M for Murder: The Death of JonBenét Ramsey Reexamined

There are several concepts and terms invoked in the Ramsey note that people have remarked, independent of my theory, were odd to include in the way that they were:

- the concept of announcing in the note that instructions about delivery would follow a day later by phone rather than just stating them in the ransom note itself
- the concept of being monitored while getting the money from the bank
- the concept of splitting the money in two different denominations for no apparent reason (given that the relatively small amount is supposed to be divided among a group of faction members)
- the concept of switching from an attaché to a “brown paper” bag for no apparent reason
- the concept of possibly setting up the meeting earlier despite the fact that the note’s author tries to come off as very well prepared, being in complete control and knowing exactly what to do
- mentioning the concept of the delivery being “exhausting” for the victim and emphasizing the importance of a good night’s sleep
- the use of the words ‘and hence’ in a kidnapping note
- the concept (and word) of returning “home” from the bank, as if speaking from the victim’s perspective rather than that of the kidnapper’s
- the concept of not only the “family’’ but also “the authorities” being under constant scrutiny
- the concept of “between 8 and 10 am” as the time frame for the action to begin/plot to unfold
- the explicit emphasis on the death of the kidnapped victim if police or FBI are involved

All of these concepts and terms can also be found in the context of a kidnapping-for-ransom-with-FBI-involvement story in another book that is also part of a franchise that was turned into movies, fitting a similar sort of genre as that of the Dirty Harry and Lethal Weapon novelizations: Catnapped! The Further Adventures of Undercover Cat, by the Gordons (a husband and wife duo).


This book came out when Patsy was 17, a period in her life when she was known to be actively reading stories of fiction (which not much later she used successfully as inspiration for performing dramatizations during the talent portion of her beauty pageant contests).

The story in the book revolves around a young woman close in age to Patsy’s age when the book was released and whose name is similar to hers (Patti) and who shares similar interests to the ones Patsy had at the time (she works as a model compared to Patsy competing in beauty pageants). A person like Patsy was at the time arguably part of the target audience for such a story.

Although the plot involves the silly notion (used in a humorous genre) of a cat being ‘catnapped’/kidnapped for ransom, the story also mixes in elements that are intended to be more ‘realistic’, providing the excitement of a grim crime story, as one of its authors had been in the real-life FBI.

In the Ramsey note, the kidnapper states that “I will call you between 8 and 10 am tomorrow to instruct you on delivery”.

In Catnapped! the kidnapper tells the target (Patti) that “I’ll call you tomorrow night and tell you where to bring the money.”

In Catnapped! an FBI agent is described as telling Patti in the context of delivery of the ransom that he “instructed Patti to proceed directly from the house to the Beverly Hills brokerage firm”. Elsewhere in the book the verb “instructed” is also used of the kidnapper giving his demands for the ransom delivery.

In Catnapped! the “operation” of the ransom “delivery” starts at “9 A.M.”, which is precisely in the middle of the Ramsey note’s “8 and 10 am”.

In the Ramsey note, after mentioning the need to go to “the bank” and just before using the words “instruct you on delivery”, the kidnapper uses the words “When you get home” to describe what happens after coming back from collecting the ransom money.

In Catnapped! the passage about ‘instructing’ Patti follows immediately after a paragraph where the FBI agent tells Patti what to do “when you get home” in the context of returning from the trip to get the ransom money and just before mentioning that they assumed “that the kidnapper would not submit instructions for the ransom delivery until she had collected the money from the bank. He would not want to give the FBI and the police, if they were working the case, more advance notice than necessary.”

In the Ramsey note the kidnapper states that “if we monitor you getting the money early, we might call you early to arrange an earlier delivery of the money and hence a earlier delivery pick-up of your daughter.

In Catnapped! it is described that Patti “had expected the kidnapper to call before this” and that “if the kidnapper had followed her, he would have known that at 2:50 that afternoon she had picked up the package at the Beverly Hills bank”. This mimicks the concept of monitoring the target getting the money from the bank in the context of assessing the time when the kidnapper should be expected to call with his instructions.

These descriptions occur in a short paragraph that also mentions:

1. the concept of “a dummy money package” in which “several top bills on each stack were genuine, and the bills underneath the kind sold by theatrical supply houses”, echoing the Ramsey note’s description of “if the money is in any way marked or tampered with”.
2. the dummy package is “about the size of a woman’s suit box and wrapped in brown paper”, echoing the Ramsey note’s concern with the “size” of the container for the money (with both the description in the book and in the Ramsey note being somewhat subjective and vague) and the specification of “brown paper” as part of the container for the money for no clear reason.
3. a split denomination of the money in which “[t]he real money totaled $2,500, which he said the Bureau had put up, $1,500 in $50 bills, and $1,000 in $100s.”, compared to the Ramsey note’s “$100,000 will be in $100 bills and the remaining $18,000 in $20 bills". Earlier in the story, the kidnapper also asks for “[t]hree hundred thousand dollars in twenties and fifties.”

In Catnapped! the FBI agent, when going over the operation of the ransom delivery and anticipating the kidnapper’s possible actions, says that “[…]we’ll have a half hour to set our strategy after we learn the location of the rendez-vous-- provided he follows through on the timetable he has set up. He may not, though, and for that reason I want every one on stand-by from one o’clock on. He may pull a switch and set the meeting up earlier.” Both the Ramsey note and the book use the word “earlier” in a very similar specific context and the Ramsey note uses a synonym (“arrange”) for the story’s “set […] up”. In the book this line is on the same page as the mention of the “9 A.M.” time of the operation for the ransom delivery and the description that “sleepless nights had taken their toll” on the FBI agent.

In Catnapped! the word ‘monitor’ is used in the context of the kidnapper possibly checking actively for police/FBI involvement: “The police would keep the house under surveillance, Amos said. They would watch through binoculars from a tall bank building on Ventura Boulevard. They could send a helicopter over occasionally, but he thought that would frighten the subject. ‘We want him to feel free to move. He likes to be daring and we don't want to discourage him.’ The police would monitor the phone with Patti's permission, and she need not report a call. As was his custom, Zeke would come by for breakfast. ‘Since the subject's been watching you, he's got to know Zeke drops by— and he doesn't care since he knows this is not a federal crime.’”

In the Ramsey note, there is a grammatical mistake in writing “a earlier delivery pick-up” instead of “an earlier”. In the above passage from Catnapped! the words “a half hour” are used (correctly). When these same words are used in a different arrangement in English (as they sometimes are), the correct usage would be “half an hour”. A person not entirely comfortable with the minutiae of minor grammatical rules might get confused by encountering one of the two forms. The Ramsey note uses the correct way (“an earlier delivery”) and the incorrect way (“a earlier delivery pick-up”) in the same sentence. This could of course be explained too by appealing to time pressure leading to sloppiness but it’s interesting that the grammatical rule is also at play in the passage of the expected source for the concepts and words in this part of the note.

The passage about the kidnapper possibly (twice using “may” to express this uncertainty) setting up the delivery “earlier” comes immediately after the description that the kidnapper “might harm one or both” of the sisters of the targeted family. The Ramsey note uses “might call you early”.

The page with this passage about the ransom delivery uses in the context of police actions terms and concepts like “Operation Cat got underway”, “moving type of operation”, “set our strategy”, “outline the latest developments”, “organizing his material” and elsewhere there is the description that the FBI agent “[…] outlined the preparations for the ransom payment. He had charts, much like football coaches use, showing the location of Control and the FBI cars. The cars, he said, would proceed in a ‘moving surveillance’”. The Ramsey note uses the concepts of “law enforcement countermeasures and tactics”.

The Ramsey note (famously) uses “and hence a earlier delivery pick-up of your daughter” in the passage about a possible earlier delivery/pick-up.

In Catnapped! one page flip before the passage about a possible earlier set-up by the kidnapper of the ransom delivery, there is a description of the kidnapper by the FBI agent: “‘We’re dealing with an angry, wild, volcanic, quixotic mind. He’s not normal, and hence, not logical.’”

This line is on the facing page of a note by the kidnapper, attached to a bag with the dead body of another cat (sent to the family’s home as a warning and a threat to pay the money), which he starts by saying “SEE HOW EASY IT IS.” The Ramsey note contains the line “[...]don’t think that killing will be difficult.”

One page before this line from the kidnapper’s note is revealed, Patti, having just seen the dead cat and initially thinking it is her cat, informs her neighbor that “ ‘The kidnapper killed D.C.-- and sent a cab to deliver his body to us.’ She indicated the case. ‘He left it at the front door and then took off.[’]”.

The Ramsey note first uses the concept of the (dead) body being delivered (if instructions aren’t followed) before correcting it to the more plausible “pick-up”.

The Ramsey note implies that the kidnapper is watching the Ramsey’s every move somehow (“if we monitor you”, “if we catch you talking to”, “you and your family are under constant scrutiny”), despite this obviously being a very difficult thing to accomplish for any real-life kidnapper.

In Catnapped!, Patti, just after first being called by the kidnapper and first learning of the kidnapping, worries that “[h]e may be outside listening. He may have the phone bugged.”, similarly assuming very easily that a kidnapper can accomplish such a feat.

In that first phone call, the kidnapper threatens Patti with what will happen if he doesn’t get the money: “I’m going to strangle him, squeeze his little neck until he’s dead if I don’t get it […]”.

JonBenét died from asphyxiation and was found with a strangulation device (so-called ‘garrote’) around her neck.

Similar to Lethal Weapon, Catnapped! too has the kidnapper warning about not involving police or FBI and similar to Dirty Harry there is a repetition of explicit warnings of death as punishment: “[…] if you run to the police or the FBI your cat’s dead, you’re dead, your sister’s dead.”

The Ramsey note states that “[t]he delivery will be exhausting […]”. Although many of the suspected sources for the Ramsey note contain lines about the need for sleep (Dirty Harry for example also has lines about this concept in the context of ransom delivery), Catnapped! specifically describes Patti as being “exhausted” after going through the ransom delivery: “He opened the door, and like an obedient child, she got in and fell exhausted on the back seat. He took an agent aside. ‘Stay with her and don't let her out of the car— under any circumstances’.”

The Ramsey note has the line “You and your family are under constant scrutiny as well as the authorities.”

Catnapped! has the passage “‘The kidnapping. And don't tell me you haven't got one because we know you have. The FBI got us to promise six months ago we wouldn't break a snatch story until it was over and the victim returned safely— and you promised—you promised’— his blood pressure rose— ‘you'd keep us posted along with the other Los Angeles papers on every development, hour by hour, so when the victim was safely back home, we could break the story with a full account in the next edition.’ An agreement of this nature was routine in kidnapping cases— to protect the party abducted. Even if reporters dug up the story on their own, which was fairly easy with so many people involved, the kidnapper was inclined to believe the victim's family had talked with the FBI or police. The victim's life depended in many cases on the strictest secrecy being maintained by the newspapers as well as the family and authorities.”

Not only does this last sentence use the same idiosyncratic collection of concepts and terms (‘as well as’, ‘family’, ‘authorities’, ‘the’) together (rearranged slightly), the passage also echoes the logic that many people have suspected was part of the reason for Patsy writing the ransom note: to explain why her daughter ended up dead, with the reason being that she involved police against kidnapper instructions, which, while bad, could be considered a regrettable but understandable mistake made in panic and which would at least still have a third outside party responsible for the actual murder rather than Patsy herself.

Note also that the line in the Ramsey note mentioning “You and your family […] as well as the authorities” comes right after a line mentioning “a 100% chance of getting her back”. This concept (and word) of getting the victim “back” (“safely”) also appears in the passage in the book right before mentioning “as well as”, “family” and “authorities” together, in the same context as in the Ramsey note (not alerting the kidnapper that the target is cooperating with police/FBI).

This is itself right after the FBI agent has a conversation with his supervisor in which he mentions that the kidnapper didn’t show up for the initial delivery of the ransom because, as he expects, it may have been a test or “dry run” to see if the target was being followed by police or FBI. The FBI was indeed following the target and when the supervisor asks if the kidnapper may have spotted them, the FBI agent answers with “Not a chance.”

This conversation is on the facing page of a paragraph where the kidnapper’s stipulations are again described as “instructions” and which itself follows a few lines after the notion of a test run is first described as: “ ‘I think he was running a test. It's not uncommon in kidnappings. To see if you'd show up alone, as he instructed, and to determine if you were being tailed, and to wear you down to a point where you're so shot you're nothing more than a robot.’ ”

We see here the idea that the concepts of scrutiny of the target by the kidnapper (described with that word in the Ramsey note) and of an exhausting delivery are “not uncommon in kidnappings”. The “scrutiny” line in the Ramsey note is delivered in the line matching the verbatim elements of the book (“as well as”, “authorities", “family”).

Note also that the Ramsey note is addressed in a personal way to John, but that that line in the note mentions “you and your family”. Throughout the book, and in this part especially, there is a lot of emphasis on Patti’s family members, particularly her sister, because FBI believe that the family members themselves too may be in danger and Patti’s sister is taking an active role in the whole ordeal, with plans even being considered for her to deliver the ransom money for the family’s cat.

The personal tone addressed to John in the Ramsey note also has parallel in the book, when the kidnapper says in a tape recording addressed to the victim: "'Dear Patti— I'm going to call you Patti because I know you. I've been following you around. You didn't know that, did you?'"

The line in the Ramsey note about a “chance” of getting their daughter “back” also reiterates that it is dependent on following “instructions”.

A little further on after the passage with “as well as”, on the same page in the book, there is a discussion between the FBI agent and a newspaper editor where the FBI agent stresses the risk to the victim’s survival if they publish about the kidnapping: “He stressed the danger to the Randall family if a newspaper should break the story. Not only might such a story result in the death of the cat but possibly in the death of one or both of the Randall girls.” and “‘But in view of the danger to the Randall girls— forget the cat— you will hold this in confidence?’” and “‘I want your promise, when you get the victim back— that's what you called the cat, wasn't it?— the victim— craziest thing I ever heard— when you get him back, phone me immediately.[’]”

Both the Ramsey note and this part of the book talk about ‘get[ting] [the victim] back’ just after considering the “chance” of getting caught secretly trying to go against kidnapper instructions.

The Ramsey note says that John "will be scanned for electronic devices" in order to detect possible police assistance.

In Catnapped! one of the ways the FBI tries to help the target is described as: "The moment the door closed, Patti returned to the bedroom, trailed by Inky and Mike. She picked up her purse where she had left it by the door, and took out a sending device that Zeke had given her. It was the size of a package of cigarettes. She flipped the 'on' switch, and said into the device, 'I'd like to talk with Agent Kelso, please.'"

One of the major odd features of the Ramsey note that has often been pointed out as making it very implausible as being written by a real kidnapper is that the note seems to shift in perspective (or seemingly even genre) mid-ransom note. Whereas the note starts by writing from a ‘we’-perspective (as a representative of a small foreign faction) in the first paragraph, the note switches to a more intimate ‘I’-perspective in the second paragraph (before switching back to speaking from a group’s ‘we’-perspective).

As described before, the first lines with a ‘we’-perspective in the Ramsey note closely resemble lines from the Lethal Weapon novelization, which speak from a ‘we’-perspective as the story involves a group of kidnappers who are mercenaries. The switch to an ‘I’-perspective in the note coincides with the start of material in the note resembling concepts and words in Catnapped!, which involves a kidnapper mostly operating on his own and who speaks from an ‘I’-perspective when talking to the target and threatening her.

The hypothesis that Catnapped! was used as a source of inspiration by Patsy for writing the Ramsey note can account for many of the idiosyncrasies of the note that have been pointed out by people, independent of my theory that these particular books were used as sources. Although one could appeal to coincidence if there were only one or two such odd similarities between the story and the note, when there are this many conceptually, verbally and structurally overlapping features, and overlapping to this degree, in a book that fits a similar genre of other stories that have their own highly idiosyncratic similarities to the Ramsey note, assuming a causal relationship seems to me to be more plausible than explaining away the overlap as all being coincidences while leaving the odd features of the note otherwise unexplained as inexplicable quirks of Patsy’s mind.

Last edited:
I can’t tell if this is one of the more elaborate trolls I’ve seen online or…something else.
Neither can I.

But... I do believe that the ransom note (of "War and Peace" length, replete missing scratch copies) was not produced in a vacuam. Rather, it matches the personal backgrounds, life experiences, culture, and education levels of the parents to a "t".
It is impossible to know the inner workings of another's mind. One can always find far-flung similarities when trying to make a certain suspect fit in with a particular theory. IMHO that is inverted logic. That Patsy wrote the RN has long been assumed by many without indulging in complex hermeneutics, however well-meaning.

The proposed scenario above is so involved that it is difficult to make comment upon it.

Members online

Online statistics

Members online
Guests online
Total visitors

Forum statistics

Latest member