Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Profiling JonBenét Ramsey's Murder

The Crime Scene: Discussion and Analysis

The offender wrote a 3-page ransom note demanding $118,000 for the safe return of JonBenét. The note was unusual not only for its length, but for a number of other issues. It was written inside the Ramsey home using a pad of paper and a pen from the home. The offender also had apparently started writing a "practice" ransom note on that same pad with that same pen. Most demand notes are written in advance in an area controlled by the offender, not at the site of the kidnapping, as this one was.

The opening paragraph included the misspellings of the words "business" and "possession" as "bussiness" and "posession" respectively. Everything else is spelled correctly, including the relatively difficult words "attaché," "countermeasures" and "deviation." The author also stated that he, she, or they represented "a small foreign faction," but no faction is foreign to itself and would be unlikely to refer to itself with this adjective. Secondly, most kidnappers, even single offenders, prefer to project themselves as being large, powerful, and ominous in order to intimidate their targeted victims. In this case, the writer characterized the group as small. The writer also stated that Mr. Ramsey would be "...scanned for electronic devices..." This implies a face-to-face meeting between John Ramsey and the abductors. Real kidnappers typically avoid that type of high-risk situation, insisting on a "dead drop," not a meet.

Sindey Reso, Kidknapping Victim
Sindey Reso, Kidknapping Victim

The author projected a deferential tone toward John Ramsey and his business, referring to him initially as Mr. Ramsey and deliberately stating that he respected John Ramsey's business, "...but not the country it serves," as though Ramsey's business were a patriotic endeavor. Later in the note, the author dropped the formality and addressed him more familiarly as "John." Also of note is the demand for $118,000. This is an odd and paltry sum as ransom demands go. Such demands are typically for large round sums of money. For example, the kidnappers of Sidney Reso, president of Exxon International, demanded $18,000,000 for his safe return. Much has been written about the coincidence of the $118,000 demanded by the "kidnappers" being the same amount as John Ramsey's bonus that year.