Footprints in the snow
Reporter Charlie Brennan said he knew from the beginning the parents were the only real suspects.

Charlie Brennan: I certainly have, I had that sense at that time, I had that sense at that time, yes. I had the belief that the police were under a strong suspicion from the very beginning that it had to be the parents.

Man: A local television reporter who also covered the story on the 27th drew the same conclusion.

Julie Hayden, TV Reporter: Early on there, definitely before the five o'clock newscast, we were
beginning to get the sense that the police were not hunting Boulder for some mad kidnapper – That the police were looking more inside the family.

Man: From now on, a clear pattern was to emerge in the news coverage. While police chief Tom
Koby said little, others in law enforcement continually leaked information. Often it was misleading information intended to implicate the Ramseys. The pattern began that day. A story was leaked that suggested ONLY a family member could have murdered JonBenét.

C Brennan: I had a trusted law enforcement source tell me the first officers there noted that it was rather strange, they thought, NO footprints in the snow outside and this is a source that has been infallible in my experience.


We now have the crime scene photos and know the walkways were clear.  We know police notes were written hours, days after the event and mistakes were made.  And we know from depositions that John Fernie walked around the house before the police went looking for tracks - if no one else's were there, his should have been.  This seems like a clear case of the police leading the media on a BORG path.
(PMPT Page 236):

"'Snow at Ramsey House Lacked Footprints' by Charlie Brennan, Rocky Mountain News, March 11, 1997, 'Police who went to JonBenet Ramsey's home the morning she was reported missing found no footprints in the snow surrounding the house, sources said Monday. This is one of the earliest details that caused investigators to focus their attention on the slain girls family, police sources said.'"
(PMPT Page 236):

"John Fernie was angry when he read Charlie Brennan's story about footprints. Like many media storeis, this one fame from an unnamed source and made the Ramseys look guilty. Fernie wondered if the souce was provided the reporter with all the facts. He knew that his own footprints were there in the snow that morning. He had driven up the back alley to the Ramseys' house just after 6:00 A.M. in response to Patsys' frantic call that terrible morning. He remembered walking along the brick sidewalk to the patio door, looking through the glass panel, and reading a line or two of the ransom note, which was lying on the floor just inside the door. Then he ran through the snow-covered grass, around the south side of the house, to the front door. If the cops had been looking, they would have found his footprints. A year and half after JonBenet's death, Fernie told a reporter that the police still had not checked the shoes he wore that day, though a shoe imprint had been discovered next to JonBenet's body."
From Steve Thomas' deposition in Wolf v Ramsey

Thomas depo 21 - snow on the walkways"
Q. How about Officer Reichenbach, how do you pronounce his name?
A. Reichenbach.
Q. Do you ever recall hearing about what he said when he met with Dr. Henry Lee in terms of
whether there was snow on the sidewalk of the house when he arrived that morning?
A. Yes.
Q. What did he say?
A. He said, and he also said this to me, that although there was due to what I think was an 11 degree
temperature outside, there was a fresh frost and maybe a light dusting of snow on some of the lawn
areas, but on the sidewalks and walkways around the house, as he put in his report, as I may have put
in one of my reports, as we presented to the VIP conference, that you could not tell whether or not
somebody may have walked on those walkways in question.
Q. Or the wood chips?
A. I don't recall specifically him talking about the wood chips.
Q. Did you also get some information from NOAA about whether or not there might have been
snow expected to be found on the north and west sidewalks of the Ramsey home on the morning of
December 26th?
A. I think one detective may have gotten that assignment.
Q. And that NOAA indicated they would not have expected snow there; is that right?
A. I don't know the results of that NOAA report.
Q. You would have had the ability to look at them when you were there and investigating the case,
wouldn't you?
A. Yes, I don't -- as I said, I don't recall seeing that NOAA report.
From Braveheart - a great researcher who contributed a LOT to our forum discussions

unregistered user
May-27-03, 01:48 AM (EST)
4. "RE: Thomas depo 21 - snow on the walkway"
In response to message #3
My weather report based on NOAA data:
The weather data...high and low temps, snow fall in inches/dates...
From the archives:
Charter Member
140 posts Nov-11-02, 01:45 AM (EST)

The time of dusting of snow is reported to be after 2:00 am per weather almanac for Boulder, Colorado. I believe the TOD is estimated to be anywhere from about 10:00 pm December 25th. to 5:00 am the 26th., with the preponderance of evidence indicating a death between 1:00 and 2:00 am.
This tells me that the perp was gone before the snow fell.
There was no light until day break at 7:30 am, and there was no moon at 6:00 am, also per weather almanac.
This tells me that officer R. walked around the house in the dark looking for evidence with a flashlight. That he didn't see any footprints under these conditions doesn't surprise me. Besides, I believe you'll find a lot of leaves and pine needles under those trees on the sides of the house which coupled with the fact that the ground was dry shouldn't allow for many prints. Otherwise, after daybreak, you should have been able to see officer R's and Fernie's footprints all around the house.
The statement that there was no footprints in the snow is a deliberate misrepresentation of the situation. The spin is that there could have been no footprints and consequently, no intruder. The fact is that an intruder could have gone in and left without leaving any prints. This doesn't by itself prove there was one but it sure doesn't prove there wasn't one, which is what the BPD wnated people to believe.
unregistered user
Nov-13-02, 01:42 AM (EST)

47. "RE: Officer Reichenbach's report"
In response to message #46

Maybe I am wrong but I don't think Officer R's report is being being disputed, other than perhaps, the time of his arrival. He did state that the brick walkways were clear which means that if an individual stayed entirely on them there would be no prints in the snow. I would also be willing to bet that a broken window within that window well would allow for enough heated air to rise up-cold air falls, hot rises- to melt whatever frost or snow might otherwise have been around and on the grate. I think the problem most of us have with the report is the way that the report was misrepresented in leaks to the press.
I defer to Smit's experience and observation about the window as a possible point of entry, but whether or not he is correct, I know there were other ways of entering that house without force and without leaving prints. The fact that Reichenbach didn't find any prints in the snow, on the drive, on the walkway or on the pine needles/leaves doesn't impress me one way or the other. It does not prove the absense or presence of an intruder. Would that it would!
The snow that covered the yard, as seen in the photos taken early on the morning of the 26th., fell on the 16th. & 17th.-a total of 5.9 inches.Then followed 6 days of above freezing daytime temperatures where the snow melted (down to an average depth of 1" on the 23rd. after a very light 0.2 inches fell. By the 25th. ONLY A TRACE of snow, on the average for the weather station for Boulder, WAS LEFT ON THE GROUND. Then on the 26th. a TRACE of snow fell with no significant accumulations, the "DUSTING". The remainder of the snow on the ground, just a "trace" melted on the 26th. Not much rain fell during the month, none in the two days prior to the 26th. It was a very light amount and I feel sure the ground was dry on the night of the 25th. & 26th.and probably hard.(edited to add these next sentences) The temperature at daybreak was close to 6 degrees, the daily low T, and the high of 51 degrees would have been reached in mid afternoon. That means that the snow probably did not start melting until late morning, or until after the photos had been taken.
There are trees on both sides of the house which would have blocked snowfall (dusting) to the ground beneath them, unless there were driving snows which was not the case. Based on this information I would say that the crime scene photos accurately depict what snow was on the ground at daybreak, Dec. 26th., 1996. I think it would be accepted as evidence in any court.
unregistered user
Jan-19-03, 07:23 PM (EST)

....The National Weather Service data for Boulder for the entire month of December is posted in the evidence section. It says a trace of snow fell during the night. Doesn't say when. If there was frost on the ground....why is it not shown on the ground in the photos taken early on the 26th. before the temperature rose above freezing?
When did the police observe this frost? At 6:15 am as officer R. walked the house perimeter? Does this mean they are certain the crime wasn't committed before the frost formed? And when was it formed? Frost only forms under certain conditions, which are somewhat different from those when snow is formed.
unregistered user
Jan-20-03, 08:55 PM (EST)

31. "RE: Frost on the punkin"
In response to message #29

"the fact that there was a layer of frost AND no prints were found in it by the officer IS evidence.It DOES have a bearing on the question of whether there could have been an intruder. "
(edited 5-27-03) It certainly would be evidence. It would be pretty strong evidence that the crime was committed before it formed on the ground and sidewalks if there was an intruder, and if it was on the walkways(end edit). The same could be said for the snow.
I have been studying the weather data in an effort to determine when the trace of snow/dusting and the frost occured. Here's what I know:

25th. 7:19am/4:41pm
26th. 7:20am/4:41pm
Anbient air Temperature
degrees farenheit, Max./Min./Precip.(snow)/snow accumulation
25th. 54 24 0 T
26th. 51 6 T 0 (Frost point = 11)
Temperature measurements are typically taken at a point 4-5 feet above the ground
Ground temperatures may vary from this by as much as 2 degrees
25th. Relative Humidity: Max = 86%/min = 24%
26th. Relative Humidity: Max = 87%/min = 37%
Using a psychrometric chart (a graphing device that shows the relationships {of} the various properties of air)
and the above data taken from the National Weather records for Boulder, for the 25th. and 26th. of December,
we can determine the wet bulb temperatures for these days, at least at these times. This tells us the point
at which moisture in the air condenses out as snow or frost.
For the 26th. then, the "dusting" of snow occured when the temperature reached 26 degrees, and continued until the
moisture content of the air fell below the dew point saturation level. Snow, rather than frost is recorded by the
NWS station. For snow to fall, the atmospheric air temperature must be consistently or uniformly below freezing
from the point of crystal formation to the ground.
About Frost:
"As the air temperature cools on a winter night and approaches the dew point, the moisture in the air will condense out of the air and on to solid objects. The surface temperature of an object must be freezing in order for frost to form. Objects that radiate energy more efficiently tend to frost up first. Thin objects (leaves, small branches, shoots, etc.) frost quicker than thick objects. The ground, particularly when moist, does a relatively good job of holding heat, so frost damage tends to occur at the top of vegetation.
Frost can form when dew point temperatures and air temperatures are in the upper 30s. Patchy and scattered frost can occur in areas that typically run cold, low areas where cold air accumulates, the lee side of wind blocks, etc. In addition, dew point and temperature are measured at the standard height of five feet. It can be colder at ground level.
Prime dew point temperatures for widespread frost formation are in the upper 20s to lower 30s. When this occurs with freezing air temperatures, everything is in place for potentially heavy frost formation.
Frost formation is less likely with dew point temperatures below the mid 20s. There just isn't enough moisture in the air for significant frost formation, even if temperatures are below freezing.
The length of time conditions are favorable for frost formation determines the intensity of frost. The more time the dew point and air temperature hover around or below 30 degrees, the heavier the frost.
Dew point is not the entire story. Other factors also affect frost formation. Wind speeds above 5 MPH slow the radiational cooling of objects, inhibiting frost formation. Cloud cover reduces the effectiveness of radiational cooling. The thicker the cloud cover, the slower the cooling. Soils containing abundant water increase the risk for frost formation by putting more water into the equation, particularly in cases where the dew point temperature is in the mid 20s to mid 30s range. This may counteract the fact that wet soils retain heat better."
One point I wish to make is this: What Officer R saw at 6:15 am the morning of the 26th. as he walked the perimeter of the Ramsey house was the light "dusting of snow", or trace, which he characterised as "frost". You can have frost then snow but not the other way around. When the sun came up at 7:20 the dusting/"frost" was melted_Gone by 8:30ish when the photographers came.
There is no hour by hour data availiable for Boulder. What we may do is approximate the time that the temperature hit 26 degrees. That will give us an idea of when the crime was completed, if by an intruder.
unregistered user
Jan-21-03, 01:25 AM (EST)

36. "RE: Frosty the intruder"
In response to message #35

Approximation of temperature changes:
highest temp. 25th. at 2:00 pm = 54 degrees
assume an estimated drop from 54 to 52 degrees by 4:30 pm, just before sunset at 4:41 pm.
lowest temp 26th. morning of 26th.= 6 degrees at 6:00 am
difference in temp. = 46 degrees
difference in elapsed time = 14.5 hours
rate of drop in degrees per hour = 3.4 degrees/hour
assume 6 degrees temp at 7:30 just after sunrise at 7:20 am
highest temp. 26th. at 2:00 pm = 51 degrees
difference in temp. = 45 degrees
difference in elapsed time = 6.5 hours
rate of rise in degrees per hour = 8.2 degrees/hour
This is not exact but will give us an idea of what the temperatures were like that night.
What really happened would have depended on a number of other factors that would be impossible for me to add to the model.
25th. 2:00 pm 54
3:00 pm 54
4:00 pm 53
4:30 pm 52
5:30 pm 49
6:30 pm 45
7:30 pm 42
8:30 pm 38
9:30 pm 35
10:30 pm 32
11:30 pm 28
mid am 25 Snow would have begun falling at dew point of 26 degrees
1:00 am 21
2:00 am 18
3:00 am 15
4:00 am 11
5:00 am 08
6:00 am 06
7:00 am 06
7:30 am 14 Trace of snow on walkways in direct sun would start to melt between
7:20 am & 9:30 am as the concrete/bricks began to heat up, even though the air
temp remained below freezing,
8:30 am 22 Trace of snow on the yard in direct sun would start to melt
9:30 am 31 about 9:30 "old" snow left over from the 16th. & 17th., and dusting,
in shaded areas, would begin to melt, as air temp moved above freezing
10:00 am 35
In reality, the rate of cooling would be slowed by cloud cover. It would also
be faster to start with and slow the closer the air temp got to 6 degrees. The wind was blowing at about 11 mph/gusting to 21 mph which would have speeded up the cooling effect. Also, I think it is possible for the higher altitude air to be warmer than the ground temp, consequently, it may not have started snowing exactly when the air temp near the ground (5 feet above the ground) dropped below freezing. Or vice versa. And, we don't know the rate of the snow fall, other than it was "light" or "trace", and we don't know the duration.
The conclusion I draw from this exercise is that the light snow fall probably occured between midnight and 2:00 am, which would be earller than I had previously thought, but this seems to be more of an educated guess than just a plain guess based on possibilities. It also tells me that an intruder would have had a one to two hour window to do his crime. My view is that this murder was planned and carried out in under 30 minutes. Yet, the one or two hour window allows for a more disorganized killer. It also fits the extimated TOD.
If anyone has previously saved HOURLY data from Dec. 26, 1996, when/if it was availiable at the time, and is willing to share, we probably could be more specific.

These depositions show me that Thomas came to his ideas and conclusions with scarcely, or nary, a look at the reports of his fellow officers or the evidence. That is mind boggling to me. I have assumed all these years that he made a reasonable effort to know the evidence but just couldn't think thru it. Now it appears that he didn't even know what the evidence was to start with before hge jumped to his illusions.

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