II. The Ransom Note

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II. The Ransom Note

Post by Mama2JML on Fri Mar 22, 2013 6:47 am

II. The Ransom Note
The Ransom Note is believed by all parties to have been written by the killer or an accomplice of the killer and remains an extremely important clue in the murder investigation. (PSDMF ¶ 4.) Plaintiff claims that the single best piece of evidence that ties Mrs. Ramsey to the crime is the Ransom Note. (Id.) Mrs. Ramsey, however, flatly denies that she had anything to do with the note's creation. (SMF II189; PSMF ¶ 89.) Due to the pivotal role the Ransom Note plays in plaintiffs' allegation that Mrs. Ramsey was the murderer of her child, the facts surrounding the Ransom Note will be discussed in detail.
The Ransom Note was quite long, and in fact is one of the longest ransom notes in the history of kidnapping cases. (PSDMF ¶ 7.) This fact is important because the longer a document is, the harder it becomes to disguise one's handwriting. (PSDMF ¶ 9.) The Ransom Note is addressed to Mr. Ramsey alone and purports to be written by a group of individuals who "represent a small foreign faction" that have kidnapped defendants' daughter and seek $118,000 for her safe return. The Ransom Note was signed "S.B.T.C.", after the salutation "Victory!". (Ransom Note at 3.) The author of the Ransom Note instructs Mr. Ramsey to "[u]se that good southern [sic] common sense," an obviously inaccurate reference as Mr. Ramsey was originally from Michigan, whereas Mrs. Ramsey was originally from West Virginia. (Id.)
[ 253 F.Supp.2d 1334 ]

In addition, the Ransom Note was drafted on paper taken from the middle of a pad of paper located at defendants' home and with a pen found at defendants' home. Additional sheets were missing from the pad and were never located at defendants' home. The pen used to write the Ransom Note was sourced to defendants' home and found placed back in its normal place by the phone. Finally, there was another page in the pad that had written on it "Mr. and Mrs. I," which many believe to have been an early "false start" of the Ransom Note. (PSDMF ¶ 51.)
Both parties agree that the Ransom Note is not an ideal specimen for handwriting analysis, primarily due to the type of writing instrument, a broad fiber-tip pen, used to draft the note. This type of pen distorts and masks fine details to an extent not achievable by other types of pen, as for example a ball point pen. (SMF ¶ 243; PSMF ¶ 243.) In addition, the stroke direction used to construct certain letters and subtle handprinting features, such as hesitations and pen lifts, are difficult to ascertain because of the pen used in the Ransom Note. (SMF ¶ 244; PSMF ¶ 244.) Finally, the handwriting in the original Ransom Note showed consistency throughout the entire writing. (SMF ¶ 246; PSMF ¶ 246.) One of the most common means to disguise one's handwriting is to attempt to make the script erratic throughout the text. In sum, for the above reasons, the Ransom Note is not an ideal specimen for handwriting analysis. Nevertheless, the writer does not appear to have been trying to disguise his or her handwriting.
During the investigation, the Boulder Police Department and Boulder County District Attorney's Office consulted at least six handwriting experts. (SMF ¶ 191; PSMF ¶ 191.) All of these experts consulted the original Ransom Note and original handwriting exemplars from Mrs. Ramsey. (SMF ¶ 205; PSMF ¶ 205.) Four of these experts were hired by the police and two were hired by defendants. (SMF ¶ 191; PSMF ¶ 191.) All six experts agreed that Mr. Ramsey could be eliminated as the author of the Ransom Note. (SMF ¶ 194; PSMF ¶ 194.) None of the six consulted experts identified Mrs. Ramsey as the author of the Ransom Note. (SMF ¶ 195; PSMF ¶ 195.) Rather, the experts' consensus was that she "probably did not" write the Ransom Note. (SMF ¶ 196; PSMF ¶196.)14 On a scale of one to five, with five being elimination as the author of the Ransom Note, the experts placed Mrs. Ramsey at a 4.5 or a 4.0. (SMF ¶ 203; PSMF ¶ 203.) The experts
[ 253 F.Supp.2d 1335 ]

described the chance of Mrs. Ramsey being the author of the Ransom Note as "very low." (SMF ¶ 204; PSMF ¶ 204.) The two experts hired by defendants both assert that this evidence strongly suggests that Mrs. Ramsey did not write the Note. (SMF ¶ 254.)
Plaintiff, however, asserts that his retained experts believe Mrs. Ramsey to be the author of the Ransom Note. Indeed, Gideon Epstein and Cina Wong, the handwriting experts proffered by plaintiff, opine that they are "100 percent certain" Mrs. Ramsey wrote the Ransom Note. (SMF ¶ 256; PSMF ¶ 256; PSDMF ¶¶ 1-2.) In contrast to the experts relied upon by defendants and by the Boulder Police Department, however, neither of these experts have ever seen or examined the original Ransom Note. (SMF ¶ 256; PSMF ¶ 256.) In fact, Mr. Epstein and Ms. Wong do not know what "generation" copy of the Ransom Note they examined. (SMF ¶ 257; PSMF ¶ 257.) Ms. Wong received her copy of the Ransom Note and certain writings alleged to be historical writings of Mrs. Ramsey from the tabloid, The National Enquirer. (SMF ¶ 258; PSMF ¶ 258.) Although it is widely considered "very important" to consult the original versions of writings when engaging in handwriting analysis, plaintiff asserts it was impossible for his experts to consult such materials because defendants failed to provide him with original exemplars.15 (PSMF ¶¶ 259-260.) Mr. Epstein, however, consulted with some of his peers, who concur with his analysis.16 Defendants' experts base their conclusion that Mrs. Ramsey is not the author of the Ransom Note on the "numerous significant dissimilarities" between the individual characteristics of Mrs. Ramsey's handprinting and of that used in the Ransom Note. (SMF f 247.) For example, defendants asserts Mrs. Ramsey's written letter "u" consistently differs from the way the same letter is written throughout the Ransom Note. (SMF ¶ 248.) Plaintiffs experts responds that this variation may be due to a conscious effort by Mrs. Ramsey to change her handwriting or to her heightened stress level. (PSMF ¶ 248.) In support of their conclusion that Mrs. Ramsey authored the Ransom Note, plaintiffs experts assert that there are similarities between letters found in the Ransom Note and exemplars and that the note contains proofreader marks 17 of the kind often used by newspaper reporters and journalists. (PSDMF ¶ ¶ 41.) Plaintiff also notes that Mrs. Ramsey was a journalism major in college. (PSDMF ¶ 42.)
[ 253 F.Supp.2d 1336 ]

Other experts believe the Ransom Note may have been authored by other people. In addition to Mrs. Ramsey, there were other individuals "under suspicion" who had their handwriting analyzed and who were not eliminated as the possible author of the Ransom Note. (SMF ¶ 205; PSMF ¶ 205.) For example, forensic document examiner Lloyd Cunningham cannot eliminate plaintiff as the author of the Ransom Note. (SMF ¶ 279; PSMF ¶ 279.) Plaintiffs exgirlfriend has also testified that she was "struck by how the handwriting in the note resembled [plaintiffs] own handwriting" and believes that he is the note's author. (J. Brungardt Aff. ¶ 43.) Further, to the extent that the use of a single editing mark might suggest to plaintiffs experts that Mrs. Ramsey was the author, given her bachelor's degree in journalism, one should also note that plaintiff, himself, has a Masters' degree in journalism. (Id. ¶ 13.)

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