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. Learnin

    Learnin Member

    Good points. It would explain why no cord was found and why so much was used.
  2. Cherokee

    Cherokee FFJ Senior Member

    I've always had a problem with the long length of cord used to tie JonBenet's wrists, as well as the very loose sailor loops that were used. That arrangement would not have kept JonBenet from using her arms and hands if she were still alive when the cords were placed on her, so it is obvious staging. But why so much cord? I think the fake strangling device (it wasn't a garrotte by any definition) was made first. For that, the "finished" end of the cord was used and there was some left over. The stager then got the idea to tie JonBenet's hands together. They used the rest of the cord in their feeble attempt to simulate real binding of a victim. It also got rid of any remaining cord that could be linked to something owned by the Ramseys, especially Patsy's art supplies.

    The staging of the strangulation was done to buy time and hide JonBenet's cracked skull until autopsy. Everything was calculated to prevent the discovery of the head injury, especially before the Ramseys could make their getaway (and hide behind their lawyers). Initially, John planned to fly himself, Patsy and Burke to Atlanta IMMEDIATELY but was only stopped by police. If he could have followed through with his plans, the Ramseys would have been out of Colorado within an hour of John "finding" JonBenet's body after the police failed to do so.

    The ransom note, the staging of JonBenet's body, the calling over of friends to provide a buffer (and a Greek chorus to Patsy's ultimate acting job while waiting for the kidnappers to call) was all done to buy time until the Ramseys could escape with the help of their powerful lawyers and the kingpins of Colorado politics. Even with the amateurish staging, it was the best they could do with the short amount of time they had to create a cover-up. Fifteen years later, we see that it worked very well.

    However, I am reminded of what the brilliant FFJ poster, BobC, said many years ago, "People don't stage crime scenes in other people's houses." Some of us have not been hoodwinked. Hopefully, we'll all live long enough to see the truth come out.
  3. cynic

    cynic Member

    In the middle of November, John Van Tassell of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, one of the world’s foremost experts on knots and cords, reviewed the neck ligature, the length of white cord that had been twisted around the broken paintbrush handle to create a terrible killing tool. Van Tassell commented that it was “a soft nylon cord.†Sergeant Wickman and I immediately caught the term.
    We asked if he was certain, and the Mountie studied it some more. Sure looks like soft nylon, he said, as he examined what looked like a soft flat white shoelace. Not stiff and rigid like polypropylene.
    I retrieved one sample package, a fifty-foot length of white Stansport 32-strand, 3/16-inch woven cord that I had bought. Van Tassell pulled the cord out, frayed an end, held it against the end of the neck ligature, and said, “Look.†The soft white braid and inner weave appeared identical. “I think this is the same cord,†he said.
    JonBenet: Inside the Ramsey Murder Investigation, Steve Thomas, pages 260-261
  4. Elle

    Elle Member

    Read Steve's book years ago, cynic. Thank you for posting this!
  5. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    Yes; a small piece of birefringent material was found in the vaginal vault, consistent with the paintbrush from what has been written about it. Of course no one has ever stated that on a molecular level it is a match, so other sources have been speculated about--powder from rubber gloves, for one.

    This is what I'm trying to imagine; why not find the scissors? I have five pairs of scissors in my house--off the top of my head, I can tell you where each of them is at this minute. Patsy surely knew where she could find a pair of scissors.

    Of course, it was dark and that's another issue about which I haven't quite been satisfied with the answers, but a neighbor saw "strange lights" in the house, so for the sake of discussion, let's say Patsy didn't want to turn the lights on and, using the Maglight, tried to find the scissors in the kitchen after she couldn't find them in JAR's upstairs bathroom. She couldn't locate them--kids, maid, etc., might have moved them--so she grabbed the kitchen knife?

    But that knife didn't work well, so she remembered Burke's Swiss Knife over the washing machine, went for that, hastily laid the kitchen knife on the washing machine where LE later found it, and left the diapers hanging out of the cabinet?

    But why didn't Patsy go to her own vanity in her own bathroom--I doubt very seriously that she didn't have scissors in there. Wouldn't John have small scissors for grooming?

    The only reasons I can imagine that she wouldn't think to locate scissors instead of clumsily using those dull knives would be because she didn't want to wake others in the house--John and Burke--or Burke was the one cutting those cords. It looks like something a child would do rather than an adult because no doubt it was tedious to cut like that and it seems you'd have to be quite short-sighted to cut through the cord like that three times.

    I say that because of the chopped, uneven ends--this appears not to have been easily done:


    Compare with cynic's experiment photos, particularly this one where he used a dull knife:

    [A thousand thanks to you for your efforts, cynic! :takeabow:]

  6. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    I'm sure you know Haney asked Patsy about that very technique in her DA interview with him. But the cord ending in the photo hasn't been burned, has it?

    I'm behind on this discussion because I couldn't get into the forum at times yesterday, so let me see what others had to say--looked interesting.
  7. Cherokee

    Cherokee FFJ Senior Member

    I want to add to my previous post about items used in the staging.

    What "intruder" relies on finding a broken paintbrush (in the basement of his victims's house) to finish her off? Even IF they brought the nylon cord, they were still missing a key ingredient of the staged strangulation.

    The Ramseys wouldn't claim ownership of the Maglite but said they had one just like it. (So where was THEIR Maglite if that Maglite wasn't it?) They wouldn't claim ownership of the pineapple because it wasn't their "setup." I'm sure if asked, Patsy would have said that wasn't HER broken paintbrush even though the other end was found in her paint tray.

    The Ramseys tried to distance themselves from everything found to stage the crime scene. Even though the cord staging was amateurish, they were smart to use all of it because that meant the rest of the cord wasn't found in the house. It could help create the idea of an intruder who thought to bring the cord with him. Unfortunately, the "intruder" forgot he also needed to bring a Maglite, fresh cut pineapple, a pre-written ransom note, a pair of the correct-size "Wednesday" girls underwear AND a stick to make the staged ligature!

    It's hard being a non-existent intruder; you don't have a brain in your fake head!
    Last edited: May 4, 2012
  8. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    Interesting. If Patsy and, possibly, John were "staging" everything, then maybe they used the dull knives to make it appear an intruder did this using his "rape kit"; rather than a nice, neat scissor cut--a rapist might have a knife in his kit, but not scissors?

    But I must point out what I know you know: the ligature, even if meant only for staging, in fact strangled the child to death.

    I can't imagine people clever enough to go to all these lengths not being able to tell their child was still alive, even if near death.

    So in this scenario, I'd think they meant to end her life. Whether they knew her head injury was going to kill her soon, I have no way of knowing. Some have theorized the killer(s) meant to finish her to make sure she never told what I will always believe was the motive behind the strangulation, and possibly the catalyst to all of this: who was molesting her.

    Patsy had already told Mrs. Pam Archuleta JonBenet "flirted" too much, was "too friendly." Clearly Patsy was blaming JonBenet. That's so common in cases of child abuse, particularly sexual abuse. Imagine the SCANDAL if "JonnieB" told the "wrong person" what was being done to her. The Ramsey power, position in the community--the pageant queen in Patsy might have been more than willing to prevent that from happening.

    But once that head blow was struck, things became trickier than keeping a six year old from talking. If one or more of the Ramseys conspired to cover this murder up that night, to prevent the sexual abuse from being discovered by strangling the child, inserting something to stage a sexual assault, and adding other staging details like wrist ligature, duct tape, and the ransom note to imply terrorists had targeted the family, would they have had any idea that an autopsy would reveal the sexual abuse?

    Of course. That's why something--the paintbrush?--was inserted into her vagina that night. To cover that up. But what the guilty party didn't know was that tissue specimens would reveal the injuries were not all fresh, but in fact were as old as days or weeks or months.

    Well, of course it did. If your protectors owned the DA, you could murder anyone you please and get away with it, too. Especially if you had help--on the cell phone, let's imagine?

    One detail: I believe the killer(s) thought the body would be found within a short time by LE. Who wouldn't? It was a pure fluke that it took JR himself to find it 7 hrs. later--and their good luck because he and Patsy contaminated the body with their histrionics upstairs, contributing to their defense.

    Tell it to TRICIA. We're falling out left and right around here. Tic toc, tic toc, Tricia.... :ghost:
    Last edited: May 3, 2012
  9. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    I want to put Cynic's excellent graphic overlay here for reference: he put the pieces together (top photo) with which I had been working (bottom photo enlargements). I think it illustrates that it was easier to break the paintbrush than I had been able to envision before, at least this end of it.



    From the FFJ Library:
  10. cynic

    cynic Member

    Yes, it came up while discussing the large diameter rope found in JAR's room, and she certainly knew all about the technique.
    Also interesting is the fact that she was the one that brought it up.

    TOM HANEY: Next we have photos that are numbered 113.
    PATSY RAMSEY: Uh-huh (yes).
    TOM HANEY: Which is a paper bag.
    PATSY RAMSEY: Uh-huh (yes).
    TOM HANEY: And then 114 is the contents of that.
    TRIP DeMUTH: The paper bag is a police bag and this came out of here.
    PATSY RAMSEY: Oh, this was in here?
    TRIP DeMUTH: Correct?
    TRIP DeMUTH: And there's another picture of that same item in 115 and 116. Why don't you look those over at your leisure.
    PATSY RAMSEY: I don't recognize it, specifically.
    TRIP DeMUTH: Okay.
    TOM HANEY: Okay. And that, that particular piece of rope, do you ever remember seeing anything like it around? And if you look at photo 115, you notice the –
    PATSY RAMSEY: Right.
    TOM HANEY: -- ends are unusually secured.
    PATSY RAMSEY: Right. No.
    TOM HANEY: Can you think of any reason to have that kind of rope around?
    PATSY RAMSEY: I've just never seen ends like that, done like that. John had some, you know, boat ropes and things up at the lake, but it seems like when they cut those, they kind of melt the ends of them or something to keep them from fraying or something. I've never seen one done like that.
    TOM HANEY: The kind of ropes you're talking about that John used up there –
    PATSY RAMSEY: For the sailboat or –
    TOM HANEY: Are they colored the same or similar?
    PATSY RAMSEY: Well, some of them have like little blue flecks in them or red, or there's some white ones, you know.
    TOM HANEY: Okay. Do you know what, what those are composed of? Is it a nylon that melts?
    PATSY RAMSEY: Yeah, it must, something that melts, yeah. But it seems to me like they somehow torch the ends and kind of keep them from fraying.
    I can't remember seeing any one looking like that.

    Are you referring to my photo? The right side was burned/melted, the left side was left frayed.
    Note that the melting technique does leave tell-tale signs. I’ve done it dozens of times and it always ends with a roasted/toasted marshmallow look, brown or black tinges.
    Last edited: May 4, 2012
  11. cynic

    cynic Member

  12. cynic

    cynic Member

    On November 5, Detective Weinheimer arrived in St. Clair Shores, Michigan, to meet Dr. Werner Spitz, one of the world’s foremost forensic pathologists. Weinheimer took with him a stack of black-and-white photographs of the cellulose that coroner John Meyer had found in JonBenét’s vagina.
    Finally, the detectives turned to the microscopic splinter of cellulose found in JonBenet’s vagina, which looked like wood. The broken paintbrush that had been tied to the stick was splintered into shards. Logic suggested that a splinter of wood might have stuck to the perpetrator’s finger before he or she penetrated JonBenét vaginally. It could also have broken off the end of the paintbrush if the stick, rather than a finger, was used to penetrate her.
    Perfect Murder, Perfect Town, Lawrence Schiller, pages 557, 559
  13. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member


    Thanks so much for that quote, but I have to admit after seeing Dr. Spitz testify in the Casey Anthony trial, he is no longer someone I find credible.

    Unfortunately, the (mentally challenged) jury in that case somehow missed his extreme incompetence.

    I guess it could be due to his advanced years now, but I find him neutralized as far as the weight of his "expert" opinion is concerned. I always look for another, or at least a corroborating, source.

    Having said that, I'm sure LE agencies and labs had more than Dr. Spitz to determine what the birefringent material source was. The paintbrush splinters next to the paint tray would be a huge clue, as well. Surely they were compared microscopically with that found in the vagina.

    I mean, how easy would that be for a lab? Of course they know.
  14. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    I was actually referring to the photo of the end of the cord on the "handle" which doesn't appear to have been "burned" at all. I noticed your burnt cord ending did have a tell-tale singed appearance.

    I guess my point was I don't think that cord end on the "handle" was burned, so I favor Cherokee's explanation of some kind of chemical treatment at the factory which secured that end from fraying and kept it pristine.

    I think it's a good comparison to the other, very frayed ends. I also think Dr. Meyer's cut on the neck ligature is a good comparison, as he certainly had very sharp utensils to cut it, though he had to delicately work his way under it as it was so tightly embedded into the skin of the neck.

    I now am pondering why someone would use a dull knife--especially if the kitchen knife was left on the washing machine from an initial attempt at cutting the cord.

    Why not get the scissors? I'd find it very hard to believe there were no scissors in the house, or that Patsy didn't know where she could get a pair.

    So either Patsy didn't cut the cord, or she had a reason not to retrieve scissors to do so.

    If she didn't cut the cord, who did, and why didn't he go for scissors? John surely would have known where they were, as well, or where he had something much sharper, wouldn't he?

    It was Burke's Swiss knife found in the basement, and the maid had that story about hiding his knife over the washing machine behind the large diapers, which were hanging out of the cabinet when LE photographed that area, if memory serves. So was it Burke who cut the cords?

    Burke was almost 10; wouldn't he have known where some scissors were? I'd imagine Patsy had children's scissors, as well. In her friend Linda McClean's book, one of the family/friends told a story of Patsy inviting school classmates and their parents over to work on the Fall Festival project, providing the paints, paper, scissors, etc. Is it conceivable that everyone in that house wouldn't have known where to find a pair of scissors?

    But why would an intruder bring in cord and forget to bring in something to cut it with? That would be stupid for someone so clever as to have eluded a globe-wide hunt for even a whiff of him all these years.

    So if it were Patsy's crisis, was she just too frantic to find the scissors? Was she and/or John thinking in such detail they came up with the idea of cutting the cord with a knife because that's what would be in a rape kit?

    Or did someone they called help work them through such detail to throw off LE?

    And why use that paintbrush at all? Because it was inserted into the child to cover the prior molestation and the fear was it would be identified somehow by blood on it, but connected to Patsy and not the intruder? So it was used as a "handle" to link it to the intruder?

    I've wondered many times if the "tip" was spirited away because it had blood on it, as well.

    But lord, what a diabolical mind that thought of such detail in the midst of destroying a child's life....

    Unless there's a much simpler reason and I can't think of it: like being afraid of being spotted while getting the scissors. By whom? Another member of the household? A neighbor? The neighbor said the usual inside light wasn't on, nor the outdoor spotlight on the garage corner?

    Oh dayum, it's just maddening. There had to be 10 kinds of crazy in the house that night.
    Last edited: May 4, 2012
  15. Elle

    Elle Member

    Thank you for confirming this kk. Do you realize if RiverRat is reading this information, she may well have passed out.

    RR I remember you had a difficult time when this information was mentioned before. Hope you are okay! (?).
  16. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    I spent some time yesterday reading Patsy's DA interview transcript with Haney in '98 to add to your list of things she tried to "distance" from her family. It's a long list. Here are some more items:

    [The interview is here:]

    *Patsy tried to link her jacket to one belonging to Priscilla White which Patsy claimed was so similar to hers--what an amazing coincidence. Guess those pesky fibers tied into the ligature knot and stuck to the duct tape from Patsy's jacket had to come from someone else....

    *Patsy didn't know if the kitchen knife found on the dryer (I've been saying it was on the washing machine, but in re-reading, it was on the dryer.) Clearly the Ramseys kept their kitchen knives under lock and key as Patsy knew the children couldn't possibly have gotten this from a drawer and left it on the dryer

    *Duct tape? What duct tape? No, no gooey tape for Patsy....

    [Gosh, that's not duct tape in that drawer, is it?]

    *That cord? Pfft! NEVAH seen it, NO NO NO. Don't even have to think about all the cords, bindings, and ropes all over the house, basement, etc., used for craft projects, trim on clothing, sports, general play, AND BY UPS AND THE POST OFFICE. Because UPS doesn't use that cord ANYMORE and the POST OFFICE uses TWINE, so...what?! Clearly one glance was needed to tell her NOT THEIR CORD, Mr. Haney, let's change the subject!

    *The maid moved the paint tray, not Patsy, who had no idea where it was.... It was all the maid's doing--of course.

    *Old, broken paint brush? Oh no, all her paintbrushes were NEW.

    Green paint from a tube in the paint tray matched green paint from this paintbrush:

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 6, 2012
  17. cynic

    cynic Member

    Spitz was one of the “good guys” in the OJ Simpson civil trial but that may have been his last outing with his mental faculties intact.
    He was a disaster on two legs at the Phil Spector trial and backed that abysmal “liar for hire” performance with his appearance at the Casey Anthony trial.

    Werner Spitz may be a forensic pathologist. He may even be a good one. But after today’s completion of his cross examination, he gets a new certificate of competency – he can now be called the “King of Evasiveness”. I think he lied to Alan Jackson yesterday – he doesn’t get paid by the day, he gets paid by the word, and he’s determined to squeeze every “da doo run run” penny out of Phillip Spector.
    And Spitz will not concede a thing. He won’t even concede petty stuff like “Lana was long legged, right?” No, Spitz prefers to ramble, to evade, to say, “well, it’s a possibility” to the point where you are quite convinced that if Jackson asked the Dr. if his name was Werner Spitz, Spitz would not concede that, either, rather responding with “Well, that is what my parents they tell me, and when I was in the first grade, this is what they called me, but, without seeing the documents, sir, I can only assume that this is so….”
    Jackson asks him “You aren’t testifying as an advocate, are you? You have no vested interest in this case, do you? That $45 thousand dollars isn’t going to sway your testimony, is it?”
    The good doctor sputters and spurts and shoots back that of course it isn’t going to sway his testimony. “I don’t need the money, sir!” he says. I don’t care about money – I do pro bono work all the time!”
    And Jackson shoots right back – “Well, you didn’t care enough to do this case pro bono, now did you?”
    Jackson is incredulous when he asks that doctor “You don’t think it’s plausible that if someone has a gun in their face in a threatening manner that they would retreat, that they might slip down in the chair, that they might cower away?”
    The doctor then shares the most bizarre exchange of the trial yet when he says to Jackson: “She doesn’t look defensive – she is in a peaceful position in the photos”.
    Jackson then almost blurts out “Well She’s DEAD Doctor! She’s peaceful NOW! I’m talking about the few minutes before she died.”


    At the Casey Anthony trial, his most ridiculous assertion was, IMO, that the duct tape must have being placed on Caylee prior to full decomposition because there was no evidence that Caylee’s DNA was on it. He goes as far as to make the comparison that if he placed duct tape on his own arm it would have his DNA on it. Well of course it would, but not if he and his arm and the tape were submerged in a hot Florida swamp, decomposing for months.
    The court should have insisted that Spitzr be submerged in a swamp for 6 months with duct tape on his arm to check the validity of his theory.

    So what happened to Dr. Spitz?
    In November of 1996 he was on the stand articulately and intelligently testifying in the OJ Simpson civil trial.
    He squared off against the defense “expert,” Dr Michael Baden.
    Baden asserted that Ron Goldman would have fought with his attacker for some 15 minutes, while Spitz estimated the fight would have lasted about a minute.
    I believe Spitz was absolutely correct because one of the wounds that Goldman had sustained was to the abdominal aorta, causing massive and rapid internal bleeding, leading to loss of consciousness in seconds rather than minutes.
    In 1997 he was called on by the BPD to offer his expertise and from the description of his work, it would seem that his conclusions were sound.

    Something happened between 1997 and 2007 when he appeared in the Spector trial.
    Either he became a soulless liar for hire or perhaps Mary Lacy invited him to one of her famous Boulder bong parties, and the rest is history.
    Never underestimate the bong.


    BTW, since we are on the topic of “expert” witnesses at trials, let’s not forgot some classics:

    Henry Lee at the OJ Simpson criminal trial identified what he testified were footprints from “the real killer.” It was proven that these were marks embedded in the concrete from years prior to the crime.

    Dr. Michael Baden at the Phil Spector trial said that Lana Clarkson could have continued to breathe for several minutes after a gunshot wound to the head which TRANSECTED her spinal cord.

    Then we have perhaps the King of Liars for Hire, Dr. Vincent DiMaio.
    In 2003 Colonel Philip Shue died during the early morning hours when his 1995 Mercury Trace crashed into a group of small trees. The responding officers noted that he had duct tape around his ankles and both wrists. The autopsy noted a large 6 inch incision down the midline of his chest, the excision of both nipples, multiple other incisions on his chest, a missing earlobe, an amputated left digit finger, multiple head injuries, contusions, abrasions, and a puncture wound in his right calf.
    DiMaio ruled this death a suicide.
  18. cynic

    cynic Member

    What puzzles me about the picture you are referring to, and it underscores the fact that I dislike looking at low resolution crime scene pictures, screen captures, scans etc., is that what many people have long considered to be a cut end appears to be round. This is a FLAT cord, not a round rope. Why is it then that it looks round?
    Could the low resolution, lighting, exposure and other issues be masking the possibility that it’s not a cut end but yet another wrap around the paintbrush.
    In the pictures below I swapped two areas of the picture to show that because of quality issues we may have been fooled. Just spitballing, comments?

    Original picture:

    Areas to be swapped:

    Final result after correcting for differences in lighting:

    Two pictures of some of my climbing webbing with factory treated ends:

  19. DeeDee

    DeeDee Member

    The pictures are confusing. I actually don't think the area of the cord in question (within the two circles) are the ends. I think they are simply a BEND in the cord. At least that is what it looks like to me.
  20. koldkase

    koldkase FFJ Senior Member

    I don't think cynic meant to imply there were two cord ends. There is only one end tied onto the wood and that's clear, to me, at least.

    Here's a negative which might make things more clear:

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