In 1997, PR says the always latched the cellar door, but a year later Ramnesia sets in and says she “would not have specifically necessarily locked it.”
Ah yes, but the ever so courteous intruder/pedophile/kidnapper/murderer took the time out of his busy schedule to latch it?
(Also, the small pivoting peg is not readily obvious, nor would it by likely that someone would expect something that archaic as a means of securing a door.)
TT: Okay. Um, that, that cellar door, that peg on that, does that have to be down to deep that door closed?
PR: Uh, well, no it will close. It, you know, it kind of sort of sticks on the carpet a little bit.
TT: Um hum.
PR: I mean, it will close, but that kind of I always kind of flipped that down just so the kids wouldn’t get in there.
TT: Okay. But it doesn’t the door won’t open up because of the carpet without that lock down. If you leave the lock in the up position the door doesn’t just swing (inaudible).
TT: Okay. Were you ever, you were not ever in the basement that morning before the police got there?
PR: No, I was not.
Patsy Ramsey, 1997 Interview
PATSY RAMSEY: Okay. This is back, this is what we referred to as the (inaudible) cover, these are (inaudible) painting here. When were these pictures taken, before we found JonBenet?
TRIP DEMUTH: Yes.
PATSY RAMSEY: See that door is locked there, because there is a little tab thing on there.
TOM HANEY: Is that the way it is normally secured with that, is it a block of wood?
PATSY RAMSEY: Uh-huh.
TOM HANEY: And how firmly or loosely is that attached?
PATSY RAMSEY: You mean the wood?
TOM HANEY: Yes, the wood, the block.
PATSY RAMSEY: Well, you know, it bends, you know. I mean, you have to turn it.
TOM HANEY: You have to actually apply some force?
PATSY RAMSEY: Right.
TOM HANEY: Would it be capable of falling down on its own?
PATSY RAMSEY: No, I don't know, and I wasn't always -- you know, I was hiding some Christmas presents and stuff back in there for Christmas.
TOM HANEY: Okay. Do you recall –
PATSY RAMSEY: What I was going to say, I mean, after bringing the stuff up out of there after Christmas, I would not have specifically necessarily locked it because it kind of drags on the carpet.
TOM HANEY: All right.
PATSY RAMSEY: So I can't say that I personally left it neat and tidy shut and closed after I had gotten all of the toys out of there.
TOM HANEY: You said it kind of drags on the bottom of the carpet. The carpet is too high or the door is too low. How tough is it to open, I mean is it –
PATSY RAMSEY: You can do it. I can do it, but you had some resistance.
TOM HANEY: Okay. Is there a spot where you couldn't open past that?
PATSY RAMSEY: No.
TOM HANEY: So if we refer to your 90 degrees to pull over, it would do that with just some effort?
PATSY RAMSEY: Yeah.
Patsy Ramsey, 1998 Interview
JOHN RAMSEY: Right. I remember grabbing the handle because the door was latched because I expected it not to be latched. I reached out, flipped the latch and opened the door and immediately looked down.
LOU SMIT: And you say immediately?
JOHN RAMSEY: There was a white blanket. And I just knew that I had found her.
LOU SMIT: How were you standing in the doorway when you observed that?
JOHN RAMSEY: I was probably right there. The door pulled open. The handle was on the left side of the door and it opened this way, as I recall.
LOU SMIT: So now, I just want to get that right because when you opened the door, you could look inside the room. Is the light on or off at the time you open the door?
JOHN RAMSEY: I think it was off. I don't remember it being on. It was off.
LOU SMIT: Would you be able to see into that room if the light was off?
JOHN RAMSEY: I saw clearly, instantly. Yeah.
MIKE KANE: Okay. Now when you went around to the wine cellar door, you said you pulled at it and, I think you said that you were surprised that it was latched?
JOHN RAMSEY: I just said I remember pulling on it almost popping out of hand because it's always been open. And I don't think the latch was latched.
MIKE KANE: I think you said, (I didn't expect it to be latched.̃ Was it normally not?
JOHN RAMSEY: I'd say, I mean, the door was kind of stuck anyway, so it wasn't common to latch it.
MIKE KANE: Did that latch, and I've seen pictures of it, it was on like a pivot?
JOHN RAMSEY: It was on a block of wood.
MIKE KANE: A block of wood, but it was pivoted?
JOHN RAMSEY: Right.
MIKE KANE: Was it enough that it would fall down on its own or did you have to physically turn it?
JOHN RAMSEY: I think you had to physically turn it.
John Ramsey, 1998 Interview
The sergeant found no evidence of forced entry during a walk through the house, then went outside. A light dusting of snow and frost lay atop an earlier crusty snow in spotty patches on the grass. He saw no fresh shoe impressions, found no open doors or windows, nothing to indicate a break-in, but walking on the driveway and sidewalks left no visible prints. It was frigid, about nine degrees, and Reichenbach returned inside.
He went down into the sprawling basement and walked through it. At the far end was a white door secured at the top by a block of wood that pivoted on a screw. Reichenbach tried to open the door, stopped when he felt resistance, then returned upstairs. Reichenbach, Officer French, and one of the friends Patsy had called, Fleet White, would all check that white door in the basement during the morning, and White would even open it. They found nothing.
JonBenet: Inside the Ramsey Murder Investigation, Steve Thomas, pages 19-20
Earlier, Rick French, the first police officer to respond to the mother’s 911 call, had immediately searched the house for the child and for any sign of forced entry, but he found nothing. Then he read the ransom note
Perfect Murder, Perfect Town, Lawrence Schiller, page 7
When Rick French, the first officer on the scene after Patsy’s report of a kidnapping, later saw the spot where the body had been found, he remembered his search of the house in the early morning. In the first minutes, French, seeing from where he stood that the door was latched shut, had thought there was no need to open it. Now he was baffled by his own decision. How hard would it have been to open the door? Had JonBenét still been alive when he stood just a few feet away and decided not to open the door? The thought devastated him.
Perfect Murder, Perfect Town, Lawrence Schiller, page 21
White told the detectives that he had been there only a few minutes when he started to search the house. Alone, he went down to the basement, found some of the lights on, and started calling out JonBenét’s name. It was so cluttered down there—with boxes stacked everywhere and shelves overflowing with odds and ends—that he could hardly see any open spaces where she might be. He started in Burke’s train and hobby room, where he saw a suitcase sitting under a broken window. On the floor under the window, he found small pieces of glass. He placed some of them on the windowsill. Then he moved the suitcase a few feet to get a closer look at the window. White said he was sure the window was closed but unlatched. After he left the train room, he turned right, into the boiler room. At the back of the room, he said, he saw a door to what the Ramseys called the wine cellar. He turned the closed wooden latch and opened the door. The room was pitch-black, he said. He didn’t enter, and he saw nothing. When he couldn’t find a light switch, he closed the door and went back upstairs. He did not remember whether or not he relatched the door. Later, when White saw John Fernie, he told him that a window downstairs had been punched open. The police wondered why White had not seen JonBenét’s body and later Ramsey had, since they both stood at the same spot after opening the door to the wine cellar.
Perfect Murder, Perfect Town, Lawrence Schiller, page 44
He then described going to the little cellar room on the subsequent trip downstairs with Fleet White, unlatching and opening the white door. He snapped his fingers and said, “It was instant, I mean, as soon as I opened the door I saw the white blanket. . . and I knew what was up.” She was on her back on the floor with the white blanket folded around her, her arms were tied, and there was a piece of black tape over her lips, he said, and her head was cocked to one side.
The door opens outward, so he would have had to step back or aside before moving through. He did not say he saw the blanket after turning on the light but “instantly.” Fleet White had stood in that same doorway that morning and could see nothing in the windowless darkness. I had always considered that Ramsey might have known something before he entered, and with this new admission of going to the basement earlier, I was sure of it. By the time he went back downstairs with Fleet White, I thought he knew exactly where the body was.
JonBenet: Inside the Ramsey Murder Investigation, Steve Thomas, pages 192-193
We conducted tedious re-creations in the small room where the body was found, duplicating lighting conditions with the help of a photographic expert with sensitive meters and placing a white cotton blanket where JonBenét had lain.
John Ramsey had said he spotted the blanket instantly when he opened the door. It was as dark as a coal mine at midnight in there, and to open the door, he would have had to step back to a point where a blind corner would have blocked his view. I stood where Ramsey had been and saw only a wall of impenetrable blackness.
Lou Smit: “I can see in there.”
Even with the light on, Detective Gosage said, “I had to step completely into the cellar and look around the corner to my left to see the blanket on the floor.”
JonBenet: Inside the Ramsey Murder Investigation, Steve Thomas, page 220
Ramsey stuck to his original story of seeing the girl’s body “clearly and instantly” when he opened the cellar door and for the first time said he did not turn on the light. Our tests and the testimony of Fleet White had convinced us that it was impossible to see anything in the darkness, particularly when the view was blocked by a jutting interior corner.
JonBenet: Inside the Ramsey Murder Investigation, Steve Thomas, page 361
(It does appear to be extremely dark in the room, especially when the door is partially open and someone is standing at the entrance as depicted in the fourth picture below.
The last picture shows that you do have to step inside and look down and to left to have any chance of seeing the body.)
CASKU further said that placing JonBenét in the basement was consistent with a parent not wanting to put the body outside in the winter elements. The familiarity with and relocking of the peg on the white cellar door were noted. The ligatures, they said, indicated staging rather than control, and the garrote was used from behind so the killer could avoid eye contact, typical of someone who cares for the victim.
JonBenet: Inside the Ramsey Murder Investigation, Steve Thomas, page 243
It was time to let Sergeant Wickman confront the Intruder Theory.
“The prominent red flag in the big picture is the utter illogic of such an intruder’s actions and behaviors,” Wickman said. “For one to believe an intruder committed this crime, one would also have to believe all of these things.” Enumerating conflicting points, Wickman asked, “Would an intruder”:
Have taken the time to close JonBenét’s bedroom door, which Patsy said had been found closed?
Have taken the time to relatch the obscure cellar door peg that police and Fleet White found in the locked position?
Have placed JonBenét beneath a blanket and taken the care to place her favorite pink nightgown with her?
Have wiped and/or re-dressed JonBenét after the assault and murder?
Have fed her pineapple, then kept her alive in the house for a couple of hours while she digested it? (That same fresh-cut pineapple that was consistent, right down to the rind, with a bowl on the breakfast table that had the print of Patsy Ramsey’s right middle finger on it.)
Have been able to navigate silently through a dark, confusing, and occupied house without a sound in the quiet of Christmas night?
Be a stranger who could write a note with characteristics so similar to those of Patsy Ramsey’s writing that numerous experts would be unable to eliminate her as the author?
Have been so unprepared for this most high-risk of crimes that the individuals representing a “small foreign faction” failed to bring the necessary equipment to facilitate the crime?
Have been able to murder the child in such a violent fashion but so quietly that her parents and brother slept through the event, despite a scream loud enough to be heard by a neighbor across the street?
And, Wickman pointed out, given the medical opinions of prior vaginal trauma, the night of the murder must not have been the intruder’s first visit, unless the vaginal abuse and the murder were done by different people.
JonBenet: Inside the Ramsey Murder Investigation, Steve Thomas, pages 346-347