsy was coming towards the body Of JonBenet, walking with the Assistance of Rev. Hoverstock, and her friends, the Whites and the Fernies. When she entered the hallway where JonBenet lay, she rushed to her and laid down on top of her dead child. Barbara picked up a gray sweatshirt lying on a chair and placed it over the child’s exposed bare feet. Arndt told the family and friends to gather in a circle around JonBenet while Rev. Hoverstock lead them in a prayer. In spite of the numbing shock and grief felt by everyone in the room, they joined Rev. Haberstock in reciting "The Lord's Prayer" as Patsy lay on top of JonBenet crying and moaning. Suddenly, Patsy raised herself onto her knees, lifted her arms into the air and prayed, "Jesus you raised Lazarus from the dead, raise my baby from the dead'''
Arndt realized that there had been no response to the 911 call she had asked John to make. She grabbed a cell phone and called the 911 dispatch. She told the dispatcher that she needed a detective and the coroner at her location. Within a few minutes an ambulance was seen slowly driving past the Ramsey house, but did not stop. After another five minutes had gone by, she called dispatch a second time and requested a supervisor, again stating she needed a detective and a coroner at her location at 755 15th Street and that she was on scene at a homicide. Within five minutes of this second call, Officer Weiss appeared at the door, and soon he was joined by other officers and detectives returning, along with the ambulance and paramedics. The paramedics, aware that it was too late JonBenet, focused their attention on Patsy, who appeared to be swooning. Although obviously distraught, Patsy did not need any medical treatment and the paramedics left the house.
Arndt later learned that the delay to her 911 call occurred because the call that been received by Weld County, not Boulder County, and Weld County dispatch had been confused by the address given in the request for assistance.
Now that the mystery of the whereabouts of JonBenet had been solved by the horror of the discovery of her body, it was no longer necessary for anyone to await contact by kidnappers. Arrangements were being made for John and Patsy to go to the home of the Fernies. The Ramseys then left their Boulder home, vowing never to return.
IX. RESIDENCE SEALED
The residence was cleared by everyone including the police officers as they awaited the issuance of a search warrant based upon the homicide. Officers secured the crime scene now extending the familiar yellow tape to include the outside parameters of the house and the sidewalk. Officers were staked outside the residence to ensure that no one entered.
At 8:30 a.m. on the morning of December 26, unaware of the tragedy in Boulder, Melinda, John Andrew and Stewart Long had taken a private jet from Atlanta to Minneapolis in anticipation of meeting the rest of the Ramsey family to continue on to Charlevoix for the family holiday. Once in Minneapolis, they were contacted and told of the apparent kidnapping. Arrangements were made to fly them immediately to Denver. They took a cab from the Denver airport to the Ramsey residence in Boulder and arrived shortly after 2:00 P.M. When the cab pulled up in front of the house, Patsy was standing in the street crying. The family and friends were shuffled into the Whites' and Fernies' vehicles that were parked in front of the house. John, Stewart and John Andrew got in the van driven by Fernie, and Patsy, Melinda, Barbara and Priscilla got in Fleet’s Suburban. As Fleet drove the women to his house, there was no conversation among the passengers – only Patsy’s incessant chanting of “dear God Jesus, dear God Jesus.” After getting in Fernie's van, John Andrew immediately asked his father what had happened, and John simply stated, “She's with Beth now" As the vehicles proceeded on the drive to the Fernie residence, John related the morning’s events to his son, and stated that he had found JonBenet’s body around 11:00 a.m. that day.
After arriving at the Fernies, the weary and distraught parents tried resting, but to no avail. At one point, Boulder detectives, who were providing 24 hour security at the Fernie residence to insure the safety of the Ramsey family observed John pacing outside the house with John Fernie and Dr. Beuff, family physician. John was overheard by the detectives to say, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” Patsy also was unable to sleep even though heavily medicated. She constantly would get up, pace the floor and sob, “Why did they do this, why did they do this.” She also repeatedly asked where Burke was and if someone was with him. Priscilla had previously retrieved Burke from the White’s residence, but he had been shuffled off upstairs with the other children. Burke, always a quiet child now appeared sad and more reserved than usual. He spent most of his time deeply intent on Nintendo games and shutting out the rest of the world. When he did venture to a room where he parents were, Patsy would rally momentarily and emerge from her deep depression just long enough for everyone to catch a glimpse of a caring, concerned mother.
Before being transported to the Fernie residence, Det. Patterson located Burke at the White’s home to get a brief statement, but Burke had little to add to the story already told by his parents. Burke told the officer that there had not been any family quarrels before or on Christmas Day, and that if there was any discipline from his parents it merely consisted of "talking" to them. One thing Burke did remember which he felt was important to tell the detective was that they had crab for dinner at the Whites' party. Det. Patterson smiled at the child’s observation one of the few smiles he would remember during the preceding hours. Indeed, as Patsy had said, it must have been one of Burke's favorite foods.
Det. Arndt had appeared at the Fernies' residence to talk more with John and Patsy about the ransom note.
John, unable to sleep, left that evening to go to the Denver airport to pick up his brother, Jeff, and friend, Rod Westmoreland, who had flown in from Atlanta. Patsy's sisters had already arrived from Atlanta and were watching over Patsy. The Boulder police department victim advocates had also been sent to the Fernie residence to try to comfort both parents. A family physician had phoned in a prescription for valium for Patsy, which Fleet picked up at the local pharmacy. John was trying to calm his nerves by drinking scotch. Finally, around midnight, both parents tried sleeping on the living room floor, but continuously got up, took more pills, paced the floor and sobbed.
Alone in the Ramsey residence, JonBenet's battered and lifeless body lay in the living room hallway near one of the many Christmas trees now a macabre reminder of the holiday season. Boulder County Coroner, Dr. John Meyer, was the first to enter the residence after the search warrant was signed by Judge Diane MacDonald in the early evening hours of December 26. Dr. Meyer placed protective booties over his shoes and surgical gloves on his hands to prevent any further contamination of the crime scene. The only investigative duties of Dr. Meyer was to pronounce the death of the Little Miss Colorado and examine the remains to aid in solving this crime. Dr. Meyer observed ligature marks on her neck and petechial hemorrhages to her eyes both signs of death by strangulation. The coroner then left as Patricia Dunn, the Medical Examiner, would continue with the on scene examination of the body. Dr. Meyer and JonBenet would meet again at the coroner's office.
Members of the investigation team had also returned to the residence for additional evidence gathering. Det. Arndt, the only police official who had been present at the time of the discovery of JonBenet, now assisted Dunn with the inspection of the body for clues to her death. She noted that the white rope on the right wrist was over the sleeve and that the same type of cord was around her neck and encircled with a looser loop. The gold necklace, the gift from her aunt Pam, was found underneath the noose created by the cord. The crotch area of the white long johns had a yellow urine stain. The Medical Examiner rolled JonBenet on to her left side and found a wooden stick that had been lying underneath her. The stick was broken at one end and was attached to the cord around the neck by a knot. As JonBenet was rolled on to her side, they discovered a red, circular abrasion below her right ear along the jaw line. After the medical Examiner finished the cursory on scene examination, paper bags were placed over the petite hands to preserve evidence. The lifeless child was placed in a zippered body bag and driven to the morgue at the Boulder Community Hospital to await the official autopsy.
While the Medical Examiner was inspecting the body, the investigation team was continuing to process the residence for evidence. Color photographs and videotape of the interior of the residence had already been taken. The team now concentrated on the wine cellar. Two light switches were located for this room one on the inside east wall 5 feet above the floor level, and the other on the west wall 2 feet above the floor level and 2 feet inside the doorway. Polaroid photos were taken before any of the investigators entered the room. Unfortunately, other officers had tromped through the room immediately after discovery of the body in making their own inspection of the crime scene. Even Fleet admitted that he had returned to the room twice. These actions would hamper the gathering of reliable evidence as the investigation progressed.
Inside the room, investigators found the white blanket that John said had been wrapped around JonBenet, and the piece of black duct tape which had covered her mouth. .They also found bundled inside the blanket a child's pink Burble nightgown. A red Swiss army knife was also found lying in the corner of the room away from the blanket. On the floor outside the door to the cellar was a paint tray and acrylic painting supplies. One of the detectives observed a wooden handle to a paint brush, the type used by artists, which appeared to be broken and a piece missing. The floor of the wine cellar was vacuumed to collect any trace evidence. The black duct tape, blanket, nightgown, knife, broken paint brush and paint tray, and vacuumed particles were all collected and logged into evidence.
The floor of the wine cellar contained a soft, white, dirt like substance in which the delineation of a shoeprint was visible with a clear impression of the words "HI TEC". This is known to be a common police footwear product line, and police personnel had been in this room after the discovery of the body and before the crime scene processing. A second shoe impression was also found in the white powdery substance. Although not as visible as the “HI-TEC” shoe impression, it was a distinctly different print.
Other areas of the basement were also processed ''for fingerprints, including the wall surrounding the basement window.
A canvas of the neighborhood was conducted the following day to talk to neighbors about anything seen or heard the evening of December 25 and early morning hours of December 26. However, very little information of value was received. One of the neighbors, Scott Gibbons, did say that he looked out his kitchen window around midnight on December 25 and noticed that the upper lights in the Ramsey’s kitchen were on and dimmed low.
At 8:00 a.m., on the morning of December 27, County Coroner Dr. John Meyer began the autopsy on the body of the young beauty pageant queen. In attendance were Det. Trujillo and Det. Arndt, who had played such a key role throughout the prior day from assisting in the suspected kidnapping investigation to the carrying of the child's body to her final destination in her home. As Arndt looked down at the body of the child that lay so exposed on the cold stainless steel autopsy table, she could not help but remember the words from Officer French, "something didn't seem right".
JonBenet was wearing three items of clothing: a white long-sleeved knit shirt with a silver star embroidered in the front, long white thermal underpants and a pair of white panties bearing the inscription, "Wednesday". Both the panties and thermal underpants had yellow urine stains in the crotch area. Reddish stains, which appeared to be blood, also stained the crotch area of the panties. The clothing and exposed skin areas were inspected for trace evidence. A small, narrow piece of green plastic was removed from JonBenet's hair. Both Trujillo and Arndt noted that the green plastic resembled the Christmas garland decorating the handrail of the spiral staircase and other areas of the Ramsey home. A small brown flake was found underneath JonBenet's hair on the left side of her neck; a small piece or white paper was stuck to her right jaw; a white fiber was found on her chin; dark colored hairs were found on the shoulder area of the shirt; dark blue fibers were located on the back of the right shoulder of the shirt; hairs and other trace evidence were located on her shirt underneath both her left and right arms and on the lower part of her shirt; fibers and an eyelash were located on the front of her shirt. All these minuscule items were recovered and placed into evidence.
The paper bags that had been placed over JonBenet's hands by the Medical Examiner were now removed. Dr. Meyer easily removed the white cord tied to the right wrist by slipping it over JonBenet’s hand. One end of the cord was 5 1/2 inches from the securing knot and was frayed; the other end of the cord was approximately 13 1/2 inches in length, ended in a double loop knot, and also had a frayed end. The fingernails from both hands were clipped and placed into evidence for future DNA testing. The gold ring given to JonBenet by her grandmother was removed from the middle finger on the right hand, along with the bracelet given to her by Patsy. After removing the ring, more fibers were found underneath the ring, and additional fibers and trace evidence were recovered from the left hand.
A white synthetic cord, matching that found on the wrist, had formed a tight ligature around JonBenet's neck. The cord had been tied with a double knot at the back of her neck. Dr.Meyer cut off the cord exposing a deep furrow created by the tight cord encircling the neck. The furrow was almost horizontal with no upward pattern. One end of the cord measured approximately 4 inches and was frayed. The other end of the length of cord was approximately 17 inches and was tied in multiple loops around a wooden stick. The stick was approximately 4-1/2 inches long and had the word "Korea” printed in gold letters.
Petechial hemorrhages were found on both the upper and lower left and right eyelids and right check. Due to the liver mortis on the right check, the petechial hemorrhages on the cheek were more difficult to identify. More petechial hemorrhages were found on JonBenet's neck, above and below the furrow.
On the lower back side of JonBenet's left leg, abrasions resembling scratches were found. Small rust colored abrasions were also located along the right jaw line, the lower right side of the chin, the lower neck and the top of her right shoulder. The upper front surfaces of JonBenet's left shoulder contained horizontal scrapes with blue-green bruising apparent in the area of the injury.
A dried substance was found on JonBenet's right cheek, and a sample of this was obtained by swabbing.
During the vaginal examination, small dark colored fibers were found on JonBenet’s external labia. A faint area of purple discoloration was noted on the right labia major. Vascular congestion was found along the inner membrane of the vaginal vault, and red water fluid, appearing to be blood, was present. The hymeneal opening had a mild abrasion, and the hymen appeared to have been torn. Dr. Meyer noted that the trauma to JonBenet’s vaginal area was consistent with digital, rather than penile penetration. He was not able to determine if there had been previous trauma to the vaginal area. Dr. Meyer stated that it appeared that JonBenet’s pubic area may have been cleaned, or at least wiped by someone using a towel or piece of clothing. Small dark blue fibers, consistent with a cotton towel, were recovered from the vaginal area.
Det. Trujillo then examined the surface of JonBenet’s body with a black fluorescent light for any areas which might contain semen or other substances not visible in normal light. Specks of these fluorescent areas were noted on the right and left inner thighs, right and left upper thighs, and left outer thigh. These areas were also swabbed for trace evidence. No fluorescent areas were noted in the anal area or mouth.
Before completing the autopsy, the procedure was halted in an attempt to obtain latent fingerprints from JonBenet’s clothing and exposed skin areas by means of a Magnabrush. While waiting for instruction for this procedure from the Colorado Bureau of investigation laboratory, the detectives were also working on an addendum to the search warrant to allow an additional search of the Ramsey home for anything related to the trace evidence already collected during the autopsy Judge MacDonald once again signed the addendum which now gave permission to search for a bludgeon instrument, green garland material, dark cloths or clothing, semen, blood, and fabric or clothing containing blood or semen.
After an approximate one and a quarter hour delay, the autopsy procedure resumed. Dr. Meyer found a linear fracture to the upper right side of JonBenet’s skull which measured approximately 8 1/2 inches and extended the entire length from the front of the skull to the back. There was a rectangular shaped displaced piece of skull along the fracture line which measured approximately 2 3/4 by 1 112 inches. A deep red area of bruising extended the entire length of the brain, consistent with the area of the fracture line. Fresh hemorrhaging on the brain was found directly underneath the fracture.
Then examining the contents of the stomach and intestines, Dr. Meyer found the substance in the stomach was unidentifiable, but chunky matter, appearing to be pineapple, was found in the small intestine. Dr. Meyer noted for the record that food found in the intestines would have been consumed approximately two hours prior.
The cause of death as determined by Dr. Meyer was asphyxia due to strangulation a homicide. The results of the examination indicated to Dr. Meyer that JonBenet was alive at the time she received the blow to the head and alive at the time the ligature had been tightened around her neck, however, the blow to the head eventually could have been fatal if she had not died from the strangulation first. Dr. Meyer was not able to provide a time of death based upon the initial autopsy findings.
The small body of JonBenet was released to Crist Mortuary in Boulder to prepare the little beauty queen for her last public appearance. John and Patsy were left with the heart wrenching task of burying their child. They were still staying at the Fernies' home where they took refuge after leaving their home on 15th Street. At Patsy's request, her sister Pam had gone to the home on 15th Street and retrieved some of JonBenet's collection of pageant dresses and brought them to the Fernies' home. On the morning of December 29, Patsy was trying to select the last and final dress to be worn by her daughter. This day was Patsy's 40th birthday. Instead of the planned Disney World cruise for the Ramsey family, Patsy was attending to the necessary details of her daughter's funeral. Patsy had chosen a white, sleeveless ballerina dress with sequins, but consulted with John before making her final decision. "Are there any bruises on JonBenet's arms," she asked John. John assured her there were not, but Patsy asked him again, "Are you sure?" John replied, "JonBenet’s arms were not bruised.''
A two hour private memorial service for JonBenet was held at St. John's Presbyterian Church in Boulder that day. As the 23rd Psalm was recited tears filled the eyes of the mourners as they were reminded of the horror and pain experienced by this innocent child when someone ended her life, and they prayed that they could believe in the promise offered in the well worn Bible verse, "I will fear no evil, for thou art with me." One of the persons who spoke at the service was John, wearing one of JonBenet's pageant medallions. John told the story of arriving at one of the pageants after the talent competition had been completed. He always tried to be at the pageants for his daughter's talent performances, but this time the schedule had been altered and he had missed it. JonBenet had won the talent competition in that particular pageant, without her father's presence. When he arrived she went over to him and placed the medallion around his neck.
Bill McReynolds, JonBenet's personal Santa Claus, also talked about his memories of his precious little friend and the impact she had had on his life. He carried with him a vial containing part of the "star dust" JonBenet gave him the first Christmas, and handed it to Patsy as he left the services.
The next morning, the family and close friends flew to Marietta, Georgia. John's Cessna, flown by Mike Archuletta, family friend and personal pilot, carried friends Priscilla, Barbara, Jay Elowsky, Pinque Barber, and the mother of Burke's closest school friend. The immediate family and Burke's schoolmate rode in a corporate jet, piloted by John and carrying the casket with JonBenet for her final trip home to Georgia. Little Miss Colorado, dressed in her white sequined pageant gown and jeweled tiara, laid in state the night before the funeral. The services were held at the Peachtree Presbyterian Church where John and Patsy had been married and little JonBenet had been baptized by Rev. Frank Harrington in 1990. This was also the church in which the funeral for John's oldest daughter, Beth, had been held just four years before. Harrington, speaking about the close relationship between Patsy and JonBenet, told about JonBenet's favorite song that she used to sing with her Mother, "Wherever we go, whatever we do . . . it's together." He then lead the gathering of mourners in singing "Jesus loves Me" in a tearful tribute to the child they had came to honor and remember.
The child sized coffin was covered with pink flowers and a teddy bear stood guard nearby. John, Patsy, Burke and other family members placed long stem roses on the casket as they filed past the coffin. Only four pallbearers were needed to carry the light load of the child as they placed the casket into the hearse. The procession headed to St. James Episcopal Cemetery in Marietta, where JonBenet’s final rest was to be beside her half-sister, Beth. At the conclusion of the graveside memorial, Burke then walked back to JonBenet’s casket and patted it in a loving goodbye gesture. The graves of the two Ramsey daughters lie under the branches of a dogwood tree which will shower them with a blanket of shedding petals in the spring. A concrete bench also marks the two graves, along with a wooden bunny rabbit a sad reminder of the loss of the two gentle spirits.
After the Georgia funeral, John, Patsy and Burke returned to Boulder, but were true to their word that they would never step foot in the house on 15th Street again. This time they stayed at the home of Jay Elowsky, a close friend and owner of the Boulder Pasta Jay's restaurant, at which the family had dined on Christmas Eve. Elowsky had been an unwavering supporter of the Ramseys during the media blitz that engulfed Boulder after the discovery of JonBenet's murder. While the Ramseys were trying to avoid the press by secreting themselves at Elowsky’s residence, Elowsky had a confrontation with over zealous photographers and starting swinging at them with a baseball bat. When he was arrested and charged with assault, a 9 mm handgun was also recovered from where it had been hidden in a paper sack in his vehicle. With this sanctuary now violated, the Ramseys moved to the Stine residence. Because of Elowsky's antics with the press and the resulting publicity, the Ramseys now refused to speak to him. Roxie Stine had become the most protective and secretive of all the Ramsey friends. She even invented code names for everyone staying in her home and those who were still considered friends, so that they could talk freely without giving away identities. John and Patsy were dubbed Ozzie and Harriet but Patsy was also often referred to as Queenie. Roxie and her husband called themselves June and Ward Cleaver, and Nedra was identified Dr. Ruth. The Ramseys remained at the Stine residence until Burke finished the school year in June, and they moved to the family home in Charlevoix for the summer months. By fall, arrangements were made for the family's permanent moved back to Atlanta.
Friends of Patsy had noticed that she had undergone several personality changes which they found unusual even for someone who had lost a child through a violent act. Always exceeding sharp witted with an extraordinary memory, Patsy now could not even remember day to-day events, much less any details about the funeral or days ensuing. She became extremely paranoid and afraid to be alone, and seemed to expect everyone around her to take care of her. There was no hint of the former gregarious, social whirlwind her family and friends had known in the past.
John arranged several trips to try to bring Patsy out of her state of depression. During a weekend at the Broadmoor, a resort hotel in Colorado Springs, Patsy refused to come out of the room. While still staying with Jay Elowsky, the trio went to Steamboat Springs in the Colorado mountains, but Patsy's behavior was so erratic, screaming and crying all weekend, that they came back early. She did seem to respond well to the family excursion to the Kloysters, a resort in North Carolina which was an annual trek with a group of friends from Atlanta, and to a Christian retreat in Estes Park, another Colorado mountain town, with a female friend. The family also spent several days in Spain with the Fernies, which prompted rumors in the media that the Ramseys were moving abroad to escape prosecution. Patsy, of course, made several trips to Atlanta to visit with her mother prior to the permanent move. All trips were planned with fake airline reservations to avoid being followed by the media and police officials.
On July 13, John announced that his company's new international headquarters would be in Atlanta starting August 1. In mid July, John, Patsy and Burke, now only a family of three, moved into the family's new brick Colonial home in the Vinings suburb of Atlanta.
The Boulder home in which JonBenet had died was eventually sold in February 1998 to a consortium of Ramsey friends for $630,000, over $150,00 under market value, and was rented the following summer to two men associated with the University of Colorado. The new tenants planted three large spruce trees in the front of the house to block the view of passerbys. The home still remained a local tourist attraction and people not only drove by to look, they often got out to take pictures.
As the world began to mourn the loss of the little beauty queen, JonBenet, the investigation started to focus on the parents as suspects in the murder of their own daughter.
On December 27, 24 hours after the discovery of JonBenet's body, Det. Arndt went to the Fernies' residence for a second meeting with John and Patsy, but was confronted by Mike Bynum, a lawyer and family friend. Arndt was informed that attorneys had been retained to speak for the Ramseys and that John and Patsy would answer no further questions from the Boulder police.
The next morning official confirmation came from the Denver law firm of Haddon, Morgan & Foreman that they had been retained to represent John, and that Boulder attorneys Patrick Burke and Patrick Furman had been retained to represent Patsy. When the Boulder police subsequently attempted to interview John's former wife, it was discovered that an attorney had also been hired to represent her, and eventually even Burke would get his own legal counsel.
Haddon, Morgan & Foreman, one of Denver's premier criminal defense firms, is headed by Hal Haddon, an elite of the Colorado Democratic party. Haddon ran the successful campaign for former Colorado U. S. Senator Gary Hart and worked on Hart's ill fated presidential campaign. Through his political party connections, he has close ties with many of Colorado's leading Democrats, including Governor Romer, former Governor Dick Lamm, and Alex Hunter, Boulder County District Attorney.
Soon after retaining attorneys, media consultants, private investigators and handwriting analysts were brought on board with the Ramseys' legal team. Patrick Korton from the Washington, D.C. public relations firm of Rowan & Blewitt, was to handle the press and respond publicly to case developments. Charles Russell, Denver's leading publicist, was eventually added to the media consulting staff in an effort to tailor the handling of the media to fit the local atmosphere. Denver private investigator, E. Ellis Armistead, a former Colorado police officer and district attorney investigator, was hired to head up the Ramseys' investigation team. Also included in the team was John Douglas, a former FBI agent and renowned expert on criminal profiling. Douglas left the FBI in the early 1990s and began independent consulting. While with the FBI Douglas had helped start the Behavioral Sciences Section of the psychological profiling unit in Quantico, Virginia the same unit with which the Boulder detectives would eventually consult. Douglas also is the author of the book Mindhunter, one of the chapters of which details intra familiar murders, including "staging" aspects, such as the care taken with disposal of the victim, and personal cause homicides involving manual strangulation. This was the book found in John Ramsey's bedroom on the morning of December 26.
The Ramseys' first choice for the criminal profiling expert for their team was Gregg McCrary. McCrary, a 25 year veteran as an FBI special agent, turned down their offer of employment. According to McCrary, "On a ratio of 2 to 1, child murders are committed by the parents or a family member. In this case, you also have an elaborate staging. . . I have never in my career seen or heard about a staging where it was not a family murder or someone very close to the family."
In spite of the severing of communication by the family members, the police department continued a relentless pace of investigating the crime. Critical mistakes had been made the first few hours after the police had arrived on scene. Since they were under the assumption they were dealing with the kidnapping of a child from an affluent and prominent local family, standard police procedures had not been followed, such as sealing the entire crime scene and separating witnesses for interrogation. Serious contamination evidence had resulted as more than 15 police officials, seven family friends and three family members roamed about the premises prior to discovery of the homicide. The Boulder police department was now trying to rectify its mistakes.
The processing of the home for evidence, which started after John and Patsy left the Boulder home for the last time, would continue until January 4 before custody of the house would be returned to the Ramsey family. As the swarm of officers hovered inside and outside the residence looking for clues to a murder, Christmas decorations still hung in the windows of the home, and abandoned children's toys, once played with by Burke and JonBenet, lay scattered in the yard.
Det. Wickman, appointed as the supervisor in charge of the crime scene from December 29 until the release of the residence on January 4, headed up the examination of the residence for any signs of an intruder. No visible evidence of forced entry was found on any of the doors or locks of the home, with the exception of the exterior kitchen door and exterior garage door. Sgt. Whitson had noticed pry marks on the door jam on the southeast rear kitchen door. In order to examine the internal workings of the 1ocking devices, a local master locksmith with 20 years experience, Scott Thompson of Buffalo Lock and Key, was sent to the residence. If a "lock pick" tool had been used to open any locked doors, it is probable that markings would be left on the external surfaces or internal workings of the lock. This could provide important material evidence in the event of a subsequent criminal prosecution. However, Thompson found no signs of tampering with any of the locks except for the external damage seen earlier by detectives on the exterior garage door and the butler's kitchen door. The locks from these two doors were removed and sent to the Colorado Bureau of investigations for examination for any signs of tampering. The CBI reported that there was no evidence of pry marks on the bolt parts of either lock, nor was there any sign of tampering with the internal locking mechanisms.
Footprints were found in the dust on the deck of the balcony outside JonBenet's bedroom. The impressions ranged from tennis shoes, running shoes, hiking boots and a child's bare feet positioned to look over the edge. However, this inspection was done after the frost had cleared after the morning of the murder. Reports by officers the morning of December 26 stated that there were no footprints were visible in the frost coating of the balcony.
As the weeks continued with additional evidence gathering from the home, added to the collection was the bedding from JonBenet's bed, black felt tip pens, John's bathrobe from the third floor office, the wine cellar door, a flashlight, framed pictures that hung on the residence wall, and the blue suitcase seen lying beneath the train room basement window by Fleet.
A second addendum to the search warrant was obtained on December 28 after the search of the residence revealed a variety of computer equipment and a video camera and tapes. The purpose of the addendum was to seize this equipment for checking for any items pornographic in nature. However, a third addendum had to be obtained to search the contents of the seized computer equipment. According to information from the CBI, it is possible to determine if the equipment had been used for viewing, collecting, transmitting or displaying pornography or data of a sexual nature. The second addendum to the search warrant did not provide for testing for this type of information. After CBI completed the testing no information of a sexual nature was obtained from this search.
On January 3, a search warrant was issued by Judge Richard May of the 90th District Court in Michigan for the Charlevoix house owned by the Ramseys. Dets. Harmer and Gosage had been sent to Michigan to search this residence. Nothing was seized at this time. On March 5, a second search warrant was issued by Judge May. This time the main purpose of the search was to retrieve handwriting samples made by Patsy.
The first of the many press conferences to be called throughout the investigation was held on December 27 immediately after the completion of the autopsy. Detective Division Commander John Eller, who had been in charge of the Ramsey investigation, gave a brief statement about the crime, but was then bombarded with questions what was she wearing, who found the body, what was in the ransom note, why wasn't the house thoroughly searched earlier that morning, had the parents been interviewed. This media deluge was one of the first hints that the saga of JonBenet had become a national obsession. The types of questions from the media were also an indication of the criticism that would follow the Boulder police department throughout the remainder of the investigation.
In an apparent attempt to ward off the focus on themselves, John and Patsy, who had now become evasive and uncooperative with the Boulder police, scheduled an appearance on a national t.v. news program, CNN, to show their grief to the public and thank everyone for the prayers and kindness since the death of JonBenet. This program was telecast on January 1 – six days after JonBenet's death. When asked by CNN reporter Brian Cabell why the parents decided to appear an the program, John answered, * * we want to thank them, to let them know that we are healing, and that we know in our hearts that JonBenet is safe and with God and that the grieving that we all have to do is for ourselves and for our loss, but we want to thank those people that care about us." In addition to showing their grief to America, to the chagrin of the Boulder police department, the Ramseys provided details about the crime that had not been revealed to the press. They also contradicted some of the official statements regarding what had been done in the investigation, thereby putting the police department on the defense. During an off camera portion of the interview, Cabell asked John about the new information leaked to the press regarding the cord around JonBenet’s hands. John replied, "it could have been there, but I was panicked. I just picked up her body and ran screaming upstairs, hoping she was still alive." John’s memory must have improved over time, as a much more sophisticated and detailed version of the story, including the relating of his attempt to remove the ligature around her wrists, would be told much later at his official interview with the Boulder police.
When the interview resumed on camera, John announced that he was hiring his own team of experts and investigators, and that he was putting up a reward of $50,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer. None of the statements made by John and Patsy during the CNN interview endeared them to the hearts of the Boulder police officers who had been working around the clock on this investigation. Further aggravating the disenchantment between the police department and the Ramseys was the Ramseys' promise to the American public full cooperation in the investigation stating that they would soon be meeting with the Boulder police for interviews. Months would go by before this promise was even partially fulfilled.
On January 4, the $50,000 reward announced by John Ramsey during the CNN interview appeared in an ad in the Boulder Daily Camera. The picture of JonBenet that accompanied the ad was not one recognized by the American public who had been following the press coverage of the murdered Junior beauty queen. The photo chosen for the ad was JonBenet's kindergarten school picture a much different face than that appearing on the videos from the pageant appearances. One of the tabloids which had weekly published articles about the homicide joined in the offered reward, Matching the amount given by the Ramsey family, bringing the total reward to $100,000.
Another public display was also planned for the Ramseys by their media consultant, Pat Korten. During Sunday church services on January 3, Korten arranged for television crews to be outside St.
John's Episcopal Church in Boulder to photograph a weeping Patsy as she left the church services. A special handout, personalized for the Ramsey family and offering prayers for them, was given out during the services. Unfortunately for John and Patsy, most of the people in attendance were appalled by these actions.
When public attention did not seem to help the Ramseys' cause, Patsy tried another avenue. Patsy knew that one of her friends was also a good friend of the mayor of Boulder, Leslie Durgin. Patsy passed a message to the mayor through the mutual friend, which was relayed when the two met on a jogging path early one morning. Patsy asked, “Why aren’t you protecting me? Why aren’t you out there getting the real killer? Why aren’t the police helping us?” The mayor's reply was "We're doing everything that we can.
As the grieving parents were making their television debut on CNN on January 1, Dets. Trujillo, Gosage, Thomas, and Harmer were spending New Year's day on a flight to Atlanta, Georgia for the first interviews with friends and family of the Ramseys. The Boulder detectives were met at the Atlanta Hartsfeld Airport by their Roswell, Georgia counterparts. The Roswell police department had already arranged for space for the Boulder detectives at their police headquarters, including a locked, secured office and interview rooms.
On January 2, a reluctant Rev. Harrington agreed to meet with the detectives, but requested that his superior in the church and his attorney be present. Harrington also stated that he would not divulge any specific information about confessions he may have heard and refused to allow the interview to be recorded. After all the formalities required by the Reverend, the information gleaned from the meeting appeared to have little value. He stated that he was not aware of anyone involved in the case and had no suspicions of anyone. It was also his opinion that no one acted inappropriately at the funeral service. He did concede that neither John nor Patsy had confided in him about being involved in JonBenet's death.
Interviews with Nedra Paugh, Lucinda Johnson (John's first wife), John Andrew and Melinda were set for the next day. Nedra's interview, conducted in the Paugh family home, consisted mainly of gathering information on family backgrounds. The detectives noticed that the living room of the house resembled a shrine for their daughter's pageant memorabilia. It was filled with trophies, ribbons and photos from Patsy's and Pam's beauty contest years.
Lucinda Johnson also supplied background information on John during the years of their marriage and confirmed the alibis of her two children, John Andrew and Melissa, on the night of the murder.
While in Atlanta, the detectives also talk with Rod Westmoreland by telephone for a brief interview. Westmoreland, who works for Merrill Lynch in Atlanta but was out of town at the time of the interview was John's best friend and financial consultant. He had assisted the family with the funeral arrangements both in Boulder and in Atlanta.
Within days of the funeral, lines began forming separating those who continued to support the Ramseys and the former friends. One of the families placed on the side opposite John and Patsy was the family of Fleet and Priscilla White. A confrontation had occurred between Fleet and John's brother, Jeff Ramsey, on December 31 the day after the funeral and the Whites were asked to leave the Paugh home where they had been staying and move to a hotel. When contacted by the Boulder detectives, the Whites denied that such an incident had occurred. However, in the interview with Westmoreland who had been present during the incident, he told the detectives that Fleet was upset with the involvement of the Ramsey’s, attorneys in the investigation and their lack of cooperation with the police department. Fleet started an argument with Jeff at Westmoreland's home, went to the home of Jeff Ramsey to continue the argument, and then ended up at the Paugh residence still arguing. Westmoreland was concerned enough with the heat of the verbal exchange that he contacted the Boulder detectives to ask that someone respond to the Pauqh residence. Soon after this incident, John Ramsey told the Boulder police that in his opinion Fleet White was a prime suspect in the murder.
Follow up interviews in Atlanta occurred on January 3 and again on February 16.
On January 8, John and Patsy took Burke to the Child Advocacy Center in Niwot, Colorado, through arrangements made by the Boulder Police department, to be interviewed by Dr. Suzanne Bernard, a specialist in child psychology. As is customary in interrogations of children, Dr. Bernhard played a game with Burke throughout the interview and the entire interview was videotaped.
When left alone with the psychologist, Burke appeared to be at ease and even told the doctor that be felt safe, even though he did say that he had not wanted to come that day! Dr. Bernhard thought it was unusual for this child to feel safe. "People in this entire town didn't feel safe with the concept that there was someone running around that could be snatching children, and this was his own sister and happened in his own home. Generally speaking, a child who goes through this kind of trauma, where a sibling or a family member has been killed, they don’t feel safe.
Burke described his father as quiet and that he was "always at work", and that his mother "worked as a mom'. The thing he liked most about his mom was that she gave him lots of hugs and kisses, and the thing he liked most about his dad were "planes". Throughout the interview he showed little warmth towards his family, but at the same time was very protective of them. According to Burke, the worst thing they did was not buy him, expensive toys. Dr. Bernhard explained that most children in interviews will discuss things about the family that angers them even if they love them, but Burke appeared to have difficulty in opening up about his family, similar to children who can't say things, because they feel that there are some things they shouldn't say.
Social Services had previously provided Dr. Bernhard with some history on Burke which indicated an ongoing bedwetting problem, but Burke denied this saying that it happened a long time ago. Children are usually honest about this in interviews, and Dr. Bernhard wondered why Burke was not.
Many of Burke's other responses also created areas of concern for the doctor. Burke displayed an enormous amount of lack of emotion, almost to the point of indifference, which Dr. Bernard explained may be attributed to shock, but could also have been a lack of attachment to his family. Since his mother had appeared very emotional when she brought Burke for the interview, Dr. Bernard thought that perhaps Burke could not deal with the family’s emotions and had therefore just withdrawn. Even in response to questions which should have elicited strong emotions, he remained non-expressive. When asked “How have things been since your only sister died?”, Burke responded, “It’s been okay.” And when asked if he missed her, he said, “Yep.” Burke continuously told Dr. Bernhard that he tried to forget about things and just play his Nintendo.
'When asked to draw a picture of his family, he drew a father figure who was distanced from Burke, a mother figure which was the smallest figure in the picture, and JonBenet was not in the picture at all. Dr. Bernhard interpreted the drawing to suggest that Burke felt his father was not emotionally available to him and that his mother was insignificant and did not have a great deal of power. Dr. Bernhard thought it extremely abnormal that JonBenet was not in the family picture at all, since her heath had occurred only 13 days prior. Most children continue to include deceased siblings in family drawings years after the death because it is too devastating for them to think about the loss. Burke also told Dr. Bernhard that he was “getting on with his life.”, another very abnormal reaction for a child who had so recently lost his sibling.
When specifically discussing the crime, he related that he did not hear any noises that night and that he was asleep, but he admitted that he usually hears when someone opens the refrigerator door downstairs. Dr. Bernhard asked what he thought happened to his sister. Burke, showing the first signs of irritation during the interview, responded, "I know what happened, she was killed.” Burke's explanation to the doctor was “someone took her quietly and took her down in the basement took a knife out or hit her on the head." He said that the only thing he asked his dad was "where did you find her body", a highly unusual query from a child considering the possible questions a child might ask about the death of a sibling.
Dr. Bernhard felt there needed to be more follow-up with Burke in the discussion of sexual contact. The only show of emotion by Burke, other than the irritation with the questions about the actual crime, was when Dr. Bernhard began to ask about uncomfortable touching. Burke picked up a board game and put it on his head an action indicating anxiety or discomfort with these types of questions and that there was more that he was not telling her. Dr. Bernhard asked Burke if he had any secrets, and he said, “probably, if I did, I wouldn't tell you, because then it wouldn’t be a secret.
After the physical evidence had been collected at the autopsy and from the search of the residence, the next step was testing by the Colorado Bureau of Investigations. Blood had been found on the long-sleeved white top and the "Wednesday" underwear worn by JonBenet, the blanket and nightgown found in the wine cellar, and the duct tape found in the cellar which John reported to have removed from JonBenet's mouth. CBI Agent Kathren Dressel, a DNA and serological testing expert with 25 years of experience, performed the DNA testing on these items and positively matched the blood to JonBenet.
Agent Dressel examined the fingernail clippings taken during the autopsy. According to the DNA profile developed, there was an indication of least two persons, the major component being JonBenet. It was Agent Dressel's opinion that if the other DNA component from the fingernails were from a single individual, all samples submitted for comparison could be eliminated. These samples included John, Patsy, Burke, Melinda and John Andrew.
Agent Dressel’s next task was to run DNA testing on the panties worn by JonBenet. Again, Dressel found that if the DNA was attributed to one person other than JonBenet, the same people could be excluded as a match.
The DNA analysis of the trace evidence recovered from the duct tape revealed a human hair, an animal hair, later identified as beaver, and various natural and man made red, blue, pink, purple and brown fibers.
The white blanket found with JonBenet’s body and the swabs of substances recovered during the autopsy were examined for semen. Serological studies did not find the presence of semen on any of these items. However, two hairs were recovered from the blanket. One of the hairs, identified as a Caucasian pubic hair, did not match samples from John, Patsy or John Andrew. A second hair, was also identified as human head hair several inches long, Was also examined but no conclusions were reached as to the source.
The DNA samples extracted from the fingernails and the panties, and the two hairs were sent to CellMark Diagnostics, Inc. in Germantown, Maryland for further analysis. CellMark, the largest private DNA testing lab in the nation, became a household word during testimony at the 0. J. Simpson trial. When the FBI labs were criticized for its DNA testing procedures during the trial, CellMark was employed for independent DNA analysis. In the Ramsey investigation, CellMark was able to determine that the primary source of DNA from the fingernail clippings were from a female, and the secondary source was from a male, but that no further conclusions regarding this male could be made. No DNA identification could be made fro the underwear stains or hair other than that JonBenet could possibly be the source.
Another name from the Simpson trial was also brought on board the Ramsey investigation Dr. Henry Lee, a leading criminologist and expert in DNA analysis and crime scene reconstruction. in February, 1996 Lee spent five hours with police department investigators and D.A. Hunter to review evidence in the Ramsey case. After attending the briefing, Lee concluded that there was probably a 50% chance of solving the crime. He took DNA evidence back to the State Police Forensic Science Laboratory in Hartford, Connecticut, of which is the director, for his own testing and analysis. One piece of physical evidence recovered from the wine cellar was the black duct tape that John said covered his daughter's mouth which he removed before carrying her body upstairs. During the April 30 interviews, both John and Patsy said they had never seen, used or owned such duct tape.
On January 19, the Boulder police department received a telephone call from one of the bookkeepers at McGuckins Hardware in Boulder. The bookkeeper said she had received two phone calls, one on January 14 and again on January 19, from a man only identifying himself as John and requesting information about receipts for purchases with his American Express card on December 2 and December 9. The caller said he would call back on January 20.The bookkeeper said that the person calling was pushy, impatient and intimidating. Boulder police met at McGuckins early on the morning of January 20 and set up a tape recording for calls to the accounting department. The bookkeeper had volunteered to assist with tape recording of this conversation. The call came in soon after the store opened, but this time the caller was cordial and patient:
"This is John. I called you last week looking for some receipts," said the caller. The bookkeeper said she had the receipts, but asked John to verify the number of the American Express account. John gave her a number that did not match the account number appearing on the receipts.
Bookkeeper: "That's not the correct number that I've got out of the system."
John: "Ok, but you were able to pull a purchase on an American Express on 12/2 for $46.31 and on 12/9 for $99.88?"
Bookkeeper: "That's correct. I was not able to pull anything for a John Ramsey.'
John: "Ok I'm looking at the invoices here from American Express and it does say 12/2 and 12/9 for those amounts on this card could be under Patsy's card too."
Bookkeeper: "That's exactly what it is, it's under Patsy's card.''
After confirming that John's and Patsy's American Express cards were under a joint account, the bookkeeper agreed that she could provide John with the information from the store if he would provide a written request. John told the bookkeeper he would provide the written request by fax machine and asked the bookkeeper to send the store receipt to him by fax.
A few minutes later John called again. "I just got your fax and I wanted to thank you for that. I also wanted to ask you if there was a itemized invoice available on those two. I got the credit card invoices but not the itemized copies." The bookkeeper apologized for the mix up and told John she would immediately fax the itemized receipts
The receipts for purchases by Patsy Ramsey in, December 1996 at McGuckins shows items priced at $1.99 the price of the missing duct tape, but unfortunately the items listed at this price were not identified on the receipt. Perhaps that is what John was trying to find out.
A report had also come in to the Boulder police that Patsy, while shopping at a local home improvement store in Athens, Georgia in November 1996 has asked a clerk for assistance in locating duct tape.
During the search of the residence, the detectives found pictures hanging on the walls with black duct tape used in the framing on the back. This tape appeared to be identical to the duct tape found in the wine cellar. Both the tape found in the wine cellar and the tape on the back of the pictures were sent to the FBI for analysis which concluded that the two samples were consistent in manufacturer, but from a different production time.
In a subsequent interview with personnel at A better Light Photography where Patsy had the two portraits framed, the detectives were told that the photography studio had placed the black duct tape on these portraits in the framing process.
With this lead ended, the detectives were again trying to determine the source of the duct tape. In September/ Dets. Gosage and Thomas flew to North Carolina for a site visit of the Shufford Mills duct tape manufacturing plant the manufacturer previously identified by the FBI testing. Personnel at the plant explained that the uniqueness of this tape is the percentage of the market share. The general model is a retail grade sold at hardware and other stores throughout the country, but that this particular black color only accounted for a fraction of two percent of the entire market of the tape. Additionally, further elimination of sources could be accomplished by testing thread count which had consistently changed during the last three years. The detectives returned to Boulder with samples of tape provided by Shufford Mills and product specification information which would be provided to the FBI to continue their analysis.
Other key evidence connected with the duct tape was trace evidence which had adhered to the surface of the tape. CellMark laboratories, who conducted the testing on the duct tape, found, red, blue, pink, purple and brown cloth fibers, and animal fur probably beaver.
The original ransom note, which had been collected into evidence in the early morning hours of the suspected kidnapping, was turned over to CBI for analysis and testing. Fingerprint testing did not reveal anything identifiable. Det. Whitson's print was found on the "practice" note as he was the one who discovered it on the notepad given to him by John that morning.
Handwriting samples believed to be Patsy's were obtained during the course of the investigation, including "non requested" samples retrieved during the search of the Charlevoix home and several other "nonrequested, unsolicited" writing samples provided from other sources which Patsy authenticated as being hers.
Agent Chet Ubowski of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation Supervisory Laboratory and a Diplomate of the American Board of Forensic Document Examiners, provided the following information concerning the ransom note and handwriting analysis: the three pages of the note were physically matched as having originated from one of the notepads given to Det. Patterson by John Ramsey. On that notepad, on a page prior to the removed three pages for the note, in a similar ink and handwritten style was the beginning of a note stating, “Mr. & Mrs. R”, but the handwriting the handwriting on this page probably does not contain full identification potential. Other writings on this notepad were identified by Agent Ubowski as Patsy’s. Ubowski stated the writing was done with a black felt tipped pen. (felt tipped sharpies were recovered from the counter where the notepads were originally retrieved). According to Ubowski, the analysis of the note indicates that it may have been written by Patsy, but the evidence falls short of that necessary to support a definite conclusion. The analysis of the handwriting samples from John show “indications that John Ramsey did not write the ransom note.'
Although additional handwriting samples were obtained from Patsy, it is often difficult to make a comparison since these samples were prepared in anticipation of this comparison and so not show the full range of variation of a given writer. For a proper evaluation process, a sufficient amount of samples which are naturally executed are necessary. In addition, since the note in this case was done with block printed letters, samples containing primarily printing would have to be obtained.
The Boulder police department was also in contact with three other known handwriting experts for possible assistance, one of which was the Secret Service Laboratory headed by James O’Neill, and two private experts, not affiliated with any governmental agency. Ed Alford and Les Spekin. All three agreed to help with the analysis and handwriting comparisons.
In addition to Patsy, John and Burke, over 50 persons had submitted handwriting samples. After analysis, none of these persons are indicated to be the author of the ransom note.
On May 18, 1997, the attorneys for the Ramseys met with Det. Wickman and Trujillo. The handwriting experts hired by the Ramseys made an informal presentation concluding that the ransom note was not written by Patsy Ramsey.
Donald Foster, a professor of dramatic literature at Vassar College, was hired as a linguistics expert to analyze the writing style of the ransom note and compare it to writing samples of possible suspects. With the aid of computer programs, he compares stylistic mannerisms, grammar patterns, sentence structure and other behavior nuances in writing styles. He is most noted for uncovering the author of Primary C 1 3 and his work on the Unibomber case where he unequivocally identified the suspect Theodore Kaczynski as the Unibomber, even though the professor had been hired by the defense to assist in proving Kaczynski's innocence.
Foster says his work "is rather like DNA testing and fingerprinting . . . Such evidence by itself is rarely enough to result in a guilty beyond reasonable doubt verdict at trial."
On January 16, 1998, Det. Thomas traveled to Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York to meet with Prof. Foster and gave him a notebook with various known writings, other documents requested by Foster, and a videotape of a Geraldo Rivera t.v. program that featured an interview of Patsy Ramsey. Foster requested additional materials, including other videotaped interviews of the Ramseys, an inventory of the Ramseys' home library and writings from other possible suspects. Det. Thomas returned to Denver to assemble the requested material and went back to Poughkeepsie on January 26 to once again deliver the material in person. A third package of requested material was delivered in person by Thomas to Prof. Foster in Pouqikeepsie on March 3, 1998. This package also included homework assignments from Burke. Several persons were contacted and asked to provide written material for submission to Foster. Some voluntarily submitted material; for others, it was necessary to obtain the information through other sources.
On March 26, 1998, Foster had completed his analysis and traveled to Boulder to present his findings and opinion to the Boulder police department and representatives from the D.A.'s office. His study concluded that Patsy was undisputedly the author of the ransom note.
One of the problems in the investigation was delayed gathering of evidence. It was not until almost a year after the murder that the Boulder police through D.A. Hofstrom finally asked for the clothing worn by Ramsey family members to Whites’ dinner party on the night of December 25. Fleet had taken photos during the holiday gathering which were turned over to the police department, and police request the clothing that was depicted in these photos. Another month would go by before the Ramseys, through their legal counsel and private investigators, would comply with this request.
At that time, two black shirts from John and black pants and a red and black checked sweater from Patsy were provided. Two months later additional clothing, a red short sleeved shirt and a red turtleneck shirt, were also turned over by Patsy through the private investigator. The police department was informed that since John owned several pairs of khaki pants matching those in the photograph, John had not been able to determine which pair were worn on December 25. Not only had all of this clothing probably been reworn and been through many cleaning or laundering processes, the move from the Ramsey home had been done by a professional moving company. once again, contamination of evidence obtained from these articles of clothing could very likely present problems in any prosecution.
Considering the delayed cooperation from the Ramseys in turning over the clothing, it was significant what items of clothing requested by the police department were not turned over. Patsy had told the officers that she had worn black short boots, to the White’s dinner party. The boots had never beaver been given to police officials in spite of repeated requests. At a subsequent session with the police department to give handwriting samples, Patsy had been wearing short black fur boots, and the detectives wondered if these were the boots that the Ramseys were saying they could not locate. The detectives were anxious to locate the fur boots to test for beaver hair.
While re-listening to the recording of the 911 call made by Patsy in the early morning of December 26, detectives thought they could hear a conversation in the background while Patsy was attempting to hang up the phone. On April 21, Det. Melissa Hickman flew to Los Angeles to meet with Mike Epstein and Jim Roeder, engineers at Aerospace Corporation, for purposes of enhancing the recording of the 911 call received at the Boulder Regional Dispatch Center.
At her first meeting with the three engineers, Hickman was told that it appeared that the cassette had been recorded in a Dictaphone format which would require a special recorder to recopy. Hickman drove to the nearest Dictaphone company which was located in the San Fernando Valley. A Dictaphone technician examined the tape and told Hickman that the information was not recorded in Dictaphone format. Hickman, feeling the frustration of the proverbial goose chase, returned to her hotel.
That evening, Roeder called her at the hotel and asked her to return to Aerospace. Roeder had decided that the tape probably had been recorded on a regular format which could be copied digitally by their computer. A hard drive disk was made of the tape, and this disk was copied to a JAZ drive, a large disk with more memory than a standard floppy disk.
On the morning of April 22, Hickman met again with Roeder in his office at Aerospace. The detective and the engineer went to a small lab to work with the disk to try to filter out extraneous noise and enhance the voices in the background. Roeder made several variations using different noise reduction settings, and those recordings were then copied onto the JAZ drive. They returned to Roeder's office where they were able to further enhance the disk. With this latest enhancement, they were able to hear two voices on the tape one of which sounded like a juvenile male, and the second one appeared to be Patsy. The first words seemed to belong to the juvenile, and then Patsy is heard to say, "Help me Jesus, help me Jesus." The voice again appeared to be the "juvenile male saying, "Please, what do I do?'' Hickman and Roeder agreed to meet again in the morning to continue enhancing the tape.
When Hickman returned to Aerospace the next morning to meet with Roeder, he said that he had continued listening to the disk after Hickman had left for the evening. He and another engineer had played the original version of the 911 call that had been transferred to the JAZ drive and found that to be the clearest recording. Both engineers had heard three distinct voices on the tape and written down that they thought was being said. The tape was then played for Hickman. After listening to the tape three or four times, Hickman heard John Ramsey say “We’re not speaking to you”. In what sounded like a very angry voice. Patsy then says, “Help me Jesus, help me Jesus,” and finally Burke is clearly heard to say, “ Well, what did you find?”, with an emphasis on the word “did.” After Hickman told the engineers her impression of the conversation, Roeder handed her a piece of notepaper containing the conversation heard by himself and his fellow engineer – the conversation as written down was exactly as Hickman herself had just heard.
Coroner Meyer had noted in his autopsy examination that the food found in JonBenet's intestine would have been consumed approximately two hours prior death. However, both John and Patsy stated that no one had eaten anything at the house when they returned from the White’s dinner party, and that JonBenet was asleep when they arrived home and remained asleep.
In February, 1998, detectives from the Boulder police department asked their assistance in conducting an analysis of the contents from the intestine obtained during the autopsy. At the initial examination, Coroner Meyer had suspected that the retrieved substance was pineapple fragments. The bowl of pineapple detectives found on the dining room table at the Ramsey residence the morning of December 26 had been taken into evidence that morning and frozen for future comparison studies. After examining the two samples, the biology professors confirmed that the intestinal substance were pineapple, and that both this specimen and the pineapple found in the bowl contained portions of the outer rind of the fruit.
The study also identified both samples as being fresh pineapple not canned. The conclusion of the two professors was that there were no distinctive differences between that found in the bowl and that removed from the intestines.
Prior fingerprint testing on the bowl that contained the pineapple had picked up prints from both Patsy and Burke.
Another item of evidence would also be tackled in February. A large rubber coated, black Mag light flashlight had been found on the kitchen counter in the Ramsey residence the morning that officers arrived at the home. During the entire investigation, everyone, including the Ramseys, the Boulder police officers and family friends who had been at the residence that morning, denied ownership or any knowledge of the flashlight. This had also become a controversial piece of evidence in the media, as reports were circulating the flashlight had been misplaced and then found again. As most of the reports to the public about evidence, the information was erroneous. The flashlight had always been in the custody of either the police department or one of the crime labs doing laboratory analysis on behalf of the police department.
Crime lab analysis had not been able to obtain any fingerprints from either the outside or interior of the flashlight, nor on the batteries inside. Testing was then conducted to determine if it could have been the weapon used for the bludgeon wound on JonBenet's skull. The forensic lab did testing with an identical flashlight by smashing it into pieces of Styrofoam. The impressions left in the Styrofoam by striking it with the head of the flashlight were identical to the fracture found daring the autopsy. If the flashlight was not one of the murder weapons used, whatever it was had identical dimensions.
Golf clubs located in the Ramsey basement were also considered as possible bludgeon instruments. After testing the heel of the clubs, some of them were found to have certain consistencies with the area of injury, but none matched as closely as the test results from the flashlight.
John Ramsey had presented his own theory on the murder of his daughter to all who would listen. He pointed to the location of a blue suitcase under the basement window and told of finding the window open when he searched the basement on the morning of the alleged kidnapping. He theorized that the murderer had made his entrance and escape through the window. However, as noted by detectives arriving early on the morning of December 26, an intact spider web covered the grate which blocked off the window. In order to enter or exit the window, the grate would have had to have been removed.
This grate was photographed and collected for evidence. Interior dusting of the window for fingerprints was done by crime scene investigators and no latent prints were found. In May, the photos were submitted to Brent Opell, Professor of Biology at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksbury, Virginia. Prof. Opell reported that the web was that of the Agelenidae, known as a funnel-web spider. The web was reasonably intact and extending through the grating, suggesting that the grating had not been disturbed since the spider constructed its web. According to Prof. Opell, these types of spiders would cease constructing webs no later than early November, thus indicating that no one had entered that window well past this early November deadline. The theory that anyone could have entered the Ramsey residence through this broken window was totally discounted by this simple evidence of nature.
Heading the Boulder police department at the time of the Ramsey murder was 47 year old Police Chief Tom Koby. Koby, a native Texan, relocated to Boulder in 1991 leaving his position as a ranking police officer in Houston. Koby had graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in business administration. Because of his business education background, Koby adopted the community oriented policy of policing. This was a new philosophical approach gaining popularity in other towns across America. The basic principle of this concept is that officers begin interacting and cooperating with the public in all facets of the community for overall improvement instead of only dealing with criminal offenses.
Koby attempted to use his community management skills in dealing with problems that were emerging in the Ramsey murder investigation. However, the issues between the police department and District Attorneys' office, the internal leaks feeding information to the media, and the public outcry for justice for JonBenet, was taking a toll on Koby's ability to keep the investigation under control. In a press conference on January 3, Koby stated, "We are not going to be a part of a media circus. Our goal is to remain focused on apprehending the person or persons responsible for JonBenet Ramsey's death and getting a conviction." True to his word, Koby remained calm and non-responsive to the criticisms hurled at him and his department throughout the investigation, while at the same time he also was paying a personal price. The union of the police officers which he commanded issued "no confidence" votes towards Koby twice in 1997. Koby had vowed that he would leave his post with the Boulder police department in 1998, but he wanted to remain long enough to present the Ramsey case to the District Attorney for prosecution.
After the CNN interview where the Ramseys themselves leaked previously undisclosed information to the press, other leaks of information began to appear in the media. Rumors were that the members of the Boulder police department investigation team, angry with the Ramseys' statements, were retaliating. The first attempt to cure leaks that might have been coming from the police department itself was Det. John Eller's removal of Det. Sgt. Larry Mason from the investigation team on January 5. However, Mason's reassignment did not stop the leaks. An internal investigation was launched into the actions of Det. Eller who was now accused by Mason of misconduct. A five member citizen's review panel, appointed by the Boulder City Manager, was established to review the accusations against Eller and submit a recommendation on the complaint to Chief Koby. Koby has sole discretion on any actions to be taken after a recommendation is received. Eiler, who had been with the Boulder police department since 1979, resigned in October, 1997.
Other police department detectives would also fall by the wayside as the investigation continued. Linda Arndt, one of the most crucial witnesses to events on the morning of December 26, was taken off the case in May, 1997 and placed on a medical leave for a few months due to the stress of her involvement in the investigation. Arndt did return to active duty, although not to the Ramsey investigation team, but problems within the department continued to plague her because of backlash from the initial investigation. Officer French, the first officer to respond to the reported kidnapping, is haunted by nightmares because he failed to open that latched door in the basement that hid JonBenet's body. French constantly relives the hours he spent that morning at the Ramsey home.
ALEX HUNTER/D.A.s TEAM
Alex Hunter has been District Attorney for Boulder County since 1972 over a quarter of a century and is considered by many "one of the good old boys" in today's world of sophisticated politics. Hunter had long been a staunch Democratic supporter and highly involved in the local party politics. He had worked on the campaigns for some of Colorado's leading Democrats – alongside Hal Haddon John Ramsey's attorney.
Hunter's historical hesitancy to bring charges in any capital murder case has consistently created dissent among other district attorneys, the City Attorney's office, but mainly the local police department. This dissention was felt mostly by detectives who worked long hours investigating a crime, presenting the case to Hunter, and being rebuked with a denial of prosecution.
Hunter's key assistants in the D.A.'s office were Peter Hofstrom, chief trial deputy and a former San Quentin prison guard who had worked with Hunter for 23 years, and Lawrence "Trip" DeMuth, senior trial deputy. Hofstrom also has connections with the Ramsey legal team – a 20 year friendship with Brian Morgan, on of the named partners in the Haddon firm.
Not only was the publicity regarding Hunter's distaste for prosecuting capital crimes causing concern for the police department, but Hunter’s and Hofstrom’s relationship with the members of the Haddon law firm started a rift between those two divisions of the justice system. In an apparent spirit of camaraderie the D.A.'s office was providing information to the attorneys for the suspects which under any circumstance would be considered an impropriety. Before the Ramseys agreed to submit to interviews they were provided with copies of critical reports prepared by the detectives. While freely offering information to the suspects, the D.A.'s office was refusing to obtain information from the suspects that was wanted by the police department as part of their investigation efforts.
Another problem with the D.A.'s office as perceived by the police department was the appointment of Lou Smit, a retired homicide detective, as the lead investigator. Smit immediately began to draw the criticism of many from the police department. It was rumored that Smit characterized the Ramseys as good Christians incapable of committing such a crime. With this attitude from chief investigator, it was becoming difficult to conduct an unbiased investigation.
As the Ramseys and the police department continued to gather experts to bolster their investigation efforts, the D.A.'s office also began to solicit help from outside sources. Local District Attorneys from surrounding Jefferson, Adams and Arapahoe Counties formed a consulting group to aid Hunter and his staff in analyzing information. Barry Scheck, a New York law professor who aided in the defense of 0. J. Simpson in his trial for the murder of his wife, Nicole Simpson Brown, and her friend, Ron Goldman, was asked to advise on forensic evidence and potential trial strategy. Scheck specializes in DNA evidence and was accredited with helping win the acquittal of 0. J. Simpson through his criticism of the Los Angeles police department's evidence lab.
With both the Ramseys and the D.A.'s office retaining legal consultants during the process of the murder investigation, the Boulder police department decided to hire its own team of legal experts. Chosen for this consulting team were three of Denver's most well known attorneys – Daniel Hoffman, Richard Baer and Robert Miller. So highly regarded and respected were these three local media soon dubbed this trio the "dream team".
Dan Hoffman, former dean of the University of Denver College of Law and how head of the litigation department of the international law firm of McKenna & Cuneo, had been in contact with the Boulder Police for several weeks formulating the "dream team's" assistance in he investigation, but word had only recently leaked to the press.
Hoffman’s current practice consisted mainly of representing large corporations, such as Gates Rubber Company and Lockheed Martin, and dealing with high-publicity cases. He had recently successfully defended a suit in which Michael Jackson was sued by a Denver woman charging Jackson with stealing her song, "Dangerous". Michael Jackson appeared and testified in person in Denver the only time he had ever done so in a lawsuit against him. The tape recording of Jackson's testimony in that trial, which was sold by the Colorado U. S. District Court to fans around the world, hit the pop charts as a "best seller".
Ironically, as so many little ironies continued to emerge during the unfolding of the mystery of the death of JonBenet, Lockheed Martin, which had been one of Hoffman’s largest clients for several years, was the corporate entity that owned Access Graphics. Hoffman had defended this corporate giant in lawsuits ranging from water pollution to age discrimination.
Although 67 years old, Hoffman looked ten years younger and had the energy and drive of a person 30 years younger. Publicly known for his high profile cases, throughout his legal career Hoffman had been a champion of the common people and often headed up the legal battle in cases of public interest. For many years he has sat on the Board of Directors of the Legal Center Serving Persons with Disabilities and The Elderly, a local nonprofit agency. His awards for community service literally cover the walls of his office. Hoffman has been married to his wife for 40 years, has three daughters, and five grandchildren. Although heart and sole dedicated to the practice of law, Dan's greatest source of pleasure and pride in life were his grandchildren, in part because of his love of children, the Ramsey murder was to be the case that jerked his heart strings like no other and create within him a sense of rage against the perpetrator of this heinous crime - the homicide of an innocent child.
The unsolved mystery of the murder of the 6 year old beauty queen had united these three private practice attorneys together on one case for the first time in their careers. Hoffman was acquainted with Bob Miller when Miller served at the Colorado U.S. Attorney General. He did not know Rich Baer prior to the forming of the dream team, but Baer’s reputation as a criminal prosecutor for the State of New York before his move to Denver was widely known. It seemed out of sorts to place Hoffman among the two former criminal prosecutors, but Hoffman brought with him 40 years of experience in complex litigation, and the investigation into this homicide had definitely become complex. In addition, early in his legal career Hoffman had served as Denver’s manager of safety – supervisor of the Denver police and fire departments – and earned the respect and camaraderie of police officials and public servants throughout the state.
The assignment of these three seasoned trial attorneys was to review the evidence, outline the case, advise on additional follow up, and assist in the presentation of the case to the Boulder District Attorney's office.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST CHARGES
As if there was not enough dissention between the D.A.'s office and the police department, and internal accusations and name calling among the detectives in the Boulder police department, the media soon picket up "links" they claimed caused a conflict of interest for the dream team. It was learned that Attorney Hoffman, who had held a sterling reputation throughout his legal career, had been named as one of many defendants in a legal malpractice lawsuit filed by a disgruntled former client unhappy with her award of assets in the property division portion of a multi-million dollar divorce proceeding. This lawsuit, although filed a few years prior to the Ramsey murder, was still in its initial stages of litigation, because of appeals of various legal issues regarding the filing of the suit itself. Hoffman, along with all other defendants in that suit, including the law firm of which he was a former partner, were represented by the firm of Haddon, Morgan & Foreman – the same law firm hired by John Ramsey. What the press failed to print in their stories about this potential "conflict of interest" was that the claims alleged in the malpractice suit were covered by professional liability insurance and that the Haddon firm was hired by the insurance carrier not Hoffman personally. In addition, Hoffman had disclosed this relationship to the Boulder police department prior to offering his assistance on the Ramsey cause, and the Boulder police department had waived any potential conflict of interest.
INTERVIEWS OF JOHN AND PATSY
The Boulder police department had been negotiating for months with the attorneys for the Ramseys to schedule their official interrogation. The attorneys had demanded that the interviews be at the same time, that they not exceed 90 minutes, that all previous statements by the Ramseys and others to the police be made available and that Peter Hofstrom of the Boulder D.A.’s office be present. On April 30, over four months after JonBenet's death, the long awaited interview with John and Patsy by the police department finally occurred. Most of the demands made by their attorneys remained unmet. One key demand was successfully argued for by D.A. Hofstrom. Prior to the April 30 interviews, the Ramseys had been provided with copies of all of their prior statements and several key police reports.
Patsy’s interview began at 9:00 a.m. with Det. Steve Thomas and Det. Tom Trujillo and would continue for six and a half hours. She was accompanied by her attorney, Pat Burke, and private investigator, John Foster. Deputy D.A. Pete Hofstrom, as requested by the Ramseys, also attended. Patsy had been taking several drugs at the time of her interview: Paxil, an antidepressant, and Atavin/Lorezapan, and anti-anxiety drug. The results of Patsy’s interview was disappointing to the detectives. She could not remember key events and was generally nonresponsive to most of the critical questions. She did clearly remember that when they arrived home that evening JonBenet was sound asleep at the time John carried her upstairs and when Patsy changed her into the long johns. Patsy said she left on the white long sleeved knit top worn to the party, contrary to her statement on the morning of December 26 that she had changed JonBenet into a red turtle neck shirt. Patsy now also clearly remembered that she walked downstairs and found the note before looking for JonBenet in her bedroom – another contradiction to the statement on December 26. She also distinctly remembered that when Burke hugged her before leaving the residence with Fleet, which differed from Fleet’s statement that Burke did not even see Patsy before they left. Patsy then mentioned that she had her suspicions about Fleet's involvement in the crime as he had been acting differently since that day and his behavior had been erratic.
John's interview began at 3:30 p.m. that same afternoon. Little time was available for the detectives to question John since so much of the day had been spent with Patsy. Present at John's interview were Dets. Thomas and Trujillo, and John's attorney, Brian Morgan, investigator, John Foster, and, once again, Deputy D.A. Pete Hofstrom. Apparently John’s confusion on the sequence of events on the night of December 25 had now cleared. John said that some of the statements by the reporting officers were inaccurate. “Well there was a couple of areas I there was some misunderstanding or. . . wasn’t correct. . .I did not check every door in the house the night before. I don’t think – checked any door. I think we were tired and we were gonna go to bed, get up early . . . and I think the other part I noticed in there was they said . . . read to both kids before went to bed and that . . . did not happen. I mean, what happened was the kids went to bed and then I read.” John also contradicted statements from Det. Arndt and others regarding his leaving the house the morning of December 26. “No. I didn’t leave the house until we left it for good.”
John also informed the detectives for the first time that when he inspected the basement that day at approximately 10:00 a.m. he noted that the basement window was open. At the time, John had not mentioned this to any of the officers on scene. John said he also noticed a blue suitcase located beneath the broken window, and theorized that an intruder had made his escape by standing on the suitcase to reach up to the exit window, since it would have been impossible to reach the window from standing on the floor. He also told the officers that he did not open the wine cellar door during this inspection. When John was asked about Fleet's first inspection of the basement soon after he arrived in the early hours that morning, John stated that he was not aware that Fleet had gone down to the basement. The detectives did not tell him that Fleet had already told them that he had inspected the broken window long before 10:00 a.m. and found it latched, but not locked.
Although John's testimony at this interview closely matched the responses given by Patsy, one discrepancy did arise. Patsy had stated that the clothes for the Charlevoix trip had been packed in plastic bags John said they were packed in "carryon" bags which were sitting by the back door. The children's winter clothing was indeed found by Priscilla White in paper sacks sitting in the doorway to the den.
John also had been on two anti-depressant medications since the death of his daughter – the antidepressant Paxil, and Klonopin – used for the treatment of panic disorders.
On May 1, the day after the official police interrogation finally took place on April 30, the Ramseys again give an interview this time to seven media people at the Marriott in downtown Denver. The conference was so carefully staged that it was called the "Ramsey infomercial" by a local talk radio host. Standing behind John and Patsy were their team of lawyers and publicists, who had previously told the gathered press that they would not take any questions. In opening the press conference, John told the reporters: "We've been anxious to do this for some time and I can tell you why it's taken us so long . . . We felt from the beginning an obligation to talk with the Boulder authorities and to let them do their formal interrogation of Patsy and I." Apparently, the Ramseys had not felt this obligation prior to the CNN interview six days after the death of their daughter.
The Ramseys continued to battle with the Boulder police department in the press. In a statement issued on July 23, John announced, ". . . today I am announcing an escalation in my own efforts to find the murderer of JonBenet. Prominent experts in the fields of criminology, handwriting and language forensics have developed a profile of the probable behavior of JonBenet's killer before and after the crime. Highly qualified handwriting analysis experts have developed a template for our investigators to use in comparing key features of handwriting samples against the note." The statement continued with a behavior profile of the killer as created by the experts hired by the Ramseys.
On July 27 the Ramseys published an open letter in the Boulder Daily Camera thanking everyone who had shown concern for the Ramsey family and asking that anyone with information call the "tipline" established by the Ramseys.
Even an internet web site was established "as a tool for the media to obtain comments released by the Ramsey family and their attorneys," according to the logo contained on the web site. On the one year anniversary of the death of JonBenet, the following Christmas message with distributed nationwide through the internet web site:
A Christmas Message from the Ramsey Family
With the Christmas season upon us and the anniversary of JonBenet’s death approaching, we are filled with many emotions. We, as a family, miss JonBenet's presence among us as we see the lights, hear the music, and recall celebrations of Christmases past. We miss her every day not just today.
On the one hand, we feel like Christmas should be canceled. Where is there joy? Our Christmas is forever tainted with the tragedy of her death. And yet the message rings clear. Had there been no birth of Christ, there would be no hope of eternal life, and, hence, no hope of ever being with our loved ones again.
As the day of the birth of our Lord and Savior approaches, we thank all across the nation and around the world for your continued prayers of concern and support. It is those prayers that sustain us. We ask that as you gather with your families and loved ones this Christmas, be joyful in the celebration of the birth of Christ, knowing that this is truly the reason, for the season. We must continue to celebrate the birth of Christ . . . for our hope of life together ever after.
Thank you for all you meant to her and mean to as.
With blessing and prayer for a Joyful Holiday Grace of God's ever present love for the New Year,
John, Patsy, John Andrew, Melinda and Burke
As Christmas 1997 and the first anniversary of JonBenet's death approached, the people of Boulder had grown tired of the intrusion on their lives by the deluge of media which continued to camp in their town. The White family had posted a sign on their door which read "Journalists Keep Out". White wrote to the New York Times with a plea to the American public. "We request that Boulder be given the opportunity to enjoy this sacred season in peace without interruption from anyone who to intends to further erode our community's privacy and exploit our misfortunes for the purpose of profit or personal gain." But the media, true to its intrusive reputation, had plans of highlighting this death anniversary with t.v. specials and feature news articles recapping the events and once again flooding the public with the images of the little beauty queen in her full regalia of make up and costumes. Even the New York Times published a full page review of the case on the same day as they published Fleet's plea for privacy. By now, the death of JonBenet had seized the hearts of people around the world, and t.v. crews from Europe, Japan and other countries were swarming over the small town of Boulder to capture the events of the death anniversary.
The other battle still raging during the investigation was the battle between former friends, now pointed out as suspects by the Ramseys, and the Ramsey family and their continued allies. Fleet and Priscilla were early victims of the fall out of friends, and word came from the Ramsey camp that either you were a friend of the Whites are you were a friend of the Ramseys not both. The Whites apparently reached the brink of their frustration when they sent a letter to the editor of the Boulder Daily Camera which was published on January 16, 1999.
"As witnesses, we have developed confidence and trust in Boulder Police Department investigators. While we recognize that errors have been made in the investigation, we feel strongly that these officers and their leadership are committed both personally and professionally to assembling a valid case which will lead to an arrest and conviction. Furthermore, we are greatly encouraged by their addition of competent legal counsel who are aiding their investigation.
We have not, on the other hand, developed such sentiments toward the Boulder County District Attorney. On the contrary, we feel that the Boulder County District Attorney has not acted in a manner consistent with an agency which must work with police investigators and witnesses in a positive and professional manner. Our sentiments toward the Boulder County District Attorney are based on our personal experiences which have been augmented by the following considerations:
"1. There are various relationships between the Boulder County District Attorney and members of the Boulder and legal communities which may have impaired the objectivity of the Boulder County District Attorney with respect to a case brought before it by the Boulder Police Department.
"2. The Boulder County District Attorney under the leadership of District Attorney Alex Hunter has been criticized in the past for not being an aggressive prosecutor of homicide cases.
"3. There appears to be an atmosphere of distrust and non cooperation between the Boulder County District Attorney and the Boulder Police Department regarding the investigation. This relationship appears to be irreparably damaged with respect to the Ramsey case.
"4. There is a strong impression that the Boulder County District Attorney has acted improperly by sharing evidence and other information with attorneys and other parties not officially involved in the investigation.”
The Whites asked Governor Roy Romer to intervene. Romer's official response was "Among the advice I received was from the Boulder police chief, who said that this action was not needed and would not be helpful, because the investigation was proceeding and had not yet been turned over to the district attorney." The Whites then went to Attorney General Gale Norton, but were informed that Norton had no jurisdiction over the matter since the District Attorney had not refused to press charges. "We have not seen any kind of refusal from the Boulder DA's office. They've not said, 'We're not going to prosecute.' They've essentially said it's still under investigation.''
Chief Koby rose to the defense of the DA's office: "The Boulder District Attorney has not done anything but try and be supportive of the investigation. Whether people agree with that is another issue." In discussing the letter itself, Koby went on to say, "It's an indication of the level of intensity and level of media exposure this case has gotten.''
Other Ramsey friends and neighbors who had innocently talked with reporters soon after the crime found themselves hounded by the press for more information and shunned by the Ramseys, even it their statements had been supportive. Employees at Access Graphics were told that if they spoke to the press or the police without permission from Access Graphics they would be fired. The investigation team had early on set up an office at Access Graphics to conduct interviews and other investigation from that office. However, they were soon promptly asked to leave the premises. A family friend who had created most of the pageant costumes lost most of her customers after her appearance on a national t.v. talk show. The emotional devastation from this crime had reached far beyond the normal limits of the victim's circle of family and friends.
The only thing that did not appear to suffer as a result of the murder of JonBenet was the child beauty pageant industry. In spite of the criticism hurled at this industry and accusations of abuse toward any parents who subjected their children to this world, the "kiddie pageant" interest around the world had almost doubled.
In spite of the turmoil which had touched so many lives in Boulder during the past year, friends of JonBenet gathered at the former Ramsey home on 15th Street on the evening of the first death anniversary for a candlelight vigil in the memory of the lost child.
As the candlelight ceremony was being planned in Boulder, another vigil was taking place at St. James Episcopal Cemetery in Marietta, Georgia. Boulder police department detectives had set up surveillance cameras wired for sound near the gravesite of JonBenet in hopes of catching a remorseful perpetrator asking for forgiveness on the first anniversary of the crime a not uncommon occurrence in the death of a child. This operation by the Boulder police department was so secreted that a flight was arranged which routed the detectives through several cities before reaching their destination in hopes of camouflaging their actions. While doing their stake out, the detectives noticed that the headstone erected after the funeral bore the inscription "August 8, 1990 December 25, 1996". They wondered how the Ramseys knew the date of death when even the coroner had not made an official confirmation.
Unfortunately, the detectives' vigil proved fruitless. The only visitor to the gravesite that day was a poor, unsuspecting tourist, a serviceman with the U.S. Navy visiting Atlanta, Georgia that week who had stopped to take pictures of the grave and headstones. He was driving a vehicle with Colorado license plates and was eventually located by the Boulder police for interrogation. When interviewed, he admitted he had also stopped at the Ramsey home in Boulder to take pictures while visiting friends in Colorado. Because of his interest in the case, the same fascination that had consumed thousands of people throughout the United States, he was asked to submit to photographing, fingerprinting, saliva sampling for DNA analysis and giving handwriting samples, which the Naval officer did without any hesitation.
In January, 1997, the Boulder police investigation team had met in Quantico, Virginia with the Critical Incident Response Group of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. A follow up consultation was scheduled for September 9. Special agents from the FBI's Child Abduction and Serial Killer Unit ("CASKU"), a member of the Profiling and Behavioral Assessment unit ("PBAQ), two lab technicians and a forensic pathologist, met with Hofstrom and Demuth from the D.A.'s office, Dets. Thomas, Trujillo and Wickman and other key detectives now assigned to the Ramsey investigation team, and the three "dream team" attorneys. CASKU provides immediate operation assistance to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies involved in investigations of child abduction and serial homicide. The opinion expressed by the CASKU team at the first meeting was that the kidnapping story was not credible based upon the utter illogic of an intruder’s actions and behavior. They also opined that the ransom note had a ridiculous content, but a complimentary tone. They pointed out that the staging aspects of the crime and the behavior of the parents pointed to a familial involvement. Another aspect of the death scene which indicated familial involvement was the finding of the Barbie nightgown with JonBenet’s body. Grandmother Nedra had mentioned in her interview that this nightgown was know to be one of JonBenet’s favorite items and she took it with her to all the pageants. According to the FBI, “Parental murders are often trademarked in their staging aspects and care for the victim, . . and placing a child’s item of affinity with the victim’s body is consistent with a parental homicide.”
The second meeting was to discuss three possible scenarios of the murder of JonBenet as presented to the CASKU team by the Boulder representatives: murder by an intruder, murder by the mother with the father as an accomplice, and murder by the father with the mother as an accomplice. The FBI special agents gave insights as to profile and behavioral considerations in these various scenarios.
In August, the Boulder police department contacted Dr. John McCann, one of the nation’s leading experts on child sexual abuse. McCann had agreed to assist the police department in determining if JonBenet had been a victim of sexual abuse during or before her murder. McCann was sent the autopsy report and photos. According to McCann, examination findings that indicate chronic sexual abuse include the thickness of the rim of the hymen, irregularity of the edge of the hymen, the width or narrowness of the wall of the hymen, and exposure of structures of the vagina normally covered by the hymen. His report stated that there was evidence of prior hymeneal trauma as all of these criteria were seen in the post mortem examination of JonBenet.
There was a three dimensional thickening from inside to outside on the inferior hymeneal rim with a bruise apparent on the external surface of the hymen and a narrowing of the hymeneal rim from the edge of the hymen to where it attaches to the muscular portion of the vaginal openings. At the narrowing area, there appeared to be very little if any hymen present. There was also exposure of the vaginal rugae, a structure of the vagina which is normally covered by an intact hymen. The hymeneal orifice measured one centimeter which is abnormal or unusual for this particular age group and is further evidence of prior sexual abuse with a more recent injury as shown by the bruised area on the inferior hymeneal rim. A generalized increase in redness of the tissues of the vestibule was apparent, and small red flecks of blood were visible around the perineum and the external surface of the genitalia. It was his opinion that the injury appeared to have been caused by a relatively small, very firm object which, due to the area of bruising, had made very forceful contact not only with the hymen, but also with the tissues surrounding the hymen. McCann believed that the object was forcefully jabbed in – not just shoved in. Although the bruised area would indicate something about the size of a finger nail, he did not believe it was a finger, because of the well demarcated edges of the bruise indicating an object much firmer than a finger. McCann was not able to see any fresh tears of the hymen which he thought might be due to the lack of detail in the photographs. It was unclear where the blood on the perineum originated, since there were no lacerations visible in these photos. McCann also noted that in children of this age group the labia, or vaginal lips, remain closed until literally manually separated. In order for there to be an injury to the hymen without injuring the labia, the labia would have to be manually separated before the object was inserted. The examination also indicated that the assault was done while the child was still alive because of the redness in the surrounding tissue and blood in the area.
McCann stated that this injury would have been very painful because the area of the injury as indicated by the bruise was at the base of the hymen were most of the nerve endings are located. Such an injury would have caused a six year old child to scream or yell. The doctor also stated that he assumed the object did not have jagged edges because there were no evidence of tears in the bruised area.
McCann also noted that there appeared to be a bruise on the inner right thigh which he though might represent a thumb imprint from forcing the legs apart.
Dr. McCann explained the term "chronic abuse" meant only that it was "repeated", but that the number of incidents could not be determined. In the case of JonBenet, the doctor could only say that there was evidence of “prior abuse". The examination results were evidence that there was at least one prior penetration of the vagina through the hymeneal membrane. The change in the hymeneal structure is due to healing from a prior penetration. However, it was not possible to determine the number of incidents nor over what period of time. Because the prior injury had healed, any other incidents of abuse probably were more than 10 days prior.
In discussing perpetrators of sexual abuse on children, McCann stated that the majority of children this age are molested by someone with whom they have close contact most commonly family members. He explained that if the molester is a stranger or someone else with whom the child is not close, the child will usually tell someone or psychological problems appear which create behavior changes observed by their parents. Common symptoms would be eating disorders, nightmares or a variety of behaviors indicating that something is bothering them. Commencement or increased bedwetting is also commonly seen in sexually abused children. When asked about JonBenet's sexualized behavior during her pageant performances, McCann said that this was not necessarily a sign of abuse, since this was taught behavior for the pageants. Also, with children's exposure to sexually explicit television programs, sexualized behavior is no longer considered to be an indication of possible sexual abuse.
Dr. Andrew Sirotnack from Children’s Hospital in Denver was also asked to review the medical findings and autopsy photographs. He confirmed McCann's determination of acute vaginal trauma during the assault on JonBenet, but He had not yet concluded that there was chronic abuse. Sirotnack had examined over 2,500 abused children during his career at Children's Hospital and had testified in approximately 50 - 100 criminal trials regarding sexual abuse on children.
In September 1997, the police department held a meeting with McCann and three other child sexual abuse experts to go over their opinions based on their review of the autopsy results. Dr. Virginia Rau of Dade County, Florida stated that she observed fresh hymeneal trauma on JonBenet and chronic inflammation that was not related to any urination issues. Dr. Rau said, “In my heart, this is chronic abuse,” but feared that a defense argument would be made that this was only evidence of masturbation.
Also agreeing with the findings of both McCann and Rau was Dr. Jim Monteleone of St. Louis. Dr. Richard Krugman, Dean of the University of Colorado Medical School, an expert first contacted for assistance in the Ramsey case by the D.A.’s office, was the most adamant supporter of the finding of chronic sexual abuse. He felt that in considering the past and present injuries to the hymen that the bedwetting/soiling took on enormous significance. He believed that this homicide was an indecent of “toilet rage” and subsequent cover up. He told the group of experts and detectives about another Colorado case where both parents had been at home and both were charged. “The JonBenet case is a text book example of toileting abuse rage," Krugman stated.
All of the experts agreed that there was no way any of the recent or chronic abuse damage to the genitalia of the child was the result of masturbation.
On December 5, 1997, Cmdr. Mark Beckner of the Boulder Police Department, called his first press conference. Beckner has been appointed as head of the Ramsey murder investigation in October. It appeared from Beckner's prepared speech and response to questions from the press that the investigation was now taking a new path not the prior yellow brick road which had lead to so many diversions from the intent and purpose of the journey. Beckner announced that the investigative team was being realigned with some change and some addition in personnel.
Beckner also stated that the department had identified a 78 item'' task list that they were working through 38 items were completed and nine were near completion. The first task was to review the entire case file and evidence. Another task was to do follow up interviews with John, Patsy and Burke. While this task would appear to be routine in the normal course of an ongoing investigation, for the police department it was becoming a monumental effort. Beckner explained that follow-up interviews were needed for clarification of prior statements and for additional questions related to information that had not been available at the time of the first interviews.
In exchange for the second interviews, legal counsel for the Ramseys were now making additional demands, one of which was that the Ramseys' legal team be allowed to review all evidence collected to date in the case. The police department responded that such disclosure would severely hamper the investigation and reliability of information provided by witnesses or potential suspects, and that it was also contrary to accepted police procedure and had never been done before in any criminal investigation. The Ramsey legal team counter offered with the suggestion that the interview be conducted by written questions with written responses, but the police department also declined to accept this procedure in lieu of in person interviews.
Beckner requested a follow up videotaped interview with Burke at a neutral setting in one on one meeting with a detective experienced with children, and that all questions and answers be confidential with no information given to attorneys or family members. Counsel for the Ramseys also denied this request.
XXXIII. GRAND JURY
Dan Hoffman, Rich Baer and Bob Miller, the Boulder police department's 'dream team", met with the department’s investigators for a first briefing session September 1997. After reviewing key evidence, the attorneys discussed methods of presenting the case to the District Attorney’s office in an effort to persuade them to bring indictments against John and Patsy and what the options were if the D.A. decided that the case was still not ready for prosecution.
One of the options available to the department was asking for the appointment of a special prosecutor.
Another option under discussion was the use of a grand jury. A grand jury is comprised of 12 people from the community at large and the proceedings are conducted in secret other than county prosecutors no attorneys are allowed at grand jury sessions. By a vote of at least nine out of the 12 Jurors, a grand jury can decide to indict suspects or conclude that theme is insufficient evidence to charge anyone. An indictment brought by a grand jury is based on "probable cause", which is a much lower standard of evidence than that required for a "beyond a reasonable doubt” conviction in a trial. However, even if a grand jury returns an indictment, the District Attorney still has the authority to reject the jury's findings.
Grand juries are rarely used in Colorado, and used even less in Boulder County.
Another consideration in the use of a grand jury in the Ramsey case was to provide a solution to the ongoing struggle between the police department and the district attorney's office. If a grand jury returned an indictment on this case and the D.A. refused to prosecute, the public would be swarming with furor.
In March, 1998, Cmdr. Beckner met with D.A. Hunter and formally requested the convening of a grand jury to aid the investigation. A grand jury would allow authorities to force reluctant witnesses to appear for testimony, but witnesses can invoke the Fifth amendment and refuse to testify. They can also be granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for their testimony. Another power of a grand jury is the use of subpoenas to obtain documents which have not been voluntarily provided.
On March 27, 1999, Pam Paugh called the Boulder police to report a suspicious man at JonBenet's gravesite. Det. Harmer was given the assignment of returning Pam's call. When the phone rang at the number left by Pam, it was answered by Patsy. Patsy explained to Harmer that Polly was actually the one who saw the suspicious man, but Polly had just had surgery and Patsy was babysitting her nephew. Polly had talked with the man at the cemetery and the evening before her surgery and he told her that JonBenet reminded him of a former neighbor girl.
After taking the report of the suspicious man, Harmer asked Patsy how she was doing and Patsy responded, "We are well." Although Harmer knew that Patsy had strict instructions from her attorneys not to speak with Boulder police officials, Patsy seemed eager to continue talking. She asked Harmer if the police department "was close", and said, "you know I want to be out there every day.''
“We still very much want to talk to you and John," Harmer responded.
"We want to do that as well, but our attorneys' told us that the police are still focused on us. The attorneys wouldn't like the idea that I am talking to you right now."
Patsy and Harmer continued to discuss the reasons for the communication problems between the police and the Ramseys Patsy reiterated her desire to cooperate.
When asked about Burke, Patsy said that he was doing great. "He's a kid and is resilient. He is doing well in school and making friends. We shield him from everything we don't watch t.v. or get newspapers.”
Patsy closed the telephone conversation by telling Det. Harmer that she prayed for the Boulder police every day.
Fingerprints identified: wine cellar door, Patsy.
The Colorado Bureau of investigation analyzed and confirmed that the wooden stick used with the ligature rope is, in fact, the paint brush handle from the broken paint brush from the painting supply tray a critical second piece of weapon evidence that came from within the house. It was also noted that a portion of the paint brush handle, appearing to be from the top, is unaccounted for. No fingerprints were ever found on any portion of the paintbrush.
Round marks, consistent with shape of cigarette, found on JB's neck and jaw could have been caused by a stun gun. It was rumored that the Ramseys had a tape on the use of a stun gun.
BARBARA FERNIE/RANSOM NOTE:
Barbara Fernie, who was one of the close friends called immediately by Patsy and stayed by Patsy's side through the morning of the reported kidnapping, in an interview with detectives on 12123 stated that Patsy had discussed with her the ransom note. Patsy told her that it was written on the same kind of paper that she had in the kitchen. The women had discussed the possibility of it being written by the housekeeper since the notepad was inside the house, and Patsy stated that the handwriting did look like Linda Hoffman’s. However, when Patsy looked at the photocopy of the note later, she said, "That doesn't look like her handwriting at all." Detectives found it odd that Patsy said the ransom note paper was similar to the notepad located in the kitchen. Patsy before said she did not read much of the original note when it was found, and if she was referring to the photocopy returned to the residence, a photocopy of a legal notepad page appears generic. It is unknown why Patsy would have speculated about the similar paper on the morning of the reported kidnapping.
MELODY STANTON STATEMENT
Melody Stanton was interviewed by Det. Barry Hartkopp on January 3. Stanton lives across the street and one house to the south of the Ramseys. Her bedroom is on the second floor of the west side of the house which faces the Ramsey home. On Christmas night she had gone to bed at approximately 10:00 p.m. Stanton always sleeps with her window slightly open, and on that night she had opened it 6-8 inches. She related that she had fallen asleep shortly after she went to bed, but was awakened by “one loud, incredible scream”. She related that it was “obviously from a child” and that it lasted 3 to 5 seconds and then abruptly stopped. It appeared that the sound came from across the street, south of the Ramsey residence. She did not look at the clock, but estimated the time at somewhere between 12:00 a.m. and 2:00 a.m. She stayed awake and listened for any other noises for five to ten minutes, but heard absolutely nothing after that no cars, no voices, no footsteps, so she eventually went back to sleep.
Stanton said she had not left on any televisions or radios when she went to bed. She admitted that she did not sit up in bed to look out the window, so she did not see any activity outside her window. When asked why she had not come forward with this information right after the homicide when detectives had canvassed the neighborhood, Stanton said she was so shocked by JonBenet’s death that she at first did not make any connection to the scream. Also, since none of the other neighbors had not mentioned to her about hearing a scream, she began to doubt she actually heard it. In fact, when she told her husband he said she had probably imagined it. It was Diane Brumfitt, a friend of Stanton's, who reported this incident to the Boulder Police after her conversation with Stanton.
Fleet diagramed the position of the body in the wine cellar. This positioning was inconsistent with John’s description when he found JonBenet.
Krupsky stating she is trying to convince a molestation victim to come forward
Ainswoth report noting the duct tape possibly after the strangulation.
Coffman - Pam Griffin statements that Patsy admitted writing the practice note" for an innocent purpose.
Subic Bay plaque
Pubic hairs from Patsy Boulder Community Hospital 2/13
On December 29, John and Patsy, accompanied by their attorneys appeared at Boulder community hospital to give hair and blood samples and be fingerprinted. As she was being fingerprinted, Patsy became hysterical Saying, "Why are you doing this? Do think I killed my baby?"
Pubic hairs from John Boulder Com. Hospital 2/21
CBI report 3/3 semenal fluid found on [John Andrew’s] suitcase and its contents.
Interview of Dr. Beuf pediatrician 3/25 JonBenet had over 33 visits to the pediatrician in the last two years diagnosis was "yeast infections". In November 1997, the Boulder police department made a verbal request to re interview Dr. Beuf and his staff. Armistead, private detective on the Ramsey team, provided the children's medical records from Michigan with a written consent form to obtain copies of the medical records, but permission was never granted for follow up interviews with the treating physicians.
Scarf - given to John by his daughter Beth from Scotland/Tartan shops
Linguistics examination of ransom note by FBI/Secret Service
JOHN RAMSEY There are a few though who remember the times when John did get angry and displayed an extreme temper that made his face visually change and who equated him with a "Jekyll and Hyde" personality.
RED HEART ON JONBENET's PALM: Patsy drew one regularly on JonBenet, telling her it was so that she would take her heart wherever she went.
Blue FIBERS ON VAGINA - No match from anything in house so far
CELLULOSE PARTICLE IN VAGINA possibly from paint brush handle
PATSY'S JURY DUTY: Ironically, in the middle of the ongoing homicide investigation, Patsy was selected for jury duty in the Boulder County Court in October 1997.
TELEPHONE RECORDS: in October, 1997, the Boulder police department, through D.A. Hofstrom, asked for written consent for all telephone records. At first attorneys for the Ramseys agreed to provide the records, but refused to sign a consent for the police department to obtain the records themselves. The following November, they did finally sign the consent forms.