Journalistic Ransom Note

Discussion in 'JonBenet Ramsey' started by Camper, May 22, 2005.

  1. Camper

    Camper New Member

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    The ransom note has all of the features of a story written by a Journalism major.

    Who did it - Foreign Faction
    What happened - Kidnapping
    Where - Ramsey home
    When - Everyone is sleeping
    Why - Foreign Faction does not like the Ramseys
    How - Strangulation by garote

    There are problems with the note:

    Who - No one was familiar with a foreign faction!
    What - Kidnapping - body was still in the house!
    Where - Ramsey home - only people at home were the Ramseys.
    When - Someone was NOT sleeping that night.
    Why - No reason found why Ramseys would be disliked for any reason.
    How - Head blow struck AFTER death had already occurred, overkill. You can only kill someone once.


    Hmmm, did someone who studied Journalism with Patsy have a maddening grudge with her?

    Did the Stine tutor NI, study Journalism, did JAR study Journalism?

    The note is right by the book, just as a teacher would teach a new Journalism class, the technique IS the story.

    Linguistic analysis is good, but you cannot beat the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How of a story or an overdone ransom note.

    Even Bruno Haupfman sp? who was convicted of the Lindbergh baby murder, only wrote one page letters or notes. But the recent TV coverage seemed to indicate that more than one person wrote on each of those letters, the handwriting was different. Different hands wrote within the same note/letter in the Lindbergh case. Plus $30,000.00 of the ransom was NEVER found, Bruno only had part of the money. Bruno refused to plead guilty even though he was promised money for his wife to live comfortably after his death.




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  3. azwriter

    azwriter Sister Mary Wanna

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    Camper,
    You may have heard these points from me before. Seems like we have been hashing over this case for decades.
    Not only did the ransom note follow the who, what, where and how, there are many indications this was written by someone trained to write for publication or public relations.
    I can see this after being a Journalism major in college and following up with a 20 plus year in the field a newspaper reporter and magazine writer.
    First, the margains and indentation of paragraphs:
    Copy for publication, prior to word processing, had to be prepared a certain way for a proof reader and typesetter. The beginning of a paragraph had to have a deep (nearly 8 space) indents. This told the typesetter and proof reader a new paragraph had begun. Notice the lenghty indents on the ransom letter.
    Throughout the letter there are indications the writer had learned to write according to a stylebook, usually the AP stylebook, used by most publications.
    Using this style would give the printed piece a look of uniformity. The reporter learns to use written word for figures from one through ten. The numbers above ten are written as figures.
    Using the style also allows for a better use of space. For instance, indicating time within a story written by a journalism pro means using the least amount of characters. Instead of writting 10 a.m. a reporter or writer for publication would use 10 am leaving out the periods.
    Additionally, when writing a difference in a space of time such as 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. the journalist would write 9 to 11 a.m. Leaving off the extra am and periods from the first time given.
    There are in the ransom letter actual proofreading symbols such as a carat where a letter needs to be inserted for the correct spelling. Before computers it was common to see these marks on copy written by a journalist.
    Journalists also learn to use only one exclaimation point, never two or three. I can't recall the ransom note clearly, but if I remember, if an exclaimation is used at the end of a sentence, there is only one.
    The thing is that this type of training becomes second nature to a person writing for publication. Whether it be as a news story or a press release. It become difficult not to fall back into this style of writing. Every letter I write a letter, ends up looking like a press release.
    As for believing the Ramsey ransom note was written by a person familiar with journalism, I also believe it was written by one person while be diticated by another person. I see this in the beginning of there letter where it starts "Listen carefully."
    Listen carefully is a direction given verbaly from one person to another. The writer on their own would probably use the phrase "Read carefully...." Because the writer knows they are writing whereas the one speaking would say "Listen..."
    Hope I made sense with this post.
    It's all JMO of course.
     
  4. capps

    capps New Member

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    azwriter,

    Your signature:paul Newman is crazy about me,made me laugh out loud!! Good one!
     
  5. Enola

    Enola New Member

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    Actually, I think your Longfellow comparison adds an extra 'performance' dimension to the writing of the ransom note.

    Longfellow was writing at a time when poetry was a spoken form and recitation was the mode - he expected his poem to be read aloud to others. The use of "Listen" was a stylistic device by the author who intended it to be an actual call to listen from the reader, reading aloud to an audience.

    It may be that 'listen' was used in the ransom note because it was dictated by one person to another . Your point also makes me believe that it is just as likely that 'listen' was used in the expectation that the ransom note would be read aloud to an audience.
     
  6. tipper

    tipper Former Member

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    Indenting the first line of a paragraph is ubiquitous in American schools. I think I was a senior in high school before I was allowed to live it up by choosing between indents and block style.

    If you look through the note you’ll see that not all numbers above 10 are written out and if space saving is an automatic issue why are periods inserted in F.B.I.?

    I agree with Rainsong about the use of multiple exclamation points. Any American English teacher would take one to task for it. Even now, on the rare occasions when I do it, I have this nagging feeling I shouldn’t,

    To me, the use of the phrase "Listen carefully" shrieks out that the writer is an auditory learner whose perception of the world comes primarily through his ears. I would expect this person to also use phrases like "Do you hear what I'm saying?" or "Listen up" or "I hear you." This would also account for the ease (conscious or unconscious) with which he remembers movie quotes.

    Added: An interesting page of AP style.
    http://www.cas.okstate.edu/jb/faculty/ketterer/style.htm
     
  7. Rainsong

    Rainsong Former Member

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    Interesting comment. So the person who wrote the note may have been a performer or interested in theater/films/perfomance arts--which speaks to all the rip-off movie lines, don't you think?

    Rainsong
     
  8. Lacy Wood

    Lacy Wood Former Member

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    These are interesting comments because a call to "listen" or "gather" has in fact been an element at the beginning of spoken or song entreaties for centuries. Many western songs do so, e.g... "Come gather round boys and listen to my tale." More recently, recall "Come listen to my story 'bout a man named Jed"? Bob Dylan's "The times they are a changin" comes to mind also.

    One caveat that comes to mind, however, is from (I think) Kris Kristofferson, who would say that graduate students would sometimes contact him regarding a thesis on underlying meanings of words in a composition he wrote, when he was in fact completely stoned when he wrote it.
     
  9. Voice of Reason

    Voice of Reason New Member

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    Hate to say it ;), but I think I'm with Rainsong on this one. The length of the note and the movie references are telling, but other than that, I'm not seeing it. I indent paragraphs and spell out numbers below 10, but I've never taken a journalism class in my life.
     
  10. Rainsong

    Rainsong Former Member

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    All the movie references, the 'listen carefully,' tend to point me toward the thought of entertainment, and that leads me right back to the term, diversion.

    Diversion can be viewed as a way to divert the parents, the investigators, etc., or it can be viewed as a diversion--as in entertainment--for the killer.

    And therein lies the fallacy of linguistics. Words can be interpreted so many ways with the interpretation solely at the discretion of the one who is writing or reading.

    Rainsong
     
  11. tipper

    tipper Former Member

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    If journalsim majors were taught something unique in the rules of writing e.g. paragraph indents that cover nearly 3/4 of the line or superscripted am/pm designations, AND the note contained those, AND Patsy's historical writings also contained those I think azwriter would have a case. But the note simply follows the rules we were all taught in school.


    http://www.busyteacherscafe.com/units/paragraph2.htm

    Thumb-Rule: Write a small paragraph on the board and read with the students. Then have students copy the paragraph, starting with the thumb-rule. Students use their thumb to indent their paragraph. Have students repeat the word "indent" and explain that all paragraphs must be indented. Demonstrate how they use their thumbs to indent.



    http://www.svca.org/articles/word_desktop_publishing.HTM

    A carryover from the typewriter school is the length of the indent tab for a sentence. This old habit established five spaces for the length of indent. If you check on the default tab spacing of your word processor don’t be too surprised to find the default for the first tab to be at one half inch—five spaces—just like in the good old days.

     
  12. Jayelles

    Jayelles New Member

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    Key phrase being "don't be too surprised...". As I said, it depends what your font is set to. As many wordprocessors have 12pt as the default setting, it would not be 5 characters to a tab, it would be 6.
     
  13. Camper

    Camper New Member

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    I have been absent for a couple of days. Interesting reading here.

    I am a writer of sort, working on a murder mystery now. Wrote newspaper column for two newspapers for four years. Husband was an engineer and a technical writer of engineering requirements for facilities items, composing winning requirements for aerospace funding.

    The two of us had fun fracturing the language, both in punctuation and spelling, in small notes to each other over 45 years. I do take liberties with punctuation and spelling in many of my posts, still in fondness for those memories and to make folks more aware of their spelling. More often some posters think 'what an uncouth nut'.

    As a writer, my practice was and is to let my thoughts flow freely and quickly. to get everything in and complete the process, that moment is when I go back to edit and refine with one go through only. The more you work on a piece sometimes the wondrous and spontaneous thoughts become lost.

    I presume many of us have noted posts by WS'ers who never make paragraphs, but write just one HUGE block of intertwined thoughts merging into others. It makes for difficult reading of the material.

    The one thread that is common for writers of news events, whether in Siberia, or eastern Knobville, USA, is that readers want to know the who, what, where, when and how come of a story.

    The very fact that so many sheets of paper were taken from the legal pad, indicate something. The something is something that I am not sure of. One would suspect that each page was started and wasn't quite right, or changed their mind about what they should say, and then ripped out that page and started another. That suspicion could be not accurate. Perhaps all the sheets were taken at one time and written elsewhere at another time.

    The entire case is full of unknown things, that we can only guess at.

    Poor little JonBenet was the victim of overkill in the committed murder.
    The ransom note suffered from overkill as well.

    Too much information.

    The killer it would seem has been described as violent, yet, he/she was a perfectionist in exactly what he/she should put into the ransom note.

    I have a very hard time thinking that such a violent person would sit in the Ramsey home and take so much time preparing a perfect ransom tome. Clock ticking, minute by minute, no one home yet, everyone goes to bed, and he sneaks stealthfully up the stairs and takes JonBenet, with out a sound, and goes down stairs and chokes her to death and crushes her skull.

    He then has to hope, hope, that he will receive ONLY $118,000.00 BUT never calls to arrange to get it, BEFORE the house is searched. Unbelievable to me.

    Also unbelievable to me that as parents, that they would not read the NOTE entirely, and yet CALLED a houseful of people over. It all started going downhill with the 911 call. The dispatcher should have had them read the entire note over the phone, for starters. Police work basics #101, get the facts ASAP, plus bring or get the DOGS ASAP.

    :boohoo:
     
  14. Lacy Wood

    Lacy Wood Former Member

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    Interesting thoughts in your post, Camper.

    An earlier post by Rainsong suggested FBI or Secret Service experts would have quickly identified the disguised writing of one proposed writer (PR) of the note. I think that overstates the ability and willingness of analysts to come to a conclusion in any, and particularly, this circumstance. The prospects here include the typical comparison where diffences exclude, but also that the proposed writer disguised her writing so differences are expected, or the proposed writer wrote out the note and had someone mimic her writing in copying the note to give a deceptive appearance, and also an outside perp who tried to make his/her writing look like a family member. (There may be more.) The opinions of handwriting experts I've seen who are objectve, i.e., not paid to give a desired conclusion, are very cautious as a norm. When there is the convoluted element of multiple individuals deliberately disguising their own writing or altering it to mimic someone else, a definitive conclusion of any sort would be professionally risky. I believe they would have suspicions, to be sure, but ones not likely to be published.
     
  15. Rainsong

    Rainsong Former Member

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    Please read the guidelines for F.B.I. document examiners: http://www.fbi.gov/hq/lab/fsc/backi...line for the Examination of Handwritten Items

    Specifically: http://www.fbi.gov/hq/lab/fsc/backi...he Examination of Distorted Handwritten Items

    Rainsong
     
  16. Lacy Wood

    Lacy Wood Former Member

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    I appreciate the link to the FBI checklist. It does not seem to conflict with my statements above which were that the possibility of several potential authors, including unknown individuals, using disguised handwriting, or handwriting designed to mimic someone else would make an FBI analyst unlikely or unwilling to come to a definitive conclusion on excluding someone with similar handwriting. (Lacking encyclopedic knowlege of the case, I may be unaware of what is on record as to the handwriting in the note.)

    In the reference, however, specifically Part 5, the guideline for handwritten items having a distorted appearance, as well as in other parts I looked at, you find the objective elements of analysis listed are to have a good light, a good optical device, and plenty of time. The rest seemed to be subjective comments to analysts...such as "Determine whether distorted writing is suitable for comparison," or to try to get more samples and the like. Multiple paths direct the analyst to "Section 5.5, No Conclusion."

    If the FBI is on record as to the authorship of the Ramsey case note, I would like to hear of it.
     
  17. Cranberry

    Cranberry New Member

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    My first impression of the note was that it was written as a script to be read over the phone as a money demand but was instead left to be read as a note.
     
  18. JBRMod2

    JBRMod2 Registered User

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    Posts moved to Parking Lot.
     
  19. tipper

    tipper Former Member

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    I think it's too long for that. I think the murderer had some knowledge of basic forensics (perhaps gleaned from those movies) and would know the idea of keeping the perp on the line so the call can be traced.
     
  20. Enola

    Enola New Member

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    I think it was a performance piece written by someone who couldn't restrain their personal behaviour patterns; someone naturally inclined to turn any event into an over-the-top production.

    Just my opinion.
     
  21. Toltec

    Toltec New Member

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    You're describing Patsy Ramsey to a tee. She was known to be over-the-top on everything she did. You need only to read her letters and Christmas cards and you have proof that Patsy wrote the ransom letter. DOI is chock full of Patsy's style of writing which to me is proof of her guilt.

    Camper...that was an excellent post!
     

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