Arms in rigor 2

Discussion in 'Justice for JonBenet Discussion - Public Forum' started by koldkase, Dec 30, 2012.

  1. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    There's an old thread on this, but it goes a couple of years back, and of course we (I) got off on a number of tangents, so I'm just starting a new one to make it easier to start from scratch for us.

    Remember my questions about the crime scene photo which we saw very late in the history of this case where the body was still in the home, near the Christmas tree? We can see the living room rug under it.

    Also, we can see the paper bags on the hands of the child, standard operating procedure for LE when transporting the body of a crime victim, to preserve evidence on the hands. (Plastic bags can cause them to sweat, displacing evidence and degrading DNA.)

    What bothered me most about that photo is the position of the arms and hands we see in it. They're not in the "over her head" position we so long had been told they were in when JR found the body, which was in rigor. Rigor would have only continued for some 12 hrs or so before it would have begun to recede, as well. So when the coroner got to the body at the Ramsey home, about 8 pm that night, the hands would still have been in rigor, in the position in which we see them in this photo:


    We speculated a lot on why this photo depicts something other than "arms over her head." Remember the "drawing" and TV movie we saw, with them above, but to the each side of her head? That's not in this photo.

    Some wondered if the medical examiner broke the rigor to take this picture for some reason. It seemed an odd thing to do, but I'm not medical examiner, so really just can't figure it out.

    But today reading John Ramsey's 1998 interview with then DA investigator Smit and special prosecutor Kane, I think I may have figured it out. Maybe not, but let me continue with my thought in the next post.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2012
  2. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    On day one of three consecutive days of interviews the Ramseys gave with the DA's Office in June, 1998, John described what he saw and did when he found Jonbenet's body in the cellar room.

    I'm including more than the focus of the wrist cord because I think the wording John used may be the source for the misunderstanding that the arms and hands were tied ABOVE the child's head, as in higher than, on each side. I'll bolden the passage I'm focusing on:

    So JR said her arms/hands were "tied up behind her head."

    Now here is the "depiction" we had for years and took for granted as based on the actual position of the arms and hands in rigor:

    Attached Files:

  3. Karen

    Karen Member

    I think I know what you're getting at. I don't think any of us noticed the difference in the words "over" and "behind."
  4. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    Looking at the caption on the drawing depicting the body's position, we can see it was based on the autopsy. But I now believe it was simply misinterpreted. Using what Ramsey himself said about the position of the arms, let's compare:

    What if JR meant the CORD was looped around BEHIND her head, meaning her arms were "tied up behind her head" because the cord was looped around her head/neck?

    That would explain what held her arms up like they are shown in the actual photo, freezing them in rigor that way.

    Though of course that just gives me more questions....

    Attached Files:

  5. Karen

    Karen Member

    That could explain the long length of cord between the two wrists where it was tied.
  6. DeeDee

    DeeDee Member

    I am sure the coroner did not break rigor to take that photo. For one thing, the stage of rigor is very important in a crime scene- and the coroner himself might not have been there at the time the photo was taken- most crime photos have a special forensic photographer who would never interfere with a crime scene. The term "up over her head" is nothing more than JR's own version. That drawing that so many seem to view as gospel was drawn by someone who never even saw the crime scene or the body. It was drawn from a description.

    Det. Arndt NEVER mentioned stopping JR from trying to untie her arms. We know for a fact that the autopsy disclosed NO marks on her wrists that indicate she had been tied at all. The loose cord on one wrist is nothing more than staging.

    One thing though - rigor mortis is the reason there is such a long length of cord between her arms. Her wrists COULDN't be pulled closer together.
  7. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    I am pondering that very thing.

    But that would mean she'd been dead long enough to be in rigor before the wrist binding was cut and tied.

    I don't think there is any question she was alive when she left the White's party...too many people would have to have conspired to cover that up, a la Nancy Krebs insanity.

    So let's say outside chance, she died at the Stine's house--which I am not saying she did, but following through with the implication of your statement.

    That's sometime around 9 pm she would have died. Then her body was taken to her house; and rigor would be setting in by what time, which would demand cutting the cord at the length to tie around both wrists?

    See my problem? How could there be that much rigor, even if she died that early, to be in rigor already when the cord was tied and 911 was called at 5:50 a.m.?

    I'm sure I'm missing something important in your post. Sorry, as you may have to explain it to me. And thanks in advance.
  8. DeeDee

    DeeDee Member

    Rigor sets in the arms before the legs. We know she was in full rigor (total body involvement) at 1:30 PM. With death occurring around midnight-1 AM, there was plenty of time for rigor to pull her arms up into that position. Although the cord around her neck killed her, We don't know for sure when the loops were put around her wrists. With no marks to guide us, it could very well have come much later- possibly even during JR's 10 AM "disappearance".
  9. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    Now that's an interesting thought.

    One thing I've pondered when looking at that photo with the bagged hands is she looks almost like she was lying on her side, in bed, with her arms/hands in a common position during sleep, in front of the head, almost a "prayer" position?

    This might explain the blood on the pillowcase Haney discussed with Patsy, implying that was from JB's nose.

    But wouldn't livor mortis tell that tale? If she were on her side, versus her back, and then moved?

    I guess I'm wondering what would have kept her arms in that position long enough for them to freeze that way in rigor. If she were on her back, it seems they'd have to be suspended somehow, but was there any indication of that at autopsy?

    I have observed a faint "white line" on the right wrist in one crime scene photo which I've wondered about. I could be imagining it, as the pics are so bad, or it could be from ink bleed in the photo, or in a tabloid, or some such. If it was there, because it's white it could have been from the cord on the wrist, post mortem, I'm thinking.

    Or are you referencing the "boxing" position which rigor sometimes causes in victims? I know you're good at this, so thanks for taking the time to explain all you do, Deedee, as I'm losing so much from all the years of speculation and discussion I have a harder time keeping up than ever.

    There's another thing about this picture that bothers me: if her arms were in "front" and "above" and not to the sides and above, where is her face turned to the "side"? I don't see that in this photo, either, as the rug at the edge of her back indicates she's in more of a curled-up, fetal position than a laid-out-on-her-back one?

    I'm so confused at this point. WTH is going on in this picture?
  10. DeeDee

    DeeDee Member

    Yes, KK - the "boxer's" position (arms pulled up, bent at the elbow). The process of rigor "pulls" the arms into this position in many cases- they need not be kept in that position as it forms. In think in JB's case, they were possibly at her sides or across her lower abdomen or even bent at the elbow, wrists near her chin or ears. Either position would have allowed them to be pulled up into the position in the photo, as the muscles contracted tighter and tighter, caused by the chemical process of rigor mortis.
    Livor mortis is not a chemical process, per se. It is simply gravity acting on liquid inside the body. Livor forms rather quickly, and in JB's case there is no evidence the body was moved (at least not during the UNfixed time). But by the time livor was fixed, rigor will have progressed significantly, making the possibility that the body was moved very remote. She could have been moved from deeper in the wineceller to a place nearer the door without disturbing rigor or livor if she was merely pulled along the floor on the blanket until she was close enough to be seen when someone opened the door. I believe this is what may have happened when JR "disappeared" that morning for 2 hours. He was rearranging the crime scene. And I think this made FW sit up and take notice, as he had looked in there and seen nothing. I think she was in there, but deeper into he room.
  11. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    Thanks for explaining this to me, Deedee. Again. :blush:

    I really have to think about this. Again.
  12. Learnin

    Learnin Member

    Wow. Good post, DeeDee! A lot to ponder here.
  13. otg

    otg Member

    I certainly could be wrong (it has happened), but I believe the boxer’s position (or pugilistic position, or equestrian position) referred to above is more a reaction to heat than a normal body response during rigor mortis. It is fairly uncommon unless a person has maybe died in a house fire or their body exposed in some way to extreme heat.

    After Joseph Goebbels and his wife killed their six children and then themselves, his aides tried to burn his body. Because of an insufficient amount of fuel, his body wasn’t completely burned. It was found bent at the waist and knees with one arm raised showing an outstretched hand. Soldiers who found the body joked that he looked like he was riding a horse (equestrian position) and “seig heiling†in death. (I’m not making this up.)

    Extreme heat causes rapid drying of the muscle tissue and tendons, therefore shrinkage -- which results in contraction of the limbs. If you’ve ever cooked some kind of meat (muscle tissue) in the oven and seen it curl one way or another, you’ve seen this very thing happen because of the difference in the rate of shrinkage.

    I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t think the position of JonBenet’s arms had anything to do with anything other than their having been in that position during the process of rigor mortis.

    But then.... I could be wrong. :whistle:
  14. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    Now that you mention it, I do remember "boxing position" of the arms being mentioned as an element of someone dying in a fire.

    Thanks for bringing that up.

    I'm just so confused at this point about the position of the body in rigor, I can't get it in my head how that photo of the bagged hands compares with such a different position illustrated in the "drawing" many of us had relied on for years. The description in the autopsy is also vague enough that I can't figure out the discrepancy, either.

    It makes me wonder if the drawing was based on a bad interpretation of the description and we've simply mistakenly thought it was correct for so many years.

    It's frustrating to waste so much time on misinformation.
  15. heymom

    heymom Member

    Yes, I think that's exactly the problem, KK. We have had no access to the real information and so we've had to play detective with what little we had access to, including that very famous depiction of JonBenet with her arms right up over her head, and obviously NOT in any sort of rigor. It looks as if she'd just passed away...well, actually, no, it looks as if she is sleeping, not even dead. I'm 100% sure her rigid body looked NOTHING like that drawing. She had livor mortis, was cold, her lips were blue, her feet must have been dead white. Somewhat surprised the tabloids didn't go for the sensational and have the artist draw her body as it must have looked!

  16. heymom

    heymom Member

    Oh my gosh, it sure WOULD make FW take notice!!! He would then KNOW for sure that the Ramseys not only knew that JonBenet was dead, but that someone in the family had gone into that room and moved her closer to the door so she could be "found" at last. That would explain why JR and PR started distancing themselves from the Whites and tossing them under the bus at every opportunity - as well as possibly threatening them with legal action - because they knew that Fleet's testimony could destroy their entire house of lies.

    But didn't Fleet testify in front of the grand jury? If he told the truth about that morning, why wouldn't the grand jury vote to indict?

    God how I hate Boulder Colorado.
  17. Cherokee

    Cherokee FFJ Senior Member

    I've always thought the artist's rendition was just that ... an artist's rendition of what they thought JonBenet's body looked like from the words spoken by John. (Some details, like the bracelet, were added from the short version of Meyer's autopsy report.) I never believed it was an eyewitness image or even that accurate. In fact, do we even know where this artist rendition originally came from?

    If you look at the photo taken of JonBenet lying on her side with her arms bent up next to her face, and you take that image and turn it on its back in your mind, then JonBenet's arms ARE up over and "above" her head. I think that is what John was describing as JonBenet's arms being "above" her head - in the vertical plane above her, not the horizontal plane on the floor. Does that make sense?
  18. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    Yeah, that's exactly what I'm wondering myself. did those hands/arms get in THAT position? They had to be either "tied up" to put them there, someway, frozen in rigor eventually, OR she froze in rigor on her which case, the body was either moved or there's a huge missing piece of the puzzle here.

    And we've been deliberately misled...if by omission...all these years.
  19. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    Oh, those autopsy/crime scene photos have dispelled any "romantic" depiction anyone might have ever had about the brutal murder of this child.

    I will never understand, TO THE DAY I DIE, how the Ramseys were not INSANE over Lou Smit publishing those photos.

    The fact that they had no problem with that tells me exactly what they cared about--having disinformation spread and themselves cast as poor victims.

    And the "intruder" gets a high five from Team Ramsey.

    Honestly, I've always believed that jams and Lou Smit got their "compensation" with the blessings of the Ramseys, who have made a fortune off of photos of JonBenet sold to the "news organizations" paying for them while "not paying for the Ramsey interviews."

    It's nothing but a play on words. They all made A BOATLOAD of money off of this murdered child.

    I curse them all.
  20. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    Sometimes the injustice and corruption of this case make me a little crazy.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2013
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