Statement Analysis®

JonBenet Ramsey Murder - The 911 Call


December 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the death of JonBenet Ramsey. In the coming months, there will be numerous television shows dedicated to this unsolved murder. They will review the facts of the case and discuss any new evidence that has been discovered. What they will fail to talk about is statements made by people involved in this investigation. In their quest to find forensic evidence that points to the killer, they ignore what people are telling them. Before we apply the Statement Analysis techniques, let's first review what happened 20 years ago.

In 1996, John and Patsy Ramsey lived in Boulder, CO along with their nine-year-old son Burke and their six-year-old daughter JonBenet. On December 26, 1996, Patsy Ramsey woke up around 5:45 a.m. and found a three-page handwritten note. The note was addressed to "Mr. Ramsey" and said that JonBenet had been kidnapped. The ransom note demanded $118,000.00 in cash and said the kidnappers would call the Ramseys to instruct them on delivering the money. Patsy Ramsey immediately called 911 and the police soon arrived at their residence.

The police began their investigation and waited for the kidnappers to call. At around 1:00 p.m., investigators asked John Ramsey and one of his friends to check the house to see if anything was missing or was out of place. The two men started their search in the basement and that is where John Ramsey found his daughter. JonBenet's wrists were tied above her head. A piece of duct tape was covering her mouth and a cord was wrapped around her neck. John Ramsey quickly carried his daughter upstairs and emergency medical services were called. The discovery of JonBenet was too late. She had been dead for several hours.

The first piece of evidence we have is the 911 call made by Patsy Ramsey.

911: 911 Emergency.
PR:   (Inaudible) police.
911: What's going on...
PR:   755 Fifteenth Street
911: What is going on there ma'am?
PR:   We have a kidnapping. Hurry, please.
911: Explain to me what is going on, ok?
PR:   We have a, there's a note left and our daughter is gone.
911: A note was left and your daughter is gone?
PR:   Yes.
911: How old is you daughter?
PR:   She is six years old, she is blond...six years old.
911: How long ago was this?
PR:   I don't know. I just found a note and my daughter's missing.
911: Does it say who took her?
PR:   What?
911: Does it say who took her?
PR:   No, I don't know it's there...there is a ransom note here.
911: It's a ransom note?
PR:   It says S.B.T.C. Victory...please.
911: Ok, what's your name? Are you...
PR:   Patsy Ramsey...I am the mother. Oh my God. Please.
911: I'm...Ok, I'm sending an officer over, ok?
PR:   Please.
911: Do you know how long she's been gone?
PR:   No, I don't, please, we just got up and she's not here. Oh my God Please.
911: Ok.
PR:   Please send somebody.
911: I am, honey.
PR:   Please.
911: Take a deep breath for me okay?
PR:   Hurry, hurry, hurry.
911: Patsy? Patsy? Patsy? Patsy? Patsy?

After Patsy terminated the call the line apparently stayed open. She may not have placed the phone properly in the cradle. The 911 operator thought she heard three faint voices in the background. Audio experts enhanced the recording to see if they could make out what was being said. They thought they may have heard John Ramsey say, "We're not talking to you." Patsy Ramsey say, "What did you do" and Burke Ramsey say, "What did you find?" If you listen to the enhanced recording it is difficult to make out any of those statements. Therefore, these statement are inconclusive.


911: What is going on there ma'am?
PR:   We have a kidnapping. Hurry, please.

When the 911 operator asked Patsy Ramsey what was going on she replied, "We have a kidnapping. Hurry, please." Notice that Patsy's plea for help lacks specifics. She does not tell the 911 operator who was kidnapped. We would expect her to say, "My daughter" or "Our daughter has been kidnapped." Most people do not want to lie and will avoid telling a lie. When people do decide to lie they will often not tell a direct lie. They will soften the lie. Saying, "My daughter has been kidnapped" may be a direct lie. Saying, "We have a kidnapping" may be a lie that lacks specifics.

The word "please" appears to be too polite. She does use it eight times in the 911 call. There is a chance she is not being polite but is using this word to add emphasis to the fact she needs help.


911: Explain to me what is going on, ok?
PR:   We have a, there's a note left and our daughter is gone.

At this point the 911 operator only knows there has been a kidnapping. She does not know who has been kidnapped. Therefore, she asked Patsy, "Explain to me what is going on, ok?" Patsy responded, "We have a, there's a note left and our daughter is gone." Patsy has an unfinished sentence; "We have a." It appears she was going to repeat what she told the 911 operator in her previous statement; "We have a kidnapping." However, this time she could not make that statement. Perhaps she could not lie twice.

She then said, "There's a note left." She referred to the three-page handwritten letter as a "note." We will see if her personal dictionary remains consistent. Her use of the unique word "left" indicates she may have withheld some information. She could have avoided using this word by saying, "I found a note."

She finished this sentence by saying, "Our daughter is gone." Order is important. This sentence appears to be out-of-order. She first told the 911 operator about the note. Then she told her that their daughter was gone. The most important thing is that JonBenet is missing. That should have been the first thing she told the 911 operator.

Patsy said that their daughter was "gone." We will see how her personal dictionary plays out in regards to the word "gone."

This may be a truthful statement. There was a ransom note in the house and JonBenet was gone (deceased).


911: How long ago was this?
PR:   I don't know. I just found a note and my daughter's missing.

Some transcripts show the pronoun "I" is missing before the word "just." The missing "I" indicates a lack of commitment to the statement. However, when I listened to the recording, I heard Patsy say, "I just found a note."

There are several ways you can use the word "just." The word "just" is often used to minimize things. If you walk into a restaurant by yourself, chances are the hostess will say to you, "Just one?" She is minimizing how many are in your party. When people minimize their actions using the word "just" it is an indication they may have done more than what they are telling you; "I just went to McDonalds and came home." There is a chance Patsy may be minimizing her actions that morning. However, she may also be minimizing time. By using the word "just" she is telling the 911 operator that her action of finding the ransom note was immediate.

She is consistent in using the word "note." However, she does change her language when she used the word "missing." Earlier she said, "Our daughter is gone." Now her daughter is "missing." Truthful people will usually use the same language. Something caused her to change her language. That something might be she is being deceptive. Then again, there may be a justification for the change in language. When she used the word "gone" she used the plural pronoun "our." When she used the word "missing" she used the singular pronoun "my." We can't read people's minds but we can recognize a change in language.


911: Does it say who took her?
PR:   What?

Answering a question with a question indicates the person was asked a sensitive question. It is often used as a stall tactic to allow the person to think about how he or she should answer the question. We do have to take into consideration that it is possible Patsy did not hear what the operator said.


911: Does it say who took her?
PR:   No, I don't know it's there...there is a ransom note here.

When asked if the note said who took JonBenet, Patsy said, "No, I don't know." In reality, the note said that a "foreign faction" signed by SBTC was responsible for JonBenet's disappearance. In her answer to the next question she will mention the SBTC.

Patsy had another change in language. She now calls it a "ransom note" and not a "note." As I look at this 911 call, I do not see a justification for the change in language. Therefore, it is an indication of deception.


911: It's a ransom note?
PR:   It says S.B.T.C. Victory...please.

The ransom note was signed "Victory! S.B.T.C." Patsy reverses the order and says, "S.B.T.C. Victory." If she had the ransom note in her hand while talking to the 911 operator, we would expect her to look at the ransom note and mention the signature in sequential order. If she did not have the ransom note in her hand and was relying on her memory from what she had read, that would be a reason for her to unknowingly reverse the order. However, in that situation, I would not expect her to remember the letters S.B.T.C. It is possible she looked at the very last line in the ransom note, S.B.T.C., mentioned it and then look at the word Victory above it.


911: Ok, what's your name? Are you...
PR:   Patsy Ramsey...I am the mother. Oh my God. Please.

Notice that Patsy used the article "the" and not the pronoun "her." Saying, "I am her mother" makes it more personal. It shows ownership. Saying, "I am the mother" shows distance. If she knew JonBenet was dead, she may not have wanted to take ownership of a dead body.


911: Do you know how long she's been gone?
PR:   No, I don't, please, we just got up and she's not here. Oh my God Please.

Again she used the word "just." Is she minimizing her actions or is she minimizing time?


911: Ok.
PR:   Please send somebody.

The reason people call 911 is because they are seeking help either for themselves or for someone else. Most 911 calls begin with a plea for help; "I need an ambulance" or "Someone is breaking into my neighbor's send the police?" Patsy's plea for help appears towards the end of her call, "Please send somebody." She only asked for help after the 911 operator said to her, "I'm sending an officer over."

Towards the beginning of her 911 call, Patsy told the 911 operator, "We have a kidnapping. Hurry, please." Saying, "Hurry, please" insinuates the 911 operator should send the police to her residence. However, she does not specifically ask for the police. At the very beginning of her call, she did have an inaudible statement, "(Inaudible) police." It is possible she said, "Send the police" or "I need the police."


There is one other odd thing with this 911 call and that is Patsy hung up the phone. The 911 operator is your lifeline. This is the person who is going to help you. They are going to send you help. They may get the word out to be on the lookout for a certain person or vehicle. You will want to stay on the phone with the 911 operator until help arrives. Once she reports the kidnapping, Patsy hangs up the phone.


Next - The Ransom Note

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