Friday, November 5, 2010

DEATH OF AN INNOCENT

Linda Hoffmann-Pugh
Chapter 1

Who killed JonBenet Ramsey? How did she die? Those are the questions most Americans want answered. And I can answer them. In fact, I am one of only three people who knows the answer to the terrible question: "Who killed JonBenet Ramsey?" And who are the other two people who know the answer? John and Patsy Ramsey, the parents of JonBenet Ramsey And there is a reason why we know who killed JonBenet. Unlike other authors who have written books about the case before us, we were actually part of the Ramsey household. Right up until the day JonBenet died.

But I also know who killed JonBenet Ramsey because I saw John and Patsy Ramsey in their private, unguarded moments. And because I took care of JonBenet as if she were my own child. But now, because the police have failed miserably in solving the mystery of JonBenet's death, I feel that it is finally time for me to come forward and tell my story. It is a frightening story with a terrible secret.

The secret is this: I have no mouth and I must scream. That's right. I have no mouth and I must scream! I have no mouth and yet I must scream the name of JonBenet's killer at the top of my lungs to the rest of the world. Try to imagine what it is like to know who killed JonBenet Ramsey, and yet have no one to listen to you, or help you do anything about it. That is part of the terrible secret. No one will help me! Not the police. Not the district attorney. Not even a federal judge. And yet I know who killed JonBenet Ramsey, just as surely as if I had been there in that dark, awful wine cellar with her and witnessed her murder. And I will tell you what happened on that dreadful Christmas night. If you will listen. But before I can do that, I must briefly tell you about the only two other people who know who murdered JonBenet. They are John and Patsy Ramsey.

While working for the Ramsey family as a housekeeper, I was able to see the interaction between John and Patsy. In the fourteen months I was there, they never once showed the slightest affection for one another. I never once saw them embrace. I never once saw them hold hands, I never once saw them a kiss, or hug, or use words or terms of endearment, or speak to one another with any warmth or tenderness. Not once. Not ever! In fact, I don't think I've ever been around a married couple who looked so uncomfortable together. Or a couple who were as cold to one another, as these two.

There were times when I would not have been surprised to come to work and find that John and Patsy Ramsey had filed for divorce. On one occasion, while I was working around the Ramsey house, a conversation Patsy Ramsey had with me only confirmed my suspicions that there was "trouble in paradise" in the Ramsey marriage. Patsy confided to me that she did not enjoy having sexual relations (especially oral sex) with John. After beating around the bush, Patsy finally asked me for help. Did I have any suggestions? She wanted to enjoy sex with John, but she just couldn't bring herself to do it. Especially not oral sex. Was there anything Patsy could do to keep her from thinking about his penis in her mouth and gagging on it? Well, was there? Patsy appeared desperate. Was there anything she could do about the salty sour taste of John's penis, and the pubic hair that would stick in her teeth? I was astonished. As a mother of six children, I had never run into that problem. Quite the contrary.

Before answering Patsy, I took a deep breath, stunned by the completely unexpected nature of Patsy's confession, thought for a minute, and then offered her the only advice a grandmother of ten children could give. Patsy, I told her, keep thinking about how much you love John and how this is just another way of showing him your love. Make love to his penis as if you were making love to the man. What else could I say. Either you love the guy or you don't. But Patsy's unhappiness and fear of John's penis did not end there. Sometime after Patsy's confession, I came upon her sobbing in the kitchen. When I asked her what was wrong, she explained that she had just spent the night crying her eyes out because John had yelled at her the day before about her being a lousy homemaker and cook. Clearly, there was more to John's anger than an uncooked meal or an unmade bed.

I suspected that the real reason behind John's outburst probably had more to do with his unsucked penis than his uncooked pot roast. Remarkably, Patsy seemed genuinely upset by his criticism and she was more emotional than I think I have ever seen her. Later, when appearing before the Boulder grand jury investigating the murder of JonBenet Ramsey, I spoke at length about the trouble I thought the Ramsey marriage was experiencing. I told the grand jury that in my opinion, based on my personal observations while working for the them, I could honestly say that the Ramseys did not appear to be a happily married couple. On the contrary, they seemed held together, like lots of other unhappy marriages, by their children. Without their son Burke, and their daughter JonBenet, it is my belief that John and Patsy would have divorced many years ago.

I also told the grand jury that while Patsy could be kind and even thoughtful, she was one of the strangest people I have ever met. By way of example, I told the grand jury that while cleaning out and organizing her vast number of purses - one of my tasks every Friday - Patsy took me aside and explained that she had gone to her local church, had members of her congregation pray over her, and the next day found that doctors had declared her miraculously "cured" of stage-four ovarian cancer.

But that wasn't all. Patsy also had visions. She confided in me that John's deceased daughter from his first marriage appeared before her to tell her that an angel was coming to cure her of cancer. Patsy believed her dead step-daughter's message was true and that the angel sent her cancer into remission, along with the help of the parishioner's of her church who had prayed over her.

But that still wasn't all. One of the ways in which Patsy Ramsey would communicate with me was through handwritten notes, which she would leave for me with instructions for various duties around the house that needed my attention. In the fourteen month period that I worked for the Ramseys, I was left several dozen handwritten notes by Patsy Ramsey. I am quite familiar with her handwriting, and I believe I can recognize it with very little difficulty. I told the grand jury that since leaving the employ of the Ramseys, I had had occasion to see a copy of the ransom note found at the scene of JonBenet Ramsey's murder. It was heartbreaking for me to admit that the handwriting in the ransom note looked very much like the handwriting Patsy Ramsey used in writing her notes to me.

By way of example, Patsy made her letter "a"s very distinctively, and she would use accents over words like JonBenet and attach, and often used initialing of words in combination, to name just a few of her many unique handwriting characteristics. Because I once felt very close to Patsy Ramsey, and regarded her with almost as much affection as a member of my immediate family, it has been hard for me to admit that I am now certain that the handwriting in the ransom note looks to me as if it was made by one and the same person. Patsy Ramsey.

That is why I am convinced Patsy killed and then covered up the death of her daughter. She alone is responsible. John may have helped her to hide her crime because he had no choice, especially since she could have pointed the finger of guilt at him if he had resisted. Perhaps I am being too cryptic. So let me tell you how I believe JonBenet was murdered. If I were speaking to Patsy Ramsey right now, this is what I would say to her: You were spent and exhausted, weren't you? The holidays do that to people. At the party on December twenty-third you appeared a little out of sorts, perhaps because there were twenty people in the house with another twenty on the way. It was five in the afternoon, and I was on my way out the door, leaving you without help. So it's okay if you dipped deeply into the Beringer Chardonnay, your favorite wine that you kept in the walk-in refrigerator, just off the kitchen.

Holidays can be depressing. I don't blame you for being down. Your big four-oh birthday was less than a week away, you had dealt with ovarian cancer for years, and your beauty queen looks were fading. Miss West Virginia of 1977 had become a middle-aged matron. You loved JonBenet, but she was a handful, wetting the bed night after night. She was driving you crazy. Christmas Day wasn't quiet or peaceful, either. There was pressure, lots of pressure and I wasn't there to smooth out the rough edges for you. Sure, it was picture perfect, snow on the ground, and your home was a decorator's dream. I remember helping to decorate the artifical Christmas trees, one for nearly every room in the house. Giant candy canes bordered both sides of the walk. But there were homes to visit, open houses that had to be dropped in and dropped out of, and you were expected to gather up Burke and JonBenet and have them ready to fly out at daybreak to Michigan where there was going to be a second Christmas at your lakefront vacation house. John would hire the pilot, but you were the one who had to pack and organize and get the kids dressed.

So you were weary that night, who wouldn't be? John was no help. He did what he always did - swallowed a couple of melatonin capsules and fell into a deep sleep. He wouldn't have heard a cannon go off it was next to the bed. You were still wearing the red sweater and black velvet trousers when you put JonBenet to bed Christmas night. Surprisingly - for someone who has a hundred dresses and prides herself with never wearing the same outfit twice - you were wearing that same costume when the police arrived the next day.

JonBenet wet the bed again that night, didn't she? She woke up and told you about it before you were even undressed and you simply "lost it." You took her into the bathroom. It was the same destination you always took JonBenet when it was time to punish her for bedwetting. You forget that I saw you take here there so many times before, shutting the door tightly behind you, so her screams could not be heard. Except this time there was "an accident," wasn't there? You picked up the long, black flashlight you had brought with you, and you swung it. You swung it first at her crotch and then next at her head. Maybe you meant to scare her and maybe you didn't mean to kill her, but you did.

At first you thought you had knocked her out, but then she wasn't breathing, and you felt for a pulse, but there was none. What to do? What to do? Well, someone else must have done this, since it certainly couldn't have been you. Right? After all, you were always a model parent. Right? At least you hoped people thought so. All of those Tom Clancy novels were suddenly flashing through your mind as JonBenet's body lay before you. What would a clever mystery writer have his antagonist do? Think! They sure wouldn't have the villain lie down and take the rap for an accident. A bash in the head, after all, was too suspicious. A parent could do that. But what if JonBenet was slowly strangled, exotically, with, of all things, a garrote? So you broke off one of your paint brushes, took the white nylon cord, and twisted it around her neck. She might have still been revived, but you didn't know it. You just pulled the cord tight around her neck until it was red. I remember just such a cord wrapped in just such a way around a box in the basement next to where her body was found. I remember a lot Patsy.

You kept trying to make it an exotic crime scene, didn't you? You even taped your daughter's wrists and her mouth shut, cutting the tape with a small Swiss army knife that would later be found beside her body the next day. I remember that knife. Burke had walked around the house whittling with it a month before, and I told you I put it up at the top of the linen closet near JonBenet's bedroom when I confiscated it from him. Only you knew and John knew the exact location of that hideaway in the linen closet. After you finished taping JonBenet's mouth, you carried her downstairs and hid her body in the basement inside a small hidden room - the "wine room" you called it, even though there was never any wine stored there. You then wrapped her in a favorite white blanket of hers, which you took from the dryer, except her Barbie nightgown was stuck to it because you never did have the sense to throw in a static cling strip with the wash. So you laid the nightie next to her.

You had stored the plastic Christmas trees there, in that "wine cellar." Strange, isn't it? I had worked for you for nearly a year and I didn't even know that room existed until you had me get those trees out of there. An intruder wouldn't have found that place. Not in a million years. Only you, or John, would know it location. Your house was a 22-room rabbit warren and maze that even my husband once got lost in when he was doing some work for you. What to do next? Well, a ransom note might be nice. It would explain why JonBenet was suddenly missing. But you forgot one thing. The handwriting and language of the note were all yours. I can hear your "voice" in the note. The word "hence," for example, was in your Christmas cards and letters and a word you liked to use in conversation. The phrase "use that good Southern common sense" is what you kidded John about, since he was anything but Southern, having been born and raised in Michigan; the phrase "fat cat" is what your mother, Nedra, used to call you after you and John became rich. The ransom demand asked that the money be put in an attach, with a proper accent mark over the last e in attach. I remember how careful you always were to put the proper accent mark over the e in the second syllable of JonBenet's name. The ransom note even ended with the initials SBTC. Do you remember how fond you were of using initials as abbreviations for all sorts of expressions?

Preparing the crime scene and writing the ransom note must have been time consuming and exhausting. You were up all night before you "found" the ransom note just before six a.m in the morning. You didn't even have time to change your clothes from the day before. You began screaming as soon as John had awakened and he didn't even know what had happened when you called the police. John didn't know what had happened to JonBenet when he found the body hidden in the basement. When did you tell him?