||The Ramsey Polygraph Farce
An Investigation Into What Really Went On, And What The Public Wasn't Told.
The photo above was taken on May 24, 2000 at a press conference in Atlanta, Georgia where John and Patsy Ramsey, along with their attorney Lin Wood, announced they had taken and passed a polygraph test indicating they were not involved in the murder of their six year old daughter JonBenét. Also in attendance were the two polygraph experts who performed, supervised, and scored the tests.
While the Ramsey attorney did a memorable song and dance for the media,
several facts about the tests and the people involved were tactfully omitted.
Had the journalists in attendance been better informed about the polygraph
process and those involved, the entire press conference would have been
a public relations disaster for the Ramseys.
In The Beginning
Ever since the murder of their daughter JonBenét, the Boulder Police Department (BPD) has considered her parents to be the only suspects in the crime. The Boulder Police have always been interested in having John and Patsy Ramsey take a polygraph test, and discussions transpired between Lin Wood, the Ramsey attorney and police chief Mark Beckner. The BPD insisted that they be the ones to give the polygraph to the Ramseys, or that the Ramseys take a polygraph administered by the FBI. The Ramseys flatly rejected either condition stating their belief that the BPD and FBI were involved in some major conspiracy against them. When the BPD refused to budge on their conditions, including that the Ramseys take a drug test along with the polygraph, the Ramseys went out and bought their own tests.
Stacking The Deck
The Ramsey attorneys first contacted a polygraph examiner named Gene Parker and inquired if he would be interested in performing the polygraph test on John and Patsy. Parker said he would be interested in performing the tests, but mentioned that because of the seriousness of the crime, he would require both Ramseys take a drug test. Parker said the urine drug tests could be performed right on his premises by a doctor or nurse just before the tests began. The Ramsey attorney told Parker they would get back to him at a later date, and they did call him back about three hours later. In that second call, Parker was informed they were not interested in his conducting the tests because they had found another polygraph examiner they planned on using who did not require drug testing. Looks like Lin Wood forgot his own words on the Larry King Live show:
|PHONE CALLER: I just want to say I think it's
wonderful that they've agreed to take a polygraph test. And my question
is, would they also submit to a blood test to make sure they were not taking
anything, i.e., medication, herbs, that would alter their response to the
questions on the polygraph? How would you answer that, sir?
LIN WOOD: Oh, absolutely. I'm sure that the question would be asked if they're on any medications, and they would answer that question truthfully and submit to any urinalysis that was required or asked of them.
Not Passing The First Tests
After turning down Gene Parker because of his drug test requirements, the Ramseys and their attorney contracted the services of a polygraph examiner in New Jersey by the name of Jerry Toriello. The Ramseys were put through a battery of tests by Toriello and neither John or Patsy was able to pass. The best Toriello could do for the Ramseys was label the tests, "inconclusive" and suggest they seek out the services of a different polygrapher.
The problem with that whole scenario is that an expert polygrapher doesn't just give up that easily. If a polygraph test is truly "inconclusive", then the polygraph examiner modifies the test questions to get a better indication of when the test subject is being truthful versus deceptive. The whole polygraph concept is based on a series of "control questions", which give the examiner a baseline that can be used to compare the subject's reactions to the important questions that will also be asked. If an "inconclusive" result to the important questions is present, it means the results did not fall within the scoring limits established by the control questions. The examiner then needs to "fine tune" the control question limits to get a better handle on what reactions are present when the test subject is being deceptive.
The ironic thing is that the Ramseys would go to a second polygraph
examiner and again Patsy would fail to pass the first test she took.
The second examiner didn't just give up like Jerry Toriello did, he just
ran a second test with whatever modifications he needed to make.
Dancing Around Reality
What was it that polygraph expert Jerry Toriello saw in those first tests that caused him to give up and recommend the Ramseys go elsewhere? Could it be the Ramseys both showed a deception that Toriello knew might get worse during a second test?
The the final score of a polygraph test is based on an average of answers to the same question rephrased several different ways. Consider that Toriello might have asked Patsy Ramsey "Did you kill JonBenét?" nine times, and she answered "no" each time. Four of the nine times the polygraph might have shown she was not being "truthful", but five times it might have shown her answer was "inconclusive". The average of the answers would be the test was "inconclusive". If that was the case, it would be in the best interest for Toriello to tell his paying customers to go elsewhere because a second test might score higher in the "deceptive" range and offset the average to show the person was not being "truthful". While he could publicly say this time that the tests were inconclusive, he may not be able to afford his customers that luxury if a second test was offset more to the deceptive side by just a couple answers.
Whatever did cause Toriello give up, he isn't free to talk about it. It's standard practice when an attorney hires an polygraph examiner to test his client that the examiner sign a confidentiality agreement so the attorney can control the release of the test results. To date, Jerry Toriello has been dead quiet about the Ramsey tests, and he refused interviews and appearances on talk shows at the time of the press conference.
In fact, Jerry Toriello's absence from the big Ramsey press conference
was very suspicious. Lin Wood was lucky the ill-prepared media played
right into his hands, and didn't grill him on the Toriello failure.
When reporters asked Wood why Toriello was missing in action, they simply
accepted the following from Wood without any further thought:
|"Jerry Toriello is not able to be here today. He had a minor surgical procedure on Friday and is not able to travel until the end of this week. Otherwise, Jerry Toriello would have been here."|
Well if that was actually the case, then why did Wood schedule the press conference for that date and time? If there was nothing to hide, why didn't Wood put the conference off for three days and include Toriello? After all, there was no hurry -- the Ramseys had been beating around the polygraph bush for over three years since their daughter's murder.
Was Lin Wood hiding the results from Toriello's polygraph test, and
if so what else could he be hiding? A reporter at the press conference
asked about a rumor he had heard that the Ramseys refused to take a polygraph
if it involved drug testing. Here's Lin Wood's responce to the question:
|REPORTER: I understand when another polygrapher
was asked by the Ramsey team to do this polygraph, he insisted on a drug
test. Lin Wood said "no".
WOOD: Please, tell me who this individual is.
REPORTER: I don't have his name.
WOOD: Well, let's get our facts right. Let's have the name of the person because I will tell you that I have asked two polygraph examiners to conduct tests on John and Patsy Ramsey: Jerry Toriella, who accepted, Ed Gelb, who accepted. I have never discussed, never discussed anyone else conducting this examination. I have never had anyone asked -- be asked and refused. I've never had anyone discuss with me that they wouldn't do it because of a drug test. That's an absolute, unadulterated falsehood. Let's put it to rest right now.
But Gene Parker had been contacted by the Ramsey team, and his
services turned down when he required a drug test. Heres a portion
of a radio show transcript where Parker appeared on the Peter Boyles Show
after the Ramsey press conference:
|PARKER: Some short period of time ago I received
a telephone call from some people that identified themselves as attorneys
for John Ramsey.
BOYLES: Did they mention names or could you mention their names?
PARKER: Yes, they mentioned names but I'm not at liberty to give those out, with due respect.
BOYLES: All right. Fair enough.
PARKER: "Yes, I would be more than happy
to examine John and Patsy." And I quoted my fee. At which time I stated
that because of the high profile of the case that it would require that
a urine examination be done with a medical doctor and a registered nurse,
for obvious reasons, presence. "Uhhhm", the attorney said, who stated that
he was an attorney, I had reason to believe that he was, stated, "Fine,
they would get back to me." Some three hours later I received a telephone
call from that same telephone number on my Caller-ID that I originally
had got stating that they had declined my offer, they had found someone
that would not require a urine examination, thank you very much.
Lin Wood denies he/himself contacted Gene Parker about the Ramseys taking
his polygraph test, but as anyone familiar with the case knows, the Ramseys
have had many more than just one attorney working for them - since the
day after their daughter was found dead! Wood is careful to state
that he never had anything to do with the Parker test request, but
he doesn't deny that any of the other attorneys he works with did.
Beating Around The Bush
To gain some insight into why Jerry Toriello isn't talking about the Ramsey polygraph tests we should listen to the words of Dr. Edward Gelb, the polygraph examiner the Ramseys went to after Toriello. Gelb is rumored to be the polygrapher that gave O.J. Simpson a test he failed miserably on. But Gelb, like Toriello must be, is probably under a confidentiality agreement drawn up by O.J. Simpson's lawyers. Gelb won't even confirm or deny that he even gave O.J. a polygraph test. When asked on the Geraldo Rivera Show if he gave O.J. Simpson the failed test, Gelb replied,
|"OJ who? - If that exam was conducted, it would have been conducted under attorney-client privilege, and you only seem to hear about the ones people pass, not the ones they fail."|
Geraldo Rivera then asked if that was really the case -- you only hear
about the tests people pass, and not about the ones they fail? Gelb's
answer was probably the closest we will ever get in understanding the situation
between Lin Wood and Jerry Toriello:
|"Certainly. And if I was an attorney, which I'm not, I wouldn't want to be gone after for malpractice for having clients take polygraph tests willy-nilly without knowing how they were going to do."|
In other words, make sure when you buy a polygraph test you specify the results you want. And if getting those results isn't possible, make sure the truth is protected from reaching the public.
Geraldo Rivera, like all the other journalists who reported on the Ramsey
tests, totally missed the ball. His next question after Gelb made
the statement above should have been, "Does that mean if the Ramseys hadn't
passed the test we wouldn't be hearing about it now?"
Doctor, Heal Thyself
Now is where this story takes a bizarre turn. As noted before, the Ramseys turned to Dr. Edward Gelb after they were unable to pass the tests conducted by Jerry Toriello.
Ed Gelb has served as president, executive director and chairman of the board of the American Polygraph Association and is an honorary fellow of the Academy of Certified Polygraphists. Gelb was trained in polygraph technique at the Backster School of Lie Detection, founded by Cleve Backster of San Diego. Gelb claims to have performed over 30,000 polygraph examinations. While Gelb may or may not be considered the foremost polygraph examiner in the country, he certainly is the most recognized, having appeared over the years on several television shows.
Gelb's involvement in the Ramsey case has brought out some very
interesting information about the man. Internet sleuths, fixated
on the Ramsey case, started checking into Gelb's background and he became
closely scrutinized in crime
sleuthing forums. Supposedly Gelb's resume states that he received
his doctorate degree from LaSalle University in Louisiana. That would
be a real problem, because LaSalle was found to be nothing but a
mail-order diploma mill. LaSalle's office was investigated and raided
by the FBI, and Thomas
Kirk, LaSalle's owner and founder, was found guilty of fraud and sentenced
to five years in federal prison. Kirk earned millions of dollars
from people looking to obtain fraudulent college degrees at a discount
rate with little or no actual course work required.
Calls to Gelb's office by people trying to verify his education were not returned, and one internet sleuth even went as far as to check the master registry of Ph.D. dissertations and could find no information on a doctorate thesis authored by Edward Gelb.
Should "Doctor" Gelb really be addressed as "Dr. Bogus"? Is the man who claims to be the master at detecting the deception of others really a master of public and profession deception himself? Perhaps when Ed Gelb hears about this web page he will contact us and provide proof of his educational background so we can publish the truth here.
Gelb's resume also includes some very bizarre history that he would probably like buried in the past. Gelb has been in the news before when he tested and passed people claiming they were abducted by space aliens and held captive aboard flying saucers.
On November 5, 1975 a group of six loggers, including a man named Travis Walton, were in the mountains of northeastern Arizona. Walton turned up missing and claimed he was abducted by space aliens and kept for five days aboard their spaceship before being returned to Earth. Walton sold his story to The National Enquirer tabloid who had a polygraph expert named John J. McCarthy test Walton. The test showed Walton was deceptive in his UFO story. The very existence of the failed Travis Walton polygraph session was kept secret by the National Enquirer who went ahead and printed the story, while McCarthy was ordered never to speak about the tests.
Enter Ed Gelb, who was brought in it to test the 5 men who claimed they witnessed Travis Walton being beamed up into the spaceship. Gelb concluded that each of the tests demonstrated that each witness was being conclusively "truthful." Gelb, then declared that the statistical odds of five people "beating the machine" was about one in a million. Besides the original sale of his story to the National Enquirer, Travis Walker went on to write a book about his experience which he titled, "Fire in the Sky."
It appears if you tell a story loud enough, and long enough, even Ed
Gelb's machine will believe it.
What's Your Point, settia?
If you remember Ed Gelb's credentials, he was a graduate of the Cleve Backster School of Lie Detection. In fact, Gelb brought his mentor, Cleve Backster, along when he conducted the Ramsey polygraph tests. If you thought Ed Gelb's space aliens were interesting, wait until you read about Cleve Backster.
Cleve Backster has been playing around with a polygraph machine for over 50 years. In 1949, he started the Central Intelligence Agency polygraph section. In 1962 he started the Backster School of Lie Detection from which Ed Gelb graduated. Backster also developed the system used for the numerical evaluation of polygraph tests which he called the, "Backster Zone Comparison" polygraph technique. Sounds impressive doesn't it? - Well grab hold of your favorite Chia Pet and keep reading.
Cleve Backster was involved with the Ramsey polygraph tests in a capacity that Lin Wood described as, "quality control." Ed Gelb ran the actual polygraph machine and asked the questions, and his buddy Backster scored the finished tests based on the numerical standards he had developed. Has Cleve Backster ever taken a ride on any of Ed Gelb's mysterious flying saucers? Not that we know of. Mr. Backster has been too busy dealing with his own personal aliens, right here on Earth, at ground level.
Twenty years ago, Cleve Backster was doing some experimenting when he decided to hook up his polygraph machine to a house plant. Backster then claimed that not only could he read the plant's emotions, but the plant could read his mind. Backster took his experiment further by devising a machine that would dump live brine shrimp into boiling water at random intervals. The shrimp-machine was placed in front of the polygraph-attached plants and turned on. Backster claimed the machine "showed" that the plants exhibited "emotional" reaction to the shrimps' demise. The plants were supposedly also able to sense the death of a yogurt culture. (Damn! - Can you imagine how the poor dandelions at Auschwitz must have felt?!)
Backster joined with a colleague named Luther Burbank and their strange experiments were documented in a book titled, "The Secret Life of Plants." Burbank claimed he could coax a spiny cactus into losing its thorns by informing the plant that it no longer needed them because he would "protect it". Additionally, when Burbank, who had some success in plant breeding programs, was asked how he chose which plants to propagate, he replied that the plants themselves told him which to select. (By now you should have images in your head of major horticultural companies hooking plants up to polygraph machines and holding their own special version of the "Plant Dating Game")
Backster claims he managed to connect his machine to a living skin cell
removed from the inside of a subject's cheek (leukocyte) that had been
placed under a microscope. When the cell donor experienced some form
of trauma, the skin cell registered a powerful electrical response, even
though the subjects body is in another part of the building. Backster
claims he got the same results when the donor and the skin cell were separated
by a distance of 350 miles. Backster says he timed the trauma and
cell's response with the atomic clock in Colorado, and was able to determine
the amount of time it took for the cell to respond when the donor was stressed.
The amount of time supposedly measured was "zero". This new work
of Backster's has been published in a book titled, "Secret Life of Your
Cells: The Latest From Cleve Backster`s Research", by Robert B. Stone:
|"The world may never be the same!"
"Your plants know what you are thinking!"
That was the earthshaking discovery of Cleve Backster
nearly twenty years ago as documented in The Secret Life of Plants.
Today an even greater discovery brings us the the brink of unlimited possibilities.
In The Secret Life of Your Cells, Robert B. Stone, Ph.D., explores the latest research of Cleve Backster, who by attaching a lie detector to the leaf of a plant discovered that it had feelings and the ability to read our thoughts. Now this ability -- primary perception -- has been traced even to disconnected single cells of our own bodies. What millions of Americans saw reported on TV'S Incredible Sunday, Dr. Stone now shares in depth in The Secret Life of Your Cells.
The implications and possibilities of that discovery, and the difficult struggle it has had in finding acceptance in the tradition-bound scientific community makes exciting, challenging, mind-expanding reading.
Publisher: Prescott Books
How does this prove we as human beings don't really exist? Dr.
Jeffrey Thompson, a friend and colleague of Backster explains it in this
Center for Neuroacoustic Research publication where he outlined Backster's
|"There is no place where one's body actually
ends and no place where it begins."
"This conforms to quantum physics: Time is an illusion and there is no such thing as separating a cell from someone's body, who first of all has no body, and second of all has a body which does not begin nor end anywhere."
Aren't you glad Dr. Thompson took the time to explain that? Feel
free to finally throw out all your old high school and college biology
books. After all, if you don't really exist, then they don't either.
Can this story get any more bizarre? We started out with a murder of a tiny 6 year old girl, and wound up taking a UFO trip around a universe that we now know doesn't really exist. It was Patsy Ramsey who made the statement that polygraph tests were nothing more than "voodoo science". Patsy must still believe that, since it appears she and John went out and hired the two best witch doctors in the business.
If you still put any faith in the Ramsey polygraph tests after what you have read so far, then perhaps you should also put faith in another Ramsey-related polygraph test. Remember Gene Parker, the man whose polygraph test the Ramseys turned down because he wanted to drug test them? Well Gene Parker did give a polygraph test to a woman who remains a fringe player in the case.
Diane Hollis was an Executive Secretary for John Ramsey at his company,
Access Graphics Inc. Miss Hollis claimed that she was told that JonBenét
was killed by accident when Patsy swung an object at John Ramsey when she
caught him molesting JonBenét. Diane Hollis stuck firm
to her story and a newspaper hired Gene Parker to give her a polygraph
test. Hollis had no problem passing the test. Here are comments
about that test from the same radio program that was quoted above:
|PARKER: Back on 11 December, '97 I was requested
by a national newspaper to confirm the authenticity of a Diane Hollis,
who is a former executive secretary of John Ramsey, as to her statement
as to, ahh, what had occurred in, ahh, conversation in the Ramsey office.
BOYLES: For the folks in our audience, what did Ms. Hollis say had occurred in terms of a conversation?
PARKER: She stated that, ahh, there was conversation going on with, umm, some remorse as to, ahh, what had taken place at the murder scene.
BOYLES: Could you go further, elaborate further from that, Gene, if you would?
PARKER: Ohhhh, let me see. I'm looking at a deposition that I wrote at the time and, uhhh, regarding, uhh, the accuracy of the examination. But, the gist of it was that, uhhh, "Were you told that John Ramsey was molesting JonBenet? That Patsy saw it, swung at John but hit JonBenet instead?" And there was a 88% probability that Miss Hollis was truthful with her "Yes" response utilizing an instrument of the United States Government polygraph for that purpose.
BOYLES: That's why this is significant. That, there's another very significant part of this as well. Again, if you would, Gene, the best of your knowledge who was Miss Hollis and what was her job working for John Ramsey?
PARKER: She was an executive secretary.
BOYLES: And how did she come across this information?
PARKER: That, at this point, with due respect to your very fine radio station, I would be unable to provide for you, other than the fact that records show that Miss Hollis was an executive secretary for John Ramsey.
BOYLES: And you tested Miss Hollis?
BOYLES: And when Miss Hollis told you what you've just told us that she said, she tested out which way, true or false?
PARKER: Way to the absolute probability of truthfulness.
That same, the same question was formulated three different ways and to
each of those three different ways, uhhh, she, uhhh, the results of the
examination shows that she was, the probability of truthfulness was very
accurate, in the high 90's. The examination took approximately three hours
and the actual exam itself about, uhh, 5 minutes times 3 times that was
given to her.
Once again, not one of the reporters at the Ramsey press conference
had the intelligence to question the Ramseys or their lawyer about the
Diane Hollis polygraph test when they had the perfect opportunity.
Let's repeat the statement made at the very beginning of this web page:
the journalists in attendance been better informed about the polygraph
process and those involved, the entire press conference would have been
a public relations disaster for the Ramseys."
Coming In For A Landing - Watch for Crop-Circles!
About the only thing left to do in this story is mention a few facts about the accuracy of polygraph tests that obviously relate to the Ramsey polygraph tests. When commenting on the Ramsey tests, F. Lee Bailey (Gelb's old buddy from the TV show days) claims that, "after 45 years he doesn't know how to beat a lie detector test, or any examiner who knows how to beat it." Maybe Bailey should have a serious chat with John and Patsy Ramsey. And when he's done he should sit down with former police polygrapher Doug Gene Williams, who knows how to beat the lie detector and sells an illustrated manual entitled, "How to Sting the Polygraph".
Mr. Bailey might also want to consult with Professor Charles Honts of
the Boise State University Department of Psychology, who is also a practicing
polygrapher. Professor Honts, in a 1985 article co-authored by R.L.
Hodes and D.C. Raskin, found that half of the subjects of a countermeasures
experiment were able to beat the lie detector after a maximum of only 30
minutes of training.
("Effects of Physical Countermeasures on the Physiological Detection of Deception," Journal of Applied Psychology, vol. 70, no. 1 )
Mr. Bailey should also meet Dr. Gordon Barland of the Department of
Defense Polygraph Institute. Dr. Barland's duties at DoDPI include
research on polygraph countermeasures and teaching counter-countermeasures.
It would seem that the U.S. Government is well aware that the polygraph
can be beaten through countermeasures.
When the Ramseys were hooked up to the polygraph, maybe Gelb and Backster should have asked them if they had done anything prior to that time to cause false readings on the test.
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This web page is part of a continuing
series of articles which dispel the
myths and expose the real facts in the JonBenét Ramsey murder case.
For a complete index of those articles,
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