Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder of JonBenet Ramsey

The Other Book

Steve Thomas, a former lead detective in the Ramsey case
Steve Thomas, a former lead detective in the Ramsey case

On April 9, Steve Thomas, one of the former lead detectives in the Ramsey case, also stepped into the media arena when he appeared on ABC's Good Morning America, saying he believed that Patsy Ramsey wrote the ransom note. Thomas, who had previously resigned in protest to what he called the "lack of aggressive prosecution of the case," was appearing on the show to promote his own book on the case called JonBenet: Inside the Ramsey Murder Investigation.

During the interview, Thomas described how out of 73 suspects whose writing samples were analyzed by experts in comparison with the note, Patsy Ramsey was the only one who could not be excluded as its author. He also accused Patsy Ramsey of changing her handwriting after the murder. "In the ransom note, almost exclusively the lowercase manuscript a was used, I think, 98 percent of the time," he said. "What was telling was that after the Ramseys were given a copy of the ransom note, the lowercase manuscript a almost disappeared entirely from Patsy's post-homicide writing. Writing samples from Ramseys' personal letters and notes she wrote before the killing contain 732 manuscript a's that look like the lowercase typewritten a, but they are written by hand. She switched to a cursive a after the murder."

Another point that Thomas made was that the ransom note was signed "S.B.T.C." which allegedly stands for what the note described as "a small foreign faction" that had kidnapped JonBenet for a $118,000 ransom. Thomas indicated that this fact also pointed to Patsy Ramsey, as she often used acronyms. He cited a Christmas note to a friend that was signed "P.P.R.B.S.J.," which she said stood for "Patsy Paugh Ramsey, Bachelor of Science in Journalism." He also said the tear pattern of the ransom-note paper matched Patsy Ramsey's personal note pad, and the felt-tip pen used to write the note matched a pen found in a cup in the Ramseys' kitchen.

Another point of suspicion, Thomas felt, was when Ramsey said she found the note on the back stairs when police had found it on the hardwood floor.

Thomas bases his views on an analysis made of the ransom note by Donald Foster, a linguistics scholar who, it was later revealed, had previously offered his services to the Ramseys on June 18, 1997, because of his "strong belief in Patsy Ramsey's innocence." In a letter personally addressed to Patsy Ramsey, Foster wrote: "I know that you are innocent, know it, absolutely and unequivocally, I would stake my professional reputation on it, indeed, my faith in humanity. I believe you were an ideal mother, wise, protective, caring and truly devoted," before offering his services to help prove her innocence. Foster also describes the note and offers a theory as to its author: "It appears to have been written by a young adult with an adolescent imagination overheated by true crime literature and Hollywood thrillers." His offer of help was rejected.

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