Handwriting expert says author stole her JonBenet Ramsey
Posted to: News
© March 22, 2007
Part of the three-page JonBenet Ramsey ransom note.
By TIM McGLONE
NORFOLK - Dueling handwriting experts will square off in federal
court here today over allegations that one stole the other's
analysis of the JonBenet Ramsey ransom note.
Cina L. Wong, a forensic document examiner with an office
on Granby Street, is seeking to stop author and handwriting
expert Michelle Dresbold from holding up the ransom note analysis
as her own. Wong also wants unspecified monetary damages.
In the suit, filed Monday, Wong submitted hundreds of pages
of her analysis of the ransom note and says it is nearly identical
to what Dresbold published in her book, "Sex, Lies, and
Handwriting." Wong concluded that JonBenet's mother wrote
A hearing on Wong's request to stop further publication of
the book is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. before U.S. District Judge
Jerome B. Friedman.
The JonBenet Ramsey killing in 1996 remains one of the more
intriguing unsolved mysteries in the annals of modern crime.
The 6-year-old beauty queen was found slain and sexually molested
in the basement of her parents' Boulder, Colo., home the morning
after Christmas. Numerous suspects, including the parents,
were investigated and discounted.
Just last year, 41-year-old convicted child molester John
Mark Karr confessed to the murder, but police determined he
lied after DNA evidence failed to link him to the crime scene.
One man, Robert Christian Wolf, whom police questioned about
the crime at the urging of JonBenet's parents, John and Patsy,
sued the parents for libel and defamation after they repeatedly
named him as a potential suspect. Wolf claimed in the lawsuit,
filed in Georgia in 2002, that Patsy killed JonBenet and wrote
the ransom note in an attempt to cover up the crime.
Wolf brought in Wong as an expert in handwriting analysis.
Wong submitted a detailed analysis of the ransom note, concluding
that the girl's mother wrote it.
"Patsy Ramsey made a primitive attempt at disguising
her handwriting when writing the three-page ransom note,"
Wong noted a "significant number of similarities"
between Patsy Ramsey's writing style and the print on the
ransom note, which demanded $118,000 from the Ramseys for
the safe return of their daughter.
"It is highly unlikely that all of these similarities
occurred by chance," Wong wrote.
A federal judge, however, refused to allow Wolf to use Wong
as an "expert witness." Her analysis could not be
admitted in that court. The judge later dismissed the case.
In December, Dresbold published her book, through Simon &
Schuster Inc., with a red sticker on the cover stating it
contains "explosive details about the JonBenet Ramsey
ransom note." A 23-page chapter strongly implicates Patsy
Ramsey, who died last year of cancer.
Dresbold, in the book, "copied substantial portions of
Wong's work," reproducing 48 of 62 of the same letter-to-letter
comparisons and 20 of 68 word-to-word comparisons, Wong's
On Dresbold's Web site, she lists her qualifications as a
graduate of the U.S. Secret Service's advanced document examination
training program. She also has testified as an expert witness
in criminal trials.
Dresbold, who lives in the Pittsburgh area, did not return
an e-mail request for an interview. A Simon & Schuster
spokesman did not return a call for comment.
Wong declined to comment Wednesday.
"All Miss Wong wants is to get credit for her own work
and to not have someone else profit from it," Wong's
attorney, Christopher Abel of the Norfolk firm Troutman Sanders,
The lawsuit says that Dresbold has appeared on a number of
television news and talk shows touting her book and claiming
that the JonBenet ransom note analysis "was her own"
without "giving any credit to Wong."
The lawsuit also seeks to stop Dresbold from making those
claims over the public airwaves. Dresbold, according to her
Web site, is scheduled to appear on Court TV on Saturday.
Reach Tim McGlone at (757) 446-2343 or email@example.com.