Weapon used on JonBenet's skull: golf club or flashlight?

Discussion in 'Justice for JonBenet Discussion - Public Forum' started by cynic, Aug 20, 2012.

  1. cynic

    cynic Member

    Impressions made by a golf club and flashlight:

    Golf club socket and heel area:




    Golf club parts:





    Burke’s arm length was 21 inches
    Burke was able to rotate his arm at a burst speed of 3 revolutions per second. (A very fast, violent swing.) (By way of comparison, competitive volleyball spikes and softball “windmill” speeds are 5 revolutions per second.)
    9 iron golf club head weight of 10 ounces.
    Average PGA golf swing speed: 114 mph, or 167 feet per second.
    Burke was able to swing a golf club at 70 fps.
    Maglite flashlight weight of 2 pounds
    Maglite was held near the bottom
    Surface area of depressed skull fracture (1.75” x 0.5”,) is 0.875 sq. in.
    45 foot-pounds of kinetic energy was sufficient to produce a depressed skull fracture in that region of the skull of JonBenet.
    Primary formulas used:
    Kinetic energy = 0.5 * mass * velocity squared
    Velocity = Angular velocity * radius

    Regions of the skull:


    Skull density:


    Bone thickness of a human skull. Three-dimensional Computed Tomography (CT) scan of the skull of a human child, in side view. The parietal bone is mapped in colours depicting bone thickness: light blue to yellow (0.5-2.5 millimetres); red to dark blue (3-5 millimetres). The bone thickness mapping by computer shows local variation of thickness in the human skull. This map was used to compare human skull thickness with fossil skull thickness of a Neanderthal child found at Devil's Tower, Gibraltar. Human skulls prove to be thinner than Neanderthal skulls. Research at the Anthropologis- ches Institut, University of Zurich, Switzerland.

    The skull varies greatly in thickness-not only in different individuals, but also at different parts-a point which must be kept in mind when trephining. Speaking generally, it is thickest over the frontal and occipital regions, attaining a maximum at the posterior occipital protuberance, and is thinnest over the squamous portion of the temporal.http://bookdome.com/health/anatomy/Surgical-Anatomy/Temporal-Region.html

    The temporal and parietal regions are the thinnest cranial boned and the most common sites of accidental fracture. The thickest cranial bones are the frontal and occipital. Occipital fractures are related to more serious brain injury due to the increased force necessary to generate a fracture in the thickest bone of the skull.
    Nursing Care of the Pediatric Neurosurgery Patient, edited by Cathy Cartwright, Donna C. Wallace, page 150

    Force required to cause a depressed fracture in JonBenet’s skull in the posteroparietal region:

    Modern studies of skull fractures conducted by the American military demonstrate that it takes a minimum of 90 foot-pounds delivered over 1 square inch to fracture the human skull with a blow delivered to the front of the head. If the blow is delivered to the temporal/parietal area, 45 foot-pounds will produce a fracture. A blow to the zygomatic region, the bony arch on either side of the face below and around the eye, requires only 18 foot-pounds of force to produce a fracture. A mace weighing 1.8 pounds can be swung at a speed of 60 feet per second by the human arm so as to generate 101 foot-pounds of energy on impact, more than enough to fracture a human skull at its strongest point.
    From Sumer to Rome: The Military Capabilities of Ancient Armies,Richard A. Gabriel, Karen S. Metz, page 57

    Skull and Brain: Upon reflection of the scalp there is found to be an extensive area of scalp hemorrhage along the right temporoparietal area extending from the orbital ridge, posteriorly all the way to the occipital area. This encompasses an area measuring approximately 7x4 inches. This grossly appears to be fresh hemorrhage with no evidence of organization. At the superior extension of the is area of hemorrhage is a linear to comminuted skull fracture which extends from the right occipital to posteroparietal area forward to the right frontal area across the parietal skull. In the posteroparietal area of this fracture is a roughly rectangular shaped displaced fragment of skull measuring one and three-quarters by one-half inch. The hemorrhage and the fracture extend posteriorly just past the midline of the occipital area of the skull. This fracture measures approximately 8.5 inches in length. On removal of the skull cap there is found to be a thin film of subdural hemorrhage measuring approximately 7-8 cc over the surface of the right cerebral hemisphere and extending to the base of the cerebral hemisphere.Excerpt from JonBenet’s autopsy report.


    The golf club is the winner in this showdown.
    While Spitz assures us that the Maglite was capable of producing the injury to JonBenet’s skull, I’m not so sure.
    Dr. Werner Spitz, the forensic pathologist, even ran macabre tests to see if the heavy flashlight could have inflicted the kind of massive skull fracture that was found on JonBenét. To do so, a child’s cadaver was obtained so he could strike the skull with a similar flashlight and examine the resulting injury pattern. He said the results were consistent, that the damage could have been caused by the flashlight—but it could also have been caused by other things.
    JonBenet: Inside the Ramsey Murder Investigation, Steve Thomas, page 267

    The first problem is the shape of the depressed skull fracture. It is a rectangular/ovoid shape while a flashlight would generally leave a crescent shaped depression if struck on an angle.
    I do recognize that a depression doesn’t always slavishly follow the shape of the object responsible because of density irregularities in the skull, but there should be some degree of similarity and there is none there that I can see.
    The second problem is the long linear fracture extending down to the frontal area of the skull.
    If the blow was struck as depicted by Spitz, I find it difficult to imagine how the linear fracture would have occurred given the direction of the force. Perhaps if it followed a suture line it would be somewhat understandable, but it does not.
    The final problem that I have is that while the force required to cause the fracture using the Maglite is conceivable in the hands of Burke, it is at the outer limit of his ability, IMO.
    It would be considerably more likely in the hands of an adult.
    The one advantage the Maglite would have over the golf club would be that the Maglite would be less likely to lacerate the scalp because of the rubberized edge.

    By contrast:
    The socket and heel region of the golf club will leave a rectangular impression.
    The direction of force and possible interaction with the shaft of the golf club would more readily produce the long linear fracture found in the skull of JonBenet.
    The force required to cause the fracture is well within the physical ability of Burke if he swung a golf club as a weapon, IMO.

    The other potential object that is sometimes discussed is a baseball bat.
    I don’t think this is as likely as either of the above, because of the large surface area that would probably make contact with the skull, thereby producing either a linear fracture or a significantly larger depressed fracture than what is seen in the JonBenet case.

    With respect to a PDI scenario involving a violent push or perhaps a swing of Jonbenet into a rounded edge as opposed to JonBenet being stationary and struck by an object, the speed necessary to produce a fracture would be approximately 8 feet per second. What is uncertain is whether enough velocity is there to produce a depressed fracture rather than the more probable linear fracture. It can’t be ruled out, though, IMO.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2012
  2. Elle

    Elle Member

    Very impressive work, cynic. Thank you for the time taken. Between the two photographs, the golf club matches the injury on JonBenét's scalp better
    than the flashlight photo.

    I'm now wondering how this injury occurred(?) JonBenét sitting at the table eating her pineapple (?). I believe golf clubs were mentioned as Christmas presents. So they were maybe close at hand near the kitchen (?). I had opted more for the flashlight on the kitchen counter.
  3. heymom

    heymom Member

    Yes, very impressive. Did you say you are an engineer? I have 2 scientists in my immediate family and this is how they approach a problem, very detailed and logical.

    Your observation at the end, about the possible violent contact with a faucet or the edge of a toilet or bathtub, has summed up my problem with that scenario. Also, as you observe about the baseball bat, I think such a contact (assuming one could get enough force/speed up) would also leave a larger area of impact, but not a depressed fracture like JonBenet had. That fracture had to have been caused by a relatively small object, but one that could be struck with a force hard enough to cause the fracture as well as the linear crack away from it.

    I really think that we are narrowing things down to a golf club being the instrument that caused JonBenet's skull fracture. It also fits very well with John's comment about Pam retrieving his golf bag from her evidence raid.
  4. Learnin

    Learnin Member

    Fantastic work, Cynic!
  5. Pearlsim

    Pearlsim FFJ Senior Member


    I always thought John wanted his golf clubs because evidence was hidden in the bag but, based on Kolar's book and Cynic's amazing work, I now believe a golf club was the weapon.
  6. BobC

    BobC Poster of the EON - Fabulous Inimitable Transcript

    I'm with you, Pearl. Why did John want his golf clubs retrieved from the house?
  7. Elle

    Elle Member

    1. Why didn't the police jump all over John Ramsey because he was asking for his clubs to be removed from a crime scene?

    2. Why did the police allow Patsy's sister Pam to retrieve items from a crime scene? Absolutely ridiculous!

    3. This crime will be forever remembered for the way the police handled the Ramseys with kid gloves. Unbelievable!
  8. Learnin

    Learnin Member

    Wasn't there a report of a golf club on the lawn with a blonde hair on it?

    What did LE decide about that?
  9. heymom

    heymom Member

    Oh, THAT??? The intruder dropped it just after he slid quietly out of the window after using the suitcase as a stepping stool, ignoring the real stepping stool that was right there near the window. The intruder had been practicing his putts in the basement room while waiting for an opportunity to get out of the house after his assault of JonBenet. He had long blonde hair which is not uncommon for men in Boulder CO.

  10. otg

    otg Member

    Very impressive, cynic! I had been doing some work on exactly this, but I'm glad you started it because I'm not nearly as thorough as you always are.

    If you don't mind, I'll add some of the things I had been looking at to your thread that might help too.

    First, I'd like to establish exactly where the depressed fracture occurred, because I was surprised at how wrong my impression was once I drew it out. I think I know why I had the wrong impression, but I won't share that until the end to see if others were under the same impression (I know by looking at that silly photo of Dr. Spitz that he was.).

    I won't repost that lurid autopsy photo -- we've all seen it, we know what it looks like. But picture it in your mind and place your fingers on your head where you think the depressed fracture was on JonBenet's head. C'mon... group experiment -- no one's looking -- put your fingers up on your scalp where you think the hole in JonBenet's skull was.

    The following is an overhead drawing of a child's skull in an approximate position as the alleged X-ray of JonBenet's skull posted next to it. Obviously it is of a much younger child because the anterior fontanelle is still open, so just disregard that; but the reason I used this one is because it shows the sutures (lambdoidal, sagittal, and coronal). In it I've placed an oval where, according to the AR, the comminuted fracture was.

    Notice where the fracture is in relation to the lambdoid and sagittal sutures and then see if it doesn't agree with this sketch showing the skull horizontally from the back:

    Now see if you agree that the depressed fracture would be located in the area shown in the following diagram with a red arc (although it should be further away to the right side away from center or the sagittal suture):

    Now honestly, is that much lower and to to rear than what you pictured in your mind?

    Does this not indicate that the assailant would almost have to be striking from behind?

    And one more question... Is Dr. Spitz full of it?
  11. Cherokee

    Cherokee FFJ Senior Member

    Once again, a brilliant post, Cynic! Excellent scientific analysis and exposition! Well done!

    I am now, more than ever, convinced that a golf club was the weapon used to inflict the head blow on JonBenet that resulted in the skull fracture.
  12. Cherokee

    Cherokee FFJ Senior Member

    Another excellent and informative post, OTG! Fantastic and well illustrated! I do believe the head blow came from behind and have thought that for quite some time now. Your post reveals just how far to the rear the head blow landed and how next to impossible it would have been for the blow to have come from the side or front of JonBenet.

    And yes, Dr. Spitz is full of it.
  13. Elle

    Elle Member

    Bravo otg. I see what you're aiming at, and I agree with you. In other words. It's where the palm of your hand lies flat at an angle above the back of your neck.

    Are you working in the medical field?
  14. Elle

    Elle Member

    This is what you have thought for a long time Cherokee. It's good for you to see it the way cynic and otg have illustrated it. What talented young men we have in our midst! Kudos to you for getting it right!
  15. otg

    otg Member

    Heavens no, Elle. I usually feel kind of faint when I see blood. I'm just trying to understand this stuff the best I can with what information I can find and a little help from all the knowledgeable people I find on these two forums. You guys are the best! Y'all are legends!
  16. Britt

    Britt FFJ Senior Member

    cynic and otg - AWESOME. Thank you so much for this. I'm not a medical person and have been confused about the skull fracture. I really appreciate your thorough explanations, and the diagrams help so much!
  17. otg

    otg Member

    Why did we (I did anyway) think that the depressed fracture (and that is the correct term for it -- see below*) was higher up on the skull?

    Most of us don’t have medical backgrounds, so all the anatomy and medical terminology doesn’t mean much to us. But when we saw that awful photo of JonBenet’s skull with most all of the flesh removed from the bone, suddenly we had a picture in our mind of what it looked like. I don’t know about you, but I really felt faint and nauseous when I first saw it. I guess I’ve become desensitized to it by now, because it doesn’t bother me quite as much. But if I think about the fact that I’m actually looking at the skull of a human being (and one I feel like we’ve come to somewhat know, or at least have a connection with) it does still bother me.

    But back to the skull fracture... After seeing the skull with the hole in it, we imagined where that would be on a child standing up. But what we were looking at was only part of the skull. The human skull has two main parts: The neurocranium and the viscerocranium. The neurocranium (or braincase, or cranial vault) is a protective vault surrounding the brain and brain stem, and the viscerocranium is the facial bone structure. The only photo we have showing the fractures is of the braincase only. I’ll demonstrate the difference in the following series of diagrams.

    The first illustration is a complete skull with the approximate area of the depressed fracture shown with the bold red line. The orientation of the skull here has the Frankfurt plane horizontal. [From Wikipedia: The Frankfurt plane (AKA: auriculo-orbital plane) was established at the World Congress on Anthropology in Frankfurt, Germany in 1884, and decreed as the anatomical position of the human skull. It was decided that a plane passing through the inferior margin of the left orbit (the point called the left orbitale) and the upper margin of each ear canal or external auditory meatus, a point called the porion, was most nearly parallel to the surface of the earth, and also close to the position the head is normally carried in the living subject.] I have drawn a fine red line through the points indicating the Frankfurt plane:

    In the next illustration, I’ve added a bold red line through the area approximately dividing the neurocranium and the viscerocranium:

    In the last illustration I’ve shifted the orientation making the dividing line between the two parts of the skull horizontal:

    So this is more in line with what we see when we view the autopsy photo of JonBenet’s skull. This is why (I believe) we “non-medical types†probably had the impression that the depressed fracture was much higher on the skull than it actually was. But Dr. Spitz is a “medical type†person. Dr. Spitz read the AR. Dr. Spitz should have known better.

    Now knowing exactly where the head blow made contact with the skull we have a more accurate idea of how it may have occurred. We know from what direction it had to have come in relation to the skull. What this unfortunately does not tell us is the position of her body at the time it happened. But we do know for instance that if she was standing, the assailant came down with the weapon from behind. If she was lying down, she would almost have to be lying on her stomach, and the assailant standing over her. You can apply the same to any other position you might want to imagine.

    *Reference from above (I'll be referring to some of the information below in future posts.)

    Four types of skull fractures:

    Linear: Breaks in the bone that transverse the full thickness of the skull from the outer to inner table, are usually fairly straight and involve no displacement of the bone. The common method of injury is blunt force trauma in which the energy from the blow is transferred over a wide surface area of the skull.

    Depressed: A type of fracture usually resulting from blunt force trauma, such as getting struck with a hammer, rock or getting kicked in the head. These types of fractures, which occur in 11% of severe head injuries, are comminuted fractures in which broken bones are displaced inward. Depressed skull fractures carry a high risk of increased pressure on the brain, or a hemorrhage to the brain, crushing the delicate tissue.

    Compound depressed skull fractures occur when there is a laceration over the fracture, resulting in the internal cranial cavity being in contact with the outside environment increasing the risk of contamination and infection. Complex depressed fractures are those in which the dura mater is torn. Depressed skull fractures may require surgery to lift the bones off the brain if they are placing pressure on it.

    Diastatic: These occur when the fracture line transverses one or more sutures of the skull causing a widening of the suture. While this type of fracture is usually seen in infants and young children as the sutures are not yet fused it can also occur in adults. When a diastatic fracture occurs in adults it usually affects the lambdoidal suture as this suture does not fully fuse in adults until about the age of 60.

    Diastatic fractures can occur with different types of fractures and it is also possible for diastasis of the cranial sutures to occur without a concomitant fracture.

    Basilar: Basically this is a linear fracture that occurs in the floor of the cranial vault (skull base), which requires more force to cause than other areas of the neurocranium. Thus they are rare, occurring as the only fracture in only 4% of severe head injury patients.

    Basilar fractures have characteristic signs: blood in the sinuses; a clear fluid called cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaking from the nose (rhinorrhea) or ears (otorrhea); periorbital ecchymosisr often called 'raccoon eyes' (bruising of the orbits of the eyes that result from blood collecting there as it leaks from the fracture site); and retroauricular ecchymosis known as "Battle's sign" (bruising over the mastoid process).
  18. Elle

    Elle Member

    For a non medical person you're doing a great job here. So if JonBenét had been sitting eating her pineapple, the Frankfurt plane would have taken the hardest blow from whatever object was used; a fllashlight or a golf club, because her head was much lower down.

    Thank you for the lesson. I will have to read it a few times. No fun being a Senior, trust me! Thank you otg.
  19. Cherokee

    Cherokee FFJ Senior Member

    Once again, excellent analysis and commentary, OTG! I had posted previously about the possibility of JonBenet being crouched down, either trying to escape being hit by the golf club, or perhaps she was found in a crouched or seated position, playing with a forbidden toy. I tend to think the former; that maybe JonBenet did by instinct what many of us do, turn away and try to hide (by getting lower to the ground) in an effort to escape a coming blow.

    From my post made on July 20, 2012:


    "You'd only have to bring the club up, perhaps slightly more than perpendicular with the floor, then swing it down with speed; especially, if JonBenet was crouched down playing with a toy or trying to protect herself, and not standing at full height."

    I do not believe JonBenet was lying down because her face would have had to be directly into the pillow or ground, and she wouldn't be able to breathe. The direction of the crack shows shows JonBenet was hit from behind and above, with her head tilted down. Cynic's excellent work with a golf club shows it was the most likely weapon available in the house.

    The Ramseys might lie, but the application of physics and human anatomy do not. We are now closer to understanding how JonBenet received the fatal head blow thanks to your and Cynic's briliant posts. Thank you.
  20. Karen

    Karen Member

    Thank you cynic and otg. Excellent work! Now I understand what I never was able to grasp before.

    Someone should let Cheif Kolar in on this. I'd love to hear what he had to say.
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