The events that took place that Christmas became one of the most notorious and unsolved cases of all time.
It was Christmas 1996 when a panicked phone call was made from the residence of Patsy and John Ramsey to 911 emergency services, stating their daughter, JonBenét, had gone missing. At the time of her disappearance, the 24-hour news cycle was not as immediate as it is today, and with it being the week between Christmas and New Year, stories were usually slow in breaking into the news. However in the case of a young, white pageant girl from a wealthy family, the news was picked up quickly by the outlets of the day and rapidly travelled to all corners of the globe. What followed became one of the most notorious and unsolved cases of modern times.
The Ramsey Family
Patsy and John Ramsey welcomed their first child, JonBenét, into the world on August 6th, 1990 in Atlanta, Georgia. JonBenét began participating in children’s beauty competitions at a young age thanks to her mother’s instruction, and she went on to win numerous titles, including Little Miss Colorado Sunburst in 1995.
Patsy Ramsey, who was born Patricia Paugh in 1956, competed in pageants in the past and won Miss West Virginia in 1977. Patsy obtained a B.A. in Journalism from West Virginia University in 1978. Burke was born in 1987 after Patsy married John two years later.
13 years Patsy’s senior, John Ramsey, was born in Nebraska in 1943. He enlisted in the Navy in 1966, serving in Atlanta and the Philippines as an officer in the Civil Engineer Corps. John already shared three adult children with his ex-wife before meeting Patsy. When John had an affair with a coworker, the marriage was annulled. Beth, John’s daughter, was killed in an automobile accident in Chicago in 1992 at the age of 22.
Ramsey founded the Advanced Product Group in 1989. It later combined with a number of other businesses to become Access Graphics, a provider of computer services and a division of Lockheed Martin, a major player in the aerospace, defence, and technology sectors. The positions of CEO and president of Access Graphics were awarded to John.
After the birth of JonBenét, the family moved to Boulder, Colorado, in 1991 for John’s work. The family owned two private jets, a yacht and a holiday home in Michigan. Their net worth in 1999 was reported to be $6.4million.
The Ramsey family had spent Christmas Eve at the residence of their close friends, Fleet and Priscilla White, in Boulder. Before 10 o’clock, when JonBenét was put to bed, the Ramsey family returned home.
The family got up at 5:30 am on December 26 to board a private aeroplane for their second home in Michigan. When Patsy went to prepare breakfast for the family, she found a ransom note addressed to John that demanded $118,000 in exchange for the safe return of his daughter, JonBenét. The Ramseys were also instructed not to call the police and were informed that contact would be made between the hours of 8 and 10 that morning. Patsy called 911 shortly after her discovery and was put through to dispatcher Kimberly Archuleta. Archuleta proceeded to take the details of the crime and dispatched officers to their address.
It is clear from the 911 call that Patsy meant to discontinue the call. Although the call was still active, Archuleta kept listening.
Due to the Christmas holiday, seasoned police officers were not present when they arrived at the Ramseys’ home, allowing less skilled officers to handle the alleged kidnapping. The Ramseys contacted their friends, the Whites, in the interim to assist with the hunt for JonBenét. They arrived after the cops and were given access to the residence. John left the living room to collect the ransom money for the kidnappers at around 7:30 a.m.
In order to prevent contamination, the police locked down JonBenet’s bedroom at 10 am. Around the same time, the FBI showed up to wiretap Ramsey’s phone. The window of time the kidnappers said they would call had passed at this point. Shortly later, the FBI left the area, but they left the Ramseys with another officer. The Boulder Police Department’s Detective Linda Arndt advised John to keep himself occupied by looking around the house.
Just after 1 pm, John and Fleet White succeeded in locating JonBenét in the basement. She was covered in a blanket, had her mouth taped shut, and had a garrotte fastened around her neck using a paintbrush as leverage. JonBenét, age 6, had passed away.
John carried her body upstairs and placed her on the floor. The police subsequently moved her body to a sofa where she remained until she was taken away by the Coroner at around 8 pm.
The Coroner concluded that JonBenét was killed by ligature strangulation and craniocerebral injuries. She had multiple abrasions to her neck, cheek, legs, and other body parts. She also noted that there was blood in JonBenét’s underwear.
The Family Home
The Ramsey’s home in Boulder was a 7,000 square foot, four-storey home, with five bedrooms, multiple staircases and a large basement that spanned the underneath of the house.
The basement was divided up into a number of smaller spaces. The kids frequently played down below where a brand-new train set had been constructed on a table in its own area. It served as storage as well, containing old paint cans, arts and crafts supplies, and ornaments. There was a chamber with a window and a previously broken windowpane to the northwest of the basement. John frequently locked himself out of the house, and this was an easy way in, therefore the pane was never fixed. According to authorities, the kidnappers entered the house through a window. The attackers were allegedly assisted in exiting the window by a suitcase that had been placed beneath the window.
JonBenét was found in the room used as a wine cellar on the other side of the basement. This room was windowless and had one door in and out.
JonBenét was hit in the head with an unknown object and strangled. Although the murder weapon has never been located, other items have come under scrutiny. Later on in the search, a metal baseball bat was discovered near the butler door, but it’s possible that one of the property’s employees may have left it there. However, it was discovered that the bat had carpet fibres from the cellar. The kitchen counter-mounted flashlight, whose head matched the design of the wound discovered on JonBenét’s head, is another object in doubt.
Numerous people have admitted to killing JonBenét Ramsey throughout the years.
In Colorado, paedophile Gary Olivia is currently serving a ten-year term for having child pornography in his possession. On December 26th, he called a former classmate and claimed to have hurt a little girl. My friend stated: “I tried to get more information out of him. I immediately called the Boulder Police Department and told them what I knew about Gary and what he had told me just days earlier. They didn’t get back to me. Three months later I called the police again to find out what was going on in its investigation of Gary, but instead I was sent to a police answering machine set up for tips on the JonBenét case. I left a message on the recorded line and again I never heard back from investigators.”
Another suspect was John Karr, a teacher living in Thailand. Karr confessed to killing JonBenét in 2006, and at the time, he was also connected with child pornography charges in America. He was extradited back to the US, but there was no evidence linking him to the crime. It was later acknowledged that if he hadn’t confessed, he might have ended up in a Thai prison known for their poor conditions.
The case of JonBenét Ramsey’s murder is still unsolved, And whilst tips can still be phoned into the Boulder police department, over 20 years have passed, and there seems to be no clear conclusion to her death.
Or is there?
Many theories point to the family when it comes to JonBenét’s death. A lot of ideas have the father, John, pegged as the killer.
There was no DNA from John or anybody else in the family on JonBenét’s clothing, despite the fact that John claimed to have taken her from the automobile to her bedroom the previous evening. While the police were still looking for JonBenét, Detective Arndt reported he was acting oddly and even took the time to read his mail. To keep John occupied, Arndt instructed him to thoroughly explore the house once more from top to bottom. Instead, he began digging around the base of the home, where he and Fleet White discovered JonBenét’s body in the cellar right away. In the same interview, Arndt also reveals how, because she was certain John was the murderer, she mentally counted the rounds still in her gun and prepared to discharge them.
Fleet White claims that before turning on the light to see JonBenét in the wine cellar, John screamed out to him. It should come as no surprise that Fleet White would be suspicious since that chamber has already been examined.
“In virtually every staged murder case that I’ve seen, the perpetrator manipulates the arrival of friends or other family members who are then put in the situation where they actually discover the body, or they are with the perp when the body is discovered.” — Ron Walker, FBI Agent at the scene.
Some theories implicate Burke, the brother. Before going to bed, Patsy might have escorted JonBenét to the restroom; subsequently, JonBenét returned downstairs to obtain a snack, where her brother was already consuming one. A portion of the unfinished fruit was discovered in JonBenét’s stomach during her autopsy, and Burke’s fingerprints were detected on a dish of pineapple on the kitchen table. Perhaps Burke became enraged because she grabbed a slice of pineapple from his dish.
JonBenét was being trained in pageantry by Patsy, who wanted her to do better than just compete. One neighbour who used to take family photos claimed that Patsy even bleached JonBenét’s hair. The mother had her entire concentration devoted to the pageantry. Burke was currently lacking in attention. Burke had to have plastic surgery after striking his sister in the face with a golf club when JonBenét was a young child. Additionally, JonBenét made 37 trips to the doctor during that year.
Alternately, Patsy might have lost her cool. Patsy claimed she would still wake up in the middle of the night with wet sheets even though JonBenét struggled with bedwetting. A grapefruit-sized ball of faeces was reportedly discovered by the maid in JonBenét’s bed. Because of yet another bedwetting event, Patsy may have accidently damaged her kid without realising the extent of her harm. She was wearing the same clothes from the previous night, which was uncommon for the pageant queen, according to the police. The garrotte was fastened around JonBenét’s neck using a paintbrush that Patsy had in her art supplies.
In an open letter to the Ramseys written by Fleet White, who was there when JonBenét was discovered, he speaks critically of the family and the investigation;
“After JonBenét Ramsey was killed in Boulder nearly twenty months ago, her parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, immediately hired prominent Democrat criminal defense attorneys with the law firm of Haddon, Morgan and Foreman. This firm and its partners have close professional, political and personal ties to prosecutors, the Denver and Boulder legal and judicial communities, state legislators, and high-ranking members of Colorado government, including Gov. Roy Romer. The investigation of her death has since been characterised by confusion and delays.”
While he didn’t accuse the family of their involvement in the case, he highly criticised the way the Ramseys influenced the outcome of the family’s portrayal in the media and with the law;
“While it is unlikely that the district attorney has been corrupted by Ramsey defense attorneys, it is certain that the district attorney and his prosecutors have been greatly influenced by their metro area district attorney advisers and by defense attorneys’ chummy persuasiveness and threats of reprisals for anyone daring to jeopardise the civil rights of their victim clients.”
The Ramseys did not formally talk with the police for more than 100 days, but on January 1, 1997, less than a week after JonBenét’s passing, they gave their first interview to CNN.
The family and the district attorney, Alex Hunter, according to Steve Thomas, a Boulder police officer who was working on the case at the time, rejected conventional procedures. This includes providing the Ramseys with copies of the police reports prior to their official interviews and declining to sign search warrants for bank and phone records.
Thomas said that he spoke with a member of the grand jury who participated in the decision to indict the Ramseys in relation to JonBenét’s death, and that member confirmed that they had decided to do so. However, D.A. Alex Hunter told the media that the Ramseys were not suspected and that the Grand Jury had concluded that there wasn’t enough evidence to support that. Alex Hunter did the exact opposite and fought for a Grand Jury, drawing comparisons between the JonBenét Ramsey case and the 1983 murder of Sid Wells.
Thomas ultimately decided to leave the police department due to his anger with how the family and evidence in this case were handled.
The Ramseys were exonerated of all charges on July 9, 2008;
“I sincerely apologise if we in any way contributed to the belief among the general public that you might have been involved in this crime.” – Boulder district attorney Mary Lacy.
The ransom note was around 370 words in length and was written on three pages of a legal pad with a Sharpie pen, both of which were found to come from the Ramsey’s home—claiming to be written by those in a “small foreign faction” and signed “Victory! S.B.T.C”.
Due in part to its length and in part to its content, the note has received the greatest criticism of any piece of evidence in the case. Three specialists rewrote the three-page ransom note for a 2016 CBS programme titled The Case Of: Jonbenét Ramsey, and it took them all more than 20 minutes just to reproduce the language. In other words, the letter would have taken the kidnappers at least 20 minutes to write in the Ramseys’ house. Since the stationery belonged to the Ramseys, they also returned the pad and Sharpie pen to their original locations. There were obvious indentations on the pad where other ransom notes had been attempted but abandoned.
During the CBS documentary, Jim Fitzgerald, a forensic linguist, dissected the note and created a profile of the author. Despite the letter being written by a “small foreign faction”, the author’s writing ability was high. Numerous difficult words were spelt correctly, and he concluded that the author’s native language was English. He also put the writer aged over 30 due to the lack of slang in the note. He also believed the author was female. He gave six examples of maternalistic language used throughout the note, “when you get home”, and “do not particularly like you”. There were numerous similar phrases used in the Ramsey’s Christmas newsletter.
Fitzgerald criticised the phrase “small foreign faction” as counterproductive to the note, as it diminishes any authority in the kidnappers. There were also multiple movies quotes in the letter, including Dirty Harry and Speed.
The amount of money the kidnappers ask for is also precise. The author demanded $118,000, which was the exact figure that John received for his annual bonus that year. The kidnappers had seemingly done their research; they knew how to get into the property and knew where to find JonBenét in the house, so in theory, they would also understand that the Ramseys could get hold of more money.
On the 26th, the kidnappers indicated they would call between 8 and 10 am, but they never did. Detective Arndt considered it peculiar that the parents at the time didn’t recognise this. The Ramseys quickly contacted the police despite the note’s warnings to not do so.
“Victory! S.B.T.C.” was used as the ransom note’s signature, and this has sparked an incredible amount of theories. Some people think it stands for “Saved By The Cross,” a Christian saying that says Christ’s death on the cross gave us the power to conquer death. It might also be an arbitrary phrase made up by the abductors.
There are no signs of forced entry into the basement. There were dust and spiderwebs on the window that were left undisturbed. In the CBS documentary, the producers built basement and kitchen replicas of the Ramsey’s house. The show included one of the hosts attempt to climb through the window without unsettling the debris, which was impossible in the reconstruction. There were also no fingerprints found on or around the area.
There was also a suitcase underneath the window that was not customarily placed there. It had little debris on it, and there was conflicting evidence that JonBenét had fibres from the suitcase on her body.
The Coroner discovered weird taser-like marks on JonBenét’s torso during the autopsy. Although no taser was ever discovered, there is a possibility that JonBenét’s attacker stunned her in order to subdue her. The distance between the markers was compared to a section of railway track from the set in the basement, and that closely matched the two patterns. Additionally, the Coroner found blood in JonBenét’s underwear. They also found DNA. There was evidence that JonBenét’s hymenal opening was large than average, indicative of sexual abuse. Other supposed proof of sexual abuse includes the bedwetting and soiling, both of which JonBenét experienced. However, forensic scientist, Dr Henry Lee, tested a pair of store-bought underwear, and the results came back positive for DNA trace evidence. This showed that the DNA found on JonBenét’s underwear could have come from the manufacturing process rather than anything more sinister.
The Murder Weapon
The Coroner did not become aware of the major blow to JonBenét’s head until an internal inspection had taken place since the head injuries she sustained during her attack did not break the skin. The head wound had striking resemblances to a flashlight that had been discovered on the Ramseys’ kitchen counter.
There is also the case of the baseball bat, but John Ramsey was adamant that the bat did not belong to their family, despite being found in the property. Evidence rules out an accidental fall to make such an injury, as the damage made needed heavy force behind it.
JonBenét’s death was the first murder in Boulder that year. The officers who arrived at the house on the morning of JonBenét’s disappearance were new to the department. It took the officers four hours to seal off JonBenét’s bedroom, and when the Whites arrived to help with the search, they were let into the house immediately, without regard for the contamination of the scene. Friends and a victim’s advocate group kept themselves busy tidying and cleaning up the house, making themselves useful meanwhile removing any evidence that may have helped police.
When JonBenét was brought up from the basement, John Ramsey had already removed the tape over her mouth and had attempted to remove her wrist restraints. An officer then moved JonBenét from the floor to a sofa, which meant the body had been moved twice before the Coroner and forensics arrived. The police had no control over the situation, and the case had problems from the start.
Almost 25 years after her kidnap and murder, beauty pageant winner JonBenét Ramsey may finally be the next victim to have genealogy DNA used in her case.
According to Radar Online, Roscoe J. Clark and Derek Brommerich believe they’ve found a suspect in the case. The men, who aren’t involved with the authorities, but instead run an online group relating to JonBenét’s murder, travelled to Colorado and gathered DNA from someone they believe is a suspect.
The DNA was obtained from a discarded cigarette butt and was passed onto Under Sheriff Mike Angus of Genesee County, and from there it will go to the FBI.
“This could be the breakthrough everyone has been waiting for during the past 24 years and it’s based on hard evidence and forensic science. I’m 100-percent positive we have the right suspect, and we can’t rule this person out,” Roscoe J. Clark told Radar Online.
If this unnamed suspect did indeed kill JonBenét Ramsey, it will rule out long-thought theories that her brother, Burke, accidentally killed his younger sister.
There has also been an additional update. According to TikTok user sydbroadbent, she attended a recent lecture with criminal profiler and retired psychologist John Philpin, who then disclosed undisclosed evidence about JonBenét’s case.
According to the four-part video, which has now been viewed over 200,000 times collectively, the woman makes a case for eight-year-old Burke being unable to strangle his little sister, due to not being strong enough.
Philpin claims an intruder could be to blame for JonBenét’s murder, and it all comes down to ransom amount.
John Ramsey’s bank statement was a desk visible to anyone who came into the house. Because of this, an intruder could have seen the additional money the Ramseys had and requested it off the back of this letter.
Philpin also apparently refers to tampering. When JonBenét was missing, her parents received a lot of visitors to their home, so the crime scene was quickly muddied.
So, with this new information, do we believe that an intruder murdered JonBenét Ramsey, was it an inside job, or are Clark and Brommerich on the right trajectory?
Whatever the answer, recently, John Ramsey has since petitioned for his daughter’s case to be reopened and further DNA testing to commence. In an interview with Fox News, he said, “It’s a petition to hopefully get the state of Colorado to intervene and have the items from the crime scene that should be tested for DNA that haven’t been tested.” He added, “It’s going to take a lot of help to get that moving.”