An Excerpt from sequin star #JonBenetRamsey

From the chapter…

Mary, Mary Quite Contrary

 Deputy D.A. Mary Keenan said the body language of John and Patsy wasn’t suggestive of deception, and that men were not in a position to judge Patsy Ramsey’s demeanor. — Steve Thomas

What we see with Keenan is a logical psychology [a history of criminal behavior is logical] but it’s not applied with logical intuition.  Instead she leaps impulsively to suspects who suit her theory. She makes the same impulsive leaps in her intuitions because the original logic isn’t tied to the genuine fabric of the family dynamic.  McReynolds and Karr are two of the most implausible suspects for absolutely logical reasons, but Keenan is too blinded by her beliefs to appreciate this.

It makes me wonder to what extent the driving forces of this case are cancer and Christianity.  Lou Smit’s wife died of cancer and so eventually did Lou.  This coupled with Lou’s Christianity and the Ramseys’ Christianity set the stage for a marriage between investigator and suspect made in heaven [or perhaps instead of heaven, the safe haven of the District Attorney’s office, who knows?]

Were these same forces – driven by personal circumstances and personal belief – not driving the psychology of this case for people like Keenan?


When [Hunter] left, Mary Lacy took over, and she was even worse. At least–according to Henry Lee and ST–Hunter would hear all sides. Lacy was like Paul Simon’s Boxer: hears what she wants to hear and disregards the rest. She refused to even SPEAK to the investigators who worked on the case during Hunter’s tenure. She made up her mind from Day One that since the Ramsey’s didn’t fit the standard profile, they couldn’t have done this.

She sounds a little like Lou Smit, right? Lou soon became a lone ranger on the case, and an outspoken one, and Keenan, in her own way, did the same.

If there’s any case where one’s own biases are going to transfer into how one sees the case it’s this one.  What’s our relationship like with our own family, with siblings, with our mother, our father, with strangers, with friends?  Those individual experiences will tend to inform our intuitions, but is that intuition coming from the case or from us?

“This is not a greenhorn…”


Coffman said, “At least from what she told me about it, she was basing her opinion on the Ramseys’ innocence on the fact that they don’t fit the profile of murdering parents. This would have been the summer of 2000 that I talked to her.”

Again, I think one has to be careful fitting the profile to the crime.  There’s a difference between a profile for a murderer and an accessory.  What is the profile for someone who habitually covers up?  What is the profile for someone who dresses up, choreographs, and manages a scene and a narrative in a certain way?  Does this profile of pageantry and “controlling the narrative” fit the parents?

But if Keenan grew reticent late in the game, that wasn’t always so.


Keenan… joined the Boulder prosecutors’ office in 1983 [and] was far from a silent bystander in the early stages of the investigation.

Over the course of three days from June 22 to June 24 in 1998 – following a major presentation by Boulder detectives to the district attorney’s office but before Hunter’s announcement that he would take the case to the grand jury – the Ramseys submitted to a second round of interrogations. Keenan made an impression on investigators at that time.

Because the Ramseys distrusted Boulder police – who they believed were fixated on them as suspects – John Ramsey was interrogated by veteran El Paso County homicide investigator Lou Smit and grand jury specialist Michael Kane, while Patsy was grilled by Denver district attorney’s investigator Tom Haney and Boulder prosecutor Trip DeMuth.

All interviews were videotaped and every few hours, completed tapes were transported from the Broomfield Police Department – where the interviews were conducted to avoid media attention – to Boulder, where they were studied by Boulder detectives and prosecutors, including then-Deputy District Attorney Keenan.

And so Keenan herself studied the interrogations [just as we have], and what did the smart, tough, practical prosecutor make of her careful study of the Ramseys? ….

Read more in sequin star now available on Amazon Kindle

JonBenet Ramsey Case Insights: #2 Red Flags Surround Photo 17.7

Before 09:00 on the day after Christmas, 1996, detectives asked John Ramsey for the film inside his camera.  John promptly took a number of photos in order to reach the end of the film reel.  Inadvertently John took a photograph of the wet bar area and a short glass table with two legal notepads on it.  This was Photo 17.7 from John’s own personal camera with film that also contained Christmas Day photos.  In 17.7 two notepads are clearly visible on the knee high glass table.  But in crime scene photographs taken during the “kidnapping phase” some unknown time later the notepads were missing from the glass table**.

  • Were they missing because John had already handed both pads to police? spiral-staircase
  • Or had the pads been moved before more police arrived***?
  • Where did John go when asked by detectives for samples of his handwriting?
  • Where did he collect the pads?
  • Did he collect them from the glass table as Photo 17.7 suggests?
  • Or did he collect them from somewhere else?
  • If the latter, then what?…

Let’s quickly get acquainted with this area of the house.  You see the infamous spiral staircase in the background where the three page ransom note sat on one of the bottom steps.  Directly to the right of the spiral staircase are the steps that lead down to the butler pantry [also called butler’s kitchen].  JonBenet and Patsy occasionally used the butler pantry area for painting.


Just slightly to the right of those butler stairs, on the same level as the spiral staircase, is a small sink and counter area that one could refer to as a wet bar.

Continuing right along that wall, you see the rectangular glass table [with shelves just above it.]  

To the right of the table is the entrance to the kitchen where Patsy dialed 911 and where the Sharpie pen was ultimately found.


Note the position of the white wet bar in the schematic in relation to the spiral staircase and low glass table.

Back to the table in the hallway.  Where are the two white lined notepads?  Why is that significant?  From police photos, the notepads – one of which was Patsy’s and was used to write the Ransom Note – aren’t there.  In Photo 17.7 from John’s own personal camera – with film that contained Christmas Day photos – two notepads are clearly visible on that table.

When exactly where those pads moved, by whom, and why?

Here’s Detective Lou Smit prodding John for an explanation of Photo 17.7 in June 1998.

SMIT:  Just one more question.  I have got a photograph here called 17.7.  Somehow this is in your roll of pictures or someone’s roll of pictures from before [investigators arrived and took photos] okay, and it shows, first of all, put it to the camera so they can see that.  And I am going to show you that.

JOHN:  Yeah.

SMIT:  Do you know who would have taken that photograph?

JOHN:  It’s remotely possible that I was having trouble with my camera, I think, and I don’t remember doing this, but I can remember just clicking camera, trying to see if it worked.

SMIT:  When was that?

JOHN:  I mean, I don’t know.  I mean it was, you know, the only time we got the cameras out were typically at Christmas time.  But this looks like the pad frankly that I gave her [Linda Arndt.]

SMIT:  Does that look like the spot where you would – that you picked it up from?

JOHN:  Yes, my recollection, yeah.

SMIT:  So that could be the actual pad of a picture [I think he means picture of the actual pad] taken prior to what happened?

JOHN:  That’s possible.

Well then why wasn’t it on the table when investigators photographed that table on the morning of December 26th?   In true Ramsey fashion, there’s a whole lotta waffling going on including the I don’t remember, but I remember and the ridiculous statement that they never took pictures other than at Christmas time, but oops, they couldn’t even manage to do that, that year.

As the questioning continued, John’s answers got dodgier and dodgier, but wait til you hear how Patsy responded to the discovery…

*Photo 17.7 has never been shared with the public

**The pads had been moved from the glass table [see red arrow] and placed in a different spiral-staircase_liunknown location, until they were given to the police upon request some time after 09:30. 

***More police arrived around 09:30.  BPD Sergeant Bob Whitson arrives at 09:30 and enters through the rear exterior kitchen door. Per the Bonita Papers: “Whitson and Patterson then asked John for samples of his handwriting.” JonBenet’s bedroom door was sealed around 10:30 that morning.

Read more in The Day After Christmas 3, due out this month.

The first two parts are available on Amazon.

Who Broke the Basement Window?

Fairly early on in researching the JonBenet case, Nick and I suspected something was really off with the broken window story.

img_5850At first, the window was no big deal to John.  He didn’t seem to want to draw attention to it. If you want to make the case that someone came in from the outside of the house and broke in, wouldn’t you be cheerleading a broken window as prima facie, bona fide whoopdedoo evidence?  So why does John not even mention it to the cops that morning?  As a concerned parent he should be waving a great big flag at it.  So why doesn’t he?

The police aren’t sure whether there’s been any break in anywhere, and what’s more, are mumbling about no footprints in snow.  But the broken window is John’s big opportunity to say – wow, this is how and where they could have gotten in.  Except John didn’t seem to be thinking that.  Besides this, why is it that the window was broken months ago?

What we want to know is:

  1. Why are there inconsistencies around the window [and what are they exactly?]
  2. If John didn’t break the window, who did?
  3. Was it broken 4-5 months earlier, or on the night of the murder?
  4. If it was broken on the night of the murder, who broke it, how, why and what does this mean?

Late on December 27th, the police first discussed the broken window with John.  It’s 9:30pm and Linda Arndt and Larry Mason are at the Fernie’s house where the Ramseys are staying…

Linda Arndt’s report dated Jan 8, 1997:

John was told that there was a broken window located in the basement of his home.  [In response] John told us that he had broken out a basement window approx. 4 to 5 months ago.  This window was located in the room where the Christmas decorations were kept.  The grate covering the file-nov-29-11-52-31-pmwindow well to this window was not secured.  John had been locked out of the house.  John told us he removed the grate, kicked in the basement window, and gained entrance to the house from this window.  John told us he had not re-secured the window nor had he fixed the window which he had broken.

Let’s consider a hypothetical scenario.  John and/or Patsy intentionally break the glass on Dec 25/25 as part of a staging.  Again, we’re stuck with the quandary of why not bring it to the attention of the police?  Plus, why didn’t they leave the glass on the ground?  If you’re creating the illusion that somebody forced their way in, then leave the evidence and make sure somebody sees it.  They didn’t do that either.

There’s also the possibility that John really did break the window that summer because he was locked out, therefore he really didn’t think it was suspicious when he saw it on December 26.  Nevertheless, a broken window that could be opened from the outside would still be a point of entry/exit, so why not tell the police that?  Why did Patsy say she told the housekeeper about the broken window but the housekeeper, Linda Hoffman Pugh, knew nothing about it from Patsy, let alone saw that it was broken?

In our book The Day After Christmas 2, the plot thickens. We interrogate the statements of John, Patsy and Burke on the broken window.  Who was there when it was broken, when was it broken and how?  Do you think the three offer three consistent statements or do you think all three statements contradict one another?…

Part 2 of The Day After Christmas trilogy is available now, exclusively on Amazon.  Be on the lookout for Part 3 in December.


Beth Karas on what should have happened – legally speaking – in the #JonBenetRamsey case

“You gotta take the tough cases to trial.  Sometimes you just have to do it and let the jurors decide because it is the right thing to do.” – Beth Karas

Last month, Investigation Discovery aired their special on JonBenet Ramsey titled An American Murder Mystery.  Beth Karas was a featured legal analyst on the program and offered insights on the suspects, including Mark Karr.

This week, she joined Nick and I for a discussion on numerous aspects of the case spanning the 20 years that have passed since the murder of JonBenet.

We delve into Alex Hunter.  Were his investigative choices strategic?  Should the Grand Jury indictment have been filed?  What about Lou Smit; were his findings objective?    We also touch on Linda Arndt, Steve Thomas, Ollie Gray… and many more.  And of course, we discuss the Ramseys.

“Mark Klaas, I have read, whose daughter Polly Klaas was kidnapped and murdered right from her home in a pajama party she’s having with girlfriends when she was about 13, begged them [John and Patsy] to cooperate with the police.  Work with the police.  Act like parents who have had their daughter senselessly, brutally murdered.” – Beth Karas

Watch the full discussion here…

For more on the JonBenet case, read The Craven Silence, parts 1 and 2, available on Amazon Kindle.

Beth Karas will be featured on the Reelz Channel program Hollywood Homicide Uncovered offering her expertise on the Phil Spector case.