Patsy Ramsey 911 call

(John and Burke Ramsey reversals can be heard here)

Here is a group of reversals from the 911 call. There are 6 statements occurring which follow directly from each other without any gibberish between for a total of 22 words. At this stage, the Ramsey’s apparently had no knowledge of JonBenet’s whereabouts.

The audio is not of good quality and there is ambiguity in parts of the reversal set. I start out with one possibility, and explore alternatives to it. There is a discussion at the end.

This is the forward speech dialogue:

FS: Patsy: [We have a kidnapping] [hurry please].

Dispatcher: [Explain to me what’s going on, OK?]

Patsy: [There, we have a re…], [there’s a note left] [and our daughter’s gone].

Here is the reverse speech all the way through:

Patsy: Knows you bargain(ed)/Those who bargain(ed) (‘n our daughter’s gone)

Patsy: Everyone did it (there’s a note left)

Patsy: (Help) cover your words (There, we have a re…)

911 dispatcher: Yeah but I know blowing a/the kill (FS: explain to me what’s going on, OK)

Patsy: Killed yeah/gir(l) (FS: hurry please)

Patsy: Your baby’s dead (FS: we have a kidnapping)

Here is the audio with the statements separated: 

Linguistic discussion

Knows you bargain(ed)/Those who bargain(ed)  [‘n our daughter’s gone] Knows occurs at [‘s gone] where the /g/ disappears and falls into a fricative with the /s/ to produces an /s/ ending. A tap-like initial can also give one the sense of [those]You comes at FS [er]’s where a possible [y] sound occurs as articulation moves up towards /s/. As there is some aspiration occurring, one may also get a sense of [who]. Bargain comes at [‘n my daught]. The initial is ambiguous and can also sound like /d/. I will assume it is meant to be bargain. Perception of /g/ comes at the FS release of [my] before the onset of FS /d/. There is audio noise at the end of FS [left]. It is quite possible that there is an [ed] ending.

Everyone did it [there’s a note left] everyone comes from [note left] [ft] disappears substantially allowing an [e] initial. The [v] comes at the FS [t] in note. [on]e comes at [ote]. There is an [l] before the [v] sound which can be heard on closer listening, which is not part of the word. There is a short period after [v] and before [one] where something else can be heard. This is assumed to be meant to be [ery]. Of course not all of it is heard properly, but that is not a problem as this part of the word is often shortened in normal FS. Therefore, it is quite reasonable to assume [everyone], although the [l] is an issue. 

(Help) cover your words [There, we have a re …] The first word is ambiguous as different phonemes can be perceived in it. Here I will use [help] as a possible, reasonable example. [cover] is from [have a]. The initial is ambiguous, and [c] is offered as a possibility. The [e] in FS [we] influences the ending of the word to sound like [ee]; however, this may not be much of an issue as in normal FS the ending [er] followed by [y] can be influenced in this manner. [your] is from [we] where the [y] is produced by [e], the rounded vowel is from [w] and there is also influence from /r/ in [there]. [words] is from [there] where [th] creates a sense of [ds], and the /w/ is influenced by movement in the FS from [there] to [we].

Yeah but I know blowing a kill 

  • Yeah Before articulation of [y] there is /i/ so that it is like [iyeah]. The fricative [kh] sound from [k] in FS [ok] could be acceptable due to the ending. An alternative may be [here’s], though the velar fricative [kh] at the end would have to be accepted as /s/ as would a lack of /h/ aspiration at the initial. 

I present here three alternatives to the next two words (I will assume that it is know rather than now):

  • but I know  [going on o]k A sound that has a labial quality occurs at the onset of [o] – [b] is one alternative. RS [t] comes at FS o[n], RS [kn] comes at FS [ng]. FS [g] disappears in the RS.
  • put on, know In this alternative, /n/ would occur in [on] as well as in [know]; [know] occurs without a gap and the connection between [on] and [know] may not be heard except on closer listening.
  • what I know – where it is supposed to be /w/ rather than /b/ or /p/. When audio quality is like this, further alternatives become possible.

Here is an analysis of the final part of this section:

  • blowing a/the kill   ex[plain to me what’s] RS [w] occurs at FS [w]. At the onset of FS wha[t]’s, one can perceive /n/ or /l/. At the release of wha[t’s] there is fricative noise. A general listening gives [bl], although there is no [b] in the fricative noise. Nevertheless, if we don’t include the fricative noise, we can still perceive [bl]. (audio here) Therefore I will assume that is the best possibility. Perception of [ing] occurs at [me]. A short syllable can be perceived such as a/the at t[o]. There is fricative noise at [t]o which can be perceived as a velar [k]. Perception of [ill] comes at [plai] where the [p] is silent in the RS. If it is not [kill], an alternative may be [here], where the fricative noise is part of a short word [it], and the initial of the word occurs later (as in blowing it here). That there is no obvious i[t] is not such a problem as this can occur in FS, as well as because of the audio quality. An [l] ending can be perceived quite clearly, however, in the final word.

On this analysis, I will offer three alternatives. I will assume blowing and kill:

  • But I know, blowing a/the kill
  • Put on, know blowing a/the kill
  • What I know, blowing a/the kill

Whatever one, it seems that the dispatcher’s subconscious recognised or believed that Patsy’s rendition was not believable.

Killed yeah/girl [hurry please] The fricative noise of the audio helps one perceive [k]ill. An [ed] could be assumed here. I have offered [yeah] as the second word. This is at the offset of hurr[y] in the FS. A strong [y] may be possible here, though it could also be heard as [g]. The ending has frication audio noise. I will make an assumption of only audio noise and no /s/, so [yeah] rather than [yes].  An alternative is [girl] There is no obvious [l] final, however, ending more like [ir].

Your baby’s dead –  I have separated dead from the first two words:  


In knows you bargain(ed)/those who bargain(ed), we need to assess who does or did the bargaining. I will look at bargain as meaning either negotiating some outcome or arriving at an agreement. This could refer either to the writer(s) of the note/kidnappers or to Patsy and family.

With knows you bargain(ed) the subject is missing before knows, but verb agreement indicates 3rd person singular he/she. If you, this could be Patsy, and this is an aspect of her unconscious speaking directly to her, telling her that (she) knows you bargained, ie, the dispatcher (this would tie in with the dispatcher’s words in reverse). If knows who bargain(ed), this may indicate some knowledge of 3rd party involvement outside of the family, by another person such as her husband (however, nothing came of this in future investigations if they did have some idea). If those who bargain(ed), we have the 3rd person used referring to others. This could either refer to the writers of the note who bargain for JonBenet, or refer to other family members (but not herself). Alternatively, we have an unconscious aspect of Patsy referring to Patsy and others as being involved in bargaining (arriving at an agreement). 

Following is ‘everyone’ did it, which is some form of admission where ‘everyone’ (family?) had some hand in what happened, indirectly and perhaps directly. They bargained or came to some agreement among themselves about what to do. Or alternatively, she is placing blame on herself and her husband for what happened even if there is an outside 3rd party involved. 

After this is cover your words. This could indicate Patsy telling herself to be very careful about what she chooses to say. 

Next, is the dispatcher’s words but I know blowing a kill (or put on/what I know). This could indicate that the dispatcher at a subconscious level believed that Patsy is ‘blowing’ her cover up of a killing. 

Killed girl/yeah and your baby’s dead follow. If the words killed and dead are there, or at least one of these words, this would indicate knowledge of her death at some level of consciousness, or a feared expectation that she is no longer alive. The fact that Patsy is apparently holding a new note asking for a ransom to be paid for JonBenet’s return, would place more weight on having the actual knowledge. However, whether this knowledge is known at a conscious level, or at a subconscious level, is a point of argument. 

In determining meaning, a question to ask is ‘who’ is doing the reversed speaking, and who is the entity referring to? Is the statement one that is conscious to the speaker, that is, reveals her conscious thoughts, or is the statement from an aspect of the speaker’s subconscious that possesses some semi-autonomy from the conscious thoughts of the speaker? The use of 1st, 2nd and 3rd pronouns and referent words can cause considerable consternation when interpreting meaning, and also, as these words are typically short and unstressed one can get the word wrong. There are three statements from Patsy that possibly contain 2nd person you/your – likely the final two statements and maybe the first statement. When using 2nd person, one is communicating directly to another; in RS this could be the person the speaker is speaking with, an aspect of the speaker’s subconscious speaking to the speaker’s conscious self, or the conscious self of the speaker referring to herself. In this example, we can ignore speaking to another, different person. One – cover your words – could be one of the two other alternatives; a conscious thought, for example. The other two could be communication from a quasi – separate aspect of Patsy attempting to communicate directly to her conscious self. The first statement – knows you bargain(ed) – has a more even-tempered quality than cover your words and killed yeah/girl, which are highly emotional. The last statement – your baby’s dead – is not as even-tempered as the first one, but is not over-emotional like the other two mentioned – there is perhaps a different voice quality to it. Of course, it does not mean here that any of Patsy’s statements are of different aspects. One subconscious self could be telling Patsy that the dispatcher knows you came to an agreement among yourselves (note that the dispatcher seems to reveal that herself), you are all to blame, watch what you say, X killed JonBenet, and she’s dead.

In deciding on sequence of statements, as the reversal statements are continuous without gibberish in between, I have started at the beginning going in the RS direction (or the final statement going in the FS direction). 

Looking at the whole picture, we need to determine whether some statements refer to the apparent kidnappers or to Patsy and family. Taking a kidnapper-focused interpretation, we would have either those who bargain(ed) or knows who bargain(ed) referring to the apparent kidnappers, with the second one indicating potential knowledge of the people that may be involved. Everyone did it might indicate some self-blame although there was an outsider involved. It is unknown why she would need to cover her words as she seems willing to blurt out everything about the note and the apparent kidnapping – unless there is some unconscious reaction to it. With killed yeah/girl, we don’t have the subject, and therefore the ‘who’. In this interpretation, she could not have known the child was dead, so this and the final reversal would not have been consciously known to her. 

In a Ramsey-focused interpretation, the bargaining refers to the Ramseys conducting this among themselves (arriving at an agreement), and ‘everyone’ in the family were complicit in some way. The dispatcher’s subconscious picks up the subterfuge. There is then admission that JoBenet is dead in the last two reversal statements. 


Here is a John Burke reversal (click on the link at the top of this page to listen to several interesting reversals from John and Burke Ramsey). 

RS: So wet on the corpse. The boy, so we know it 

FS: so I wasn’t surprised that the glass wa[s broken but I was] surprised that [the window was open].

When JB mentioned the glass was broken he stated the body was wet. When he mentioned the window was open, he mentioned what could be ‘the boy’.



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