How were the ligature cords cut and the paintbrush handle broken?

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

  1. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    I was doing some enlargements of the ligature cords and have some thoughts on how they were cut. I've put those enlargements in the library:

    Warning! Autopsy photos!

    My questions:

    1. Do these ends look like they were cut by scissors or by a knife, such as Burke's Swiss Army Knife or the paring knife found on the washing machine outside JB's bedroom?

    2. Would an intruder planning such a crime have nothing better to cut these cords he brought to the perfect murder?

    3. Were the cords on the wrist and on the neck cut BEFORE and then tied, or after being tied on the child? How would the person who tied those on JB know how long to cut them for exactly that length? I mean, what if he/she cut them too short? What then?

    It's confusing. I'm going to cut a cord to tie on both wrists...for some arguable reason...and I end up with 15 inches. So I don't tie the wrists together tightly bound, to restrict movement, because she's already unconscious or dead by this point; but I tie them loosely.

    Hang on. Were these cords actually from the same length, one construction, at some point? So the ends would match, right?
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2012
  2. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    Okay, on that same thread, I've put some more photos up of the paintbrush" handle" and the end found in the paint tray. It's helped me understand how the brush was broken--or where on the brush, I should say. So I'm repeating here in case someone actually wanders in to muse over this with Elle and me. [I forgot and started the discussion there, where I should have just put the photos--oops. :rolleyes:]


    About that paintbrush which was broken at the paint tray in the basement, just outside the cellar room where the body was later found:

    I've done some mixing and matching, re-sizing and cropping of the photos we have of the ligature paintbrush "handle," around which the cord was tied, and the bristle end of the paintbrush which was found still in the paint tray. This is a crude demonstration--sorry for that, but I wanted to see how that brush end fit on the handle as I've had problems imagining how someone broke it so readily that night. The autopsy report stated it was jagged.

    Here's an example of a general type of paintbrush with the various parts labeled, though I don't know exactly what kind was used in the murder because I can't see the brush end very well:


    Looking at the following pictures, I may have found a clue: the paintbrush was broken at the ferrule--the silver part where the wood is attached to the bristles. That would be the weakest part and it does appear that this is exactly where the handle was broken from the brush end. See what you think comparing photos at the bottom of this post.

    These of the "handle" are not exactly to scale, but the original autopsy photos had a cm rule which I measured to try to enlarge the crops so that they're fairly accurate--a little larger actually, but close enough for my purpose. Using the medical examiner's ruler in the pictures, the broken handle was approx. 13 cm, as best as I could approximate the measure with my ruler.

    *The top photo is of the paintbrush "handle" with the wrapped cord turned so that the "neatly cut" end of the cord is hidden (see posts above/earlier on this thread to reference the cord end). Notice the jagged end to the right of this section of the handle--that's where it appears the broken end of the brush was snapped. Now look at the center photo of the brush end and imagine turning it over to fit into the shape of the rough break, like a three dimensional puzzle.

    *The middle photo is of that broken brush end, with the silver ferrule between the bristles and the wood. If I could roll it over, it appears that it would fit onto the jagged end of the "garrote" or ligature handle in the photo above it. Remember the larger diameter on the right end of the handle would have been attached to the ferrule, with the narrowing end on the left tapering off in diameter to a point--the missing end of the handle.

    *The last photo is of the brush handle flipped on the other side, the one showing the end of the cord cut neatly (see above). If you notice the slight diagonal of the right end, it appears to me to fit the small protrusion of jagged wood right above the ferrule.

    I'm using a bit of imagination, of course, as I don't have a 3-dimensional computer program to animate this for us. But I'm sure LE was able to do this with the real items of evidence, anyway, so it's not important here except to answer some questions I've long had: it would have been much easier to break the paintbrush where the ferrule meets the wood handle. So now I can see how it was done, even if someone had to use a heel to snap it.

    Now look at the end on the left--that's rather neatly done, isn't it? That end would have less diameter, as paintbrushes often taper on that end, so it would have been easier to break, as well, though I have to say I'm not sure a 10 year old boy could have done it. Not unless whittling was involved, and it doesn't appear to be quite so splintered as the other end at the ferrule, but so far I can't tell.
  3. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    Elle's response, so we can pick the discussion up here:


    Interesting, Elle. Have you broken something like this in a drawer or under a door yourself?

    I've never had any reason to break a paintbrush or anything similar that I can remember. If I have, I imagine I used a handsaw or something like that to get it started.

    Oh. You've made me think about the end of the "handle" which is more blunt. Maybe the person clumsily broke the end with the ferrule, then broke the other end like you said, using something else for leverage/force?

    Good thinking, Elle. I'm going to try blowing up the other end today, though I don't expect much as these photos from screen captures just get muddier as you enlarge them.
  4. Elle

    Elle Member

    I have broken a few narrow poles holding the door handle KK. Not under the door, but just holding the handle of the door open a tad and placing one of those bamboo type of poles between the narrow opening to get a more even break, the sharp edges of the door helped there. I did have art brushes like Patsy, but no cause to break any! Yes, I have broken a few items with a drawer too, to get an even break.

    Another gadget I use, is the vice in the garage, kk. One can break stronger material using this.

    You must be a tired girl after all this hard work, kk. You are very dedicated. :rose:
  5. whitewitch1

    whitewitch1 Senior Member

    You could also break it by holding it down with your foot and pulling up with your hand.
  6. cynic

    cynic Member

    The fraying would it indicate that it was cut by something dull, and a heavily used knife such as Burke’s Swiss Army knife would be a good candidate.

    Here are the results of my little experiment which involved cutting a cord with various household items.

    Dull Scissors:

    Sharp Scissors:

    Dinner knife, serrated edge:

    Dull knife:

    Sharp knife:

    Sharp box cutter:

    You would think that a good sharp hunting knife, survival knife or combat knife would be the way to go.
    The staging involving the ligatures and the so-called garrote has always struck me as very amateurish, ignorance combined with haste? Then again, pretty much anything would have sufficed given the state of the DA’s office.
    Last edited: May 1, 2012
  7. Learnin

    Learnin Member

    There is another possibility when considering the fraying. The frayed ends might indicate that the cord had been cut at an earlier date. I had some shoestrings once that were way too long on a pair of tennis shoes. This cord is similar to some shoestrings.

    At any rate, I got tired of the length and decided to cut the strings. Worked great for a few days and then the ends of the cord began to fray. This makes me wonder if this cord had already been cut and used on something else prior to being used for this grisly deed.
  8. brenk

    brenk Member

    KoldKase & Elle,

    The pic of the paint brush, to me on the left side it looks like it was cut.
    Maybe widdled? The reason I thought it looked cut with a knife is the
    smoother edge and the downward slant.

    I have always wondered why the paint brush couldn't be used without
    it being broken.

    Could it have been broken before, so PR could use it for a handle for comfort, it would be easier on the hand than holding on to a cord.
    for transporting her art.

    Years ago, I was doing some research on cords. I found one that looked
    very similar, and it was a cord used on parachute.

    Cords like the one in the pic fray easily, the more it's handled the more
    it unravels.
    Sorry to butt in.

    kk (kay)
  9. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    Interesting, Elle. What have I been missing, that I've never found myself breaking rods in drawers and doors? I must have abused Hubs the carpenter terribly all this time...Here, hon, cut this for me, please.... :yes:

    As for hard work, I was a teacher at one time, so this is a vacation. :rotfl:

    I wonder if that's how the jagged end where the ferrule/bristles are was broken. Seems that would be more likely to produce that kind of break...?
  10. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    I think the two I repeated above are the most likely to have been used. The long trails of fiber are exactly like those in the pictures.

    Also notice the chopped part of the cord ends in the crime scene photos. It appears as if they were almost sawed?

    How many American households don't even have a pair of scissors? This is one reason I decided to work with these photos: Team Ramsey claims not finding a cord source in the Ramsey homes is proof the cords were brought in by an intruder, but I can't imagine any person planning such a crime--or carrying cords around to commit some kind of crime--who didn't have scissors or at least a sharp knife to cut them. Heck, I'm not even buying he'd use a knife at home--scissors obviously are much easier, and once you'd made that mess with one end, wouldn't you say, heck, WHERE ARE MY SCISSORS? Yet all but one end appear to have been cut by the "dull knife" or "serrated" knife.

    Here's the very neatly cut and unraveled end:



    Okay, NOW THE TWO KNIVES FOUND IN ODD PLACES MAKE SENSE: when the first one didn't work well--the "kitchen" knife found on the washing machine outside JB's room--the killer or stager went for another. OH MY GOSH. This could explain so much.

    Given the state of the DA's office, anything--or nothing--would have sufficed. :dammit:
    Last edited: May 2, 2012
  11. RiverRat

    RiverRat FFJ Sr. Member Extraordinaire (Pictured at Lef

    Reminder ~ the swiss army knife was taken away from Burke and hidden so that he could not find it and continue making the mess that caused him to be grounded from having the knife.

    Patsy knew exactly where it was though.

  12. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    No apologies--the point of group discussion is joining in with your thoughts. That's how we move along. WS members in a discussion sent me on this exploration and now I have finally got some answers--or at least plausible ideas--to some questions I've long pondered.

    The cord was identified as the Stansport brand, a nylon cord, if memory serves, used in sports. I've also wondered if LE might have found similar cord at the airport where JR's planes were stored.

    I, too, have always wondered why use the paintbrush at all? Looking at the neater "broken" end, it clearly wasn't broken like the other jagged end.

    Makes me wonder if the paintbrush was involved in the crime at some point before it was tied onto the ligature, maybe because the fear was it would point to someone in the family unless it was disguised as part of the "murder weapon"?

    I'm now even wondering if the tip was already gone, discarded in the trash long before the crime.
  13. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    Remember all those drawers left half open in JAR's bathroom? Next to JB's bedroom...with the wash-area outside them? Where the "kitchen" knife was abandoned on top of the washing machine? Over which the cabinet with the door left open, the package of large diapers hanging out, was located? Where the maid hid Burke's Swiss Army knife?

    I'm imagining someone frantically looking for something to cut that cord. Run to the kitchen for scissors...can't find them in the dark...grab the kitchen knife. That's not working well...remember the Swiss Army Knife hidden in the cabinet.... Lay the kitchen knife on the washing machine while retrieving the Swiss knife....

    Well, it's a thought. I've always felt the disarray in the area of JB's bedroom, the doors and drawers left open, the odd knife on the washing machine...tell a story. Even the "bag of rope" found at the foot of JAR's bed looks to me like someone looking for make a ligature?
  14. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    Shoestrings--on my "list" of possible sources for the cord. That neatly cut, un-frayed end of the ligature cord on the "handle" puzzles me. Why would that be the only end still as neat as the day it was cut? I'm assuming it was cut an earlier time, of course, because it was obviously cut by something other than whatever was used to cut the rest of the ligatures.

    Clearly it has some kind of treatment on it. I can't see tape of any kind--that's what I use sometimes, household clear tape. So did it have some "glue" application" commonly used commercially to secure cord ends like that?

    See, there is NO WAY the BPD doesn't know the answers to these questions. NO WAY.
  15. Elle

    Elle Member

    I doubt Patsy Ramsey would have used anything but a perfect handle with her demeanor. everything had to be perfect, but she failed with the coverup. Everything was overdone! Wasn't there talk about the brush having been used on JonBenét. Too delicate to talk about here.

    From the autopsy report:
    Abrasion and vascular congestion of vaginal mucosa
  16. Elle

    Elle Member

    Like someone who already lives in the house and knows where everything is kk (?).
  17. cynic

    cynic Member

    A few seconds over a flame will melt the ends and forever get rid of the “frizzies.”
    (I used to do this in my rock climbing days.)
    In the picture below I melted the right side and you can see the difference easily.
    Last edited: May 3, 2012
  18. Cherokee

    Cherokee FFJ Senior Member

    IMHO, the reason the end of the cord (on the broken paintbrush) is not frayed but looks "closed" is because it was at the end of the cord reel. In other words, it was where the manufacturer had used heat and/or chemicals to close the end of the cord.


    Whoever staged the crime scene and binding of JonBenet's body after her death used what was left of a skein of cord. The previous parts could have been used for any number of things, possibly the hanging of Patsy's artwork. For that reason, it makes sense that the cord could have been stored with some of her paint trays and art supplies in the basement.

    It also makes sense why so much cord was used to tie JonBenet's wrists so loosely. If it had been a REAL binding, the hands would have been close together with the cord wrapped several times around the wrists and then together. It's almost like the stager had a certain amount of cord they wanted to use up so there wouldn't be any left to implicate to whom it belonged.

    Attached Files:

  19. Learnin

    Learnin Member

    You bet the BPD has a lot of information on that cord...wish we were privy to it.

    You're right about substances used to stop a cord, such as this, from fraying. One trick is to light the end on fire for just a few seconds and the ends fuse together. But, that would have been obvious.
  20. Learnin

    Learnin Member

    Well you beat me to it, cynic. I posted the flame trick before reading yours.
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