In 1996, between the night and dawn of December 25th and 26th, a 6-year-old named JonBenét Patricia Ramsey from Boulder, Colorado was murdered in her home. Media outlets intensely followed the case due to the child’s suspicious nature of death. An unsolved case to date, the following are a series of facts regarding the Ramsey family, JonBenét’s life and death, and the case surrounding one of the most disturbing and tragic cases in the United States.
- JonBenét is a portmanteau: an amalgamation of her father’s first and middle name, joining to form a completely new name.
- JonBenét was a celebrated beauty pageant contestant and won titles such as Colorado State All-Star Kids Cover Girl, Little Miss Colorado, America’s Royale Miss, Little Miss Charlevoix and National Tiny Miss Beauty.
- Within a 1.8-mile radius of Ramsey’s home, investigators found 38 registered sex offenders.
- JonBenét’s father, Jon Bennett Ramsey, was Chief Executive Officer and President of Access Graphics – a computer services company. In the year of JonBenét’s murder, the company grossed over $1 billion and the Boulder Chamber of Commerce gave her father the title “Entrepreneur of the Year.”
- JonBenét’s parents John and Patsy, and 9-year-old brother Burke are the only people who are reported to have been in the house on the night she was murdered.
- On December 26, 1996, at 5:52 AM, Patsy phoned 911 and report her daughter missing. This was done after she found a two-page ransom note on the back staircase of the family house. It was allegedly left behind by whomever had kidnapped JonBenét at night.
- Prior to that call, another call from the Ramsey house was made to 911. However, whoever made that call hung up instantly.
- The ransom note raises plenty of suspicion as a “practice” ransom letter was also found. Also, multiple handwriting analysis experts confirmed the high possibility of Patsy having written the note herself.
- The ransom letter read:
Listen carefully! We are a group of individuals that represent a small foreign faction. We do respect your business [sic] but not the country that it serves. At this time, we have your daughter in our possession [sic]. She is safe and unharmed and if you want her to see 1997, you must follow our instructions to the letter.
You will withdraw $118,000.00 from your account. $100,000 will be in $100 bills and the remaining $18,000 in $20 bills. Make sure that you bring an adequate size attaché to the bank. When you get home you will put the money in a brown paper bag. I will call you between 8 and 10 am tomorrow to instruct you on delivery. The delivery will be exhausting so I advise you to be rested. If we monitor you getting the money early, we might call you early to arrange an earlier delivery of the money and hence a [sic] earlier delivery pick-up of your daughter.
Any deviation of my instructions will result in the immediate execution of your daughter. You will also be denied her remains for proper burial. The two gentlemen watching over your daughter do not particularly like you so I advise you not to provoke them. Speaking to anyone about your situation, such as Police, F.B.I., etc., will result in your daughter being beheaded. If we catch you talking to a stray dog, she dies. If you alert bank authorities, she dies. If the money is in any way marked or tampered with, she dies. You will be scanned for electronic devices and if any are found, she dies. You can try to deceive us but be warned that we are familiar with law enforcement countermeasures and tactics. You stand a 99% chance of killing your daughter if you try to outsmart [sic] us. Follow our instructions and you stand a 100% chance of getting her back.
You and your family are under constant scrutiny as well as the authorities. Don’t try to grow a brain John. You are not the only fat cat around so don’t think that killing will be difficult. Don’t underestimate us John. Use that good southern common sense of yours. It is up to you now John!
- The specific amount of ransom also raised suspicion given how it was the exact amount that John Ramsey’s Christmas bonus was that year.
- The ransom letter specified that authorities must not be contacted but the family called up friends and family as well as authorities alerting about their daughter’s disappearance.
- The police performed a cursory search upon entering but upon finding no struggle, break-in or forced entry, they sectioned out JonBenét’s room and ruled the situation as a kidnapping.
- Since, the murder occurred during Christmas, fewer people were available to take the family’s statements. Additionally, JonBenét’s room was not properly sectioned off. The scene was contaminated by incoming friends and family and hence any DNA evidence was unusable.
- In 2015, during a Reddit AMA, former Police Chief Mark Beckner stated, “As for the police department in general, I wish we would have done a much better job of securing and controlling the crime scene on day one…We also should have separated John and Patsy and gotten full statements from them that day.”
- At 1 PM, Boulder Police Detective Linda Arndt instructed John Ramsey and his friend Fleet White to search the house in order to spot if “anything seemed amiss.” The two men found JonBenét’s body while looking through the basement.
- JonBenét found wrapped in a white blanket, her mouth duct taped and her wrists and ankles bound with a nylon cord. Her father immediately carried her upstairs and she was moved into the living room by Detective Arndt.
- Patsy alleged that JonBenét’s clothing (a white t-shirt and leggings) were not the same ones she had put her daughter to bed in.
- According to the autopsy, JoneBenét was killed by strangulation and also suffered a skull fracture. Her vaginal region was wiped down, but no physical evidence existed of “conventional rape.” Undigested food, potentially thought to be pineapple, was found in her stomach from consumption a few hours before her death.
- The photographs of the Ramsey household showed a bowl of pineapple and a spoon on the kitchen table. Both items were covered in 9-year-old Burke’s fingerprints. However, both parents had no recollection of putting out pineapple for their children and insisted that Burke had slept through the whole night.
- Following the 911 call, Patsy assumed she had hung up but the line was actually still connected for the next couple of seconds.
- The voices in the background on the 911 call were speculated to be Patsy saying, “Help me Jesus,” or “What did you do?” Those were followed by a man, probably John Ramsey, saying, “We’re not speaking to you.”
- The police did not question the 911 dispatcher, Kimberly Archuleta, who took Patsy Ramsey’s call.
- When questioned by the police, Burke Ramsey, maintained (as a child and even to this day) that when the 911 call was made, he was in bed.
- In the basement, a broken window was found. However, it was ruled out as a probable source of entry as an intruder would have wiped away all debris given that the window was very small for a break in. Reports vary about whether the window was broken in on the first police visit. Additionally, a spider web in the corner of the window was completely undisturbed.
- Reports state that “two sets of unidentifiable footprints” and a “palm print on the cellar door” were found in the basement where JonBenét’s body was found.
- An indictment came in 1999 against the Ramseys for two counts of child neglect which caused JonBenét’s death. However, due to lack of evidence, District Attorney Alex Hunter refused to sign off on the documents and the Ramseys were never actually indicted or prosecuted.
- Speculation exists that JonBenét was sexually abused and assaulted during her life and while she was being murdered. Her parents brought her to the doctor at the age of 3 for vaginal irritation that they claimed was due to an allergic reaction to bubble bath. JonBenét was also a bedwetter, which is a distinct sign of abuse and trauma in children. Although no seminal fluid was observed, vaginal trauma was evident during the autopsy.
- In 2003 investigators found DNA evidence from a droplet of blood that was found in/on JonBenét’s underwear. The DNA was from an unknown male, not related to the Ramseys. While the DNA has been put into the FBI database so far it has lead to no new leads and no new developments.
- Bill McReynolds, who played Santa Claus along with his wife, Janet, who played Mrs. Claus, was a probable suspect. He had visited the house only two days prior to JonBenét’s death. McReynolds described feelings of attachment to the child and reportedly gifted her a card which read, “You will receive a special gift after Christmas.” Creepily enough, Mrs. McReynolds wrote a play about a murdered child whose body is found in a basement. Despite all these coincidence, there is no more evidence that links McReynolds to the case. In 2002, McReynolds died of a heart attack at the age of 72.
- According to Lou Smit, a detective who came out of retirement in early 1997 simply to aid the District Attorney’s office with the case, put Gary Oliva as one of the main suspects.
- A photo of JonBenét was found in Oliva’s backpack when he was arrested in 2000 on drug charges. He was a registered sex offender. When questioned about the photograph, Oliva said, “I feel she was an exceptional girl whose death was an exceptional loss. I felt the need to build a monument, a shrine, to remember this little girl.”
- A friend of Oliva’s, Michael Vail, told In Touch magazine that one day after JonBenét’s murder, Oliva called him saying, “I hurt a little girl, I hurt a little girl.” He was obviously in distress. However, the DNA evidence at the scene does not match with Oliva’s.
- At the age of 49, in 2006, Patsy Ramsey passed away from ovarian cancer. She was buried next to JonBenét at St. James Episcopal Cemetery in Marietta, Georgia.
- 10 years after the murder, John Mark Karr confessed via email to a journalism professor named Michael Tracey to murdering JonBenét. The pair had been in contact for over 4 years in order for Tracey to gain Karr’s trust.
- The emails show that Karr makes use of similar vernacular similar to the ransom note found at the Ramsey house. He also used the nickname “Neddie” for Patsy. Karr eventually confessed that he was in love with JonBenét and that he had killed her on that night in December by hitting her with a flashlight over the head.
- Regarding the murder, while conversing with Tracey, Karr said,
“I guess I might have just kind of had like a nervous breakdown at that point, I think I must have. I think I must have had really something kind of clicked in my head and I kind of lost it, really lost it. I mean, I just started really feeling strange and I just kept looking up at her.
And then all of sudden it was like now she was dead and she once was this little girl, but now she was like a holy deity; she was just like a goddess at that point.
She was beyond a child; she was just like when Jesus died on the cross… and when Jesus died on the cross he transcended from being a man to being something immortal, and that’s what she became to me.
I don’t give damn if anyone understand it or not….
I just looked up at her I thought I just want to worship her…she’s my goddess…”
- With the assistance of the Royal Thai Authorities and the British Intelligence, on August 16, 2008, the US Department of Homeland Security managed to locate Karr in Bangkok. He had traveled there to avoid child pornography charges from the state of California.
- Following Karr’s confession, Boulder County District Attorney Mary Lacy sent out a formal apology to the Ramsey family stating, “No one in the Ramsey family is considered a suspect.”
- Despite having confession, Karr’s DNA did not match any of the DNA found at the crime scene and hence he was never charged.
- Former Police Chief Mark Beckner spoke about Mary Lacy and Karr saying, “My gut reaction was that Mary Lacy did not know the facts of the case and was making a big mistake. His confession, once they shared it with us, did not match the evidence at the scene. After she asked for our help in proving he did it, we knew in about 18 hours he was not the guy. We were able to confirm he was not even in Colorado at the time by just doing some routine checking and then obtained photos of him in Georgia at the time.”
- DNA specialist Dr. Henry Lee revisited the DNA found on JonBenét’s underwear in the CBS documentary special “The Case of: JonBenét Ramsey. He stated that the possibility of transfer DNA from the manufacturer existing on the underwear was highly likely. He tested this theory by conducting a DNA test on an unopened bag of underwear – which also ended up containing trace DNA. This rendered all the DNA found on the underwear inconclusive and any of the suspects could in fact have been JonBenét’s killer.
- Popular belief renders Patsy guilty of hitting JonBenét for wetting the bed and accidentally killing her. Additionally, multiple experts theorize that the ransom note was written by a female. This leads a lot of people to assume Patsy’s guilt.
- The CBS special theorized that Burke Ramsey killed JonBenét for eating his pineapple and the parents helped cover it up to keep their son out of trouble. Burke was known to dislike JonBenét and housekeepers reported that he defecated in her bed and rubbed his feces all over her presents. Moreover, his testimonials involve him smiling oddly and he appears to be reciting a script rather than giving a statement. Following the CBS special, in 2016, Burke sued CBS for $750 million, alleging defamation.
- John Mark Karr added that he had an accomplice in the murder of JonBenét. He claimed to have set up the crime scene to get police off the trail. He also claimed to know who the real killer was – an identity that never surfaced or was revealed.
- An internet conspiracy theory claims that popstar Katy Perry is in actuality JonBenét Ramsey. A 2014 YouTube video which has since been deleted shared the theory that both the popstar and JonBenét shared the same facial structure. It also claims that the parents staged the murder so that JonBenét/Katy Perry could become famous.
- Michael Helgoth, a man who worked near the Ramsey home allegedly spoke to a friend the night of the murder saying that he would make “between $50,000 and $80,000 that night.” Helgoth had a history of violence and sexual abuse. However, only two days following the DA’s announcement that a narrowed list of suspects emerged, Helgoth committed suicide.
- In December of 2016, Colorado authorities decided to make use of new DNA technology to work on the evidence of the JonBenét Ramsey case. However, in order for it to make a strong case, the DNA results needed to match prior results. He stated, “new results [would only be significant] if they can be matched with other evidence authorities already have.”
- Current Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett claims that he knows for sure who murdered JonBenét. He also adds that, “If we can ever file a case in open court, I’ll tell the world.”
These chilling facts of JonBenét’s murder leaves you wondering if there is really any good left in the world. Given how suspicious the scenario is and how every path is a dead-end, this case must has left the US Department of Law quite frustrated. There are no real or even substantial ties to anyone whose DNA was found on the scene to have been involved in foul play in regards to JonBenét.