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Presumed Guilty: An Investigation into the Jon Benet Ramsey Case, the Media, and the Culture of Pornography Hardcover – July, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In what he acknowledges is a very speculative treatment of the JonBenet Ramsey murder case, Singular (The Rise and Rise of David Geffen, etc.) contends that the six-year-old beauty queen's parents did not murder her. He finds that JonBenet's mother, Patsy Ramsey, doesn't fit the profile of women who murder, and he further suggests that JonBenet may have been killed by a pornographer. Singular found photos of children on the Internet who were tied up the way JonBenet was bound, and he learned of a Boulder photographer who had tried to take nude pictures of another child beauty contestant and who was said to have photographed one little girl flying a kite that trailed a "white, nylonlike material" similar to the cord that had been tied around JonBenet's wrist. But Singular's riskiest conjecture involves father John Ramsey. He theorizes that John, fearing that Patsy might die of ovarian cancer before JonBenet attained national celebrity, tried, without Patsy's knowledge, to accelerate the pursuit of JonBenet's fame by having risqu? promotional photos taken of their daughter. After JonBenet was killed, Singular surmises, John wrote the ransom note to cover up his bad judgment. As far-fetched as all this sounds, Singular advances his thesis cautiously and even writes that "the future will reveal how much of it is true." Readers who can't get enough of this grizzly case will find Singular's tone and the modesty of his claims persuasive. 50,000 first printing; major ad/promo. (July)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Veteran crime journalist Singular (Talked to Death, 1987, etc.) offers an original perspective on the sadly epochal killing of JonBenet Ramsey. Singular was in Boulder, Colo., for much of the investigation, and he methodically details its progress, acutely portraying a volatile situation. He depicts many key players, from DA Alex Hunter and various investigators to talk-radio rabble-rousers and Globe scandalmongers; he asserts that the latter parties bear great responsibility for confusing the public perception of the case and for inflaming tensions among the DA, the cops, and other factions to the point where the investigation may be stalemated. He focuses on the carnivorous mode of the mass media, particularly their lurid, immediate indictment of the Ramsey parents. Singulars perceptive exploration of the near-universal call for the Ramseys' heads reveals the gritty power struggles and class schisms that underlie the shiny, comforting facade of the Boulder region. Unlike his dirt-chasing peers, he gives nuanced attention to an unsettling aspect of the case that he considers overlooked yet central: the gray area in which the mainstreamed commodification of childrens sexuality collides with the abuse of child pornography. JonBenet was merely one of many little girls leeringly displayed as things of beauty by the pageant industry, whose evil twin is the underground of child porn producers and collectors, hugely expanded because of the Internet. Although the author claims at points to have uncovered voluminous evidence, he incorporates few of the particulars, giving his odyssey its own patina of conspiracy theory. Singulars ultimate scenariothat neither parent personally murdered JonBenet, but one parents unwitting involvement led to attempts at concealmentbears consideration, but like this subtly rendered book, may well go unheard in the collective din. Without fully lighting the dark corners of an unappealing realm, Singular has produced a balanced, detailed, thoughtful consideration of an incident usually reduced to cultural dissonance. (First printing of 100,000; $100,000 ad/promo) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 241 pages
  • Publisher: New Millennium Entertainment (CA) (July 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1893224007
  • ISBN-13: 978-1893224001
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 6.7 x 2.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,104,543 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 6, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Stephen Singular's "Presumed Guilty" is a difficult book to assess. I should state at the outset that I have no knowledge of the murder of JonBenet Ramsey other than what I have learned through the various media. I am therefore not in a position to assess the accuracy of the information the author presents based on my personal knowledge. I do, however, have training in law, and I find some disconcertingly egregious errors regarding Singular's misstatements of law.
The book begins with a prologue that seems primarily designed to convince the reader of Singular's unique (if one will pardon the pun) status as a reporter of crime and as a moral authority. People in Denver, he tells us, "were trashing one of the most basic principles of our legal system--the presumption of innocence" by speculating that the Ramsey parents murdered their daughter. Soon after, Singular attacks the media for analyzing President Clinton's speeches, thereby violating his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The list of alleged constitutional violations continues, but the problem with Singular's accusations is that they are wrong and hypocritical. First, the idea that the media are violating Clinton's constitutional rights by analyzing his words is farcical. Second, Singular laments media accusations while he makes his own. Apparently, he excludes himself from the moral dicta he reserves for others.
The book, therefore, is one that I view with intense skepticism. Naturally, an author who is ignorant of basic law may still be accurate in other respects. However, the egregiousness of the errors and the author's double standard detract from his trustworthiness. Of the crime itself, Singular tells us little.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Singular poses the question, "What if Jon Benet's death was connected to the dark world of child pornography?" He poses this question to the police, district attorneys, friends of the ramseys -- and he believes it is enormously significant that his question is universally met with a long silence, followed by the comment, "that's very interesting." Has this guy ever been in therapy? Doesn't he know that the responses he's getting are either pure politeness or an attempt to discover just how deep his craziness runs?
He offers no evidence to support his scenario and not only raises more questions that he answers, but he questions his own answers -- every other sentence in this book ends with a question mark. This is investigative reporting?
Mr. Singular castigates the media for presuming the guilt of the ramseys without evidence -- but he feels no shame about putting forward his own nightmare scenario and presuming its validity without offering a shred of evidence.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 12, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book was tedious to read. You never "tell" us anything, Mr. Singular, you merely re-hash what everybody already knows. Do you think we are gullible enough to believe that NOBODY in the enire Colorado law enforcement community knew anything about internet porn before you came onto the scene? It's a good thing you were on the scene, though, or this crime would never have been solved.........Oh, wait a minute, this crime isn't solved, is it? So what did you add? You poked around, asked a few questions, made a few suggestions, and pointed the finger in directions other than the most popular suspects. Quite an accomplishment. I don't agree with how the case has been handled by the Police and DA, but you certainly don't have any place there getting in everybody's way. Maybe you should have read your own book before you sent it to the publisher.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 12, 1999
Format: Hardcover
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a strange little book that sheds almost no light on the JonBonet Ramsey case. Singular seems obsessed with somehow tying the JonBenet's death in with some international child pornography ring, but never gives us anything beyond his obsession. He has a little of the usual fun with the media, even bringing Princess Di's death into it, but adds nothing new. The "culture" of pornography is addressed only in the most oblique and cursorily way. I had the sense that Singular went to Boulder, Colorado thinking he might uncover something for a book, failed and came up with this mishmash, and had a deadline to meet.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 7, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I have researched this case since the beginning, I have criticized the books by Hodges, Wecht and VonDuyke - (they were terrible).
In my opinion, only three books on this case have been worth reading, those by McLean, Schiller, and now Singular.
Singular attacks the subject from a different POV and describes some "players" in the Ramsey investigation better than they have been described anywhere before.
I disagree with Singular's theory that John Ramsey would allow anyone to remove his daughter from the house for ANY reason, certainly don't think he was allowing anyone to remove her from the house for a "porn photo shoot", but I found his book thought-provoking and would recommend it to those who want to know a bit more about the Ramsey case.
I didn't care for his "unnamed sources", but I understand that they are still his sources, the story is far from over. This is the main complaint I have about the book.
Could the murder have been somehow linked to this kind of activity - pornography? Only the killer can tell us for sure. I think it is possible.
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