This week I want to talk about the case of JonBenet Ramsey. Many of you have requested this case too, so, lets start with some details about the Ramsey Family and the day that would change their lives forever…..
JonBenet Ramsey was the six year old Daughter of John Bennet Ramsey and Patricia (Patsy) Ramsey. She was born on the 6th of August 1990 and was the younger sister of John and Patsy’s son Burke, who was 3 when she was born and 9 at the time of the incident.
Patsy was heavily involved in the beauty pageant circuit when she was younger and had won many awards, so it was in her eyes, only natural for JonBenet to follow in her footsteps. She regularly enrolled her in children’s beauty pageants where JonBenet soon carved a name for herself. The fact that her parents involved her in these pageants would be a huge controversy when the case was covered by the media.
The Ramsey family lead a comfortable life in a well off area of Boulder, Colorado. John was the chief executor of a graphics company, that in 1996 grossed over $1 billion. This year he was awarded "Entrepreneur of the Year" by the Boulder Chamber of Commerce .
Christmas day 1996 was like any other. The children were excited and happily opening gifts and enjoying the morning with their parents, before they headed out for the day to a party at the home of some close family friends.
After a day of celebrating with friends, the Ramsey family bundled the children into the car and headed home. JonBenet who was 6 at the time, had fallen asleep during the journey home and was taken straight to bed by Patsy. Burke stayed up a while longer and played games with John until he was also taken to bed, closely followed by his parents. By around 10.00pm the house fell quiet as the family began to sleep off their busy day.
December 26th, 1996.
It was an early start for the family today, as they were planning on a trip away. Patsy was the first to wake up. She got up and began preparations for the day ahead. She headed down stairs and before she reached the bottom, she discovered three sheets of paper left on one of the steps. She picked up the paper and soon discovered that it was of a sinister nature.
The note stated that her daughter had been taken, and was currently being held captive but was unharmed at this point. It also advised the Ramsey’s that under no circumstances should they call the police or any family and friends. Instead they should follow the instructions of the letter and provide a ransom of $118,000. They were told to await further instruction.
Despite the notes instructions, Patsy alerted her husband and immediately called 911 to report the kidnapping.
Police officers are immediately despatched to the Ramsey’s home, where the ransom note is studied and looked over and the house is searched. There is no sign initially of any forced entry and nothing seems out of the ordinary to the Ramsey’s themselves when asked by police.
The only area of the house that was initially treated as a crime scene was JonBenet’s bedroom. This was sealed off by police so that it couldn’t be disturbed. As for the rest of the house, it was left open, and had not only members of the family but friends and investigators using it as they would have on any normal day, using facilities and handling various household items and contaminating what could have been seen as forensic evidence.
Detective Linda Arndt arrived at the home to oversee the investigation and to wait, along with other officers, for further instructions from the kidnappers. John Ramsey had the ransom money ready and was preparing to drop it off under the watchful eye of the police when the call came.
During this wait and rather unusually, Detective Arndt advised John and a family friend to search the house once again, to see if anything appeared to be out of sorts or amiss to how it usually looked.
John began his search from the bottom of the house, intending to work his way upwards. He began in the basement, and found nothing. He then ventured into a small room that lead off the basement, that was behind a latched door. This was the wine cellar of the house where the couple kept an abundance of wines for their parties. As John entered the room, he was greeted with an awful sight….
Lying wrapped in a white sheet, on the cellar floor was JonBenet. She was bound by the wrists and had tape over her mouth. She also had what appeared to be a length of chord around her neck, pulled tight. John Ramsey knew instantly that his little girl was no longer alive. He instantly and some would say instinctively, picked JonBenet up and carried her upstairs and into the living room where Detective Arndt and Patsy were waiting. This action would, down the line, lead to forensic teams having greater problems in investigating this scene, as it had been disturbed when John moved his daughter.
A murder investigation was launched immediately and the police began taking samples of the family’s finger prints, blood, hair and hand writing in order to compare it to the ransom note.
The following day, an autopsy was carried out on JonBenet. It concluded that the cause of her death was strangulation and severe head trauma - her skull had been badly fractured. Whilst the autopsy was being performed, a substance resembling pineapple was found in her digestive system. This indicated that JonBenet had eaten shortly before her death which meant that she had been more than likely got out of bed and had a snack before she met her fate.
John and Patsy insisted that they hadn’t fed JonBenet any pineapple that evening, however when the house was investigated, a bowl of pineapple was present in the kitchen, along with a spoon. Tests were carried out on this bowl and it was found to have Burke Ramsey’s fingerprints on it. Had JonBenet sneaked a piece of Burke’s snack perhaps? This was one theory that the police came up with in order to explain the presence of the fruit in her stomach.
When asked about this, again, the Ramsey’s insisted that Burke had been in bed and was sleeping throughout the evenings events and wasn’t woken up until after JonBenet had been found.
As the investigation continued, the press began to pick up details from the police about certain factors of the case, and it became rather obvious that the Ramsey’s themselves were starting to be considered as possible suspects in the murder of their daughter.
John and Patsy gathered together legal teams for each of them, including P.A’s and despite being under an umbrella of suspicion, began several appeals on television, asking viewers for help in catching who was responsible for their daughters death and even offered a $100,000 reward as an incentive to anyone who may have any information. They also protested their innocence throughout these appeals.
The police were running with the theory that either one or both of the parents were behind the killing, and that Patsy had fabricated the ransom note in order to stage the crime as a kidnapping. The fact that the note was incredibly long and detailed caused alarm bells to ring, along with the fact that the ransom requested was $118,000 dollars, which happened to be the exact amount of money that John Ramsey had received as a bonus from his company that Christmas. There was also very little disturbance or evidence that someone had broken into the house and the Ramsey’s were initially reluctant to speak with police.
The D.A however weren’t happy with this line of enquiry and urged the police to began looking further afield. They didn’t want the police to question the Ramsey’s under suspicion any longer. This quite obviously put a huge amount of pressure on the police as they now had to widen the net to look for other suspects.
The police were set to have a tough job on their hands though, because as well as interjection from the D.A, the crime scene lacked much physical evidence. As I mentioned above, only JonBenet’s bedroom had been sealed off initially and that didn’t show any signs that a struggle had ensued. The rest of the house had been left open to the family and their visitors and had been highly contaminated. JonBenet’s body had also been removed from where she had been found and John had removed the duct tape from her mouth before the forensic teams were able to carry out tests on it.
After over a year of investigations, the decision is made to launch a grand jury investigation, as it was believed that this would be the best bet in solving the case. Five months after they were chosen, the jury began hearing the evidence of the case. They were shown the ransom note and would also hear forensic evidence, including learning about DNA, fingerprints and fibres found at the scene. They were also shown handwriting comparisons with the ransom note. Jurors would also get a chance to visit the Ramsey home and see the scene of the crime themselves. As well as this, the jury were also granted private interviews with Burke Ramsey, who they eventually revealed as simply a witness to the case rather than a suspect.
DNA testing on all family members was carried out, and John Ramsey’s grown up children were also interviewed. All were cleared of any suspicions of being involved in the murder.
Over 3 years later, in 1999, Boulder D.A Alex Hunter announces that, after years of investigation, interviews and evidence collection his team doesn’t believe that there is near enough evidence to warrant filing any charges. The Ramsey’s are officially cleared of any suspicion in the case.
The case of JonBenet Ramsey remains unsolved to this day, however speculation is still rife and many people believe that despite being officially exonerated of having anything to do with it, the Ramsey’s are involved in the murder.
One theory that has people caught up is that JonBenet’s 9 year old brother Burke was behind the killing and that his parents, knowing what he’d done had come up with the kidnap story to help cover it up. Burke had previously injured JonBenet in the past with a small toy golf club and quite often became jealous of the attention she received from taking part in her beauty pageants. Analysis of the 911 call also found that Burke could quite possibly be heard in the background, which of course contradicts what the Ramsey’s told the police at the time of the murder.
This theory was re visited in documentary “The Case of: JonBenet Ramsey” which was produced in line with the 20th anniversary of her death. The show picks apart and analyses the phone call, ransom note and speaks with a variety of people who worked on or who were involved in the case in some way. The team of experts concluded that Burke was responsible for the murder and that his parents had helped to cover up his actions. This sensational claim lead to Burke filing a $750 million defamation lawsuit against CBS who produced the show, however they deny the claims that blame was blatantly placed on Burke and that they simply encourage viewers to come up with their own conclusions and opinions as to what happened that evening.
After moving back to Atlanta and trying as best as they could to continue with life, Patsy Ramsey passed away in 2006 after battling ovarian cancer. She was laid to rest alongside her daughter. John and Burke still vehemently deny any involvement in the case, which is still being worked on two decades later.
It is highly likely that we will never know how or why JonBenet met her fate that evening, unless the person(s) responsible has a sudden moment of morality or guilt or even confesses on their death bed.
What is almost certainly safe to say however, is that we all hope that one day the truth will out and that it’ll finally become clear as to what, how and why a beautiful 6 year old girl lost her life so cruelly that Christmas night.
May JonBenet Patricia Ramsey Rest in Peace.
The Case of: JonBenet Ramsey parts 1 & 2 - available to watch on Youtube.
Please let me know what conclusions you draw when you read into and watch more of this case. I would love to hear what your theories are behind it all.