Employees, Students, Patients, Prisoners, Suspects and Partners
Reprinted With Permission from
THE FORENSIC EXAMINER
The Official Journal of the
American College of Forensic Examiners
Volume 8, Numbers 1 & 2
January / February 1999
THE JON-BENET RAMSEY RANSOM NOTE
Visual Energy Patterns
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Ransom Note Page 1 Ransom Note Page 2 Ransom Note Page 3
Ransom Note Stitched Together
Ramsey Ransom Note, Page 1
This presentation provides an example of the many and varied clues available in "visual energy patterns." It takes a close look at the ransom note in the Jon-Benet Ramsey case. It is necessary to study the targeted writing very carefully and in this way we can begin to reveal the stories that are available. As an example, in the ransom note, the salutation tells a story.
The "M" in "Mr." (line 1) suggests a confident stance which expresses pride. The angles on the top of the "M" address only the area of abstraction, rather than looking for confirmation in reality (Mid Zone). "M's" final stroke is stronger in pressure and begins to make an angle with a curved hook that drives down through the mid zone (MZ) and thrusts forward with strength and control which indicates powerful and covert assertiveness. A very carefully and appropriately placed period/dot ("Mr." - line 1), reveals care, attention to custom, and concern for details and accuracy. The name "Ramsey" (line 1) tells of a methodical, structured, proud and focused individual. The last stroke of the "R" becomes a dagger that appears to stab. The dagger invades the arena of thinking ("a" - line 1) , which is also harsh and angled. The intrusion of the angles and dagger ride the fine edge of thinking and action. Self-containment resumes, and a conventional appearing, clever, fearful passiveness is displayed in the shallow, squeezed, ill-defined "m" structure. The "s" rears back some, while controlling emotional reactions and behaving reservedly. The "e" and "y" rise, indicating hopefulness. The upper zone (UZ) "y" connection is like a "checking out" of reality, and also attests to how this writer copes under stress. In addition to the displaced "y" connection, there is a very carefully added extension, or tail, to the "y," suggesting a disturbance which the writer attempted to repair as though going back to fix or hide the damage, in the lower zone (LZ) which represents action.
Pacing ... Pretending
The writing has been done slowly and has a drawn look which is always a red flag. Writing that is slowly developed and carefully drawn in this manner is like a cover and symbolizes consciousness of motivation and, in conjunction with other danger signs, can be a serious indication of dangerousness.
Controlled ... Compulsively
Thus excessively tense writer is used to being able to figure out a way. There is organization revealing a natural ability to detach and make objective plans, even with the enormous amount of pressure the writer is feeling, from all angles. Controlled, anger, rage and self-survival instincts prevail. Consistency of letter structures follow a formula of thinking and behavior. Thoughts collided even in the compulsive organization and thinking when writing the words "daughter (line 6)," "family (line 55) and "killing (line 50)."
Fakes ... Facade
This disguised handwriting is observed by noting the slow, tense, hesitant pressure pattern, and patching made in letter structures, beginning on the first page of the note. Structures exist below the "t" stem, for example, as the writer attempts to patch in order to match the other "I's" and "t's" in the MZ. The final horizontal stroke pushes in an upward and forward movement toward the MZ. The dominant, repetitive "f" structure shaped like a weapon of cruelty and rigidity stands guard, and shows itself in the words "family (line 55), " "familiar (line 48)" and "difficult (line 60)." The extremes in the size and pressure suggest a severe and cruel master. The "i's" are very short or small u1 comparison to the rest of the mid zone denoting the persons self concept. In all cases they are very carefully dotted suggesting the tremendous care the writer was taking. Also noted with regard to the "i's," they often stand alone within the word - or have large spaces around them that are extreme - indicating the writer's desire to stand apart and detach from the written content as in "dies (lines 40 and 44)," "listen (line 1)," etc.
Ramsey Ransom Note, Page 2
Corrections ... Cover Up
One is immediately struck by the self-corrections in the writing. There are indications of cross-outs of specific words which reveal that the next word to come is difficult to say. Likewise, there are corrections on words that bring particular stress to the writer or difficulty in saying the specific words. The word following the "We" (line 3) is obliterated, indicating concealment. The word "delivery" (line 27) is also obliterated, and "pick up" (line 27) is the chosen replacement word, indicating a switch from an inanimate object to an animate one. It is often the case that a word following an excessive crossing out, or with large spaces before a particular word, suggests a "smoke screen" or cover up concerning the word or the following thought. The word "denied" is also self-corrected as are some of the letter formations which appear to have been done in a variety of stroke connections and directional configurations, particularly with "a's" and "d's" throughout the body of the letter.
Emphasize ... Diminish
The note begins with "Listen carefully." This is written much larger than the words that following. This characteristic indicates that the writer is attempting to particularly make an impression with the significance of the letter size coupled with the choice of words. The enlargement is also displayed within the word or with whole words where size changes significantly in relation to other words in the letter.
Note, for example, the word "She" (line 7) and "un" in "unharmed" (line 7) are enlarged in comparison with the words around them. There is an attention or focus on these words. The second page emphasizes the words "proper burial" (line 32), "daughter" (lines 30, 33 and 38) and "remains" (tine 31), and on the third page the enlarged words are "brain" (line 57), "John" (line 58) and "difficult" (line 60). When referring to having "your daughter in our possession" (line 6), the "our" becomes frail and hesitant and shrinks, having lost the strength of the powerfully emphasized word "daughter."
Tics ... Temper
Upper and lower zones throughout the letter have strong tics or small, angular beginning or terminal strokes. The tics are enhanced when the tension grows. Tics suggest anger, hostility, irritability and frustration, depending on their relative strength when compared to other writing strokes. They suggest the tendency to easily lose one's temper, depending upon their frequency and especially on the .degree of pressure used in writing the stroke. The writer of tics has a short fuse and can become angry with the least provocation.
Angles ... Anger
Loops or circle, letters ("g" and "y" top's and bottom's of loops, "o's", "a's°) that have a squared or angled look suggest a lack of sensitivity to others' feelings and may indicate a harsh, crude, and/or brutal individual or someone with a lack of empathy and a critical attitude, when found in combination with other indications of dangerousness. Angled circle letters also imply internal tension or frustration. Again the angularity grows with the level of anxiety and anger. The standard circle formations in much of this note are squared off at the bottom forming a slight angular shape. The "P's" are the chief of the angles, all in proper formation and dressed like weapons. The "f" is rich in symbolic meaning to this writer.
Ramsey Ransom Note, Page 3
Displace ... Desires
The "d's" circle form often descends below the established baseline of writing, indicating that personal standards and values are being influenced by unconscious urges and fantasies; invading one's conscious behavior. The "d" is a letter that represents personal standards and values, and is located out of the standard MZ area. Letter structures that drop below the established baseline may be an indication of libidinous, unconscious urges and desires affecting the individual's thinking or belief system and behavior. These urges and desires may not be expressed or acknowledged openly, and therefore social actions are likely to be hidden and subversive.
Bending ... Backbone
There are a variety of bent structures, particularly on "1's " and "h's." Structures that should be straight strokes are often curved toward the left, indicating fear of the future, except in one especially particular instance in the phrase "she is safe" (line 7). Here the "h" bent toward the right which signifies fear originating from the past which may indicate that the deed is already done. The psychological implications of twists, distortions and bent structures indicate thinking and morals may be distorted or unusual. The writer may twist or bend ideas or morals to fit his/her behavior or to justify his/her actions. In the case of so many bent vertical strokes, it suggests that the very backbone of the person is feeling great pressure and is caving in to the directional pressure exerted on the words that bring staggering emotions to mind, both from the past and the future possibilities.
Opposition ... Escalation
The three "g's" close to each other on the second page of the note, on the word "daughter" (lines 27, 30 and 33), all have a remarkably aggressive formation that moves in an opposite direction that includes a sharp, angular arrow-like structure.
In the phrase "she dies" (lines 40 and 41) the "s's " in both of those structures are again thrust forward with an angular framework as the word "dies" becomes progressively larger, again suggesting mounting aggressiveness and boldness. Many such words throughout the letter become expanded in size as the word progresses, implying considerable escalating energy in their thinking and behavior.
Reluctant ... Rhythm
There are inappropriate spaces often after the lowercase "I," as if to create a personal distance before proceeding. All of the note has large spaces within words but some have extra large spacing, indicating a careful, cautious thinking of the word next to come.
Examples are "we have your" (space) "daughter (line 6)" ... "She" (space) "is" (space) "safe" which means this statement does not come naturally, suggesting that she might not be safe. "Un (space) harmed" (line 7) is another example that points out that the writer knows that Mr. Ramsey's daughter has already been harmed. The spaces before and after the word "daughter" frame the word as do the spaces before and after the word "burial" and before "killing.
In addition to the increased spacing between those words, there is a decided left pull to certain "telling" words. The slant "rearing back" marks words that give rise to personal discomfort and inability to tell the truth. Also, before the word "unharmed" the "and" reverts to a right slant which means that the words before and after are deceptive or create a fear response in the writer. There are often mistakes and cover-up structures on the words such as on the section "harmed" in "unharmed," indicating extreme stress. The writer cannot write "unharmed" as a full word, nor admit to error.
The "d's " on the word "daughter" (lines b and 27) are made followed by a large space, suggesting the difficulty and pause before the rest of the word "daughter." This shaves hesitation to think about writing this word. The period after the second word "daughter" is made below the baseline indicating cover-up.
Willful ... Domination
Many "t" bars appear to be written with a heavy cross stroke. This expresses a person of strong will, someone who is purposeful and self-directed. With negative indications, strong "t" bars reinforce the possibility of danger, even brutality. In addition, the writer is able to remain careful and focused on the writing task as evidenced by the "t" crossing's, "i" dotting's and can maintain the disguise for much of the writing of the note.
The carefully place diacriticais represent the careful, too controlled writer and the personality characteristics of steadfastness and stubborn decisiveness.
The "K's" and "F's" that are capitalized within the body of the writing represent resistance to rules. The downward strokes to many of the crossbars such as in the word "getting" and "if" are made like daggers. Thus is also true on the word "instructions." At the time those particular words were written the writer is attempting to convey a forceful and demanding message.
There are many weapon-shaped structures in the writing, as in the "g" over the "I" demonstrating the degree of confusion the writer has between moral values and sexual aggression. The "1's " and "h's" commonly represent a person's value system or moral discrimination, and the "g's" represent intimacy, as perhaps in this case sexual intimacy.
The arched or convex horizontal strokes show where a particularly strong effort is being made to control. the situation. The crossbar on the name "John" (line 58) on the last page and on the crossbar on the "f" in "fat cat" (line 59) and on the crossbar of the "t" on the initials, means a tremendous effort is made in reference to those words.
The word "good" in the phrase "that good southern common sense" (line 62) reverts to the left slant implying that the writer is very concerned about having common sense or does not believe John has used it.
Throughout the writing the circular communication letters are closed firmly as a rule, indicating the ability to keep private which is enhanced by the extreme size of the word "speaking" (line 36). This characteristic further shows the ability to keep confidences, and that privacy is a critical issue at this juncture. When we examine this, coupled with the diacritics that are dotted under the line of writing and the d's and sometimes a's that also fall beneath the writing line, we begin to see the person who covers, hides and will not admit error.
The strong horizontal strokes that appear to move forward and originate from the LZ and that then press forward and/or up into the MZ are other signs of the hidden, underhanded aggression that the writer wishes to hide. These strokes are particularly strong in the first paragraph where they are usually added as additional thoughts to the "t's " on "that" and "the" as a correction. They are also strongly represented in the rest of the writing. Examples are: the "t" in "to" and "the" (line 10) and the word "that" in "Make sure that" (lines 14-15), and at the "e" on the word "size" (line 15). On the second page, the last "t" in the word "that" (line 47), and the "t" in "law" (line 48), and on the last page, the two "t's" and the "e" in "underestimate" (line 61), all have that underhanded forward moving stroke. Again this represents the underhanded aggression.
Charm ... Charade
The writing style is manuscript which has psychological implications. Printing indicates that the person may be focused on communication in this situation in order to draw attention away from feeling.
The writing shows diplomacy, or tapering, which appears in words where great effort has been made to mislead or make an effect, such as in the words and numbers "unharmed" (line 7), "$118000" (line 11), "bring" (line 15), "exhausting" (line 21), "getting" (line 23), "arrange" (line 25), "electronic" (line 45) and "enforcement" (line 48). However, it is done in the manner of a cultivated facade with the other features present in the writing.
There are also some repetitive suggestions of charm and persuasiveness. The words that progressively diminish reflect the habit of using persuasion to meet one's ends. Flourishes that hint at an engaging ability to charm when the need axises are clearly found in the trailing "r" in the word "our," referring to "daughter in our possession" (lines 6-7). The "i" dot in "earlier" (line 26) is a flourish as is the dismal flourish on the "c" in "can" (line 46), on the capital "D" in "Don't" (line 57) and the "f" and the "a" of "fat cat" (line 59). These movements were made for words that were meant to influence the reader. A small but repetitive curve added to the a structure reveals the ability to stick to form.
Confused ... Commitment
There are both convex and concave "t" bars, as well as straight and downward pointing, that reflect the writer's lack of energy with regard to what the writer is saying. The concave "t's" represent words or thoughts that the writer does not necessarily believe, such as in the word "not" in "not the country" (lines 4-5). This is also true in the concave "when you get home" (lines 16-17), again meaning they do not really believe it. "Result" (line 29) has the same concave "t," again showing that the writer is not convinced as mirrored in the flimsy "t" cross.
The same concave structure exists in the "If" in "If we catch you talking" (line 39), indicating a lack of reality or commitment regarding the statement. This also occurs on the "f" in "If the money" (line 42), again showing lack of commitment or real interest in the money or subject. The whole word "money" is written small, revealing its insignificance to the author.
The variable slant that occurs within many words throughout the writing and that are demonstrated on the word "instruct" implies the writer becomes erratic, and may be subject to the mood of the moment. He or she becomes excitable and unpredictable; behavior may be erratic. The variable slant may have been the result of using a non-dominant hand or the effort to disguise. However, in particular the lowercase letter "i" in a great many cases where this letter exists, also represents the writer and is frequently slanted towards the left even in words that are otherwise slanted to the right, revealing the withdrawal and fear of the writer.
Telling ... Tales
"She is safe and unharmed" (line 7) is an important phrase to evaluate in this writing, as all of the words except the word "and" are slanted to the left. The word "safe" in particular shows rage and anger revealed by tics and blunt club structures at the end of the downstroke of the "f." Clubs at the beginning or the end of strokes indicate extreme decisiveness and/or forcefulness. It suggests a "hit first, ask questions later" impulsiveness.
The "e" at the end of the word "safe" stretches out with a long, unbent ending stroke, representing extreme caution or putting on the brakes. The word "and" seems to flow as other words do and "unharmed" is written with that strong separation between the "un" and "harmed" again revealing that the writer may know that the victim is harmed. The thick correction in the word indicates anxiety relating to the subject. The rest of the word "harmed" diminishes as it is written, revealing an ability to express oneself with tact in order to influence others subtly and to avoid confrontations. This diminishing form, often a positive trait, is repeated throughout the body of the writing such as in "bring" (line 15), "exhausting" (line 21) and "getting" (line 23).
The word "you" often is pulled way back to the left, as in "I advise you" (line 22), as though rising up with fear and defensiveness at the thought of what "you" represents. Also, the word "you" has large spaces around it, revealing the distancing from the subject.It is noted that the periods are consistently drawn very close to the word and sometimes the structure goes below the line as on the exclamation point after the word "Victory (line 65)." When letter structures and diacritical marks go below the horizontal line of writing, this indicates that some details are hidden from view in a similar fashion.
Formations ... Family
The "x" formations that exist in this writing are often made by those people who enjoy an argument, expect to have their way, those who deal with the death of close loved ones or those who have death or frightening events in their thinking or who have witnessed a death. Interestingly the x'ing is found in many areas, but in particular with regard to the word "watching" (33). This significant symbol appears when the "g" descender crosses over the ascenders on the "h's" and "I's" as on the words "getting" (line 23) and the word below, "family" (line 55), as the descender of the "g" crosses over the "1" in "family."
The "g" form represents intimacy, including sexual intimacy. The descenders of the "g's" in the ransom note have heavy defensive structures, angular in shape. This angular structure thrusts forward revealing uncomfortable feelings and hostility regarding feelings, relationships or intimacy. The "g's" on three "daughters" (lines 27, 30 and 33) and "watching" (line 33) have this characteristic emphasized, indicating the focus of stress on the subject matter. The circle structure in most of the "g's" and particularly in reference to "daughter" appear to be filled with ink and squeezed shut, suggesting that the object of one's sexual attention in reality (MZ) creates the stress in the subconscious (LZ) illustrated by the somewhat misshapen, angular and contrary "g" stems. The round circle part of the "g's" (MZ) also demonstrates the anxiety and stress present in the writer.
Conclusion ... Coping
There are two personal pronoun "1's" that are disconnected from the base structure revealing a person who is ungrounded and detached at the time of the writing.
The "y's" are inconsistently but repetitively lifted into the UZ, indicating that some thoughts, particularly with the word "you," are taken out of the realm of reality (MZ) and transformed into an unrealistic area of fantasy (UZ) which reinforces again the notion that the writer is detaching or transposing thoughts in order to cope with the reality they are dealing with.
Throughout the entire sample there are signs of a person with the ability to be compulsively controlled in behavioral patterns and attentive to his/her presentation despite the obvious extreme level of tension and stress.
1. Cattell, Heather Birkett Ph.D. (1989) The 16PF: Personality in Depth. Institute for Personality and Ability Testing, Inc.
2. Douglas, John E., Burgess, Ann W., Burgess, Allen G. and Ressler, Robert K. (1992). Crime Classification Manual: A Standard System for Investigating and Classifying Violent Crimes. Jossey-Bass Publishers.
3. Fromm, E. (1973). The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness, Greenwich, CT: Fawcett Publications.
4. Hall, Harold V., Editor, (1996). Lethal Violence 2W0: A Sourcebook on Fatal Domestic, Acquaintance and Stranger Aggression. Pacific Institute for the Study of Conflict and Aggression.
5. Iannetta, Kimon, Craine, James Ph.D,, and McLaughlin, Dennis Ph.D. ( 1993, rev. 1996, rev. 1998). Danger Between the Lines, Facilitating Assessment of Dangerousness Using Handwriting Characteristics. Kailua, HI: Dolphin Publishing ISBN #1-887394-05-2.
6. Lazewnik, Dr. Baruch. (1990). Handwriting Analysis: A Guide to Understanding Personalities. Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.
7. Mendel, A. 0. (Republished 1990). Personality in Handwriting. Hollywood, CA: Newcastle Publishers.
8. Roman, K. (1952). Handwriting: A Key to Personality. New York: Pantheon Books.
9. Teltscher, Dr. Herry O. (1971). Handwriting-Revelation of Self: A Source Book of Psychographology Hawthorn Books, Inc.
The foregoing analysis is strictly intended as a training tool for those interested in investigations. It is not intended to establish a suspect(s), but in this particular case it attempts to reveal to us a picture of the writer's state and traits.
About the Author
Kimon Iannetta, founder of Trial Run, has served behind the scenes as a handwriting consultant for over two decades on numerous high profile court cases and is considered a trusted resource for major investigations. Applying subtle but unyielding scrutiny of handwritten communication, she predicts behavioral patterns thereby adding a broader perspective to an ongoing investigation. Because every writer leaves behind unintentional signals or tracks, Kimon is able to extract and interpret that writer's complex personality characteristics. Trial Run supplies detailed and critical information about jurors and witnesses to attorneys, allowing them to assess for themselves the personality traits and emotional states of each client, juror or witness involved in pre-trial evaluations, depositions, jury and witness profiling.
After completing a research study with Drs. James Craine and Dennis McLaughlin at Hawaii's State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, Kimon coordinated their joint expertise into a definitive resource manual, "Danger Between the Lines, A Comprehensive Reference Manual and Guide for the Profiling of Violent Behavior," now considered a "must have" by law enforcement, security management, and psychiatric communities in their efforts to identify and assess dangerous potential.
Ms. lannetta is a Life Fellow of the American College of Forensic Examiners (ACFE) and a member of the American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS), serving as handwriting consultant to corporate, legal, law enforcement, military and federal agencies.