Professor Donald Foster
                                  Photo by Renato Rotolo for L'Espresso

"I'm a teacher. Name's Foster. Don Foster. I work the literature beat at Vassar College. It's not easy teaching Shakespeare to a bunch of Gen Xers expecting a commercial break every seven minutes, but I do what I can. Of course, teaching doesn't pay all the bills and you know as well as I do that there are more things in heaven and Earth than dreamt of in my Visa statement. So, on the side I do a little detecting. Literary stuff. I cracked the Primary Colors case, but who gets invited to the Inaguration? The Night Owls. Not that I'm bitter. I know there are some cases that can't be solved, like why the hell the Allegories performs so often when they only know twelve songs. Still, sometimes a case comes along that needs literary analysis. That's when you call me."
From an on-line Vassar Page...
Description of play - "A Cappella 'Til You Puke '96--The Allegories were invited to the annual performance that involves all the a cappella groups at the campus. They performed this sketch that was a little more intellectual than usual but still a hit with the crowds. Following Prof.Don Foster as he tries to solve yet another literary mystery. Written by Noah Smith '98

WHO IS DONALD FOSTER??                                      WHAT HAS HE DONE???

Donald Foster is a Vassar Professor, well known for his ability to match authors to their texts.  He enjoys the spotlight and the reputation of being the first and foremost in his field, text analysis, a new science.
 Donald Foster quote from private e-mail to jameson:
"Anybody with dexterity and brains can fake handwriting, but (given a sufficiently large text sample) no one can utterly disguise his own linguistic habits (spelling, diction, grammatical accidence, syntax, internal biographical evidence, psycholinguistic material, etc.)"


Foster "found" Shakespeare where no one else did. He determined that Shakespeare wrote  A Funeral Elegy. That poem is now included in several Shakespeare collections, largely due to this man's research and "expert" evaluation of the transcript. This was the first new Shakespeare piece identified in 112 years.

According to an article on-line at,published in the summer of 1998:
"Donald Foster uses high-powered computer tests to search for Shakespeare's hidden hand.
His critics challenge him on every move."

Based on Foster's analysis, his own computer database, the Funeral Elegy was accepted by many as Shakespeare's work, but others disagreed, finding fault with Foster's methodology.  (I will not get into that here but advise that it is explained in detail on-line.)  Suffice it to say the poem made its way into the newer Shakespeare collections, but some scholars doubt he wrote it.  The debate continues.

Foster, while challenged by other scholars, could never be called a liar by this particular author.
The on-going debate about whether or not Foster was being fair and honest in his methods of identification is very interesting.
It seems that there has been a standard system of tests used to identify Shakespeare in the past.  By THOSE tests, the Funeral Elegy can not be attributed to Shakespeare.  But Foster came up with his own system of identifying Shakespeare, and guess what?......  HE FOUND SOME.

This quote is from a Chicago Tribune article by Amanda Beeler - published 4/19/1999:
         "There is a massive dispute over whether the elegy
              is really by Shakespeare and the majority of
              Shakespeareans feel it probably is not," said Jean
              Howard, an English professor at Columbia
              University and one of four editors of The Norton

"Though this be madness, yet there is method in't."

June 20, 2002

A Scholar Recants on His 'Shakespeare' Discovery


     In 1995 Donald Foster, a professor of English at Vassar College, made a startling case for Shakespeare's being the author of an obscure 578-line poem called "A Funeral Elegy." After a front-page article about his methods of computer analysis in The New York Times and after his reputation was further burnished by unmasking Joe Klein as the author of "Primary Colors" the poem was added to three major editions of Shakespeare's works.

      Now, in a stunning development that has set the world of Shakespeare scholarship abuzz, Professor Foster has admitted he was wrong. In a message dated June 12 and quietly left last Thursday on the Internet discussion group Shaksper (,  he said that another poet and dramatist was the more likely author of the poem. He was joined in his recantation by Richard Abrams, a professor of English at the University of Southern Maine, who has been his close associate in the Shakespeare attribution. In their messages, both conceded the main point of an article in the May issue of The Review of English Studies by Gilles D. Monsarrat, a professor of languages at the University of Burgundy in France, a translator and editor of Shakespeare's works in French, and a co-editor of "The Nondramatic Works of John Ford."

      The article compares the text of the poem with Ford's known work and concludes that the writing is Ford's. Professor Montserrat's method seems to derive from a close reading of the texts, rather than the kind of computer analysis Professor Foster uses.

      John Ford (1586-1640) is best known for his later dramatic works, like " 'Tis Pity She's a Whore," but earlier he was a writer of  memorial verse.

      "I know good evidence when I see it and I predict that Monsarrat will carry the day," Professor Foster told the more than 1,300 members of Shaksper. "No one who cannot rejoice in the discovery of his own mistakes deserves to be called a scholar."

      Professor Abrams said on Shaksper, "I am now satisfied that the linguistic evidence for Ford is stronger than for Shakespeare." He cited a forthcoming Cambridge University Press book by Brian Vickers that he noted was hailed by Professor Monsarrat as "definitive and comprehensive."

      "I'm not sure I need to see much more evidence to be convinced," Professor Abrams said.

      A debate over the authorship of the elegy had carried on for six years, in Internet groups, academic journals and books. Most agreed that the poem was not up to the standards of the Shakespeare canon, though some scholars insisted vehemently that it should be included.

      Professor Vickers, the director of Renaissance Studies at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, in Zurich, credits Richard Kennedy, an independent researcher and author of children's books, as the first to identify Ford as the author of the poem, in a controversy that raged on Shaksper for two years after the Foster theory was announced.

      "I was the first one who ever laid it onto Ford," Mr. Richards said in a telephone interview on Monday. He picked up on similarities Professor Foster had noted between the elegy and Ford's poem "Christ's Bloody Sweat," but said Ford had copied from the elegy writer.

      "I thought: Why not Ford? Let's take a look," Mr. Kennedy continued. "And so I went and did enough research and read enough of his poetry, and contacted Leo Stock, the greatest living Ford scholar in the world. He was over in ustria at the time. And I laid out the argument on both sides and gave him what proofs I could get together and said this seems to me to be Ford. And he wrote back and said, `I don't doubt it at all.' "

      Mr. Kennedy calls himself an "Unorthodoxfordian," and he generally agrees with Oxfordians, who hold that Shakespeare is a pseudonym for Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford. Evidence in favor of Oxford as the author of the works of Shakespeare has been growing since 1920 and with increasing intensity in recent years.

      On the other side of the argument are the Stratfordians, who maintain that William Shakespeare was the bard from Stratford-upon-Avon that every student learns about. He signed his name "Shaksper," hence the name of the discussion group, which incidentally is mainly in the orthodox camp and bans discussion of authorship issues, with indifferent success.

      The elegy had been precisely dated by the death of its subject, William Peter, on Jan. 25, 1612. Oxford died in 1604. So assigning the elegy to Shakespeare was a good prop for the Stratford case. Now that prop has been dashed.

      Since 1997, however, students have found the poem in three American editions of Shakespeare, published by Longman, Norton and Houghton Mifflin. Houghton Mifflin's "Riverside Shakespeare" noted in an introduction to the elegy that "The New York Times celebrated the discovery of a new Shakespearean text" after Professors Foster and Abrams announced their discovery at "scholarly seminars," including the Modern Language Association's annual meeting. The publishers, for their part, could not say for certain yesterday what steps would be taken for future editions.

      Harold Bloom, a prominent Stratfordian, included the elegy in his chronology of Shakespeare's plays in "Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human," where he described "an affinity" between it and "Henry VIII."

      "Like them, I made a mistake," Professor Bloom said in telephone interview yesterday. "I agree that it is by John Ford. I was persuaded by Foster, though like everyone else in the world I felt it was the worst thing Shakespeare had ever written if it was by him. And of course John Ford is his imitator. so that explains why the echoes are there. But it's good to know that, you know, it isn't his."

      Professor Abrams said in a telephone interview on Saturday: "It should not be included in the canon. I think that's so. I think that the writing is John Ford's. I reread about half of Ford since I read the Monsarrat article, and in the elegy you find a rare trophy if you're looking for Shakespeare. But it was simply a field day, a picnic, looking for John Ford. I was just bumping into stuff all over the place and thinking, 'How could I have been so blind?'"

      On the Oxford side, an expert took the recantations in stride.

      "They've been desperately looking for some post-1604 hook on which to hang their Shakespeare hat, and they've never been able to find one," said Daniel L. Wright, professor of English at Concordia University, in Portland, Ore., who heads the only annual academic conference dedicated to Oxford. "This was their latest attempt to do that, and once again it failed, as will any attempt to attribute work to Shakespeare that originates after 1604."

      On the Stratford side, an expert said the loss was minimal.

      "The Foster argument never was an arrow in the Stratfordian quiver, or not one considered to be important," Alan H. Nelson, professor of English at the University of California at Berkley and the author of a biography of Oxford to be published by Liverpool University Press, said in an e-mail message. "There's plenty of other evidence for Stratfordians."

      Professor Foster, who, like most academics, is a passive Stratfordian, took a broad view of the Shakespeare authorship controversy. "I don't share the passion of some of my fellow Shakespeareans that there is a need to debunk such questions," he said. "The very vitality of such groups points to the continued resonance that Shakespeare has for our culture."

      Another major difference that the contretemps over the elegy presents is a question of method, of the use of different kinds of internal evidence in judging the authorship of a work. At one end of the spectrum is stylometrics, based on the frequency of words like "of," "the" and "and." At the other end is intertextual analysis, in which similarities between  words, phrases and sentences are the determining factor.

      Professor Vickers, whose book "Counterfeiting Shakespeare: Evidence, Authorship and John Ford's Funerall Elegye" is due from Cambridge University Press in August, said: "What Monsarrat has done, and what I have done in the concluding chapter of my book, and I've done it in much more detail than he has, is to find links of phrases or sentences between the funeral elegy and the acknowledged works of Ford. Now what Foster did is to work at the level of the individual word, and that isn't enough."

      He also faulted Professor Foster for the size of his vaunted database, known as Shaxicon. "The corpus that Foster collected was only 80,000 lines long, which by modern standards I'm talking about 2002 is absurdly small," he said, adding that virtually all  of Renaissance drama and much of the poetry is now available on a database called Literature Online. "Were Foster to have run his tests against that corpus he would have got results pointing away from Shakespeare and certainly to Ford," he said.

      Professor Foster agreed that his database had been too small, but defended his process of searching out rare words in texts and then looking at the contexts for similarities or differences.

      "In this case it looks like it's going to be the linguistic evidence that carries the day, winning over even the first person who first ventured another candidate," he said. "So I think we've made some significant progress here in understanding just how important a close look at language can be in establishing authorship, rather than just depending on title page attributions."

What follows is an on-line article - a letter to the EvangeList Web Site by Donald Foster. I have a print out of this article, it is no longer available on-line.

In February, 1996, I was asked by*New York* magazine to identify the *Anonymous* who wrote the best seller, *Primary Colors*.  I was able in a few days' time to identify Joe Klein as the author -- this was five months before he 'fessed up -- but I could not have fingered Klein without help from "Retrieve It!" [Retrieve It! is a Mac-onlytext-retrieval utility by MVP Solutions.]  Having first constructed an electronic text archive of all likely candidates for "Anonymous", I used "Retrieve It!" to locate an author who shared linguistic and grammatical peculiarities with "Anonymous".  I found that no one but Joe Klein could have written *Primary Colors*.  "Retrieve It!," {and my Mac} in a matter of seconds, performed research that would otherwise have taken months to complete.
Donald Foster was asked to identify "Anonymous"; he was given the name of a handful of "suspects", he was not looking at the text and "profiling" the author, looking for a needle in a haystack, he was matching writing styles of certain "suspects" to a BOOK of text. Foster put text from Primary Colors  into the computer, put in parts of articles written by the "suspects,  and the computer spit out, "Out of the limited number of suspects provided, Klein is the closest match."

According to a Washington Post article published on 7/17/1996, 'ANONYMOUS' UNDONE BY HIS OWN HAND?, Foster was not the first to ID Klein as the writer of Primary colors - former Clinton Speech Writer David Kusnet was.  He wrote about it in the Baltimore Sun.  It was after that that Donald Foster revealed HIS opinion in New York Magazine.
The same article said, "Joe Klein wrote Primary Colors" but those words were NOT written by Foster.  New York Editor Kurt Andersen wrote that.  Foster was not so sure, he was waffling, saying "I think it's quite possible there are two people involved in the book."

Klein denied authorship - at first. For five months, Klein refused to admit that he wrote Primary Colors.

And what happened during THAT time is interesting.
Foster blinked. He admitted he knew his credibility was being questioned.
According to a New York Times article dated November 19th, 1997, "Unaccustomed to dealing with authors in a position to issue denials and unable to reconcile the vehemence of Klein's protests with his own methodology, Foster backed off a bit, suggesting that Klein might have had some help in writing Primary Colors."
From the same article - "Foster was not actually the first person to identify Klein, but he may have had the most to lose." - a quote by Professor Donald Foster - "Three editors had just announced that the funeral elegy would be included in their forthcoming editions of Shakespeare's work, and suddenly, Foster's authority started looking pretty shaky."
Ironically enough, when an earlier unpublished manuscript of the book was found with handwritten notes on it, it was the handwriting, matched to Klein's, that cause Klein to "confess".  Maureen Casey Owens, a long time document examiner for the Chicago Police Crime Laboratory, examined the manuscript and compared it to samples of Klein's handwriting. She concluded, "The two samples of handwriting are absolutely consistent throughout. There is nothing I see that is divergent."  When informed of the handwriting analysis. Klein confessed.  He had written Primary Colors.

Foster was working with a very limited "suspect pool". The computer spit out the name of the best match - and even if Clinton himself had written the book, Foster would have named Joe Kline - because Clinton was not on the list.

Kline admitted authorship, Foster was vindicated in the public eye. Now that his name was known, Foster could ask for up to $250 an hour for his "expert" analysis of documents, and get it.

According to the New York Times, November 19th, 1997, Donald Foster was asked by Kaczynski's defense team to compare the Unabomber Manifesto to Kaczynski's  writings.  The defense team hoped that Foster would dispute the match claimed by the FBI.  Foster not only did not dispute the FBI's report that  Kaczynski wrote the Manifesto, he went to the FBI and bolstered their findings, "The evidence of common authorship is far more extensive, detailed and compelling than the FBI has suggested."
A little further in this paper, you will see that some people think Foster actually " the guy who discovered who wrote the Unibomber Manifesto - discovered Ted Kaczynski wrote it from phraseology."
That is not true.  Ted's brother David recognized the writing in the manifesto as being that of his brother.  HE turned him in.  Foster was simply verifying that TK wrote the manifesto.
I think it is interesting that Foster helped the FBI and today is the only text analyst recognized as an expert in the budding science by the FBI. (This is written in an article on-line - I have not verified this with the FBI. I hope that the FBI didn't decide he was an "expert" base on what I have been able to find about this man.  That's scary.)

BIOGRAPHY Magazine, August 1998, carried a six page article on the "Literary Sleuth".  It said that Foster "analyzes writers' work to determine their attitudes, gender, politics, and - sometimes- their identity."
This article describes Foster as a "literary gumshoe" in "the middle of national controversies". It describes his analysis of OJ Simpson's suicide note, his work on anonymous written confession connected to a Connecticut murder, his work with written threats aimed at private corporations and "more than 500 e-mail requests for his help".
The article lists his *Achievements* as follows:
*Identified previously unrecognized poem by William Shakespeare, the first important Shakespearean work to be discovered in 112 years.
*First to identify the author of Primary Colors by Anonymous.
*Called by both the defense and the FBI to analyze Ted Kaczynski's writings in the Unabomber trial.
*Analyzed the ransom note in the JonBenét Ramsey murder for the Boulder, Colorado, district attorney's office.

JonBenét Ramsey Murder Investigation
In May, 1997, Donald Foster went on to the internet to find JonBenét's killer.  He already felt he knew who that was, and he felt that he would find him on the net. By the end of May, Foster had started an e-mail conversation with jameson.
jameson is a poster who believed from the beginning that the Ramseys were innocent and that a sexual predator had entered that house knowing he was going to murder the little girl.
This was Foster's first e-mail to jameson:
Subj:  thanks
Date:  97-05-22  14:22:46  EDT
From:  (Don Foster)

Dear Jams Jameson,

Because of my notoriety as a text analyst, I  get asked every day about the Ramsey case.  (I'm the Vassar
prof. who identified Joe Klein as the author of the best seller *Primary Colors* "by Anonymous," just
three weeks after the book was published and six months before Klein confessed; I'm currently serving as
an expert witness in the unabom case.)  I have no role in the investigation, nor do I expect to be invited to
participate, either by the Ramseys or by the police.  I'm writing this note for just one reason: to commend
you for your internet posts.  You're one of the few folks urging restraint - and about the only one who's
done so with much intelligence and eloquence.  Some of the things being said about the Ramseys on the
web are really vile.  The lurid imagination of these folks says more about themselves than about the
Ramsey family.  In our country, people should be innocent until proven guilty - and John and Patsy
Ramsey most definitely have not yet been proved guilty of anything.  Thanks for reminding these
anonymous and pseudonymous voyeurs of that fact...

Best wishes,
Don Foster
Department of English
Vassar College
June 1997 E-mail quotes from Foster to jameson
 " gut reaction is that your profile seems perfectly plausible and may be right on the money."
Foster had read the transcripts of the interviews John and Patsy had given. (CNN and the one after the April interrogations with the BPD) He had this to say about that:

"Someone gave both of them some very poor coaching before putting them in front of a TV camera.  In fact, it was the overtly coached elements of the interview that contributed most strongly to the appearance of guilt.  You're right:  they didn't do it."

Foster told jameson about his accomplishments and mentioned that he had not been asked to help in the Ramsey investigation.
"If the DA and/or BPD have invited a text analyst to work on the case, it wasn't me. I haven't gotten so much as a postcard from Boulder."
He also made an interesting observation...  (note "100 pages" and "posting regularly")

"If I had 100 pages of writing certifiably written by Patsy Ramsey, and if she were posting regularly under a nickname, I could spot her posts to the Web."

In the next few weeks, Foster felt confident that he had solved the mystery.  He planned to write an article on his latest "accomplishment" - it was to be called, "Paging JonBenét's Killer". In a FAX to a literary agent, dated June 10th, 1997, he named the person he believed had killed JonBenét Ramsey.  (It was NOT Patsy Ramsey)

Quotes from the Early June FAX:
"In my article, "Paging JonBenét's Killer," I'll provide the necessary background, then move on to a close reading of the pertinent documents, including the ransom note and the two press interviews, texts that seem not to have been closely read by anyone."

Now, I don't know how anyone else reads this, but to me, he was saying he had access to the ransom note. This was in May of 1997, the note was not yet public, but IMO, he clearly states he would be examining and explaining the note.
"In the ten years I have done textual analysis, I've never made a mistaken attribution. If  I'm not sure, I bite my tongue."
"It strains credulity that a Shakespeare scholar dwelling in Poughkeepsie should solve this Colorado crime using no other resources than a laptop computer and an Internet hook-up - - but everything about this case is strange."
In June of 1997, Foster clearly believed he had uncovered the solution to the crime.  The killer was posting on the internet and he (Foster) knew exactly who that was.
Foster believed that John Andrew Ramsey had killed JonBenét, that he was hiding out in North Carolina.  Further, Foster thought he had John Andrew/jameson about to "confess".

Foster in contact with the Ramseys - June 18th, 1997

On June 18th, Donald Foster contacted the Ramseys - he wrote to Patsy and said:
"I know you  are innocent - KNOW it, absolutely and unequivocally."
"I would stake my professional reputation on it."
"You can be vindicated.  You will be vindicated."
"...I am ready to assist you.  At the very least, I think I can exonerate you from a presumption of guilt with respect to the ransom note."
"I already have a pretty well-formed opinion about who killed your daughter and where he is hiding out."





(Foster was sure Patsy was innocent - because he had already identified the killer - John Andrew Ramsey.
Less than a year later, Foster, then working with the BPD,  would indicate that PATSY had written the ransom note.)
Typed copy (easier to copy and paste...)

Poughkeepsie, New York 12604
Department of English

URGENT AND CONFIDENTIAL                                                                                      Vassar College Box 388
                                                                                                                                                18 June 1997
Donald W. Foster
Jean Webster Professor of Dramatic Literature

Mrs. Patricia Ramsey
112 Belvedere Avenue
Charlevoix, NJ 49720-1411

Dear Mrs. Ramsey,

This, first of all: I am terribly sorry for your irremediable loss. JonBenét was a remarkably charming and talented little girl, and I believe that you were an ideal mothers, wise, protective, caring, truly devoted. I have no adequate words of consolation for your bereavement, or for it's attandant(sic) horrors. I am sorry also to hear of your illness. I hope that you will overcome your cancer, not only for your own sake, but for Burke's. It must be had to find the will to carry on, and the road ahead will be terribly difficult for you both. Your remark that you will soon be with JonBenét worries me--I urge you to find the strength, deep within your soul, to endure, not just for your sake and his, but for JonBenét's. If you succumb to your sorrow and illness, Burke may be lost at sea for the rest of his life, JonBenét may never receive justice, and the person who tortured and killed her will remain free to kill again.

I know that you are innocent--know it, absolutely and unequivocally. I would stake my professional reputation on it--indeed, my faith in humanity, but first, a word about my credentials (this comes from a sense of urgency, not immodesty): I have acquired some fame and prominence as an expert text analyst (true) and "computer expert" (not so true). I used to undertake such work only for myself or for fellow scholars, more recently, for attorneys (defense and prosecution alike) and investigative journalists. Most recently, I have been assisting the Prosecution in pretrial motions for the Ted Kaczyoski(sic)/Unabom case (reference: Stephen Freccero, head prosecutor). I am the Vassar professor who identified Joe Klein as the author of the best-seller, Primary Colors (by Anonymous) a few weeks after the book was first published (six months later, he finally confessed). I have also been effective in other, less high-profile cases. I have correctly identified the author of documents a short as two pages, and I have been able been able (sic) to detect lies or misstatements of concealed information in more instances than I can count. I have never made a substantive error; if I'm not sure, I bite my tongue or else offer multiple possibilities. In short, no one does what I do as well as I do it.

I try very hard to keep my name out of the papers with respect to criminal trials and investigations--I do not enjoy the limelight, and I have a wife and two children to protect. Still, because of my notoriety, I have been asked almost daily--by friends, students, journalists, other scholars--to comment on the documents pertaining to the murder of your daughter. I have steadfastly refused comment. Until a month ago, I had not paid attention to the murder investigation, having been preoccupied with my regular obligations plus pretrial motions in the Unabom case, and until about two weeks ago, no one but my own wife was privy to my developing thoughts about this horrific murder. Lately, I have spoken more freely, but only to urge people not to make premature judgments concerning your presumed guilt. I cannot count, or even estimate, how many times I've been told or e-mailed (sic) something like this: "Hey, Don, just read those interviews transcripts. See for yourself--the Ramseys are guilty, guilty, guilty." Well, I finally did read them, on May 20. I read them carefully, and I know that you are innocent. It has become obvious to me that you loved JonBenét very much, and that you always will, and that you would never harm her, even when angry. But those two interviews, and some of the advice given to you by your attorneys, certainly harmed you, damaging your reputation in ways you could not have anticipated. You can be vindicated. You will be vindicated.

I have also looked closely at police disclosures concerning the unpublished ransom note. My study of the incomplete transcript leads me to believe that you did not write it, and that police are wasting their time by trying to prove that you did. Unless police have misreported the note, it appears to have been written by a young adult with the adolescent imagination overheated by true crime literature and Hollywood thrillers, and by someone having prior issues with you and your husband. The near universal belief among ordinary Americans--a view encouraged by police behavior--is that you wrote the letter to protect this person who murdered your daughter. I find that impossible to believe.

As my may know--it pains me to say this--your reputation has been dragged through the mud on the World Wide Web, in thousands of posts on a half-dozen chatboards, and in household conversation from coast to coast. So has Burke's. One vocal minority has steadfastly accused Burke of killing JonBenét. It has been supposed--though wholly incredible--that Burke is a disturbed boy who killed his sister out of jealousy, and that you and John are covering for him; it has even been noted that the verb, to "burke," means "to strangle someone." Some of the things said about you are worse yet, too vile to repeat. And it has been suggested in some chatboard discussions that the accusations will stick, that you will be blamed for the killing after you are gone. If the true killer is not revealed, Burke, too, will live his whole life under a cloud of suspicion. I'm sure you have already thought through these horrific problems. They will not go away by doing nothing.


Last May I wrote to someone close to the investigation with information that ought to have been investigated. I tried again. Both offers were met with absolute indifference. I have since come to think that there may be something quite rotten within the investigative bureaucracy. Perhaps not. But be that as it may, I have gathered a lot of information about this case on my own, from a variety of sources, without being officially retained by anyone. I do not wish to intrude where my counsel is not wanted, but I am ready to assist you. At the very least, I think I can exonerate you from a presumption of guilt with respect to the ransom note. I may also be able to assist you in seeking justice for JonBenét. I do not want money from you, now or ever. I just want to stop this person from killing again, and to exonerate those who are innocent.

I know a lot about what's going on behind the scenes, on the Internet and elsewhere, some of it deeply disturbing. While pursuing these leads, I wish to protect my own wife and children. I do not wish to be harrassed (sic) by the PLA (a "phreakers" group which I presume you know about, and from whom I have already received a mocking but harmless threat). At this time I cannot talk to police or attorneys, nor do I wish for it to be reported that I have even taken an interest in the case.

I think it's quite important for me to speak with you--preferably today, or ASAP. I do have some questions for you (which you may choose not to answer), and some distressing but highly pertinent information. I shall agree in advance to whatever restrictions you may wish to place on our conversation. My only request is that you keep our exchange absolutely private. I don't know whom I can trust--but I do feel quite sure that you were sincere when you said that you wish to expose the killer. In fact, I already have a pretty well-informed opinion about who killed your daughter and where he is hiding out. If you are willing to talk to me, please call be ASAP. You may call collect. I strongly prefer that you call me from your minister's office' I urge you not to call from home on account of doubtful telephone security. Don't worry about the hour--any time, night or day, is okay. If I don't pick up, please leave a message and I'll call back. If you do not wish to speak with me, or are afraid to do so, or have reservations, please communicate those concerns about me through your minister. I respect your privacy. If you think I cannot help you, at least I tried. If you cannot make this phone call with a good conscience, or without fear, then don't. My number is 914/437-7074.

Sincerely and with deepest sympathy,
(signed in cursive)Donald Foster
Donald W. Foster /
(handwritten in cursive:)"The truth shall make you free-John 8:32

June 25th, 1997
jameson called Donald Foster at his home in Poughkeepsie New York.  They spoke together for 49
minutes.  Foster was shocked to hear jameson's soft, obvious female voice.  He scrambled to revise his
theory.  jameson obviously wasn't JAR, but Foster refused to give up his theory.  Instead he decided
jameson was JAR, and he had been talking to the female relative who was harboring the killer, John Andrew Ramsey.
This prompted Foster to send certified mail to the female voice on the phone.  He offered to help HER turn herself in for her part in the crime.  She didn't take him up on his offer, told him he was wrong and to leave her alone.  She DID send a package to Boulder in July.  The package included copies of emails and the certified letters.   The authorities investigating the Ramsey murder were informed about Foster and his  communications with jameson.
JULY 1997 - According to Larry Schiller's book - page 326-7   -
"Hunter thought that Foster might be helpful in the Ramsey case... just before the July Fourth weekend, he called Foster..."
(I have good reason to believe Foster contacted Hunter first.)
"Foster agreed to analyze the ransom note for the DA's office."
"Hunter said that '...this case will come down to linguistics.'"
"Linguistic analysis had never been used by experts in Colorado courts, so there was a question about whether Foster's findings would be admissible.  The professor had never before testified in a criminal trial."

1998 - According to Thomas and Schiller in their books
According to Schiller - - Page 469-70
"In mid-January (1998), Beckner told Hunter that Donald Foster... was making some headway with his analysis."
"Beckner hoped Foster would name Patsy Ramsey as the author of the ransom note, and he asked Hunter if he would consider filing a motion to admit linguistic evidence when he filed charges against Patsy.  It was the first time Hunter had heard Beckner name a suspect in connection with the death of JonBenét.  The commander also suggested that if the motion was denied, the DA could dismiss the charges and jeopardy would not be attached.  The DA would have lost nothing, and the police could continue the investigation, or Hunter could take the case to a grand jury.  Beckner was suggesting something known as a motion in limine.  If the court ruled Foster's evidence inadmissible, the DA could petition the court to dismiss the charges, a perfectly routine procedure."
"Hunter told Beckner he wouldn't want to handle it that way."
"They could use linguistics testimony with the grand jury, Hunter assured Beckner, since the rules of admissibility were much broader..."
"Beckner seemed deflated the next day when he told Hofstrom they 'might not have it.'  Hofstrom told Hunter he saw a grand jury request coming."
(If Schiller is right, Foster was again being handed a limited suspect list and expected solution....)
In January of 1998, Donald Foster gave a gift to Detective Steve Thomas.  According to Thomas,
in his book - "JonBenét - Inside the Ramsey Murder Investigation"), Foster told him,
"Steve, I believe I am going to conclude the ransom note was the work of a single individual:
Patsy Ramsey."  Steve Thomas called them "magic words".

In his book, Thomas described Foster as "a true professional", "a hell of a linguistics
detective", and "the best in the country at what he did".  Thomas said DA Alex Hunter "enlisted"
Donald Foster to work on the Ramsey case, but he gave no date for that.  He wrote that Hunter
was anxious to tie "Santa" Bill McReynolds and his wife to the note, that when Foster failed to
do that, Hunter "seemed to lose interest".  Apparently Thomas was given Foster's name then - and permission to work with him.

Thomas wrote that he spent the month sending samples to Foster - and that Foster was busy working on the handwriting.  He also indicated that Foster already had an idea what his conclusion might be.  DA Alex Hunter was sending information to Foster - information that indicated to him - Hunter - that there was "no way the parents did this".  Foster was not opening the mail - and Thomas was encouraging Foster to stick with the chosen path.  Thomas wrote, "'Stay clear of him.  You work for the Boulder Police Department, not the DA's office.', I told Foster." Foster told Thomas, He's just desperately trying to find an intruder.  I'm not sure he has the resolve to pursue this in the direction that I'm seeing."

MY COMMENT - Note that this does NOT indicate investigators looking at all evidence and letting
the evidence lead THEM - this is two men who have a good idea of what they want the investigation
 to prove - and they are clearly willing to ignore evidence that might disprove their theory.
This is THOMAS telling HIS story - in HIS book.  And it is VERY revealing.


March 1998

According to Thomas in his book, there was a special "briefing" - and Foster, described by Thomas as "the top linguistics man in the country", gave his presentation to the Boulder authorities.  Thomas wrote that Foster "built a wall of linguistic evidence before our eyes, brick by brick."  "Patsy Ramsey wrote it, he said. 'Those are her words'".

He noted that the DA investigators didn't seem impressed.  He wondered why; HE sure was!

Foster spoke about how no two people use the English language in quite the same way - people
don't share the same vocabulary, they make different errors in spelling and punctuation, they
don't construct sentences the same. Further, each person is influenced by their life experiences.  Their beliefs and history have a way of influencing what they write.

Foster said that he had studied the work of Patsy Ramsey and had determined that she - and no one else - wrote the 31 sentences that made up the ransom note.  He pointed out that the paragraphs were indented, that there were numerous exclamation points, that the closing of the letter was indented, the signature indented further. (He failed to take into consideration, I fear, that that is proper writing, what we all were taught in school.)

Thomas went on - Foster linked the 118 in the note to Patsy.  He said that the Ramseys liabilities was $1,118,000 (so why not ask for a million dollars?  Or a million and a quarter?) He said that the Christian Patsy had referred to psalm 118 in some of her writings. (Not that the note was religious in any way - but the number is in the bible and Patsy is religious). And he said Patsy had access to the amount of John's bonus - a near match. (So did anyone rummaging around in the house - the amount of the bonus was on nearly every pay stub John took home that year.)

Foster noted that a year after the murder, the phrase "and hence" appeared in the Ramsey Christmas message.  (Apparently, he felt that was convicting evidence. After living a year with that ransom note, I can understand that note becoming part of one's vocabulary - it became part of some posters' vocabularies - evidence to be found in the forums)

Then Foster did something that even surprised me - he did a handwriting analysis and said Patsy
not only wrote the a's in the ransom note but that she had altered her hand after the murder.
(Examining the small a's, I think it is easy to say Foster is no better at handwriting analysis
than he is at text analysis.  The a's clearly are NOT a match - not even close!)

Foster pointed out other similarities, equally as common, or silly, IMO.  Then he moved on to
something that REALLY made me fall out laughing when I heard it.

Because the Ramseys are religious, Foster looked to the bible for the source of SBTC.  Nowhere
in the bible do those letters appear in the bible.  Not as letters in a row, first letters of
sentences, verses or stanzas.  BUT.... if you get this ONE particular bible, and if you go to
the Psalms, you CAN find them BACKWARDS - as the first letters of the first words of 4 sentences in a row!   Viola - Foster's case was perfect  - - as far as Thomas was concerned.  Hunter said
he needed to think about it.

Foster wrote, "I was totally engrossed by the presentation and thought Foster had thoroughly tied
Patsy to the ransom note.  It was a bombshell of evidence. So why did the DA's office seem so

Foster was proud of his work.  According to Thomas he said, "How can anyone still think this was
the work of an intruder?  This case appears solved.  Now it needs to be prosecuted."

But Foster forgot his paper trail - either that or he underestimated Patsy Ramsey and the
housewife from North Carolina.  I can't imagine how he thought we would be silent.  I had been
publicly silent - but privately I had gone to a few key people with Foster's file - at least part
of it. And that was enough to end Foster's work on the Ramsey case.  At least officially.

I will remind the reader that Thomas uses Foster's "expert" opinion to make his case. It is the
strong point in his book - although he DOES state that Foster was discredited. (Yeah, the book
is a strange one.  Thomas doesn't always make sense and- the evidence does NOT support his

Back to the book - Thomas says that it wasn't long before they got the message from the DA's
office.  Foster had been "consigned to the DA's junk pile" - - discredited by his earlier
work on the case.

This is where Thomas lies in his book - for lying by omission is still a lie.

Thomas wrote, "Foster once guessed incorrectly that the anonymous jameson was really John Andrew Ramsey..."  That's it. Thomas did NOT go on to say that Foster identified John Andrew/jameson as the killer of JonBenét Ramsey.  Thomas left his book with a LIE - a lie that will help keep the Ramseys under that umbrella of suspicion for a LONG TIME. The detective once again decided to ignore evidence that was not convenient.

Thomas called the loss of Foster as a witness "a devastating blow" - said the case should have
brought to trial and a jury should have been left to decide if Foster's evidence was credible.

Peter Hofstrom of the DA's office said, "The defense would eat him alive." Thomas said that may
have been, but he wanted Foster allowed to testify - even though the man and his science had
NEVER been allowed in a courtroom before - even though Foster clearly was compromised.

According to Schiller - Page 487-88
"At the end of March (1998), Donald Foster, the Vassar linguistics expert, delivered his written report to the Boulder police. It was almost a hundred pages long and concluded that Patsy Ramsey had written the ransom note.  It was key evidence, Beckner told DeMuth.  He went on to explain how Foster had come to his conclusion. DeMuth pointed out that it would not be admissible in Colorado court."
" 'My guys think you're an asshole,' Beckner said to him, 'but we're going to need an asshole to fight for us.' He asked DeMuth to persuade Hofstrom and Hunter to use Foster's report and conclusions as evidence before the grand jury.  DeMuth remained neutral; he agreed only to discuss Foster's findings with his colleagues. Later that afternoon, Hunter, Hofstrom and DeMuth met.  They decided to draft a letter to Beckner stating that the DA's office could not accept Foster's conclusions as evidence of Patsy Ramsey's culpability."
"In taking this hard line, it was likely that Hunter was buying time until his grand jury expert came onboard. Only then, and with the complete case file in hand, could the DA's office decide conclusively which pieces of the puzzle would be presented."
"Not long afterward, Hunter's staff reviewed Foster's report and the documents he had based his conclusions on.  They discovered that many of the writing samples he had used had been taken from the family's computer. However, the document files from the computer had been obtained under a search warrant that didn't extend to their use for linguistic analysis.  The search warrant granted the police the right to search the hard drive and floppy discs only for child pornography downloaded from the Internet - which at the time they believed was relevant to the case.  They had not requested the right to search text files to use for a comparison to the ransom note."
"Hofstrom and some other deputies thought that under the circumstances, which pointed to in admissibility in court, the professor's report and conclusions should not be presented to the grand jury."
(While the warrant story is true, I don't believe it is the only reason Kane and Hunter should not have used Foster's evidence. The authorities were aware of other problems with this witness.)

June 1&2, 1998

The Boulder PD presented the case to the DA - and Thomas once again presented Foster's "work".
He wrote in his book, "there was only one (suspect) whose writing showed evidence that suggested
authorship and had been in the home the night of the killing and could not be eliminated by no
less than six document examiners - Patsy Ramsey.  I followed that up with a lengthy description
of the findings by linguist Don Foster, who had concluded that Patsy wrote the ransom note."

READ THIS CAREFULLY - other suspects were asked for more than one sample - so some other suspects DID have similar handwriting. However, they certainly did not admit to being in the house that night - and Patsy did.  Misleading a bit here, I think, Steve.  Finally, could not be eliminated by 6 handwriting experts. Well, I don't think all the handwriting samples were given to all the handwriting experts - and hence Thomas once again gets to play the semantics game.
Bottom line here is that not one of the handwriting experts could say Patsy wrote the longest
ransom note in history - and they had PLENTY of handwriting samples from her - requested and
historical.  And the FACT is that others had similar handwriting as well.  The SAD fact is that
we don't know if the killer submitted a sample at all.

Thomas wrote in his book that the state attorney general's office and the three lawyers working
pro-bono for the BPD were "lobbying for Don Foster to be used as a witness in court".

That was in June of 1998


July 1998 - Thomas wrote, " the end of July Don Foster, the Vassar linguist who had helped
make our case, telephoned to tell me that the DA's office had just dismissed him.  Not only did
they fire Foster but they informed him that he was through doing this kind of work.  Citing his
internet comments to jameson when he knew nothing about the case, they declared that his later
conclusions, when he knew everything, were unreliable.

Rather than fight to use his testimony, they declared that he would be open to impeachment on
that one issue.  Furthermore, Foster was given the plain message that is he didn't contact the
FBI and other law enforcement agencies he's worked for and admit he was compromised and damaged goods, then the Boulder DA's office might make the call.  "He's cooked here," said one detective.

MY COMMENT - Foster was discredited by his own words and actions.  He should have crawled into some hole and stayed there, but he did not.


September, 1998 - In anticipation of Foster's appearance on 20/20, the Salt lake Tribune carried a story on his work in the Ramsey case.  By now, it was clear Foster was going to testify that his analysis indicated that Patsy had written the ransom note. The article said Foster examined "the text of the note, noting commonly used words, and punctuation, specifically the exclamation point."  The article also noted that the indentation styles were considered.  Patsy's 1995 Christmas letter and a 1978 photo with a 2 line caption on it were compared to the ransom note - all three "included repeated use of the exclamation point".
Foster's appearance on 20/20 aired on the same day the newspapers revealed his letter to the Ramseys proclaiming his belief in their innocence.  When the show aired, it was peppered with disclaimers.
From Schiller's book - pages 568-9
"On the evening of September 27, (1998) Smit's letter spread like wildfire on the Internet, and 20/20 broadcast its one-hour special..." " "We emphasize there may be evidence to the contrary (to what we are reporting) not available to us or different conclusions that might be drawn (from what we are reporting).  And a reminder in law, and in fairness, all people are considered innocent until proven guilty.'  The report detailed Donald Foster's conclusions about Patsy's authorship of the ransom note; the enhanced 911 call with Burke's voice in the background; the four fibers found on the duct tape that seemed to match Patsy's jacket; and a time study prepared by the police that showed how long it would take for somebody to complete the murder and the cover-up while the family slept, unaware."
"Steve Thomas was the featured guest on the program.  He did not discuss the evidence; he only talked about why he left the case and the department."

"Alex Hunter had watched 20/20 fearing the worst.  The attack on him wasn't as bad as he had expected. But listening to Foster's conclusions regarding Patsy and the ransom note, he knew there was another side to the story, which the Ramseys' attorneys were sure to make public.  Several months earlier, Bryan Morgan had given Hunter a copy of the letter that Foster had written to Patsy Ramsey in the summer of 1997, before he agreed to work for Hunter.  The DA was aware that Foster had followed the case on the Internet from February, 1997 and that he had also written to Patsy.  But when Morgan told him about a second letter, which Foster wrote to Jameson, Hunter was dismayed. It seemed that first Foster had believed that Sue Bennett, known only at the time as Jameson, who ran an information Website on the Internet, was in fact John Andrew. After corresponding with Jameson in a series of Internet bulletin board messages, Foster believed not only that Jameson was John Andrew but that John Andrew had murdered JonBenét.  Foster had even gone as far as writing to Jameson asking that he, John Andrew, confess to the murder and turn himself in."
"In Foster's letter to Patsy, he had written, ' I know you are innocent - know it absolutely and unequivocally. I will stake my professional reputation on it, indeed my faith in my humanity.' He also said that his analysis of the note (at the time) 'leads me to believe you did not write it and the police are wasting their time by trying to prove that you did.'  Even though Foster's Spring 1997 conclusions were based only on fragments of the ransom note that were available at the time, there was a powerful contradiction between between his conclusion at that time and what he said in 1998."
" 'Did you think the Ramseys were going to forget about his letter?' Wise said to a reporter when word of it leaked. In his final report, Foster used strong language to state that Patsy Ramsey had written the ransom note. In his letter to Patsy, Foster had used almost the same language."

(The part about jameson is terribly incomplete, but in fairness, I refused to talk to Schiller about Foster and no one who knows the truth was likely to share it.)

I did talk to Schiller about other matters, he called me several times about things that were on the TimeLine and we discussed those details.  He might ask me if my "source" for a certain point was a 2 or 7 on a scale of 1-10.  We talked about the Internet, my TimeLine, certain incidents that happened in the investigation. He asked repeatedly for me to speak to him about the Foster affair and I never would.)
The transcript of 20/20 - the Foster part:

DS = Diane Sawyer
BW = Barbara Walters
DF = Donald Foster
DV = Diane Vargus

DS - Good evening and welcome to 20/20 Sunday.  Let us say at the outset that we've all seen a lot of stories about the JonBenét Ramsey case, but tonight we have new details, new information.

BW - Isn't it amazing, Diane, that it has been two years and we are still fascinated by this case?

DS - And two years in which no charges have been brought, no indictment has been brought.  We can't emphasize enough that the Ramseys are presumed innocent under the law and evidence is still being gathered.  But tonight we have provocative new information that sources tell us comes from the police investigation.

BW - we also have....  (talked about Thomas interview being on program)

They spoke about the June 1 and 2 meeting that led up to the grand jury being called.

DV - Our information on what was said in that meeting comes from well placed sources in various law enforcement agencies.  We emphasize - there may be evidence to the contrary not available to us or  different conclusions may be drawn. And a reminder - in law and in fairness, all people are considered innocent until proven guilty.

Voiceover - Sources say the ransom note written by the kidnapper is considered a key piece of evidence.  Handwriting experts have ruled out John Ramsey and others close to the family.  They have not excluded Patsy Ramsey, who has submitted several samples.  The ransom note analysis, however, doesn't end with handwriting. Detectives enlisted the help of this man, Professor Donald Foster of Vassar College.

DV - You look at something and you figure out who wrote it, in essence.

DF - Yes, that's what I do best.

Voiceover - Foster analyzes not the handwriting but the text, the content and syntax.

DF - Use of language, grammar, source material, borrowings, political and religious opinions and anything that might enter into making a piece of writing distinctively one person's or anothers - from punctuation to spelling and so on.

Voiceover - The professor once discovered Shakespeare was the author of a centuries old manuscript.  And the FBI hired him to prove ted Kaczynski wrote the Unibomber manifesto  But he is perhaps best known for proving Anonymous was really Newsweek's Joe Klein.

Early in the case, Foster actually volunteered his expertise to Patsy Ramsey after reading of her extreme distress. Ironically, she never called, but the Boulder District Attorney's office did.

In the Ramsey case, Foster had high marks for the detectives who brought him an impressive sampling of Patsy's writings - letters, notes, even files police retrieved from the family computer.

DF - My experience with the Boulder detectives was that they were entirely professional in their work -  they were dedicated to the case.

DV - Have you determined who wrote the ransom note?

DF - I have no comment.

Voiceover - Foster is bound by a confidentiality agreement with the Boulder Police Department, but sources tell us in his report, summarized by detectives in the June presentation of evidence, Foster identified the writer of the ransom note as Patsy Ramsey.  Foster analyzed commonly used words and also found similarities between Patsy's letter format and that of the ransom note writer.  The indentations and punctuation - especially the repeated use of the exclamation point.  We looked back through our own archives and found two samples of Patsy's writing - this 1996 Christmas letter peppered with exclamation points and this 1978 photo with a two line note - each sentence ending in an exclamation point.

(End of Foster portion)


The same weekend that 20/20 aired that program, quotes from Foster's letter to Patsy Ramsey were made public. In that letter he said he knew Patsy was innocent - and asked for a chance to help her clear her name.

In an October 1998 story in the Boulder Daily Camera, Gregg McCrary, profiler, said Foster's actions were "morally indefensible". He said, "You just can't do that.  You can't take a stand on one side and then when the other side comes calling, you flip-flop."

In the December 14th, 1998 issue of People Magazine, there is this quote:
"According to ABC's 20/20, Foster told police that the ransom note bears Patsy's rhetorical stamp."
During this time, jameson decided to come forward and tell what had happened between hir and Foster.

The authorities had already been informed of the situation and didn't seem interested.

The Ramsey investigators were told what had happened, but they clearly were not in any position to do anything with the information - their clients were not under indictment, not charged with the crime.  There was no "defense".
jameson felt the truth needed to be told, that Foster was not able to do what he claimed, he could NOT tell personal secrets or truths about a person based on their writings.
Unable to make the authorities listen, knowing that Foster was being used to advance a case against the Ramseys, jameson made the decision to go on national TV - on CBS - on 48 Hours. This was not kept a secret - it was posted on the internet - it was spoken about in e-mail.
jameson was taped in December of 1998 and March of 1999.  The show would air on April, 8th, 1999.

January 29th, 1999 - Matt Sebastian article in the Boulder Camera

"The grand jury investigating the JonBenét Ramsey murder apparently will review the work of a controversial linguist who concluded the 6-year-old's mother wrote the ransom note left in the family home. Although he has not testified before the secret panel, Vassar College professor Donald Foster said he and prosecutor Michael Kane,who is presenting the case to the grand jury, have been discussing the matter. "I've been in communication about how my work should best be presented but was asked not to discuss it," Foster said, declining to elaborate."

"... a source close to the case told the Daily Camera last fall that Foster compared the language of the ransom note to Patsy Ramsey's writings and concluded JonBenét's mother penned the 2½-page note. In fact, officials attending at two-day presentation of the case that detectives made to prosecutors in June called Foster's evidence crucial to the police theory of the crime, the source said."

 "Yet six months before going to work for Boulder police, Foster wrote to Patsy Ramsey, saying he believed "absolutely and unequivocally" that she was innocent. Surprised police and prosecutors didn't find out about Foster's letter until several days after the June case presentation."

"Last fall, when news of his letter to Patsy Ramsey surfaced, Foster refused to elaborate on his apparently contradictory analysis. "I think that will be entirely explained in due course," Foster said in October. "

Carol McKinley on Erin Hart Radio Show - March 16th, 1999
Carol McKinley - "I'll tell you, really, the most important thing in that grand jury, according to the police, is Don Foster's analysis of that note and if you remember Don Foster, he's the guy who discovered who wrote the Unibomber Manifesto -discovered Ted Kaczynski wrote it from phraseology."

 Erin Hart - "Right. He also nailed Joe Klein as being the author of Primary Colors."

CM - "Exactly.  Well the FBI referred him to Alex Hunter.  They hired him on, not hired him on, he's doing this for free, but they brought him on, and he's looked at ten suspects and determined that Patsy Ramsey wrote the note from some of the phrases, some of the exclamation points, things like, she used the word, if she wrote it, attaché in the note and the word business was misspelled.  Attaché was spelled correctly. Well, attaché has an accent mark over the e - JonBenét has an accent mark over the e. Stuff like that.  He looked at books that she had read during that time, movies that she'd seen during that time, that she might have subliminally written in the note and that's going to be their big push is his analysis of who wrote it.  He believes she did."
NOTE - "he's looked at ten suspects...."


Ten suspects, a limited suspect pool and a predetermined (?) outcome... We don't know if the killer is included in that list of suspects - we have a good idea who the police wanted named - and so did Foster.

APRIL 1999 -
The Ramsey Grand Jury was winding down. Carol McKinley and others said Foster's evidence was not only included in the presentation but was considered crucial by the prosecution.

jameson asked to be allowed in to speak to the grand jury. The request was not denied immediately - the petition was not acceptable as it was worded.  The petition was promptly rewritten and resubmitted. In the end, jameson was denied the opportunity to speak to the grand jury because allowing jameson in to dispute Foster's findings would mean the DA would be admitting that Foster's report had been given to the Grand Jury.  THAT would have violated the "secrecy" of the Grand Jury.  (That is what Kane wrote to jameson when denying hir request to be heard.)

On April 8th, 48 Hours made jameson's side of the story public.  (Part of it)
Here is the transcript of that part of the show:

The Note

Patsy - "I just started downstairs.  There were these pieces of paper lying on the stair."
Erin Moriarty - "Mr. Ramsey,  Listen carefully."
Patsy - "It said, 'We have your daughter."  You know, 'your daughter...'"
Erin - "And if you want to see her in 1997..."
John - " I screamed."
Patsy - "You don't know what to do"
Erin - " must follow our instructions to the letter."

John Osborne - ""What shocked me more than anything else was the idea that someone would go in a stranger's  home and commit a crime as horrific as this particular crime and then sit down in the kitchen and write out two pages."

Erin - "When they first heard a ransom note had been found, handwriting experts John and Paul Osborne were sure that the 370 word trail would lead straight to the killer of JonBenét Ramsey.

John Osborn -  "It would be among the most primary pieces of evidence that an investigator would want  considered in trying to identify who it was that committed the crime."

Erin - "After all, there was another famous child murder... the Lindbergh baby kidnapping case where ransom notes were key."

John Osborn - "There wasn't just one ransom note, there were 12 or 13."
Erin - "Paul's father and grandfather, pioneers in handwriting analysis, identified the writer of those notes. Bruno Hauptman, who was later convicted in court."
Paul Osborn - " My grandfather and father, they both testified.  The evidence was really quite overwhelming."

Erin - "Unfortunately, in the Ramsey case, the ransom note hasn't been the big break authorities had hoped for.  Why?"

John Osborn - "Simply because no one has clearly been identified as the writer of the note."

Erin - "The problem is this. While JonBenét's father has been excluded as the author of the note, that's not the case with her mother. Sources tell 48 Hours that 2 analysts hired by the Ramsey family have ruled out Patsy Ramsey as the author but state experts contend while they can't say with certainty she wrote the note, they can't eliminate her either."

John Osborne - "They can not make a determination one way or the other."

Erin - "The reason may be that the author of the ransom note disguised his or her handwriting."

John Osborne - "The note begins in a fashion which could be described as writing that is more slowly executed and ends up with writing that appears to be more rapidly and freely executed."

Erin - "Either if someone has described their handwriting sufficiently enough to confuse these handwriting or the police haven't found the right person."

John Osborne - "I would say that's a pretty good synopsis of the situation."

Erin - "Today, Ramsey case investigators may no longer be looking just to handwriting experts, but instead to this man, a man who believes it's not how you write...
Foster - "It's diction and phrases and so forth..."
Erin "...but what you write that gives you away."

Erin- "Donald Foster, a literature professor at Vassar College in New York, seen here in a 1995 CBS interview, volunteered to help the Ramsey case investigators. He uses computers to analyze the content of documents to determine who wrote them. That's how, in 1995, he uncovered the anonymous writer of "Primary Colors" And in 1997,  tied Theodore Kaczynski to the  "Unibomber Manifesto."

Then he turned to the Ramseys. Foster won't discuss his work in that case, but in trying to analyze the content of the ransom note, Foster had to contend with the fact that many of the phrases seemed to be borrowed from the scripts of famous movies.

Take the line, "If we catch you talking to a stray dog, she dies." - sounds a lot like - "If you talk to anyone, I don't care if it's a Pekingese pissing against a lamppost, the girl dies." from the movie Dirty Harry.

How about the line, "Don't try to grow a brain, John"?  And from the movie Speed, "Jack, nothing tricky now.  Do not attempt to grow a brain."

Foster took the movie references and all from the ransom note and compared them to the writings of possible suspects.

Last summer, sources tell 48 Hours. Foster gave Ramsey investigators what no other expert has been able to do - he tied Patsy Ramsey to the ransom note.

But like everything else in this case, the story doesn't end there. We've learned that before Professor Foster started  working with the Boulder authorities, he had a very different suspect in mind - Not Patsy Ramsey, but her step-son, John Andrew.

It's a bizarre story that raises questions about Foster's credibility - a story that begins with the internet and this woman.

Bennett - "I am a stay at home housewife, bakes bread.'

 Erin - "47 year old Sue Bennett became fascinated with the Ramsey case and would spend hours online discussing it."

Bennett - "The threads are the topics we are talking about for the day..."

Erin - "...that's where she met Professor Foster"

Bennett - "They are talking about clues, homicide survivors..."

Erin - "Bennett says that in May of 1997, a writer using the screen name 'jameson'"

Bennett - "jamesonTimeLine - the ransom note is there..."

Erin - "who seemed to know a lot about the murder, caught Foster's attention."
So what was Donald Foster seeing on his computer?

Bennett - "He only saw "posted by jameson"...

Erin "There were literally hundreds of statements posted by jameson."

Bennett - "jameson didn't mince words, he just comes out and says, "The Ramseys are innocent."  And Donald Foster saw one voice out of 100 who said, "The Ramseys are innocent, I know this."

Erin - "After spending some time analyzing Jameson's writings, Foster came to a startling conclusion - that jameson was John Andrew Ramsey. More startling, that John Andrew might be the killer."

Bennett - "I mean it's just, it's crazy."

Erin - "Foster was so sure that in a letter to his literary agent, he bragged that he had "...solved this Colorado crime".

Bennett - "This text analyst from Vassar, this well respected professor, got it wrong."

Erin - "How does Sue Bennett know?"

Bennett - "I'm jameson.  There's never been another jameson."

Erin - "That's right.  Sue Bennett is jameson."

Bennett - "Somehow, this man who can tell everything from analyzing text determined that I could  murder a six-year-old child with a garrote."

Erin - "Foster responded to Bennett's accusations in a letter to 48 Hours, saying he had just been  speculating and had "never publicly accused anyone of anything."

Bennett - "If he was wrong with all my samples, I don't believe that there's any way that anyone should give him any credibility now judging Patsy Ramsey."

Erin - "And Foster's credibility could become crucial if the grand jury acts on his report and indicts Patsy Ramsey. At that point, the two-and-a-half page ransom note could once again become the crucial piece of evidence in the case."

April 19th, 1999   A Chicago Tribune Article by Amanda Beeler described a speech Foster gave to the Chicago Vassar Club's 1999 Scholarship Benefit.  The article was long, mostly a discussion of the Shakespeare piece.  But the Ramsey piece was mentioned.  I will share the last three paragraphs of the article here.

       A recent CBS "48 Hours" broadcast on the
              JonBenét Ramsey case implied that Foster had
              identified the wrong killer after reading passages on
              an Internet chat site that he thought might have been
              written by JonBenet's brother. The postings had
              been made by a woman with no connection to the

              Foster cannot comment on the investigation, but said
              he stands by the statements he has made for the
              record in the case.

              "Don't believe everything you read in the paper,"
              Foster warned the Arts Club audience.

April 18th, 1999 - Larry King Live did a show on Ramsey - this was at the tail end of that program.

Greta VanSustern:  "Michael, was there a professor brought in from, I think it was Vassar, to help in the
Michael Tracey:  "There was,  there was a professor called Donald Foster, who we believe his claim was
critical to the police presentation in June I believe of last year when they did the presentation to Hunter
and his colleagues and he was alleging that through a form of textual analysis... His claim to fame is that
he "outed" Joe Klein as the author of Primary Colors. He usually uses a sort of software to look at the
way in which language is used - it's not handwriting analysis.
However, we discovered that Donald Foster had also decided over a period of months and after hundreds
of e-mail exchanges that in fact he had discovered the killer of JonBenét Ramsey and it was someone on
the internet called jameson and that
jameson was in fact John Andrew Ramsey and indeed John Andrew Ramsey had killed JonBenét.  He
claimed this.  Donald Foster claims this.
It turns out that jameson is a 48 year old North Carolina housewife called Susan Bennett. And so we
covered this in the CBS program (48 Hours).  It seems to me that the idea, if indeed it was the case, the
idea that Donald Foster was a crucial part of the police..."
Greta:  "and I've got to cut you off right there Michael.  That's all the time we have."

From the book by John Douglas - The Cases That Haunt Us - pages 325-326 - copyright 2000

One of the most interesting analyses of the ransom note came from Vassar literature pofessor Donald Foster, who has made quite a reputation for himself as a literary sleuth. He stunned the academic world by proving through textual analysis that a 578-line poem he had found on microfilm in the archives of the UCLA library had actually been written by William Shakespeare. This was the first discovery of a previously unknown Shakespearean work in 112 years. Usingasimilar technique, comparing the work to known examples of the author's writings, he unmasked Newsweek columnist Joe Klein as the anonymous author of the best selling novel Primary Colors.

In 1998, Foster announced he had determined that Patsy Ramsey had written the ransom note, which sounded pretty compelling coming from such an established expert, and Steve Thomas has wwritten that he placed great weight on Foster's analysis. But then it came out that in the spring of 1997, he had written to Patsy Ramsey at the Charlevoix, Michigan, house to offer his condolences, encouragement, and the statement "I know you are innocent - know it, absolutely and unequivocally. I will stake my professional reputation on it."

He had also stated that he believed John Ramsey's son John Andrew had been posting on the Internet under the code name "jameson" and that this jameson was the actual killer. When it turned out that jameson was, in fact, not a twenty-year-old male college student named John Andrew Ramsey but a forty-five-year-old North Carolina housewife named Susan Bennett who had merely developed a tremendous fascination with the case, Foster's analyses with regard to the Ramsey case were severely called into question.

From the book by John Douglas - The Cases That Haunt Us - pages 325-326

Donald Foster has made a name for himself.  He has been in several magazines, numerous newspaper articles and on TV several times for his 'accomplishments".

He now has a book deal with Henry Holt Publishers. He expects to write about his work on high-profile cases-- cases where he identified Joe Klein, Ted Kaczynski.... jameson? oops, cancel that - I meant Patsy Ramsey!
But let's look a bit closer..

A review of two of Foster's quotes, then a few statements of facts...
"Anybody with dexterity and brainscan fake handwriting, but (given a sufficiently large text sample) no one can utterly disguise his own linguistic habits (spelling, diction, grammatical accidence, syntax, internal biographical evidence, psycholinguistic material, etc.)"
"If I had 100 pages of writing certifiably written by Patsy Ramsey, and if she were posting regularly under a nickname, I could spot her posts to the Web."

(He clearly states that he needs sufficient text to work with. Is 31 sentences "sufficient"?)

Remember, BIOGRAPHY Magazine, August 1998, said that Foster"analyzes writers' work to determine their attitudes, gender, politics, and - sometimes- their identity."
FACT : The Ramsey ransom note is 31 sentences long.  That includes the salutation and sign-off.


Foster read THOUSANDS of jameson's posts, a stack of e-mails -- he didn't identify jameson correctly.   He went on-line looking for John Andrew and out of the limited "suspects" - posters - he determined that jameson was John Andrew. He was SURE of that. He may not have "publicly "identified jameson, but he did in private, documents prove that.
 jameson is NOT John Andrew, never was.  Foster not only had jameson's name wrong but he missed on the gender and was a quarter century off on the age.

If Foster were to read this, I would remind him of a quote he made in the article... "One doesn't want to be wrong, especially in capital cases." If he couldn't figure out that jameson was a middle-aged housewife, if he identified jameson as a 20 year old male, homicidal, no less, than how can he be capable of identifying the author of 31 sentences?

FACT: When Foster was working for the BPD and DA in the Ramsey case, he was working with a limited number of samples. Carol McKinley put that number at ten.  TEN.

I don't care if it was 50, or 100, if the killer was not included in the samples, all Foster can say who sounded the most like....
I want to revisit a quote Foster made in the Judi Bari case, but I want to substitute just a few words...

"There is, of course, no guarantee the... (samples I was given to work with) ...includes writing by the actual... (author of the ransom note found at the Ramsey house on December 26th, 1996.)

Summer of 2000.  The Ramsey case is still open, an active investigation is being done by Ramsey
investigators while the BPD is once again attempting to interrogate the Ramseys.  There are
nearly a dozen books on the case - and Foster's book has a name - "Unknown Author".  No release
date yet - but his publicist says he will write about Ramsey.

Sad truth here - anyone can write a book and tell lies - and make money by dancing on the grave
of a little girl who was brutally murdered on Christmas night.

I want to close this page with a quote from the "Literary Sleuth" himself...  from the article...

"All I need to do is get one attribution wrong ever, and it will discredit me not just as an expert witness in civil and criminal suits but also in the academy."

The Ramseys wrote a book - March 2000
In short - John on Foster - "In a FAX  to his literary agent, dated June 10, 1997, Foster stated, 'In the ten years I have done textual analysis, I've never made a mistaken attribution.  If I'm not sure, I bite my tongue.'  What an ego! He should have bitten off his tongue..."

Steve Thomas wrote a book - April 2000
First paragraph of chapter 27:
"I finally heard the magic words while seated in the book-lined office of Don Foster, an Elizabethan scholar and professor at Vassar College in upstate New York, who just happened to be a hell of a linguistic etctiv. 'Steve,' said Foster, 'I believe I am going to conclude the ransom note was the work of a single individual: Patsy Ramsey.'"
On page 281 Thomas described Fosters presentation to the Boulder authorities in March of 1998:
"'In my opinion, it is not possible that any individual except Patsy Ramsey wrote the ransom note,' he told a special briefing inBoulder, adding that she had been unassisted in writing it.
With his sterling acedemic reputation nd a track record of 152-0 in deciphering anonymous writings, this should have been a thunderbolt of evidence, but the DA's office, without telling us, had already discredited and discarded the professor.  His coming to Boulder was a big waste of time."
On page 284, after outlining Foster's "case", Thomas discusses "a package from an Internet junkie named Susan Bennett...".  He wrote that Foster had incorrectly thought that jameson was John Andrew - - but he did NOT include the FACT that Foster also said jameson/John Andrew was the killer.
At the bottom of page 284, Thomas lamented,
"...Foster was consigned to the DA's junk pile. Losing him was a devastating blow."
From page 331 - "...Don Foster... telephned... DA's office had just dismissed him.... informed him he was through doing this kind of work... Citing his Internet comments to jameson when he knew nothing about the case, they declared that his later conclusions, when he knew everything, were unreliable.
...he would be open to impeachment...  'He's cooked here,' said one detective.
It was a ridiculous attack on the man's sterling reputation."
Andrew Hodges wrote a book - October 2000
From Chapter 8 -
"Based on his comparison of Patsy's handwriting with the ransom note, Foter told Hunter that Patsy Ramsey had written the letter.  But Foster, as it turned out, had badly compromised himself as an expert witness when, early in the case, he had spontaneously written to Patsy to tell her that his initial opinion was that she was innocent. Not long after that, Foster had also staked his reputation that an internet personality by the name of Jameson was really John Andrew (John Ramsey's son), and that he felt John Andrew was behind the murder. These two factors came to light later after Foster had changed his mind and decided Patsy had written the note. But by then, the damage was done, essentially rendering useless Foster's 100 page report on the ransom note."

John Douglas wrote a book - October 2000

In October, 2000, Profiler John Douglas wrote a book about cases he has worked on - The name of the book was, "Cases That Haunt Us".  He wrote a chapter on Ramey and this is what he said about Donald Foster.

One of the most interesting analyses of the ransom note came from Vassar literature professor Donald Foster, who has made quite a reputation for himself as a literary sleuth.  He stunned the academic world by proving through textual analysis that a 578 line poem he had found on microfilm in the archives of the UCLA library had actually been written by William Shakespeare.  This was the first discovery of a previously unknown Shakespearean work in 112 years.  Using a similar technique, comparing the work to known examples of the author's writings, he unmasked <i>Newsweek</i> columnist Joe Klein as the anonymous author of the best selling political novel <i>Primary Colors</i>.

In 1998, Foster announced he had determined that Patsy Ramsey had written the ransom note, which sounded pretty compelling coming from such an established expert, and Steve Thomas has written that he placed great weight on Foster's analysis.  But then it came out that in the Spring of 1997, he had written to Patsy Ramsey at the Charlevoix, Michigan house to offer his condolences, encouragement and the statement, "I know you are innocent - know it, absolutely and unequivocally.  I will stake my personal reputation on it."

He had also stated that he believed John Ramsey's son John Andrew had been posting on the internet under the code name "jameson," and that this jameson was the actual killer.  When it turned out that jameson was, in fact, not a twenty-year-old male college student named John Andrew Ramsey but a forty-five-year-old North Carolina housewife named Susan Bennett who had merely developed a tremendous fascination with the case, Foster's analyses with regard to the Ramsey case were severely called into question.

Don Foster wrote a book - November 2000

On pages 1 and 278, he dropped the name simply as something he looked into - the ransom note is in a list of documents he looked at and he mentioned he did this other thing right before he went to Boulder to consult on the Ramsey case - - you know, just name-dropping. On pages 8-9, he said that one word he looked at in the Ramsey case was etc./etcetera - some suspect wrote it out the long way when giving a police sample and normally wrote it in the abreviated form.

Then there are pages 16 and 17 where he devotes two paragraphs to the Ramsey case.

In this book I will not discuss evidence or reveal undisclosed information about pending cases, not even to correct misinformation published in the press or on the Internet.

The JonBenét Ramsey homicide investigation, a difficult and painful business for everyone associated with it, produced an early bump in my learning curve. In 1997, when moving from tragic denouements to actual homicides, and from Stratford-upon-Avon to Quantico, it was perhaps inevitable that I should make a mistake, and I did.In June 1997, seven months before I was retained by the Boulder Police Department, before any case documents were available to me, I privately speculated with other observers concerning the Ramsey homicide, and actually took an uninvited, and (as I would learn) unwelcome initiative to assist John and Patsy Ramsey by private letter.At the time I knew virtually nothing about "true crime forums" and "online chatrooms", but was directed by others to despicable activity on the Internet by "Jameson," an individual whose months-long obsession with the details of the killing of JonBenét was too vile in its voyeuristic description to be a prank, too well informed to be madness, too full of seeming relevance to be ignored.

Competent and dedicated detectives, though much maligned in the press, were investigating the slaying of a child. As later learned, the police had already investigated and dismissed Jameson as a "Code Six Wingnut", a phrase I had not heard before but one that I would soon come to appreciate. I regret the mistakes of intruding so quickly. That beginner's mistake impressed upon me a sense of limit when venturing from the safe world of academic debate into the minefield of criminal investigation. In January 1997, when brought on board by the Boulder Police, I took the lesson to heart, started over, and did the best I could, for justice and JonBenét. Though I am bound by a confidentiality agreement not to discuss the investigation or court proceedings, I do stand by the statements that I have made for the record regarding that case and believe that the truth will eventually prevail.


Another Foster concern - unrelated to Ramsey but interesting, located at

At this site, Mike Sweeney talks about the unsolved 1990 bomb attack in Oakland which maimed his ex-wife and friend, Judi Bari.

Judi Bari fought against the liquidation logging of California redwood forests by big timber corporations. According to Sweeney, "Loggers were threatening her and ramming her car, the timber industry had hired experts to disrupt EarthFirst! and the FBI had assigned undercover operatives. "She barely survived a still unsolved murder attempt when a motion triggered pipe bomb hidden under the driver's seat of her car exploded on May 24,1990.

 I will use Sweeney's own words to tell his story in a short form.

"On February 4, (1999)I found out a bizarre campaign was underway falsely suggesting that I was
 somehow involved in the bombing of Judi Bari, the Earth First! leader, in 1990."

"The insinuations come dressed up with pseudo-scientific wrapping from an English professor at
 Vassar College, Don Foster. He has a hobby as a "literary detective" and says he wants it to
 blossom into a new career and a book deal. So he's on the prowl for new mysteries to get
 involved with."

"...a conspiracy buff named Ed Gehrmangot interested in the unsolved 1990 bomb attack..."
"Gehrman is a supporter of a political activist named Irv Sutley who had a very nasty feud going with Judi." Judi had been... "accusing Sutley of being a police informant at the time of the bombing."

"The Sutley faction told Gehrman that the ex-husband (me) was a much more suitable suspect than Irv Sutley.""...Gehrman set out with the mission of clearing Sutley by raising suspicions that I could have been the mystery bomber." "Since I didn't do it, Gehrman's problem was the total lack of any evidence against me." "... when he heard about Don Foster, he invited Foster to help point the finger in my direction."

"Gehrman gave Foster a selection of writings by a group of "likely suspects," including some
 things I supposedly wrote years ago." "I can't even tell whether I actually wrote some of these things, or whether some were written in collaboration with other people or whether some were edited for style by newspapers before they published them."

"Gehrman asked Foster to match one of this little group of writers to the 'Lord's Avenger' anonymous letter which claimed credit for the bombing."

"Foster was willing to play this guessing game by Gehrman's rules. But he did admit nothing
 could be proved by it. "There is, of course, no guarantee the Flatland archive (the sample she was given to work with) includes writing by the actual bomber of Judi Bari, Foster writes..."

"But scruples never stopped Foster before and they didn't this time." "Foster concludes I was the only "plausible" author of the Lord's Avenger letter from among the authors of document she was given for
 analysis, whatever those might have been."

I read this article and I thought how scary it is that there are people like Donald Foster out there. How many people has Foster "not publicly accused"?  How many people has he pointed at without taking responsibility for what he was actually doing?


After September 11th, 2001, the world changed.  Terrorists had attacked our country.  Planes, guided missles, had hit the World Trade center in NYC, the Pentagon in Washington, DC and one had crashed into a Pennsylvania field.
Anthrax letters were sent to Reporters Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather, and to Senatom Tom Daschle.  And Donald Foster's name was in the news.  He was an unpaid consultant advising the FBI on the envelopes and letters.
The day his name was in the news, November 8th, 2001, Don Foster called jameson to threaten her with a lawsuit.  He wanted to speak to her husband, jameson informed him she was over 21 and responsible for her own actions.  He wanted to discuss their assets - that didn't go anywhere.  And he wanted the name of their attorney.  He was not given a name.
Asked who his attorney was, he said he didn't have a name, but assured jameson one was soon to be assigned, on Monday November 12th, and he assured jameson that that person would be both impressive and expensive.
jameson waited to hear something - - but there was never any call or lawsuit.

On September 21st, 2001, former detective Steve Thomas was deposed in the Chris Wolf v Ramsey lawsuit.  I will share those parts that included information on Don Foster and his involvement in the Ramsey case.

         Q. Now, what was Don Foster's -- did he give a written report to you on Chris Wolf's handwriting?
         A. He may have. That would be in the Boulder Police Department.
         Q. Did you -- do you recall ever reviewing it?
         A. I may or may not have. I know that we took him handwriting of several potential suspects. But
         no, as I sit here today, I don't recollect Mr. Foster or Dr. Foster's written report on Chris Wolf.
         Q. Did Don Foster examine hundreds of writing examples from people ranging from family members
         to Internet addicts, from neighbors to Chris Wolf to the McReynolds family and a library of books, films
         and videotapes?
         A. Yes.
         Q. Do you know what he concluded with respect to each of the individuals that he analyzed?
         A. Yeah, that they were not the author of the ransom note.
         Q. He eliminated everybody, Don Foster did, didn't he?
         A. But one, yes.
         Q. Right. In fact Don Foster told you that of all of the hundreds of people of the samples that he had
         looked at that he had conclusively eliminated everybody and that it was impossible for anyone to have
         written that note other than Patsy Ramsey; that's what Don Foster told you, right?
         A. Those are your words, not his, but I --
         Q. Excuse me.
         A. If I could finish.
         Q. Yeah, you sure can.
         A. He stated unequivocally that she was the author of the ransom note.

         Q. I want to go back. I told you I would do it, let's do it now. Look at page 281 of your book,
         please, the hardback copy. The top of the page, the first actually it starts with "Don Foster from
         Vassar." Do you see it?
         A. Yes.
         Q. The first paragraph there under that starts "'In my opinion, it is not possible that any individual
         except Patsy Ramsey wrote the ransom note.'" Have I read that correctly?
         A. Yes.
         Q. Earlier we were talking about whose words. Don Foster stated that it was impossible for anyone
         else to have written the note except Patsy Ramsey, true?
         A. This is his statement, yes, sir.
         Q. It was not -- and so I was accurate earlier, that he said to you it's impossible that anyone else
         wrote it?
         A. Well, when I asked about your earlier quotation, I don't think you said this verbatim. But --
         Q. Fine. But he did tell you it was impossible, didn't he, it was not possible, which is saying to you as
         a detective, it's impossible that anyone else wrote it according to Don Foster, right?
         A. Yes, that was the conclusion that he shared with me, Mr. Wood.
         Q. But when you worked with him, and you worked with him a lot, didn't you? You all spent a
         considerable amount of time discussing this case, didn't you, you and Don Foster?
         A. When you say considerable amount of time, you know, no, I didn't spend weeks or days with Don
         Foster, but he was an outside expert that we used in this case, yes.
         Q. At any time did Don Foster, himself, ever disclose to you that he had written a letter to Patsy
         A. Yeah, I became aware of that at some point.
         Q. After the district attorney's office presented you with the information about Jameson, true?
         A. I believe that's correct.
         Q. Did Don Foster when you were working with him for whatever period of time you spent with
         him, when he was giving you his conclusions about the JonBenet Ramsey case and the impossibility
         that anybody else wrote that note except Patsy Ramsey, did he ever look at you and say, you know, you
         probably ought to know, though, that I did write a letter to Patsy Ramsey where I told her that I was
         convinced that she was innocent? He never told you that, did he?
         A. We had that conversation at some point.
         Q. After he had already been outed by the Boulder DA, true?
         A. Possibly.
         Q. Do you think you had it before then and didn't disclose it to your police department in the
         A. No, that sounds reasonable.
         Q. You would have if you would have known it, you would have told the police department about
         that in the June presentation, wouldn't you, sir?
         A. Right.
         Q. Well, actually the presentation with Foster was in March, wasn't it?
         A. If we're talking about 1998.
         Q. We are.
         A. It was the spring of 1998.
         Q. Right.

         Q. Mr. Thomas, are you aware of the fact that Patsy Ramsey was asked to give what is known as
         request samplers to the police on more than one occasion during the investigation?
         A. Yes, sir.
         Q. Do you know how many times she was -- on how many different occasions she was asked to
         give request samples of her handwriting to the police?
         A. If my understanding is correct, I think it was five.
         Q. Do you know why she was asked to give five separate handwriting samples on five separate
         A. That was not my assignment, but given what I knew through the briefings and the detectives who
         were handling that assignment I could speculate as to why it became known to me.
         Q. Did anybody through hearsay or any other way communicate with you why they were asking
         Patsy Ramsey to appear on more than one occasion to give exemplars?
         A. Yes.
         Q. Could you tell me why?
         A. Yes. Because apparently the CBI examiner, analyst, expert, had questions or concerns about her
         handwriting and similarities with the note.
         Q. Did anybody ever express the belief that she was attempting to alter her handwriting?
         A. Yes, Don Foster.
         Q. Any other person in the investigation?
         A. And, again, as I sit here, from memory and without the QD examiner's reports in front of me, Mr.
         Hoffman, let me think for a moment. No, not that I can recall.

         Q. At what point in time did you say I think Patsy Ramsey killed her daughter?
         A. I think the evidence led me to those conclusions and further strengthened my belief in the early
         months of 1997.
         Q. When in 1997, the early months, what does that mean? Tell me what that means with some
         specificity, please, sir.
         A. There was not a defining moment in which the bell rang and I noted the date and time. Early in
         1997 it became more and more apparent to me that that's where the abundance of evidence was
         Q. And you were heavily influenced in that determination by the conclusion of John Foster, weren't
         you, sir?
         A. Don Foster?
         Q. Don Foster, yeah.
         A. No, he did not come on board for I think almost another year.
         Q. Right. So you had decided in your mind's eye that Patsy Ramsey killed her daughter many
         months before Don Foster made the appearance as a consultant in the case, right?
         A. Again, Mr. Wood, as I said, I felt there was an abundance of evidence pointing in that direction.
         And that became -- and others viewed it the same way, incidentally. And, yes, in those early months
         of '97, she looked pretty good for that.
         Q. Yes, sir. Thank you. But that doesn't answer my question. You had decided in your mind's eye
         that Patsy Ramsey killed her daughter many months before Don Foster made his appearance as a
         consultant in the case, true?
         A. I felt that she was the best suspect, yes, many months prior to Don's... Foster's involvement.
         Q. Plaintiff's Exhibit Number 2 is Mr. Foster's letter to my client, Patsy Ramsey. Have you seen
         that letter before?
         A. I haven't looked at it yet.
         Q. Do you think there was more than one?
         MR. DIAMOND: Can you hold on a second?
         MR. WOOD: Did I call that Plaintiff's Exhibit 2, it's Defendants' Exhibit 2, excuse me.
         (break taken)
         VIDEO TECHNICIAN: The time is 3:53. We're back on the record.
         Q. (BY MR. WOOD) Defendants' Exhibit Number 2, you've had an opportunity to review it during
         the break?
         A. Yes.
         Q. That is what you recall being as being a true and correct copy of a letter that was subsequently
         brought to your attention at some point in the investigation that Mr. Foster, Don Foster, had written
         to Patsy Ramsey in June of 1997?
         A. I had only seen the first page of that.
         Q. Does the first page appear to be a true and correct copy of that page that you saw?
         A. Yes.
         MR. DIAMOND: Did you get an audible response?
         MR. WOOD: I thought he said yes. Did you get a yes?
         THE REPORTER: Yes.

   Q. Page 284 -- let me ask you before I go there, during Mr. Foster's presentation, did he talk to you
         all about the Dirty Harry movie and the references in the ransom note to it by talking about the fact
         that the Ramseys' favorite movie was Animal House and there was a scene in Animal House where
         somebody drove a car through the campus and hit a fire hydrant and there was a similar scene in Dirty
         Harry like that. Do you recall that?
         A. I recall something vaguely similar to that where he was discussing events out of motion pictures.
         Q. Didn't you think that was borderline on the absurd, sir, to tie Dirty Harry to the Ramseys because
         they liked the movie Animal House and it had a scene in it where somebody ran into a fire hydrant?
         Didn't you think that was literally absurd or did you think that was good forensic testing?
         A. Taken out of context as you represent it today it --
         Q. Put it into context, if you would, please.
         MR. DIAMOND: Let him finish his answer, please. Go ahead.
         A. Taken out of context as you represented today, that may seem odd. But at the time, it was a part
         of his presentation. And I don't recall my observation being how you described it as fantastic or
         incredible or whatever term you used.

         Q. Didn't it bother you a little bit about putting Don Foster's name on this in light of the letter that we
         looked at today that you've never even seen the second and third pages of --
         A. No.
         Q. -- Mr. Thomas?
         A. No.
         Q. Do you still think he's the best linguistic expert in the country?
         A. He still does work for law enforcement and seems to be highly regarded and I certainly respect
         Dr. Foster.
         Q. Did you all send that letter to the FBI and let them know about what Mr. Foster had said to Patsy
         A. What letter is that?
         Q. The letter that I just showed you today that you had only seen the first page of?
         A. I did not.

In an email dated July 3, 2003, Michael Sweeney had this to say about Don Foster:

Even after being forced to admit his Shakespeare claim was false,  Foster continued his pattern of insinuating himself into major news stories with the anthrax letters.

Close inspection shows Foster was simply playing to the headlines (again) in his statements about the anthrax letters.  There isn't any evidence of any scientific inquiry.  The anthrax letters were initially assumed to be the work of foreign terrorists, like the World Trade Center attack.  So Foster's first statements played to this theory.  According to Court TV Online on November 9, 2001,  (,  Foster told them "the letter writer might have lived in New Jersey for an extended period of time, might have spent time in Canada, and might speak Arabic or Persian."  Foster said the "clumsy job" of writing on the envelope "could suggest someone who does not know how to abbreviate words in English.  It also could indicate the author is not used to writing left to right.  A number of languages, including Arabic and Persian, are written right to left, he said."

But after it was widely publicized that the FBI suspected Steven Hatfill, a former employee of the U.S. biowarfare center, Foster simply jumped on the bandwagon.  The first search of Hatfill's apartment was publicized on June 26, 2002, in the Baltimore Sun and other newspapers.  The internet became filled with speculation, leaks and accusations against Hatfill.  Then on August 1, 2002, the FBI again searched Hatfill's apartment and a media frenzy erupted.  On August 18, 2002, BBC featured Foster's new claim that the anthrax attack was "carried out by a senior scientist from within America's biological-defence community" and that he was likely "a highly patriotic individual who wanted to demonstrate that the US was badly prepared for an act of biological terrorism."

Naturally, Foster couldn't possibly have learned any of this from analyzing the literary style of the four brief anthrax letters.  He was simply parroting the latest leaks on the FBI's theory on Hatfill.  But it succeeded in getting him more press and covered up the humiliation of his recent Shakespeare debacle.

The anthrax letters scam is a close replica of Foster's self-promotion on the Unabomber case.  The Unabomber was fingered by his own brother, the FBI had arrested him, searched his cabin, and found overwhelming evidence before Foster got a chance to insert himself.  He provided an unsolicited report to the FBI that agreed with their certain knowledge that Ted Kaczynski wrote the Unabomber manifesto.  For this, Foster constantly claims credit for fingering the Unabomber.  Now, I'm sure we'll be reading about how he identified the anthrax terrorist.


Don Foster wrote an article about the anthrax case for the October 2003 issue of Vanity Fair magazine.  He was not met with overwhelming support.

I maintained this page on Foster and there was always a thread alive on my forums where people might discuss him - - and some were upset about that and flamed me - tried to frighten me by talking lawsuits.  I refused to back down.  I have simply responded to Foster's public efforts to be a witness in certain cases - and I broke no laws.

Foster himself called me once - sounded drunk to me - asked to speak to my husband to tell him about the lawsuit he was about to file against me.  I advised him that I was over 21 and he did not need to speak to my husband - file the suit.  I told my husband about the call and he told me he would be furious if I backed down - so I won't.  This page will remain up - and others will always be able to read it before they decide if they want to trust that man with their problems.

If you have any comments or additions, please e-mail me at 
To learn more about the Ramsey investigation, go to


Foster Page - last edited 11/17/2003