JonBenet Ramsey Case Insights: #1 Burke’s Knife

Why we believe this line of evidence is important: 

We believe Burke’s knife is the most compelling evidence connecting him [let’s say possibly connecting him] to the murder of his sister.

The knife isn’t the murder weapon, however it’s possibly directly linked to the manufacture and assembly of weapons used to subdue, suppress and strangle JonBenét.



What’s also very suspicious to us is when Burke is asked an open-ended question two weeks after JonBenét’s murder by Dr. Bernhard about what he thinks happened to JonBenét, the first weapon Burke mentions is a knife**.

One of the two murder weapons – the Garrotte – appears to be assembled in situ near Patsy’s paint tray on the floor in the corridor opposite the boiler room and leading to the wine cellar.  A urine stain was also discovered here.


This is the spot where the paint caddy was found [the wine cellar doorway is to the right] – the urine stained carpet was cut out and collected for testing.

The question we ought to be asking is: which is more likely, that an unarmed intruder would break in and use all the materials inside the Ramsey home to execute his crime, and then fail to execute it [he didn’t kidnap JonBenét], or that someone in the Ramsey home, someone familiar with the home and all things inside it, used what they usually used in what eventually escalated into the murder of a child?

The distinctive white camping cord could also be traced [theoretically] to a nearby camping store for which the Ramseys held receipts.

We must also utilize the benefit of hindsight and ponder: if the Grand Jury felt the Ramsey parents [both parents] were deserving of indictments on charges of child abuse and neglect, and if the third party they had aided and abetted in the commission of the crime was Burke, we can also see the possible neglect and recklessness in not confiscating a weapon, especially given it may ultimately have been used to kill JonBenét.

Prior instances of injury to JonBenét by Burke*** ought to have necessitated at least the removal of objects, items and weapons that could be [and perhaps were] used to injure her.

  1. FACT: Burke had his own Swiss army knife, and it has his name on it. [The Ramseys concede in their book that Burke owned at least one knife, and the housekeeper, Linda Hoffman-Pugh does too. In his own testimony, during a 1998 interview with Detective Dan Schuler, Burke conceded he had two knives.] SMF/PSMF
  2. FORENSIC: The paintbrush used as a garrotte appears to be whittled. A fragment consistent with the paintbrush [of whittled wood] was found in JonBenét’s genitalia, described in her autopsy as birefringent material. One [Swiss] red pocket knife was listed in an evidence list dated December 26 [page 10] as 42KKY.
  3. TESTIMONIAL: Housekeeper witnesses Burke whittling; confiscates Burke’s knife

Source: Charlie Brennan, Denver Rocky Mountain News, August 2nd 1999:

Hoffmann-Pugh made good on her threat. [According to Hoffman-Pugh she] “got tired of laundry-area-outside-jonbenet-bedroomcleaning [the wood shavings] up… [Burke had] been asked to do it over paper or a bag or something. So, I just put the knife up one day, in a cupboard over the sink in that area outside of JonBenét’s room” on the home’s second level, an area that also had a microwave and laundry facilities. Hoffman-Pugh said she didn’t tell JonBenét’s parents where she stowed Burke’s knife.

[Although] Hoffmann-Pugh never saw the knife again… it resurfaced [in the evidence inventory] following the 10-day police search [of the Ramsey home]…Specifically, Detective Kerry Yamaguchi discovered Burke’s knife on a countertop near a sink just down a basement corridor from the [wine cellar] where JonBenét’s body was found.

  1. CIRCUMSTANTIAL: Burke’s knife was found in close proximity in the basement to JonBenét’s corpse in the basement wine cellar, in the region of a couple of metres.
  2.  INFERENCE: Besides the whittling of the garrotte itself, a sharp knife was used to cut the lengths of cord used to tie JonBenét’s wrists and fashion the garrotte.

Burke used his knives for scouts and camping. Two principal tasks scouts must learn file-nov-21-10-28-55-aminclude whittling/kindling wood and the mastery of cords, rope and knots.

An intruder may have armed himself with Burke’s knife, though if he wrote and left the ransom note in the kitchen, why not use a kitchen knife or his own knife?

Conversely, Burke may have used the knife as he habitually did.  Whether it was Burke or an intruder, whoever whittled the garrotte, was the same individual who placed the birefringent wood fragment inside JonBenét’s genitalia.  What we know for sure though, at least if Hoffman-Pugh’s testimony is reliable, is that Burke whittled often.  This seems to skew the likelihood towards Burke using his own knife, and fashioning a garrotte, and tying the sort of knot scouts needed to know about, rather than a random intruder with a very spontaneous and haphazard approach to kidnapping and murder.

6.  TESTIMONY: Burke admits owning a knife, admits it has his name on it, admits using it to tie knots and that his mother Patsy gave it to him.

From the National Enquirer October 3, 2016 article – (these are portions of Burke’s 1998 interview with Detective Dan Schuler):

SCHULER: You have two knives?

BURKE: I have one that says my name on it – it has Switzerland on it.

SCHULER: Uh-huh.

BURKE: That one has a big knife, small knife, saw, corkscrew, screwdriver, flat head screwdriver, toothpick and tweezers. And I think that’s it. And then I have another one that has a saw, scissors, it’s got this little hook thing that you tie knots better with. Um, I said saw? A cork opener.

SCHULER: Both of those Swiss Army knives?

BURKE: One knife is smaller.

SCHULER: Where do you normally keep those? In your scouting stuff?

BURKE: I think I like (inaudible) and I have a little place for them in my room.

SCHULER: Did you take them both camping with you?

BURKE: I just took the —

SCHULER: The one with your name on it?


SCHULER: Oh, okay. So somebody must have given you that one, for a special occasion?

BURKE: My mom.

7. INTERROGATION/Confirmation [December 11, 2001 Patsy Ramsey Deposition Wolf vs Ramsey]

HOFFMAN: One of the most controversial pieces of evidence is a red Boy Scout knife or a whittling knife. I don’t know if it is a Swiss Army knife. Do you know whether or not Burke owned a red knife at any time?

PATSY: He had a couple of them.

HOFFMAN: He had more than one?

PATSY:  I believe so.

HOFFMAN:  Do you know if he had more than one at one time?

PATSY:  Yes.

8. DISPUTE [June 1998 Patsy Ramsey Interrogated by Detectives Thomas Haney and Trip DeMuth]

Not surprisingly, Patsy denies seeing Burke whittle during an interrogation in June 1998, but concedes she’s seen whittle wood in the play room. The denial is reinforced in the Ramsey’s book Death of Innocence**** published in March 2000, approximately six months after their “official exoneration” by the Boulder D.A. Alex Hunter.  In June 1998 Patsy appears to reveal crucial information but also withhold crucial information about Burke.

DEMUTH: Patsy, I read somewhere that Burke would walk through the house whittling sometimes, whittle in the house; is that true?

PATSY:  I never saw him walk through the house whittling. Now I did, on occasion, in the play room see little whittling like wood, kind of whittles, you know.

DEMUTH: You did ever see [Burke] whittle?

PATSY: No, No, I didn’t.

DEMUTH: Is there any reason why Burke would have a knife like this.

PATSY: No. Huh-uh.

But didn’t Burke say Patsy had given him the knives?

9. Additional Points

  1. According to some sources, Burke may have been given a scouting book for Christmas in 1996 which contained, amongst other things, a how-to-guide for making the knot found on the garrotte. This book was not part of the evidence list. We know that on December 28th Pam Paugh, Patsy’s sister, removed a trunk load of items from the Ramsey residence as per Patsy’s directions.
  2. The garrotte knot is known as a prusik hitch, a typical boy scouts or camping knot.
  3. The Bonita Papers also note the location of Burke’s Swiss army knife to JonBenét’, however the wording implies the knife was found in the same room*****.

*Insights are based on research documented in The Craven Silence and The Day After Christmas trilogies, both published between September and December 2016.

**BURKE:  I think that someone took her very quietly and tip-toed down the basement, then, then they took a knife out and [motions with arm]…like that.

***We know for a fact that Burke hit his sister in the face in August 1994, shortly after her fourth birthday.  Was this an isolated incident? In JonBenét’s medical records there are also instances of her bruising her nose after falling on her face on May 8th 1995, another fall and a cut above her left eye in December 1995, in May 1996 JonBenét hurt her fourth finger of her left hand in another fall,.a bloody bowel movement on November  1st, 1994, repeated instances of rashes, inflammation and vaginitis and “trouble sleeping”. On  August 27, 1996  Patsy reported to JonBenét’s  pediatrician that JonBenét had been asking about sex roles and reproduction.

**** Death of Innocence Page 321: “I wondered if, as they walked through the basement, any of the jurors brought up the issue of Burke’s red Swiss army knife, which according to the media had been found on the countertop near a sink, just a short distance from where JonBenét’s body was found. The implication was that the killer could have used the knife to cut the nylon cord used to tied (sic) JonBenét’s wrists together. The cord was also used to make the garrote placed around her neck, which ultimately resulted in her death by strangulation. Linda Hoffmann-Pugh, our cleaning lady, had said on a TV talk show that she thought the issue of the knife was relevant to the murder.

Patsy and I never quite understood why she’d made those statements except that we knew she was mistaken about a number of other issues when she spoke on national television. The truth was that we had no idea where someone might find Burke’s knife at any given time; he has a tendency to leave things lying around when he loses interest in them. The knife could have been anywhere in the house. And we had no idea if the knife had any relationship to anything that happened in the crime.”

1999 February 18 – Lawrence Schillers book “Perfect Murder, Perfect Town

Page 181:

“Burke had this red Scout knife and always whittled. He’d never use a BAG or paper to catch the shavings. He’d whittle all over the place. I asked Patsy to have a talk with him. She answered, “Well I don’t know what to do other than take the knife away from him….After Thanksgiving I took that knife away from him and hid it in the cupboard just outside JonBenét’s room. That’s how that problem was solved….” – Linda Hoffman-Pugh

*****From The Bonita Papers:  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 Craven Silence and The Day After Christmas

books are available on Amazon

The Day After Christmas 3 is due out mid-December


2 thoughts on “JonBenet Ramsey Case Insights: #1 Burke’s Knife

  1. Has anybody looked at the express similarities between a Boy Scout Toggle Rope (Google it), used for dragging heavy items and the “garrote,” which has always been a misnomer for this device, as it is not one?


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