#Shakedown Unleashes on Sunday Night, Part 2


“From the start, the police investigation had significant failings!”

We hear this all the time in true crime, especially when a criminal and their team are particularly skilled at PR.  The police bungled the case.  Because clearly when a crime has been committed, the truly evil are the ones investigating the crime, right?  Here’s something to nibble on… why the hell couldn’t Kate or Gerry call the police themselves if they felt so abandoned in the first two hours that passed [despite 60+ people being on the scene]?

The Portugal police aren’t the only ones who take a beating from Sadler.  Pat Brown’s made out to look like a bit of a lunatic.   Meanwhile, bespectacled ex-British cop, Colin Sutton – who delivers the breathtaking news that somebody might know something is apparently revered.

The joke of the matter is Sutton is supposedly there on the show to give hope.  There’s a new lead, although he doesn’t give an inkling of what it is.  But then he, and others from team McCann, deflate that balloon by essentially saying don’t even bother looking, you’d have better luck finding a leprechaun in the most-hide-a-bodyable town of Praia da Luz.

Hear more in our podcast Part 2…

Stay tuned for Part 3.

DOUBT is available on Amazon


#Shakedown Unleashes on Sunday Night, Part 1

Sunday Night’s “World Exclusive” farce program – using 6-year-old clips – wasn’t entirely a waste.  They succeeded in illustrating just how crafty (and essential) the media can be when one is desperate to dodge an investigation.

Paul Luckman, a reporter for Portugal News, shared with McCann apologist, Rahni Sadler (in one of the few new interviews conducted by the show) how he was one of the first reporters on the scene May 4th.   He snapped a few pics, from a distance, of Kate being shielded by friends.    The police weren’t so lucky.  Not only were they called to the scene much later than everybody else – no thanks to the McCanns – they couldn’t actually get close enough to the parents to carry out even the most basic of procedures, like taking their picture.  Luckman sets the scene that cops were treading lightly; they thought it was simply a matter of a child wandering off.  Really?  Apparently he’s forgotten about:  “They’ve taken her! They’ve taken her!”  


Sadler:  And Kate looked out of her mind?

Luckman:  She was pretty distressed and being comforted and it was running around freely.  What mom wouldn’t be pretty much out of her mind at the thought you’d lost a child.

Sadler:  What was Kate doing?  Was she inside or outside the apartment?

Luckman:  She was outside the apartment.

Sadler:  Was she interacting with the police?

Luckman:  Yes, interacting to some degree.  I think the police were trying to take it very gently.

What else is Kate doing if she’s interacting to some degree? Is there anybody more important to be conversing with than the police when your child is missing?  For Kate and Gerry, chatting with their priest, and friends appeared to be more pressing.

Listen to Part 1 of our podcast….

Stay tuned for Part 2.

DOUBT is available on Amazon


MCCANN WORLDWIDE EXCLUSIVE: #Shakedown reveals the inside scoop to Sunday Night’s Breakthrough! Incredible Story!

At 04:12, shortly before dawn on Thursday 13th May, bone fragments were discovered by Paulo Sousa, a Portuguese fisherman in a small, sheltered cove located between Sagres and Cabo de São Vicente [Cape St. Vincent].

The curved object was taken to a local lab for testing the same day, and preliminary results indicate a weathered rib bone of a three to five…

Hypothetically, what would be the six biggest breakthroughs imaginable in the Madeleine McCann case, if there were indeed a breakthrough?

  1. Madeleine’s remains are found.
  2. Madeleine, who’s living with another family, suddenly sees herself on television for the first time, remembers she’s Madeleine, and realizes her current family isn’t her real family.
  3. Madeleine walks up to the McCann’s front door in Rothley, Leicestershire, and says “Hi, Mom, I’m homeLet’s go get me some new shoes.”
  4. Sean and Amelie suddenly remember everything that happened the night of the abduction, abandon their beds and their home and call the police.
  5. Robert Murat confesses that he’s a pedophile and has adopted Maddie.
  6. Goncalo Amaral admits he was wrong; and that he abducted Madeleine.

Any one of these would qualify as breathlessly sensational “breakthroughs” but how many – bar one – has a snowflake’s chance in hell of actually happening?

What pray tell could the producers of Sunday Night know that nobody else in the world seems to know, not even the McCanns?  It sounds pretty damn huge!

From birminghammail.co.uk:

The parents of Madeleine McCann have urged an Australian TV crew to hand over any “new evidence” to police, it is reported.

A documentary programme, due to air on Sunday, claims it has discovered a fresh lead in the high-profile case.

A family spokesman called on TV bosses to contact officers about the clues amid the claims of a “major” breakthrough.

He told the Daily Star: “If the Australian TV show contains any credible, fresh lines of inquiry they should, of course, have been given immediately to the police.”

A teaser video for Channel 7’s Sunday Night programme suggests a significant new lead in the case has been unearthed.

“There are major new developments!”

“It could be the key to the case!!”

“She may still be alive somewhere!!!”

“The breaking evidence about Madeleine McCann will be revealed exclusively on 7 Sunday Night!!!!”

Sunday Night saying it has groundbreaking, earth-shattering, jaw-dropping scoop, is akin to the National Enquirer saying they have gossip to share.  Speaking of which, remember that time the Ramseys granted an interview to the Enquirer?  Actually, wasn’t it two interviews, and then a book [immediately after settling a libel suit out of court]? The Ramseys sued the Enquirer, then granted them interviews.  Keep that in the back of your mind…


Those of you who followed the Oscar Pistorius trial will recall a “leaked” re-creation video of Oscar [seen for the first time ever on his stumps] racing towards the phantom intruder with his hand stretched out in front of him as if holding a gun.  Thanks to Sunday Night, those of us who once found Oscar hot, seriously had our bubbles burst.

Sunday Night aired this “leaked” footage, and made it appear balanced by peppering it with some clips from Oscar’s critics and Reeva’s grieving parents – just like we’ve seen clips of Goncalo Amarel and Pat Brown for tonight’s Maddie special – while the majority of the show ended up being commentary from Scott Roder, the serious-sounding American forensic specialist [hired by the wealthy Arnold Pistorius] exclaiming he believes the poor broken sod, Oscar.  Meanwhile, Oscar can be heard wailing like an opera singer in the background.

Roder just scored a fat paycheck from uncle Arnold, so yea, that pretty much seals the deal for him touting Oscar’s innocence.   To draw yet another parallel, Sunday Night likes to advertise they conduct their own investigations.  They built a replica of Oscar’s house just like CBS built a replica of the Ramsey’s house.*  Does anyone really believe a show is willing to spend millions of dollars to “investigate” a crime without any clue or any say about the outcome? With that in mind, is it really an investigation?

“He’s on his stumps, he’s vulnerable, that’s when he hears something!…”

“If you’re right, Oscar’s clearly not guilty!!”

 Although Oscar’s re-creation was filmed by his defense team prior to trial, but not ultimately used because his defense(s) and defense strategy changed like the wind, this footage magically appeared on the Australian TV show with team Pistorius reportedly scratching their heads at its terribly insensitive release.  They threatened to sue.

“A staggering breach of trust!”

Intriguingly, this show was aired precisely at the time Oscar’s defense was arguing that Oscar had to stay and fight [the intruder] because he didn’t have the capability of flight.  Although, anyone who watched that video could clearly see – the Olympic runner could run. No shit?!  Was this a gift for the prosecution?  Was it the proverbial nail in the coffin for the once-beloved champion?  Not exactly.

There was quite a buzz, and quite a stink, caused by the Pistorius’ over this program.  There was talk of lawsuits and threats of mistrials.  So, Gerrie Nel, prosecutor and master ruse-detector, didn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole. And even though the video of Oscar on his stumps was so outrageously offensive to his family, they saw to it [during his sentencing phase] that the whole world got to see a drugged-up Oscar not only remove his legs, but walk across the courtroom on stumps, wobble in place, and nearly fall over, all while crying. Gasp!

So…. Let’s get real for a moment.  Was the Sunday Night program dangled as a piece of bait?  If it was, then who was the one feeding the foul chum to the fishes?

“The physical evidence is consistent!”

kate and gerry on SN

Let’s shift our focus the McCanns.

“She may still be alive somewhere!”

Yesterday, Pat Brown, who’s analysed the McCann case, shared a recent email communication with the owner of a forum, expressing her disgust over her recorded words being edited for their teaser trailer.  Referring to the McCanns, Brown says…

“They’re lying and they’re concealing guilt.”

Now, this shouldn’t really come as a shock.  Brown’s been publicly vocal for a while now that she believes Madeleine is dead.  But her concern is the blatant nature in which the words were presented on TV; she’d prefer to frame that statement as “the evidence supports…” which is understandable, although, if I may be frank, it’s pretty freaking naïve (if true).  Sorry Pat, I dig your work, but come on.

Pat brown.png

From jillhavern.forumotion.net:

I was contacted by Rahni Sadler to do an hour long interview with her on the case. Coming on the heels of the recent spate of good Australian media coverage of the case, I consented to do the interview. I was led to believe this was a one-on-one interview, an in-depth interview that would not be edited to any extent. I had no idea that I was going to be but a piece of some “explosive” documentary which was only going to include bits and pieces of what I said.

Had I known this, I would have refused the interview. I rarely do media interviews anymore that are not live interviews unless I am fairly sure that my views are going to accurately represented.

My greatest fear is that they are going to use us naysayers as dramatic bait and end the show with some “evidence” that Madeleine is alive and still has hope of being found.

Ya think?

Has Pat Brown ever watched TV?  That’s (kind of) a serious question.  Did the profiler who rarely does interviews anymore not profile the show she was being asked to participate in?  Did Brown suddenly do a back-track not wanting to get sued for a gazillion dollars like CBS?  Either way, who’s bullshitting who?

Let’s apply the same logic to the McCanns.

“She may still be alive somewhere!”

From thesun.co.uk:

…the show has left her parents, Kate and Gerry, “angered and upset”, according to a source close to the couple.

Uh oh, the McCanns are upset.  The Sunday Night producers are clearly not on their side.

From thesun.co.uk:

Documentary-makers are now running a 40-second teaser video using a six-year-old clip with journalist Rahni Sadler posing the offensive question.

They are also suggesting in the “landmark television event” they have secured a new interview with Kate and Gerry, which their spokesman Clarence Mitchell said today is “simply not true”.

He added: “They are hyping it for all its worth and it’s not worth anything!” [look away, look away!]

“She may still be alive somewhere!”

Mr Mitchell hit out at Channel 7’s trailer tactics despite being interviewed himself for the programme to mark the milestone 10th anniversary of Maddie’s disappearance.

Long-serving family PR Mr Mitchell hit back at the current affairs show, simply called Sunday Night, saying: “There’s nothing new in it that I’m aware of. I don’t know of new evidence neither do Kate and Gerry.”

Mitchell’s “not aware of anything new” because, apparently, that’s how the McCanns have conducted business all these years – loosey-goosey.  Right?

Did Mr. Mitchell – who agreed to be interviewed for the show – the former director of the government’s media monitoring unit, a journalist for the BBC, long-term hired gun for the McCanns, forget to do his homework, just like Ms. Brown?

After 10 years of dodging and controlling the insidious media, this slippery program outwitted them all?  M’kay.

 “There are major new developments!”

“It could be the key to the case!”

“She may still be alive somewhere!”

*CBS is being sued by Burke Ramsey, with Lin Wood as counsel, for defamation.


DOUBT The Madeleine McCann Mystery is available on Amazon


The Prodigal Nanny Returns – #Shakedown McCann Podcast #1

“I remember thinking, even before I knew them, how they were the picture perfect family.” – Anonymous Nanny, 2017

In 2007, Charlotte Pennington, a nanny at the resort’s Baby Club, gave an eyewitness Nanny Penningtonaccount of what Kate McCann said and did within the initial minutes after Madeleine went missing.

According to the Daily Mail UK 2007 article, Pennington said:

“We automatically went into lost-child procedure.  In these situations, the first thing we do is investigate the scene.  When we were coming out we saw Kate and she was screaming: ‘They’ve taken her.  They’ve taken her!’  She remained so hysterical that she could hardly communicate.”

Ten years later – a few weeks shy of the May 3rd anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance – a new “nanny” article has been published, not just in the Mirror UK, but in papers across the US, Australia, New Zealand, even as far away as Hungary.   In other words, a global media blitz.  Why now?  What’s the point?

This time around, the nanny in the articles is intriguingly anonymous.  Is Pennington back to expand on her story, or is this some other nanny who’s waited 10 years to speak? In addition to being a witness to the McCann’s guttural grief, the nanny says the Portugal police are to blame for bungling this case and the resort town of Praia da Luz is actually a haven for violent sex crimes.

From the Mirror UK:

[Upon starting her new job at Ocean Club in April 2007] “We were told, ‘Here’s a rape whistle don’t go anywhere by yourself, ever. It didn’t sound like a family resort to me.”

Not a family resort, you say?


Also from the Mirror UK:

“[Kate] was crying, but almost in a catatonic state, and Gerry was very distressed.  That’s the one thing I really remember from him, looking under the cars.  I can’t forget that.”

She [the nanny] is still constantly quizzed by people about the case who ask if “the parents did it.”  She said: “I tell them no, there’s no way at all.  


Is it possible we’ve stirred up a hornet’s nest with DOUBT?  Is this an effort on behalf of Team McCann to regain the sympathy narrative?

Hear more about our insights into the Prodigal Nanny here…


DOUBT The Madeleine McCann Mystery is available on Amazon


Where was Kate?

The nanny’s story that made international headlines this past week actually misses a very important insight.   Where was Kate in the minutes after Madeleine’s abduction?

The nanny that’s featured in the Mirror UK article is anonymous.  Why?  Because if they named her, it would lead you back to this article from September 2007.

From The Daily Mail UK:

“I was in the apartment less than five minutes after they found that Madeleine had gone.  When we [the nanny and two staff members] were coming out we saw Kate and she was screaming: ‘They’ve taken her, they’ve taken her!’  I was standing right in front of her outside the apartment’s back door, in the alleyway.  I was very close to her.  It might not have been the first thing she said. But she definitely said it.”

Now, here’s Kate’s account of what happened from her book, Madeleine:

“I checked the wardrobe in the children’s room, I ran to the kitchen, throwing open all the cupboard doors, into our bedroom, searching the wardrobes, in and out of the bathroom, all within about 15 seconds, before hurdling out through the patio doors and down towards Gerry and our friends.  As soon as our table was in sight, I started screaming ‘Madeleine’s gone, someone’s taken her.”

When you read between the lines, it’s impossible not to ask where exactly was Kate?  Was she on the balcony yelling out across the pool?  If she was, then hasn’t Gerry just lost his alibi?

If she wasn’t on the balcony, if she was somewhere else outside the apartment, why did she abandon her twins right after her daughter had just been allegedly abducted?


DOUBT The Madeleine McCann Mystery is available on Amazon


What to make of the “Last Photo” of Madeleine McCann?

“Photography helps people to see.” — Berenice Abbott

first picThink about Madeleine McCann.  What image comes to mind?

The first image released to the media and circulated throughout the first three weeks and the image/s subsequently burned into the public’s mind are not the same.  Why not?  And if not, does it really matter?

On the second question, does it matter:

  • -One might argue that the delay of the “last photo” came down to the media and the McCanns simply being slow to get off the mark, slow to get organized, but that’s not right.
  • On May 15th, 2007, twelve days after her disappearance, the McCanns set up Madeleine’s Fund: Leaving No Stone Unturned Ltd. Within two days of the website going live, it had amassed 58 million page views.  During this initial period, the so-called “last photo” still had not been released, and a third critical week would slip by before it finally was.  So why the delay?
  • One might argue that the rigmarole involved in getting a hold of family photos, especially while in a foreign country, might have delayed getting the “right” photo out sooner. But that’s not right either. This was the era of digital photography, and the McCanns had a digital camera with them on their holiday.  When the police arrived at 5A on the fateful night Madeleine disappeared, the silver Canon PowerShot A620 was sitting on the table in the apartment.  And yes, in its memory card were photos – usable photos – of Madeleine from the holiday*.
  • One might think the McCanns may not have had much time to take family photos, or had they forgotten they had? May 3rd was the second to last night for the McCanns in the Algarve.  They’d arrived at the hotel almost a week earlier on a bright, though mild, Saturday afternoon – April 28th.  They were due to leave the following Saturday, May 5th, after a seven day break during the off-season.

Since the crime happened on the last day before their departure, from a camera footage perspective, they could hardly have had less opportunity to accumulate happy holiday snaps of Madeleine.


On the first question, why would there be a deliberate discrepancy, well…because it’s happened before. Curiously, the “unsolved” JonBenét Ramsey case has similar problems:

  1. There were [unusually] very few images taken on the day – Christmas of 1996 – when JonBenét was murdered in her own home in Boulder, Colorado.
  2. The first image released to the public [looking for JonBenét’s killer] was a kindergarten image of JonBenét that was hardly recognisable compared to her pageant photos.
  3. The Ramseys were also scheduled to fly out on a family holiday first thing on the morning after her death.

The Amanda Knox case [sightseeing trip to Assissi], the Jodi Arias case [Cancun], the Oscar Pistorius case [Brazil, Manchester] and the O.J. Simpson case [Chicago] all involve murders around imminent or clearly scheduled travel arrangements.

Did Madeleine’s coming to grief have something to do with the timing of it – because it was the second last night of a holiday?  Did the festivities of those celebrating the second last night have an impact on what happened that fateful night of all nights?

*According to Kate McCann, friend, Russell ‘O Brien, asked for the digital camera “later” [an indeterminate time] on the night of May 3rd 2007.  The McCanns make no mention of either offering the police digital photos or of the police requesting them.

Read more in DOUBT 



Debunking the Intruder Theory

In order to exhaustively test the Ramsey’s Intruder Theory in the JonBenét Ramsey case, investigative journalist and true crime author, Nick van der Leek, dives into criminal archives around the world.  He highlights insights from five reference cases.

In the 1991 crime drama Silence of the Lambs, Clarice Starling, a rookie FBI agent in pursuit of a serial killer finds herself stumped, and approaches the criminally insane but brilliant Hannibal Lecter for insight.  Using the aphorism, it takes a serial killer to catch a serial killer, Starling hopes the former psychiatrist might prove useful, and he does.


Lecter memorably provides this piece of advice as a kick-start to Starling, quoting Marcus Aurelius:

“First principles, Clarice.  Simplicity…Of each particular thing ask what is it in itself?”

More than twenty years after JonBenét Ramsey’s murder, isn’t it time we got the obvious stuff out of the way? If the pervasive view on the ground in Boulder, right or wrong, is that there was no intruder, are we able to explain – even to ourselves – why that is? Instead of tooting the horn about the Ramsey’s potential guilt, what about removing the horn entirely?

We can only do that definitively when we apply first principles.  What is an intruder?  Do we know what a real intruder looks like? Do we know how they operate and why they operate the way they do?  Can we definitively explicate the difference between real world intruders and Ramsey world intruders?

The conventional approach by police and prosecutors tends to be to build one’s case using evidence and holding that up as a counter to other potentially bogus scenarios.  But what if investigators took up the same cudgel as the District Attorney’s office did in the late 90’s when they recruited Lou Smit.  Despite representing the prosecution, Smit’s ambit was to figure out a possible “defense” case.

What if police investigators in the Ramsey case investigated the Intruder Theory from a prosecutor’s perspective – but this time in order to debunk it on its own terms? By humoring the Intruder Theory at some length, it means it has to be tested against hordes of real intruders and real intruder scenarios. How does it stand up to that?

What happens when we hold the Ramsey Intruder Theory up to a prolonged and thorough scrutiny? How does it hold up?  By comparing apples with apples, we may finally see just how rotten the Intruder Theory is, as apples go.

Scenario 1: The Karla Brown Case  Karla Brown

What does a Genuine Intruder Narrative look like?

Karla Brown was a popular all-American girl, a former high school cheerleader with a slim, curvy figure and golden-blonde hair. In the summer of 1977 Karla was photographed by a local newspaper in a string bikini and straw hat walking on a beach. After publication of the photo, Karla’s folks had to change their phone number due to the sheer number of calls from young men wanting to meet their daughter.

On June 20th, 1978, when Karla and her fiancé moved into a new house at 979 Acton, in a middle class suburb of White River, Illinois, the neighbors sat up and noticed.  Brown was engaged to be married, and had moved into a house the day prior to her death.  Even so, it was unusual for unmarried couples to be living together in the 70’s. Having completed the move, Brown and her fiancé, and friends who’d helped haul furniture, gathered in the house for an impromptu party.

The next day, June 21st at around 10:45am, the four foot eleven, 100 pound 22 year old was murdered in the basement of her new home. She was also severely beaten and sexually assaulted. When her fiancé, Mark Fair, and his friend, Thomas Feigenbaum, arrived at 979 Acton, they found the front door unlocked.  Fair immediately became annoyed, saying: “I keep telling Karla to shut the door.”  Inside the house, Fair called out to Karla, to no avail.

After searching the house, Fair went downstairs and saw something that turned his stomach.  His fiancé lay half-naked, with her torso submerged in a barrel.  Her hands were tied behind her back with a white wire and plastic extension cord which had been removed from a box in the basement.  Fair shouted, ran and yanked Karla out of the barrel.  He screamed at Feigenbaum to call emergency services.  When the ambulance arrived, medics found Fair still clutching Karla to his chest, grief-stricken and sobbing. There was an attempt at CPR but after a few minutes it was obvious that Karla hadn’t merely drowned, nor had she died recently.

Karla’s body was covered with a blanket to conceal her body from view to curious onlookers.  The darkening street outside was soon flashing with parked police cruisers.

It became obvious that the attack on Karla had been particularly vicious.  Karla had been bludgeoned on the head, strangled, stabbed and bitten on the shoulder. She was covered in large bruises. She had a cut on her forehead and across her nose and chin.  Her jaw was broken in two places. She appeared to have been strangled with a pair of socks that had been tied together [sourced from an upstairs drawer]. Her air supply was also compromised by the same cord tied around her hands, circling her neck.

The drowning appeared to be staged, as an autopsy showed less water in her lungs than would be the case in a genuine drowning. The dressy winter sweater, strange attire for mid-summer at home, was buttoned to the throat and appeared to be another attempt at staging, by partially redressing the victim. There appeared to be a clear intent to make Karla suffer before and during her death. People involved in the case repeated the term “overkill”.

Similarities to the Ramsey case:

  • Just as in the Ramsey case, all the items used to subdue, restrain and kill Karla Brown were sourced from within the home.
  • There was virtually zero evidence of an intruder. No fingerprints, no fibers, no DNA.
  • Overkill indicative of intense emotion. Just as in the Ramsey case, the victim had been strangled and also suffered a severe strike – in fact, several – to the head. Just as in the Ramsey case, there was also additional bruising, which suggested taunting and torture as part of the overkill. Whoever killed Karla clearly had a degree of emotional investment in the crime.
  • Binding and suffocating. Just as in the Ramsey case, there was not only cord used to restrain the victim, but the cord was not tightly or effectively tied.  It had clearly been cut with a knife.
  • Just as in the Ramsey case, the body had been left for dead in the home long enough for it to stiffen.
  • Sexual assault.
  • Basement as crime scene.
  • Prime suspects in both cases passed polygraph tests.

If we’re going to use weapons and materials sourced from within the home as a reason to suspect an inside job, the Karla Brown case suggests care and caution around this mode of thinking.  It may be true but is it necessarily true?

Yet despite these numerous similarities, besides the fact that the cord in the Karla Brown case was tied directly against her skin, there were at least eight glaring dissimilarities.

  • An unlocked, open front door was clearly a possible point of entry.
  • The exit point was also clear. Unlike the Ramsey case where there were negligible signs of an intruder, in the Brown murder, police noticed a bloody hand print left on the doorknob. This indicated the killer hadn’t washed himself when he’d exited the crime scene, indicative that he lived nearby which meant the risk of being seen was of little concern.
  • Incomplete redressing. Although it appeared JonBenét had her original underclothing changed out, the little girl was nevertheless found not only fully clothed and wiped down but wrapped – covered – in a white comforter. Not so in Karla Brown’s case who was nude below the waist. Whoever had gone to the trouble to redress Karla hadn’t bothered to take much care in the procedure, not in the type of clothing used nor in actually completing the process of redressing. This is suggestive of a lack of intimacy and a lack of access into Karla’s inner world. It may also indicate the intruder was in a hurry to exit the scene. The same cannot be said for the covering up of JonBenét, where the intruder seemed to know his way around, and seemed comfortable to spend a long period of time on the scene, perhaps an hour or several hours.
  • Also different in the Karla Brown case was the lack of ambiguity in the crime scene. Due to blood and water in the basement, and scattered TV trays on the floor, it was obvious the struggle had occurred in situ, that 22 year old Karla was severely hurt during this struggle and from the removed blood-stained tampon, sexually assaulted as well.
  • Karla’s killer didn’t go to elaborate lengths to misdirect the investigation; it appeared to be an impulse-driven attack and her killer simply tried to erase evidence of himself using water. Some investigators theorized that a coffee pot had been used to rinse blood from the couch cushions and perhaps other stained areas.  So the intruder had spent some time at the crime scene after the crime and some staging had occurred.
  • In the Karla Brown case, at least three separate individuals – Eric and Edna Moses, and Paul Main – identified the same suspect, spotted in the area at the time of the murder. In the Ramsey case, there is zero eye witness testimony of someone hanging around the outside of the Ramsey home or approaching it on the night in question. Dogs in the alley behind the house on the garage side to the west were silent that night. Scott Gibbons, the Ramseys’ neighbor to the north, saw strange lights on at midnight that Christmas night.  The “strange” quality implying there was either flickering or some type of movement inside the house, but it seems Griffon assumed these skulkers to be the Ramseys, not an intruder.  Otherwise, he’d have alerted authorities, wouldn’t he?
  • The prime intruder suspect [John Prante] had no alibi.
  • The final difference is the most obvious but perhaps the easiest to overlook. Karla was attacked while home alone. The murder and cover-up occurred in an empty home.

Karla’s murder seems incomprehensible until one understands John Prante.  Although he’d once attended the same school as Karla, Prante was unemployed and clearly occupying a different social class as Karla.  Prante asked to join Karla’s housewarming party the day before she was killed, but Karla rebuffed him. Perhaps she laughed in his face.

Prante was a social outcast, and so the rejection of a former schoolmate stung.  Because Prante knew Karla, her rejection hit very close to home.  Karla Brown exposed Prante for what he was then and there – an oddball, an economic loser, a social loser and a sexual loser.

Prante saw Karla as the solution to this inner crisis; he would get his revenge using her life, loveliness and innocence to “square” the transaction.  If her life invalidated him, he’d invalidate her by taking her life and getting her to satisfy his sexual depredations.  He’d use her life and rash violence to get bloody satisfaction. The bite reinforces this sense of not merely his dominance but his physical consumption of her. He was taking a bite out of her to nourish his inadequacy.

Of all the characters in the Ramsey case, which one was the outcast?  Which one had a bone to pick with JonBenét for making him painfully aware of his own inadequacy?

Scenario 2: The Anastasia Solovieva King Case  King

The Mechanism of an Accessory

When is an accessory involved?  Why does there need to be an accessory?

Indle King was a university educated man [honors at the University of Washington] who developed an appetite for Russian mail order brides.

When his first wife divorced him after four years amid allegations of abuse, it cost King $55 000 and King – a bald, dumpy, unattractive man – felt fleeced.  He was determined not to be taken advantage of a second time.  He – 38 – was also determined to control his next bride – 18 – to the extent that she would cook, clean and earn an income in exchange for the honor of being his wife, and having the right to live in America for as long as she was his wife.

Unfortunately things didn’t work out with his much younger and very beautiful second bride either.  While Indle was a social failure, Anastasia was attractive and popular. When Anastasia wanted to divorce Indle, he was determined to deny her a happily ever after at his expense.

King murdered her in his home by sitting on her, and having a young tenant – Daniel Larson –  strangle her with Indle’s necktie, a “process” that according to Larson took more than a minute to accomplish.

The murder was carefully co-ordinated and premeditated, involving both the lure of Anastasia out of her room to be given a hug [which began the process of subduing her so that Larson could place the tie around her neck] but also timing her disappearance on the exact day – Sept. 22, 2000 – Anastasia returned from a visit to her parents in Kyrgyzstan.

This was important so that King could plausibly deny she’d ever returned.  If no one had seen Anastasia back in America, then it would be King’s word against anyone else’s.

King was eventually caught because of numerous visits to his former tenant – Larson –  in jail for a separate crime.  When police interviewed Larson and emphasized the agony of Anastasia’s parents who didn’t know what had happened to her, he confessed.

The questions raised by the King case are these:

  1. If the King killing required two adults to subdue and strangle an adult woman, and if the Ramsey case was an attack by a child on another child also involving strangling, wouldn’t it require two children to subdue a third?
  2. We can distill the motive in the King case to three words: King felt fleeced.

Fleeced = swindled, conned, cheated, defrauded, hustled, ripped off, taken for a ride.

Who in the Ramsey household felt fleeced?  According to John Ramsey the attack on JonBenét was a sort of payback from a disgruntled employee, but if that was the case, why didn’t they make sure they got what they came for – actual money.  In a kidnap scenario, even a dead person can secure a ransom.

Scenario 3: The Aimee VanderHoff Case  Joe Kenda

Taunting and the Significance of Emotion

A working class neighborhood of East Colorado Springs. It’s September 27, 1995. 18:05. While doing laundry in the basement, a 40 year old male – Arnold Harris – opens a closet to provide ventilation for the dryer.  A sleeping bag inside is too heavy to move.  When Harris unzips the bag a foot is discovered. The cops are called. None of the four occupants in the home say they know who the dead girl in the basement is, and she’s been dead “for several hours” in the opinion of the crime scene techs.

Two adults – parents – are present in the home and two daughters.  The son isn’t home. When investigators ask Arnold Harris who the dead girl is, Harris claims he doesn’t know.  Investigators [including Joe Kenda] find it odd how the family appear to be blissfully unaware of the dead person in their home, even with the cops in the home after the “unknown” body was discovered.  There is cooking and laughter.  If this is a cover-up, it’s perfunctory at best.

There appears to be a stage-managed effort by a family pretending nothing is going on, but it’s over-pretending.  It’s too calm to be credible. The basement has no outside entrance so no intruder could have entered from the outside.  What makes this case different to the Ramsey case however is that the victim is the intruder.  But how believable is that?

When examining the body in the crawl space area, police see no signs of violence.  Nothing, besides the dead body in the sleeping bag, appears to be out of place. This suggests the murder didn’t take place in the basement of that house but was moved there after the fact. But why would anyone taking the trouble to move the body inside a house not simply dump it outside somewhere?  Why leave a body to be found in the house?

There’s also no evidence of restraining wounds but there is a red mark to the young woman’s face, indicative of a single punch or blow.  It takes a moment for the investigator to notice a man’s necktie around the teenager’s neck.  It’s pre-knotted, and is embedded so deeply in her neck the coroner [like Meyer during JonBenét’s autopsy] had to cut the tie out of her neck while performing an autopsy.

Sound familiar?  What can we apply to the Ramsey case and more important, what can’t we?


  • Instead of a call to the cops because of a Ransom Note at 06:00 in the morning, in this case, the call comes in the evening close to 18:00.
  • Once again there’s a house full of people completely unaware of who or what or why someone is lying dead in their basement.
  • Also, the dead person has been there for hours.
  • Did the family truly have no idea who lay dead in the basement? It turned out later that those in the home – not only the parents, but also the daughters – did know the identity of the murdered young woman. She was the girlfriend of their son/brother, Marvin Evans, and her name was Aimee.
  • Marvin and Aimee hadn’t been getting along.
  • There is a cover-up, if only verbally, based on trying to protect the son/brother, not saying certain things, not revealing certain things and not showing a certain kind of emotion.
  • There is also a more literal cover-up. Just like JonBenét, the eighteen-year-old, Aimee VanderHoff, was covered up, this time not merely with a blanket [sleeping bag] but also bundled out of sight into the basement closet. The wine cellar was an obscure room in the Ramsey home and the door to the wine cellar was secured.  In this sense, the Ramseys’ wine cellar room was effectively the Harris’ closed closet.
  • Minimal defensive wounds. Like JonBenét, the teenager in this case showed minimal defensive wounds, indicative that she knew her attacker. If she knew her attacker why would she be an intruder?
  • Like JonBenét, the killer [who turned out to be Marvin, someone close to Aimee], didn’t have the heart to dispose of the murdered girls remains outside the house, again, a symptom of some kind of prior and perhaps lingering attachment.
  • The only obvious injury is a severe ligature, and the murder weapon – a necktie – came from inside the Harris home [just as the garrotte did in the Ramsey home].  There’s another knotted necktie in Marvin’s bedroom closet.  What we have here is another case of a knotted killing instrument, just as we do with the garrotte in the Ramsey case.

Did investigators need to do knot-tying analysis to determine whether Marvin had tied the knot of his tie?  Did investigators compare the knot tying of the father, the mother and the two girls?  No, it was sufficient that the pre-knotted tie was found in Marvin’s closet, an exemplar of the same tie used to kill Aimee.  Only a lunatic would claim that an intruder came into the house, borrowed one of Marvin’s ties, made a practice tie, and then made another tie and used that, all with four or five people present in the home.  And then smuggled the dead girl into the basement still with all present and accounted for.

In one sense the knotted necktie is a damning piece of evidence interchangeable – potentially – with Patsy’s notepad, the practice note on Patsy’s notepad, the felt-tipped pen traced to a pen in the kitchen, and the wood of the garrotte found inside and beside Patsy’s paint tote [a broken paintbrush that belonged to Patsy was fashioned into the garrotte].  The knotted tie is analogous here to the Ransom Note, in the sense that – while not nearly as elaborate – it forms an essential part of the murderer’s arsenal.  I’m using a little license here by associating the knot’s connection to another knot, to the Note’s connection to the crime, through the probable writer of the Note.

The neck ligature in the VanderHoff case cut so deep into Aimee’s neck the cord had to be cut during her autopsy. This is indicative of a strong emotion between the victim and killer.  In the Ramsey case, this “strong emotion” hasn’t been adequately explained. Who had reason – inside the Ramsey home or outside – to be strongly emotional when it came to JonBenét?

We gather insight into this very question through the VanderHoff case. The murder of Aimee Vanderhoff by Marvin Evans isn’t a psychological labyrinth by any means.  We uncover these psychological insights, and the emotional nuggets buried within, by drilling deep [but not that deep] into the backstory of the victim.

  1. Aimee and Marvin started dating six months before he strangled her.
  2. They were an interracial couple.
  3. Both were in high school.
  4. The relationship started out intensely, with the couple wearing matching shirts and sharing a bank account.
  5. Just a month and a half into their relationship, the couple began arguing [this insight was provided by Aimee’s family, not Marvin or his family].
  6. Marvin became very possessive, jealous and controlling.
  7. Aimee tried to separate herself from Marvin, breaking up with him and getting her own bank account.
  8. Marvin stalked Aimee, following her, checked up on her, called her and threatened to kill her male and female friends.
  9. On September 11, 1995 just over two weeks before the murder, there was a “precursor” argument involving Marvin yanking a necklace off her neck.
  10. This prompted Aimee’s parents to assist her in taking out a restraining order against Marvin.

The idea that Marvin simply removed a necklace from her neck two weeks prior to Aimee dying of a neck wound from being strangled, and given that Aimee’s parents took out a restraining order against Marvin following this argument, it’s likely the necklace wasn’t merely yanked off.  In other words, it was a narrow escape and part of an escalating cycle.

It’s possible the same “precursor” event took place in Boulder from the Ramsey home on December 23rd, prompting the mysterious 911 call in the middle of a Christmas party.

Four Vital Insights

  • The first vital point to apply here – in terms of the Ramsey case – is the intercession of the Vanderhoff parents to protect their daughter.  Aimee got injured in an argument and they took protective action of their eighteen-year-old daughter.  Ultimately, of course, it wasn’t enough.  Despite the restraining order, Aimee herself went to see Marvin, and when she did she was murdered at his home, and hidden inside his home.
  • The other thing to address is the taunting that was going on. Despite the restraining order, Aimee often called Marvin, which may have felt to an emotionally unhinged and potentially insecure person, like taunting to him.  We don’t know what it felt like for Marvin, a black man, to see his white girlfriend who’d rejected him, through the window of her home socializing with her white friends.  Marvin saw Aimee’s friendships with other people [white people] as provocative, leading to an escalation in his controlling and stalking behavior.
  • One might argue that Aimee going to see Marvin, in spite of a restraining order, was a way of taunting him, but her intentions appeared to be innocent.  She wanted to soothe him and make friends with him whereas Marvin needed her to address his inadequacies. He wanted her back or else.
  • In a real sense the continued access to one another resulted in what may have felt to Marvin like taunting; a repeated prodding of Marvin’s jealousy button. A repeated sense of frustration; wanting something but not being able to have it because of another person.

But there are a few crucial differences to the Ramsey case.

  • JonBenét died in her own home, whereas Aimee died at Evan’s home.
  • There is far more covering up involved in the JonBenét murder and disposal [even if there was an intruder] than the Vandenhoff case despite both victims being known to their attackers.

So why is there more covering up in the JonBenét case?  Why did JonBenét need to be wiped down, her clothing changed, a ransom note written? Well, isn’t it obvious?  Wasn’t JonBenét much better known to her attacker and the folks who lived there than Aimee was to her attacker and her attacker’s kin?

Isn’t a possible high degree of affiliation and thus scandal in the Ramsey case the reason the crime needed plausible distancing?  The attacker couldn’t be just any old attacker in the Ramsey case, it needed to be a bloodthirsty [but not extremely greedy] foreign faction.

Another major difference in the two cases was the control of the crime scene. Investigators knew from the get go it was a murder.  It was never misrepresented as a kidnapping.  Also, investigators overheard Marvin’s mother Cindy whispering on the phone while the cops were on site.  It turned out Marvin’s mother Cindy had called Aimee’s mother to tell her she was dead.   

Why had the family been lying?  They had known who Aimee was, so why lie about it?  This brings us to perhaps the biggest overlap between these two cases. The peculiar behaviour of Marvin’s family and the outright dissembling had something to do with the only member of the family that wasn’t there at the time. This is a flashing parallel to the Ramsey crime scene after JonBenét’s body was discovered.  Everyone’s there – JonBenét’s parents, the cops, friends of the Ramseys and their pastor.  But older brother Burke’s not there.  And everyone’s apparently in the dark about what happened.

Well, Marvin’s family weren’t in the dark after all, were they?  Marvin had gone out with Aimee for six months, most of which included arguments, stalking and ultimately a restraining order.  They had to have known about this, especially if Aimee felt free to visit Marvin at his home on the day of her murder.

In the Ramsey case, by removing Burke from the scene, the Ramseys very effectively removed Burke from much of the narrative as well.  In John Douglas’ book Law & Disorder, Inside the Dark Heart of Murder a total of just 17 lines are dedicated to the Burke Did It theory.  It’s pertinent to point out that while Douglas spends less than half a page discounting the BDI theory, he spends five and a half pages specifically countering the Patsy Did It theory, and that’s besides many other references to why the parents are impossible murder suspects in the Ramsey case.

Just because Burke is absent during the kidnapping phase doesn’t mean he wasn’t in the home during the execution of the crime and cover up.  If investigators took a few minutes to home in on Marvin Evans, the fifth resident of the Harris home, why is Burke such an impossibly hugantic, ginormous leap for everyone else where the general circumstances are similar?

The final point to emphasize is that Marvin essentially lured Aimee to him.  Why was this “luring” even necessary?  Because Marvin had frightened Aimee previously, so Aimee would need an incentive to come over.  Perhaps he’d repaired her necklace and wanted to return it to her as a gesture of goodwill?  And Aimee simply wanted to preserve good relations.  But her naiveté under the circumstances, and Marvin’s toxic downward spiral of feeling himself invalidated by this girl, ultimately played into a psychological mechanism that resolved itself through murder. The inter-racial aspect is perhaps mirrored by JonBenét’s pageantry separating her [or appearing to separate her] into a different social class, which may also have felt like taunting to her jealous killer.

Scenario 4: David Wilson and David Wilson II  

How do sexual predators operate [and are they necessarily murderers]?

In the past, John Ramsey has referred to JonBenét’s attacker as a creature. Specifically, in The Other Side of Suffering published in 2013, John refers to the killer as a “faceless creature.” In Death of Innocence, Ramsey uses the word creature as well, describing “it” as a “deranged assailant”, “a vicious monster”, “a pedophile”, “a psychopath” and someone who liked “snuff sex.”

Sexual predators, especially of children, are not always murderers, and stereotypical kidnappers are not often pedophiles.  The criminal profiles do not overlap!

The David Wilson case provides some truth serum to the silly charade of semantics described above. It’s a reality check not only on how a sexual predator operates but how you catch one.  It’s also a reminder of what sexual predators typically do and more significantly, don’t do.

In 2005 David Wilson attacked twelve women during a yearlong siege in Phoenix, Arizona.  The attacks were so frequent the cops eventually had every officer available combing the streets for days on end.  Such were Wilson’s indefatigable appetites, despite a heightened police alert, Wilson’s attacks continued.

Real sexual predators can’t control their appetites, and hence, re-offend until they are caught.  In the Ramsey case, there was clearly no child predator stalking the streets of Boulder either in the months before or immediately after JonBenét’s murder.  The notorious predator Robert Browne, also operating in Colorado, had already been apprehended by Christmas of 1996, so if JonBenét’s attacker wasn’t Browne, this had to be someone new.

In the Wilson case [also known as the A.M. rapist] dozens of police officers were called upon to hunt down the nocturnal predator. The neighborhood felt traumatized and terrorized, the cops committed to weeks of stakeouts, but the attacks continued regardless.

Wilson on the other hand was no slouch.  Committing a sexual crime without leaving DNA or fingerprints takes some doing.  Because Wilson had no priors, his DNA wasn’t on record, so strictly speaking it was not a DNA case, and DNA wasn’t going to be enough to catch him.  This case amounted to simple track and trace.  It was identifying strike patterns and doing stakeouts, and casting as wide a net as possible. The fact that Wilson struck so often meant the police could get closer to catching him just as he was learning to execute progressively “cleaner” attacks.   And Wilson was clearly improving at his criminal craft.  The question was, could the cops up their learning curve?

If Wilson was methodical in how he selected his victims, and if all his victims fit a particular profile [white, 20-46, all lived alone], how could one begin to apply the same insights to the Ramsey case?

If the police had waited for a DNA bingo – as the authorities in Boulder apparently still are more than twenty years later – they likely wouldn’t have caught Wilson as soon as they did.

A serial attacker has a carefully thought out plan, including entry and exit. If the Ramseys were right about the intruder, not only did he bungle the murder and kidnapping, he seemed to forget to molest his victim and underestimated the size of the suitcase he was going to smuggle JonBenét out with. Does this sound like an experienced attacker or a virgin killer?

Wilson’s work as a satellite television installer, plus his awareness of police tactics [his father was a police sergeant] taught Wilson to be meticulous about washing DNA from a scene.  His job also provided him with unique access to his victims. He watched them for weeks on end before striking.

Who had this kind of unique access to JonBenét? There are only a select number of people who could have watched JonBenét for weeks on end.  Typically, continuous day-and-night access to very young children is only possible for parents, siblings and friends of a similar age.

Thanks to his job, Wilson could “case the joint” before targeting and attacking victims. As such, Wilson certainly fits the description of an “inside job.”  But the profile only goes two steps: technician/laborer – sexual attacker.  None of Wilson’s victims were kidnapped and none of them murdered.

Now let’s look at a convicted child sex offender, ironically another David Wilson, this one from Houston, Texas. We’ll refer to him as Wilson II.  In this case, we can see what a child sex offender looks like, how he re-offends and what the sexual damage looks like.  Once again, DNA wasn’t used to link Wilson to the crime but something far worse, and far more repulsive.

Wilson II sexually assaulted his 23-month-old niece [his sister’s infant daughter] over a period of a year.  Wilson II had unrestricted access to the infant which fomented not just abuse but serial abuse. In this case the consequences are diabolical. When the toddler was taken to a doctor she was diagnosed with HIV, genital herpes and chlamydia. Reconstructive surgery was required to repair chronic infection to her private parts. A doctor informed police the child had been sexually abused due to the nature of the sexually transmitted diseases she was infected with.

So where does one find such a monster?  Well, not stalking neighborhoods like Wilson I, the satellite television installer.  The investigation into Wilson II started and stopped at the child’s home.

Here we have one horror piled onto another: had the police and doctors been more attentive, Wilson II could have been apprehended a year earlier than he was.  Think of that.  A year of abuse against a less than two-year-old child that could have been avoided.

The point is neither Wilson nor Wilson II were nameless or faceless creatures.  As soon as we view criminals as monsters, we remove them from their own sick psychologies, and worse, we remove ourselves from making any attempt to connect the perpetrators and their psyches to their crimes.

Ramsey’s description of a serial attacker suggests a bold, skilled criminal.  My impression of the attacker is kinda different.  The attack on JonBenét seemed clumsy, poorly planned, poorly executed; a colourful mixture of playfulness and panic.  The staging echoed all these qualities; the overkill in the murder itself is mirrored in the overkill of the staging. To strangle and bludgeon a small child is overkill.  A three-page Ransom Note is overkill.  So is inviting the neighborhood into a crime scene as a captive audience.

Bizarrely, Ramsey’s profile of the creature with “strange mannerisms” who might be “younger”, a “man” who “likes movies”, an “ex-con” and whose attack on JonBenét “wasn’t his first crime” was someone who may appear “perfectly normal.” Perfectly normal looking? Was John Prante perfectly normal looking as criminals go? Was Indle King? Was there nothing that mattered about Marvin Evan’s appearance?

Well simply going by appearances, wouldn’t that exclude John Mark Karr? It would also exclude the housekeeper [not younger, not male, no priors] as well as Access Graphics employees [not ex-cons, not younger, no priors], but who wouldn’t it exclude? Would it exclude Burke?

  • strange mannerisms
  • who might be younger
  • a man who likes movies
  • his attack on JonBenét wasn’t his first
  • someone who may appear perfectly normal

Who in this case appears perfectly normal and has strange mannerisms?

Scenario 5: Ian Stewart  Ian Stewart

Invoking A Kidnapping – A British Version of a Phantom Intruder

The man who would murder his fiancé Helen Bailey, a successful children’s author, met her under the slimmest of circumstances, just as he met his first wife, Diane.

“We met in the canteen and I stole a chip off her plate. That’s how we met,” Ian Stewart told a British court referring to his first wife, Diane. Stewart met Helen Bailey on a Facebook group for bereaved widows and widowers. But the slimmest chance is all a monster needs to get his hooks in, and even from a single hook, a lethal cancer can spread.

Diane Stewart, Ian Stewart’s first wife, died suddenly on the back patio of their house [supposedly of an “unexpected” epileptic fit], because her health had been deteriorating steadily before her death.

Was it just bad luck that women seemed to die suddenly and unexpectedly around Stewart?

Grief was the tie that bound Bailey’s fate to Stewart’s and perhaps blinded her to the fact that she was being gradually poisoned by someone in her own home. Greed was the tie that bound Stewart to Bailey.

Bailey’s unexplained disappearance, even before Stewart married her, was inexplicable to the authorities, at least at first. Unlike JonBenét, who was found after seven hours in the basement, Stewart’s wife was discovered five months after her disappearance buried and rotting in a cesspit [buried in her and Stewart’s shit in other words] under their house.  Her dog Boris was thrown into the stinking sludge as well, for good measure.

But Stewart thought he had a plausible explanation for Bailey’s death and disappearance.  She’d been kidnapped. Later the explanation was expanded to a “bungled” kidnapping.

It’s interesting that in Stewart’s version he identifies two kidnappers/attackers and has them moving freely through his home.  It’s also noteworthy that the moved manhole cover is another version of the broken basement window.

Stewart relayed a message from the kidnappers [received by phone]:

“Helen and Boris are with us. She is helping us solve a problem. Don’t tell anyone where Helen is.”

A few days later, Stewart claimed, there was a follow-up message, this time from his fiancé directly:

“I love you, sorry about everything.”

In this version, Stewart didn’t need a Ransom Note, but in the face of Helen Bailey’s continued absence, his explanation seemed plausible, and police accepted it for as long as five months after Bailey’s disappearance.

Stewart also slyly used the threat of the kidnappers to remain silent to explain his reticence during her long absence.  Stewart had thought of everything. It’s easy to play Monday morning Quarterback in a case like this, but we can see Stewart was able to outwit the cops for months.

The biggest advantage he had over the cops was the absence of a body.  While that was in play, Stewart could theoretically spin any yarn and in the absence of evidence, the cops had little choice but to accept Stewart’s evidence. But once Bailey’s body was discovered, Stewart became a natural suspect. Of course by then the case was already stone cold.  What was there to link him to the crime then?

Solving this case would have nothing to do with DNA evidence, or ransom notes, phone records or any other hard or soft forensic evidence.  It had nothing to do with statements or fingerprints, footprints or murder weapons.  It had to do with money transfers. Stewart had thought of everything except this.

Initially Stewart explained the large amount of money missing from his fiancé’s account had simply gone to the kidnappers.  But when the cops checked the actual accounts, who were the kidnappers?  Well, Stewart of course.  In the end, Stewart was caught by following the easiest evidence of all – the money trail.

Despite being armed with suspicious transfers into Stewart’s bank, without Bailey’s body there was little else to implicate Stewart.  For three months and hundreds of hours, police combed through Stewart’s [actually Bailey’s] 100 year old mansion.  It was only after consulting with the original blueprints from a former owner that they located a four metre cesspit in the garage area of the house.

If it had taken the cops much longer to locate the cesspit, Stewart may well have gotten away with murder, perhaps not for the first time. Stewart must have felt the septic tank was a “trump card.”  And in a real sense it was.

A body is an immensely valuable piece of evidence, revealing method of death, time of death but most important, it is causa sui in the evidentiary sense that a crime has taken place at all.  In other words, a body is self-evident, while the absence of a body is simply, evidence of absence.

The police in the Stewart case never came up with a smoking gun. They admitted no single piece of evidence indicated a murder investigation.  Its resolution came down to a culmination of small things, and figuring out the hidden backstory.

Incredibly, even after Bailey was discovered buried below the garage in Stewart’s home, Stewart maintained a ruse albeit with a few new touches added to his continuously evolving story.

Stewart’s motive was simple but it was also in a sense an enormous incentive.  He was playing a high stakes poker game for months or years on end, and he was playing to win.

The incentives were plenty: a £3,326,316 fortune, enormous properties as well as pension and life insurance payments from his fiancé.  Essentially though, the incentive boiled down to a single document: Helen Bailey’s will. The transaction was simple.  If Bailey died, Stewart won the entire jackpot, and he wouldn’t have to marry her to get his paws on it. But he would have to play his cards perfectly.  In 21 months, Stewart concocted his plan and lied about it for five months [two months until he reported her missing in April and three months after that when her body was discovered in July] after he’d executed it.

Stewart, like Indle King, was a university graduate, graduating with first class honors, so it’s not hard to imagine an educated man planning a crime for months initially outsmarting cops.

What we can’t imagine is this level of callousness until we see it for ourselves. Which are we more inclined to believe?  That a middle-aged dude who’d lost his first wife simply had a bad memory, and very bad luck with women, or that he was operating with crystal clear clarity, driven by greed, and capable of unspeakable cruelty?

As it turns out; the latter. Within hours of her murder, Stewart initiated a cover-up, beginning with the disposal of a duvet from the couple’s home at a refuse tip, captured on CCTV cameras. He also wasted no time getting the first of those big cash transfers underway.

Just a month after killing Bailey, Stewart renewed Arsenal season tickets, and used Bailey’s bank account to do so. But take the psychology a step further. Every time Stewart used the toilet of that house, he knew where the shit was headed, he knew he was burying the past and burying Bailey that much more, and moving that much further forward, into Bailey’s money. Think of the sick satisfaction he probably felt.

The edge the Ramseys had on Stewart were the aspersions cast on the investigators and the investigation itself.  Had Stewart been able to attack either, accusing them of harassing him or arresting him without cause, he could have delayed the discovery of Bailey’s remains, perhaps indefinitely.  Of course, Stewart’s biggest failing was the most obvious: his greed made him impatient and his impatience showed damning transfers of money, and lots of it, into his personal accounts.  He’d covered everything but he couldn’t cover the obvious – the money and his greed.

Prosecutor, Charles White, described Stewart as “an arch dissembler, he was able to trick everyone, so I think anybody who came across his path was a potential victim.”  The victim closest to Stewart, naturally, was Bailey.  As a successful author, she had to have an intelligent head on her shoulders, so how could Stewart get around that?

It turned out Stewart was surreptitiously stupefying Helen Bailey over a long period with the sleeping drug Zopiclone. And Stewart was gradually upping the dose. What Stewart had figured out was a “painless” and “easy” way not only for Bailey to die, but also for her to be murdered.  There wouldn’t need to be an effort, or a struggle, or any shedding of blood.

Stewart’s plan was brilliant for its cold-blooded cruelty and callousness.  Similar to John Prante, Stewart had drowned his victim, and done so in a way that he could shove in Bailey’s face the humiliation he’d “suffered” at having to “beg” her constantly for an allowance.

Bailey’s outstretched arm below the manhole also suggests a simmering consciousness at the time of her murder.  She may have been woozy and chronically compromised, but the realization of what Stewart was doing would have been something she could have smelled, and smelled acutely. The killing of Bailey’s dog Boris could also have involved drowning the dog while still alive in human excrement.

The only reason we know Stewart’s plan in such detail is because a successful chemical analysis was conducted by Dr Mark Piper, a forensic toxicologist, of Bailey’s hair.  There was little cell tissue to test and the hair seemed a long shot.  What investigators discovered were increasing amounts of Zopiclone in Bailey’s hair closer to the root, and decreasing amounts towards the tips.

During Bailey’s absence, Stewart sent a number of texts to her phone, claiming subsequently in court that she had it with her.  Stewart also travelled to the couple’s property in Kent where her phone connected to a router located at this property.  Fancy footwork for a man trained in Information Technology.  But for an arch dissembler, Stewart’s arrest was less fancy.

The arrest itself was filmed, as was Stewart’s badly-acted response to it.  We also see Stewart’s attempt to manipulate information out of the police, and their stalwart insistence that statements be made on the record at the cop shop.  Since all of this happens backgrounded by a staircase, one can’t help imagine the Ramseys in a parallel universe, fairing somewhat differently at the hands of authorities.

And here’s the key insight into a monster.  Some of the cruelest monsters are the biggest cowards. This is the part we fail to reconcile.  Because why should someone cunning and cruel enough to murder, someone brave enough to kill, lack courage?  It’s precisely this lack of courage in life, this lazy approach to resurrecting one’s status from the cesspools of failure that’s the source of the cowardice in the first place.

An investigator involved in the case called the endless flushing of shit onto the corpse of his murdered fiancé “an incredibly cruel and cynical way to dispose of someone you claimed to love.”

But wasn’t this the same shitty cynicism that prompted the Ramseys to dispose of JonBenét in the way they did, flushing her away with three sheets of paper into a basement which would one day fill to overflowing with a case comprised mostly of bullshit?

Robert Frost once said, “Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.” If anyone can do that in the Ramsey case, they either deserve a medal or a dishonourable discharge. Perhaps the latter.  There’s an unexpected side-effect to a fully immersive Intruder Investigation.  What we invariably find is where there is a real intruder, there’s real grief. When Karla Brown’s fiancé was asked years after her murder to describe the scene in the basement that midsummer’s day, Mark Fair reacted with immediate grief. He broke down on the stand sobbing uncontrollably.  It was as if the murder had happened that very day.

Indle King, in sharp contrast, showed no remorse for his wife’s death in court. Where was the grief in Marvin’s Evan’s home, or in Marvin Evans himself [who went to work to establish an alibi]?  Even the sex predator David Wilson expressed remorse for the sexual pain he’d inflicted on his victims, although his knowledge of legal procedures perhaps played into this display.  How was Ian Stewart able to go on a luxury cruise in the middle of an investigation into his fiancé’s murder?

When we apply the same questions to the Ramseys, we must also necessarily ask, if the intruder narrative is fake then isn’t the grief fake too?  If there is an absence of grief, with whom is it most absent?



Two Sides to the McCann Story – or more?

“Every truth has two sides; it is as well to look at both, before we commit ourselves to either.”  — Aesop

“No matter how flat you make your pancakes, it still has two sides.” — Daniel Tosh

“In seeking truth you have to get both sides of a story.” — Walter Cronkite

Having covered half a dozen high-profile criminal cases, some of them very difficult and very complex cases, we believe we’re ready to investigate Madeleine’s story.

If there are two sides to Madeleine’s story, then there’s certainly an opportunity for even more sides to the story merely on the McCann’s side alone. This is in terms of Kate’s version of events vis-à-vis Gerry’s.  There is also the possibility that Kate’s version may deviate from “the McCann’s” narrative or that Gerry’s might.  By McCann narrative, I mean their common cause.* If and when we find these deviations, we will find signature cracks to this case.


When dealing with the possibility of more than one suspect [and at one time** police believed both Madeleine’s parents were prime suspects or “arguidos”], there is not one arch narrative mirrored by one opposing narrative.  When there are several suspects*** there are typically several opposing narratives, each claiming to be the definitive narrative.

In other words:

McCann narrative vs Counter narrative

Gerry McCann narrative vs Counter narrative

Kate McCann narrative vs Counter narrative

Gerry McCann narrative vs McCann narrative

Kate McCann narrative vs McCann narrative

Gerry McCann narrative vs Kate McCann narrative

McCann narrative vs McCann narrative

The counter narrative is effectively the narrative the McCanns wish to oppose, control or discredit.  Typically the counter narrative confronts the opposing narrator as a suspect, where he or she, or both, are seen as a protagonist(s) in his or her, or their, own invented spiel.

If it sounds complicated at a single glance, it is.  It’s much simpler to sample one piece at a time, and then piece the whole thing together and see how it fits.

Having written one book short of three trilogies on the unsolved JonBenét Ramsey case, we hope the readers will allow us, through the course of this narrative, to make certain linkages between both the Ramsey case and the McCann case as they come up. It is also useful to draw similarities and inferences from various other cases.

These intertextual similarities help us to develop confidence in what’s there, and to notice what’s far more important: what isn’t there.  The absence of evidence is sometimes the more compelling evidence.  It is the nature of true crime that information is missing and not merely missing, but hidden.  More often than not these holes in the suspecttrue crime narrative are found by inference.

We will use various data mining techniques to filter through this enormous narrative.  What we’re hunting for are inconsistencies in the narrative cosmology.  The dissimilarities help us to see the idiosyncrasies of a particular case on their own terms. So, for example, we might ask:

What do abductions of small children typically look like?

Do abductions look any different when they happen in foreign countries? 

What sort of profile can we draw up based on an abduction scenario and does that profile fit this case? 

If so, how so?

If not, why not?

On the other side of the narrative divide we might ask simple questions like:

What kind of people are doctors?

What kind of parents are doctors?

How are doctors different [as people and parents] from others, if at all?

Simple questions in true crime often have difficult answers.

I might as well be upfront right now and make it emphatically clear that the PR surrounding this case is absolutely staggering.  Given that no criminal trial specific to this case, or a trial for those thought to be directly involved ever occurred, the intensity of the coverage is even more mind-boggling.

However, the saturation media coverage surrounding this unsolved case is something the McCann and the Ramsey cases [a case twice as old as the McCann case] have in common.  There are two sides to saturation media.  There is the hijacking of a particular narrative one way or the other in the media but not necessarily by the media, and then there is the repeated laying down of a narrative – of a version of events – by the suspects themselves.

The effect of these repeated assertions and also counter-assertions by other players and responses to these – in the media – is similar to making sworn statements in court and then being cross-examined in court.  The only difference is, in the media there are far more opportunities and potential players who can control, influence or steer a narrative.

While the media can be an effective tool, it can also turn on its masters.  Give someone enough rope to hang themselves and invariably they do, don’t they?

Just a year or two ago, we likely would not have thought a cogent analysis of this case would be possible without court documents, which necessarily are a detailed public record of various positions, including expert testimonies and detailed outlays of forensic evidence.  The Ramsey case, I believe, provides a prescient example where more than sufficient narrative has been laid down [even in the media, especially in the media] despite the absence of a trial.  In addition to these “unofficial” narratives are countless depositions and police statements.

In both cases, many additional narratives have emerged through alternative sources. There are countless interviews which form part of a public record.  There are also several books, not merely those by the [former] prime suspect/s but also by the investigator in charge of the case.

In the Ramsey case, both parents were suspects and both parents wrote a book to “set the record straight.”  In the McCann case both parents were suspects at one time, but it was Kate McCann – the more media shy of the couple – who elected to tell her story.


In the spirit of two suspects and two sides to a story, the DOUBT narrative is a two [possibly three] part series.  The second narrative interrogates the events and players crucial to what happened on May 3rd in sharp detail. The second narrative attempts to provide a cogent scenario for who, why and when Madeleine was killed, and what happened to her remains. The second narrative also deals more particularly with Gerry and Kate.

The ambit of this narrative is to briefly introduce the characters involved [such as the Tapas 9], to contextualize the massive media coverage, to meticulously locate the case on a beach in Southern Portugal and to resolve the greatest mystery of all bedevilling this case: the motive surrounding Madeleine’s death.

If Madeleine did die, how was her death and disposal covered up?  The Ramsey case provides, I believe, very useful reference material in terms of the first part of that question.  Some elements of the second are also there. However, what isn’t found in reference cases is part of the unique terrain of this case and we make no bones about it, these are very difficult areas to intuit and interrogate.  It can be done but requires precision analysis, absolute concentration and an absorption of all the available data.  All of these then feed into an attempt to try to interrogate a compelling psychology
surrounding the disposal of one’s child, if that is what happened.

Part of how we intend to achieve this is by trying to understand the McCanns themselves.  This discussion spans both narratives, but starts off with a broader focus which becomes more targeted and more surgical as the narrative progresses. Although we begin with a particular end in mind, we must let the evidence and the actors guide us.  The difficult part is deciding what to use to guide you and what to discard as mischievous malingering.

What is DOUBT?


DOUBT is like a raven that doesn’t belong in a cloudy sky. It flies low over tawny terrain and crawling, baby blue waters of the North Atlantic. Like a black dagger cutting across white limestone, it searches across many paths for the true story of a solitary little girl.  The path to the doctors’ daughter requires a bold line of inquiry, so how about this:

What if the whole world thought Madeleine McCann was missing when she was never abducted to begin with?

What if Madeleine was murdered?

This book occupies itself primarily with the first question.

*Common cause is also known as a “shared purpose.”  In the legal sense it is the set of facts agreed on by both the prosecution and defense.

**On September 7th 2007 the McCanns were formally identified as suspects in their daughter’s disappearance. They were accused by police of killing Madeleine, hiding her for several weeks and then secretly disposing of Madeleine’s body.

***High-profile cases involving more than one prime suspect include the JonBenét Ramsey case, the Amanda Knox case, Steven Avery and the West Memphis Three. Ultimately the prosecution, or prosecution failures, in all these cases were arguably far from adequate.


The first installment of DOUBT will be available on Amazon in May

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Where were you when Madeleine was reported Missing?

The onset of the McCann case predates my work as a true crime author by about seven years.  When I first heard about it I was in the process of quitting my job as a Data Team Lead at a large pharmaceutical company, moving north and working in a new field – the media.

Press 2

The media played an enormous role in publicizing the McCann case. One cannot and should not interrogate the McCann narrative without acknowledging the media as a sort of partner at best, co-conspirator at worst.

As a key player in the narrative, the McCanns became the main source of the narrative [in Britain], and if the media shaped the narrative so did the McCanns.

The part that is easy to miss is that the arch narrative also shaped many of the other players, not least of all, Madeleine herself.  Madeleine, despite her cause trumpeted far and wide, is still missing.  But was she really missing to begin with?* Is Madeleine still alive and still missing, or neither?

To understand the scale and scope of the impact of the McCanns on Britain, we need to examine the McCanns and the media.  In 2007 the media landscape was in flux. A powerful ongoing narrative like the McCann case helped the media find its feet and find its direction.  The irony is in learning to tell the McCann’s story across brand new platforms the media also proved how effectively it could be used as a tool for “post-truth.”

As a Communications Specialist in the country’s second largest media house in Johannesburg, South Africa, I’d be a worker bee inside a buzzing open plan newsroom. Yet certain aspects in the new role were the same as the old one – to filter through data, to determine statistical trends and relationships, and to effectively map and communicate these. The goal was to understand which news stories were gaining traction and why they resonated with audiences, and to use this data to build the media brand and improve our advertising income.

It was an exciting time, although a stressful time for media houses worldwide.  Newspapers had to deal with a strange new player to the media landscape – digital media – and they didn’t quite know what to make of it.  Some ignored the online dimension as a passing fad while circulations plunged.  Others – like Times Media** where I worked – tried to do something with it.  And social media, well that was a brand new peripheral thing that the mainstream media were even more in the dark about.  My boss, until very late in the game, didn’t know about Twitter and when she did hear about it, wasn’t convinced there was any point to it.  Even less, how an online news service might use it.

By car, I was around 13 461 km [8364.5 miles] away, give or take, from Rothley, in Leicester which is where the McCanns were based from September onwards.  And yet the case often made headlines on my side of the world.

I recall at the time I couldn’t make up my mind what had happened to Madeleine, one way or the other. All of it was pretty confusing.  There didn’t seem much more to go on at the time other than the expressions of the parents.  Did they look like they were involved in their daughter’s death or disappearance, or didn’t they?

Kate and Gerry

The first time I saw the McCanns they were on television standing outside their home looking rather glum while they had someone else speaking entirely on their behalf.  I thought it a little odd, and I also thought the fellow representing them seemed a little odd.  He seemed to really enjoy reading and conveying his message, and although he conveyed it well, it seemed…I don’t know…too well conveyed.


The couple standing alongside didn’t seem emotional one way or the other; if anything they seemed faintly annoyed.  Surely when the media come to your door [apparently at your request], it’s a chance to make an appeal for someone you care about and a chance to make that appeal with all your heart.  So why weren’t they?

I didn’t know then that various appeals had already been made at other times especially between May and August.  I didn’t know then about the many special events dreamed up by the McCanns or the saturation of media coverage, such as the balloon releases on the 50 day and 100 day anniversaries of Madeleine’s abduction.  I didn’t know then what was circling endlessly in the British tabloid media.  All I knew was that announcement I saw in September of three people standing in front of the house seemed stilted and charming at the same time.  In other words a bit off.

But then the tides of time swept me one way and the McCanns another.  Now it’s 2017, and we’re at the ten year anniversary of poor Madeleine’s departure from this Earth.  Yes, I believe Madeleine is dead, not simply “disappeared” and even less “abducted.”  DOUBT will attempt to explain why that is, even though her parents have steadfastly*** claimed the opposite, and still do even today.

*Madeleine McCann was reported missing at 22:40 by an emergency call to police.

**Times Media in South Africa is related to Britain’s Times.

***On rare occasions in mid-July 2007 Kate McCann implied that she believed Madeleine was dead.

DOUBT will be available on Amazon in May

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