At the tender age of six, JonBenet Ramsey fell victim to a tragic and unsolved murder. This young star of child beauty pageants was discovered lifeless, having suffered both physical harm and strangulation. Her fate was sealed shortly after the discovery of a ransom note at her family’s residence in Boulder, Colorado, on December 25, 1996.
On the early morning of December 26, 1996, John and Patsy Ramsey woke up to a shocking discovery – their six-year-old daughter, JonBenét Ramsey, was missing from her bed in their Boulder, Colorado home. This incident marked the beginning of a perplexing mystery that would captivate the nation. The Ramseys, who were preparing for a trip, found a ransom note (End of this article, you can see that ransom note) demanding $118,000 for JonBenét’s safe return on the stairs. Disregarding the note’s warning, Patsy promptly contacted the police and reached out to friends and family to assist in the search efforts.
The authorities arrived at 5:55 AM, observing no signs of forced entry, but curiously, they didn’t search the basement – the very place where JonBenét’s lifeless body would later be discovered. Regrettably, several mistakes were made in the initial stages of investigation. Only JonBenét’s room was cordoned off, allowing friends and family to move around the rest of the house, potentially contaminating crucial evidence.
Furthermore, the Boulder Police Department shared discovered evidence with the Ramseys and postponed conducting informal interviews with the parents. At 1:00 PM, detectives instructed Mr. Ramsey and a family friend to inspect the house for anything unusual. This led them to the basement, where JonBenét’s body was found. John Ramsey’s immediate response was to carry his daughter’s body upstairs, inadvertently tampering with the crime scene and eliminating potential evidence.
Upon conducting the autopsy, it was determined that JonBenét Ramsey had tragically succumbed to asphyxiation due to strangulation, compounded by a skull fracture. Duct tape covered her mouth, while a white cord was wound around her wrists and neck. Her body was enveloped in a white blanket.
Though no conclusive evidence of rape emerged – as no semen was detected on her body and her genital area seemed to have been wiped clean – indications of a sexual assault were evident. The makeshift garrote used had been fashioned from a length of cord and part of a basement paintbrush. Another puzzling discovery was believed to be pineapple in JonBenét’s stomach, despite her parents’ lack of recollection about serving her any the night before.
Notably, a bowl of pineapple in the kitchen bore her nine-year-old brother Burke’s fingerprints, though the timing of fingerprints remained uncertain. The Ramseys consistently maintained that Burke was asleep in his room all night, and no substantial physical evidence countered their account.
The case of JonBenét Ramsey has spawned two prevailing theories: the family theory and the intruder theory. Initially, suspicion heavily centered on the Ramsey family for multiple reasons. The ransom note appeared staged due to its unusually lengthy content, penmanship matching that of the Ramseys’ household, and a demand nearly identical to John’s recent year-end bonus. The Ramseys’ initial reluctance to cooperate with police, though later attributed to their concerns over a thorough investigation, further fueled suspicion.
However, all immediate family members were questioned, and handwriting samples were collected for comparison to the ransom letter. Both John and Burke were absolved of any involvement in composing the note. While Patsy’s handwriting couldn’t be definitively cleared by the analysis, no other supporting evidence substantiated this claim.
Despite a broader pool of potential suspects, media attention swiftly zeroed in on JonBenét’s parents, subjecting them to years of public scrutiny. In 1999, a Colorado grand jury indicted the Ramseys on charges of child endangerment and obstruction of a murder investigation. Yet, the prosecutor deemed the evidence insufficient to meet the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard, opting not to pursue charges. The Ramseys were never formally declared as murder suspects.
Conversely, the intruder theory found support in physical evidence. A boot print was discovered adjacent to JonBenét’s body, belonging to neither family member. A broken basement window appeared to be the likely entry point for a potential intruder. Furthermore, drops of blood from an unidentified male were found on her underwear, indicating DNA evidence of an outsider. The Ramsey residence’s carpeted floors facilitated the idea that an intruder could have transported JonBenét downstairs without raising alarm.
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One prominent suspect in the case was John Karr, apprehended in 2006 after confessing to accidentally killing JonBenét following a drugging and sexual assault. However, Karr’s claim unraveled upon discovering no traces of drugs in JonBenét’s system, inability to verify his presence in Boulder at the time, and the mismatch between his DNA and the profile derived from collected samples.
Recent investigation efforts have predominantly centered on DNA profiles obtained from the underwear and later touch DNA from her clothing. While the underwear DNA profile was included in the national DNA database in 2003, no matches have emerged. In 2006, Boulder District Attorney Mary Lacy took the reins of the case, aligning with the intruder theory over the Ramseys’ involvement. Under her guidance, investigators generated a DNA profile from touch DNA on JonBenét’s long johns. In 2008, Lacy issued a statement fully exonerating the Ramsey family, citing the newfound DNA evidence. She stated:
“The Boulder District Attorney’s Office does not consider any member of the Ramsey family, including John, Patsy, or Burke Ramsey, as suspects in this case.”
The case was reopened in 2010, emphasizing further examination of the DNA samples. Recent testing indicates that the sample may represent two individuals rather than just one. In 2016, authorities disclosed their intent to employ more advanced methods at the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to enhance the DNA profile and potentially identify the killer.
In 2016, CBS aired “The Case of JonBenét Ramsey,” implying involvement of her then nine-year-old brother Burke as the culprit, despite his exoneration by DNA evidence pointing to an intruder. Burke filed a defamation lawsuit against CBS, eventually settling in 2019. While the settlement’s specifics were undisclosed, Burke’s attorney expressed satisfaction with the resolution.
JonBenet Ramsey Murder Still Unsolved 25 Years Later
The JonBenét Ramsey case endures as an unresolved enigma, continuing to captivate public interest and speculation.
Listen carefully! We are a group of individuals that represent a small foreign faction. We
do respect your bussiness [sic] but not the country that it serves. At this time we have your daughter in our posession [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 attache 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 out smart [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!
Read Boulder District Attorney Mary Lacy’s full 2008 statement: Ramsey Press Release