The story of JonBenet Ramsey
John and Patsy Ramsey awoke on December 26, 1996, to find their six-year-old daughter JonBenet Ramsey missing from her bed at their home in Boulder, Colorado. Patsy and John had gotten up early to get ready for a trip when Patsy discovered a ransom note on the stairs demanding $118,000 for the safe return of their daughter.
Despite the warning not to involve police, Patsy immediately contacted them, as well as friends and family, to assist in the search for JonBenet Ramsey. When police arrived at 5:55 a.m., they found no signs of forced entry but did not search the basement, where her body would later be discovered.
Many investigative mistakes were observed before JonBenét’s body was discovered. Because only JonBenét’s room was cordoned off, friends and family were free to roam the rest of the house, picking up items and potentially destroying evidence. The Boulder Police Department also shared evidence discovered with the Ramsey and postponed their informal interviews with the parents. At 1:00 p.m., the detectives told Mr. Ramsey and a family friend to go around the house and look for any signs of trouble. The basement was the first place they looked, and it was there that they discovered JonBenet’s body. John Ramsey quickly picked up his daughter’s body and carried her upstairs, destroying potential evidence by disturbing the crime scene.
JonBenet Ramsey had died
During the autopsy it was discovered that JonBenét Ramsey had died from asphyxiation due to strangulation, in addition to a skull fracture. Her mouth had been taped shut, and her wrists and neck had been wrapped in a white cord. Her torso was wrapped in a white blanket. Despite the fact that a sexual assault had occurred, there was no conclusive evidence of rape because no semen was found on the body and her vagina appeared to have been wiped clean. A length of cord and a portion of a paintbrush from the basement were used to construct the makeshift garret. In addition, the coroner discovered what appeared to be pineapple in JonBenet’s stomach.
Her parents do not recall giving her any the night before she died, but there was a bowl of pineapple in the kitchen with her nine-year-old brother Burke’s fingerprints on it, which meant little because fingerprints do not have time. Burke was sleeping in his room all night, according to the Ramseys, and there was never any physical evidence to suggest otherwise.
There are two popular theories
There are two popular theories in the Ramsey case; the family theory and the intruder theory. The initial investigation focused heavily on the Ramsey family for many reasons. The police felt that the ransom note was staged as it was unusually long, written using a pen and paper from the Ramsey’s house, and demanded almost the exact amount of money that John had received as a bonus earlier that year. Additionally, the Ramseys were reluctant to cooperate with police, though they later said this was because they feared the police would not conduct a full investigation and target at them as easy suspects.
Investigators questioned all three members of the immediate family, who provided handwriting samples to compare to the ransom letter. Both John and Burke were cleared of any involvement in the note’s creation. Although much was made of the fact that Patsy could not be cleared conclusively by her handwriting sample, this analysis was not supported by any other evidence.
Despite a larger pool of suspects, the media focused immediately on JonBenet’s parents, and they spent years in the harsh spotlight of public scrutiny. A Colorado grand jury voted in 1999 to indict the Ramseys on charges of child endangerment and obstruction of a murder investigation, but the prosecutor felt that the evidence did not meet the beyond a reasonable doubt standard and declined to prosecute. The parents of JonBenet were never officially named as suspects in the murder.
Alternatively, the intruder theory was supported by a large amount of physical evidence. A boot print was discovered next to JonBenet’s body that did not belong to anyone in the family. A broken window in the basement was also thought to be the most likely point of entry for an intruder. DNA was also found on her underwear from drops of blood from an unknown male. The Ramseys’ home had heavily carpeted floors, making it possible for an intruder to carry JonBenet downstairs without waking the family.
John Karr Most Famous Suspects
John Karr was one of the most famous suspects. He was arrested in 2006 after confessing to accidentally killing JonBenet after drugging and sexually assaulting her. Karr was eventually cleared as a suspect after it was revealed that no drugs were found in JonBenet’s system, that police were unable to confirm he was in Boulder at the time, and that his DNA did not match the profile generated from the samples found.
The DNA profiles developed from the sample found in her underwear and the touch DNA later developed from her long johns have dominated the recent investigation in the case. The underwear profile was entered into CODIS (the national DNA database) in 2003, but no matches have been found.
Boulder District Attorney Mary Lacy
Boulder District Attorney Mary Lacy took over the case in 2006. She agreed with the federal prosecutor that the intruder theory made more sense than the Ramseys murdering their daughter. Investigators worked with Lacy to create a DNA profile from touch DNA (DNA left behind by skin cells) on her long johns. Lacy issued a statement in 2008 detailing the DNA evidence and fully exonerating the Ramsey family, stating in part:
“The Boulder District Attorney’s Office does not suspect any Ramsey family members, including John, Patsy, or Burke Ramsey, in this case.” We are making this announcement now because we recently obtained new scientific evidence that significantly adds to the exculpatory value of the previous scientific evidence. We do so with complete respect for the other evidence in this case.
The murder of JonBenet Ramsey has received local, national, and even international attention. Many people came to believe that one or more of the Ramseys, including her mother, father, or even her brother, were responsible for the brutal homicide. Those suspicions were not founded on evidence presented in court; rather, they were founded on evidence reported in the media.”
Case officially reopened
The case was officially reopened in 2010, with a renewed emphasis on the DNA samples. Following additional testing on the samples, experts believe that the sample is actually from two people rather than one. The DNA was sent to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation in 2016 to be tested using more modern methods, and authorities hope to develop an even stronger DNA profile of the killer.
In spite of the fact that DNA evidence cleared him and established the presence of an intruder, CBS’s 2016 broadcast of The Case of JonBenét Ramsey implied her brother Burke, who was nine at the time, was the murderer. Burke sued CBS for defamation in the amount of $750 million. Although the settlement’s terms were kept a secret, the case was resolved in 2019 and, in the words of his attorney, “amicably resolved to the satisfaction of all parties.”
The JonBenet Ramsey case is still open and remains unsolved.