Nearly 20 years ago, 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey was brutally murdered in her own home in Boulder, Colorado.
This case has never been solved.
Here’s what you need to know…
MEET THE FAMILY
– Born August 6, 1990.
– Six years old at her death.
– Spent years competing in various beauty pageants.
– Regarded as a tom-boy off the stage.
– JonBenet was named after her dad (John Bennett Ramsey)… but with a French twist.
– Born December 29, 1956
– The mother.
– In her youth was Miss West Virginia… was known for her style and beauty.
– Was diagnosed with cancer in JonBenet’s youth but was in remission by her own 40th Birthday, and by the time of her daughter’s death.
– Born December 7, 1943.
– The father.
– John Ramsey was CEO and President of Access Graphics, a computer company he helped to create.
– John’s company had hit its first billion dollars in revenue prior to JonBenet’s death.
– John had a 22-year-old daughter from a previous marriage who had recently died in a car accident.
– Born 1987.
– The brother.
– Was nine years old when JonBenet was killed.
THE NIGHT BEFORE
The Ramsay family had been out to their family friends house, The Whites, for Christmas Day dinner… and didn’t return home until about 10pm. JonBenet reportedly fell asleep in the car and her father carried her up to bed. Patsy went up to change JonBenet’s clothes for her and kiss her. The Ramsay parents claim they put their children straight to bed upon their return home. The family planned to fly out the next morning for a winter vacation.
THE 911 CALL
Patsy was the one to make the call to police on the morning of December 26th, 1996.
911: What’s going on there, ma’am?
Patsy: We have a kidnapping. Hurry, please.
911: Explain to me what’s going on. OK?
Patsy: There – we have a – there’s a note left, and our daughter’s gone.
911: How old is your daughter?
Patsy: She’s six years old. She’s blonde. Six years old.
911: How long ago was this?
Patsy: I don’t know. I just found the note. And my daughter’s missing…. I’m the mother. Oh my God. Please.
911: Do you know how long she’s been gone?
Patsy: No I don’t. Please. We just got up and she’s not here. Oh, my, god. Please.
911: OK. Calm-
Patsy: Please send somebody.
911: I am honey.
911: Take a deep breath for me. OK?
Patsy: Please. Hurry, hurry, hurry.
911: Patsy? Patsy? Patsy? Patsy?
Kimberly Archuleta (Pictured above)
– Is the 911 respondent who answered the call from Patsy.
– Reports that without any response from her, Patsy attempts to hang up the phone… but doesn’t.
– You can hear the phone be placed down, but it doesn’t click off.
– Three voices can be heard…. she says the other two were men, and the only people known to be in the house were Patsy, Burke, and John.
– Yet, the Ramsey’s maintain that Burke was in bed during this time… more on this later.
At 6am the next morning Patsy discovered that JonBenet was not in her room. She continued down the stairs and found a three page ransom note waiting for her.
Patsy ran to Burke’s room to check if he was there and he was. She then left his room, leaving him reportedly still asleep, even though she had been yelling.
Burke was reportedly still in his room when the police arrived to the house, having never come downstairs to see what was going on.
The first police officer at the scene claimed there was “no obvious signs of a forced entry or struggle”. Strangely, the officer also noted that he saw a door with a latch when he entered the basement but did not open it… When more detectives arrived, the crew attempted to stay discrete as the note had told the Ramsey’s they were being watched.
Burke was taken to a family friends home at this point.
The F.B.I was then called in.
Agents were reportedly shocked to find that JonBenet was so young because her beauty pageant photos made her look much older. This information created buzz about pedophilia.
It is reported that 10am passed without any calls to the house from the possible “kidnappers”, who claimed they would call to discuss next steps. [See ransom note below].
Patsy and John are then asked for handwriting samples in order for police to reduce their suspicion of an in-home crime. Detectives take these samples back to the station for inspection and leave just one detective on-scene to manage the growing number of family and friends gathering in the Ramsay house… which is an active crime scene… bizarre.
The note is a shocking three pages long… which seems very strange. How would someone have the time or the composure to write something of this length following the breaking and entering of a house, as well as after the brutal murder of a little girl?
Ps. we know this note was written in the house and not prior because the stationary was from a note pad inside the Ramsay house.
The note is directed to “Mr. Ramsey” specifically and ends with – “Victory! S.B.T.C.” suggesting that a group of individuals had taken JonBenet.
Some theories say the S.BT.C. refers to “Saved By The Cross” while others reference a beauty pageant called “Sun Burst Talent Competition” of which the little girl participated. Have a read of the full ransom note here:
– The note asks for a specific $118,000, which is the same amount of money John had received as his Christmas bonus… but a seemingly low amount for kidnappers to be asking for from a millionaire.
– Analyst Curt Baggett claims he is 99.9 percent sure that it was John Mark Karr who wrote the ransom letter [See more on JMK below].
– After reviewing Patsy’s handwriting sample, analysts Larry Zeiglet and Gideon Epstein claim Patsy must have written the note. Other analysts claim the evidence they found fell short of excluding her as the writer, but could’t say for sure that she wrote it.
– Some words are spelled incorrectly, yet analysts says this may have been done intentionally… as the writer appears intelligent using words like “attaché”.
John and others begin to search the house for clues.
John immediately goes to the basement and notices and open window. He then went to the family’s wine stellar and saw sheets on the ground.
John had discovered his daughter wrapped up in a blanket with ties around her wrists, her arms placed up over her head. A chord was also found around her neck, as well as duct tape over her mouth – JonBenet was dead.
John picked up the body, pulled the duct tape off her mouth, and carried his daughter upstairs.
The scene at this point was beyond contaminated.
THE MURDER (WARNING: GRAPHIC)
Photos of JonBenet’s skull show severe head trauma from a blunt object.
Reports say that JonBenet’s skull trauma could have been caused by a bat (found at the side of the house – belongs to Burke), or a flashlight, that was found in the house (Ramsey’s claim the flashlight found is not their flashlight).
JonBenet was found with rope around her wrists and with a chord tied tightly around her neck.
“The strangulation came 45 minutes to two hours after the head strike, based on the swelling of the brain” [Mark Beckner/ Former Boulder Police Chief]
Two black marks were found on JonBenet’s back and neck… some say this may be the result of a stun gun, used to make her fall unconscious, other say it may be the result of a train set tracks (belonging to Burke)… this is still of great debate.
Multiple DNA samples were found on JonBenet’s body. There was no clear evidence of rape but sexual assault couldn’t be ruled out as there was clear vaginal trauma. Some believe this trauma was staged.
Burke claims he never had any suspicion that JonBenet was ever sexually abused, and also claims that he himself never sexually abused his sister.
Autopsy reports couldn’t agree if JonBenet had been sexually abused more than once, or only (possibly) before her death.
The pineapple bowl in the Ramsey kitchen is significant because pineapple was found in JonBenets small intestine post-mortem.
No pineapple was served at the party the family had attended earlier in the night.
Her parents claim they did not feed JonBenet pineapple before she went to bed, and yet pineapple was found only partly digested in JonBenet’s stomach during her autopsy – which suggests JonBenet ate pineapple just before her death…. so, who gave JonBenet pineapple? Could this person also be the killer?
Fingerprints of both Burke and Patsy were found on this bowl.
– Patsy was highly criticized for not showing enough emotion when she appeared in an interview with her husband on CNN, just a few days after her daughters death. In that interview, Patsy appears heavily medicated and warns, “There is someone [a killer] out there”.
– Fibers found attached to the duct tape on JonBenet’s mouth were consistent with the jacket Patsy was wearing the morning the police arrived.
– Patsy was seen wearing the same clothes the next morning as she had worn out to see friends the night before, which some found strange… suggesting maybe Patsy had never gone to bed that night.
– JonBenet had been wetting her bed constantly leading up to her death, which some believe could have caused her mother to become angry with her and possibly cause her to hurt her daughter.
– The rope tied around JonBenet’s neck was anchored with a wooden piece for leverage. This wooden piece came from a broken paintbrush that belonged to Patsy.
– Patsy reportedly would cry through her hands, while still watching what was going on.
– Patsy’s fingerprints were found on the pineapple bowl.
– Years later, Patsy was exonerated due to new finds in DNA evidence (as DNA analysis became more advanced).
– John was the person to find his daughters body in the basement.
– John had called his pilot shortly after and had arranged to leave, for “safety”.
– Not much attention was paid towards John as being a solo crime committer. The only real references about his possible involvement were in support of his wife or son, if either of the two had committed the murder.
– Years later, John was exonerated due to new finds in DNA evidence (as DNA analysis became more advanced).
– In an interview with children’s psychologist Dr. Bernhard, Burke is asked to draw a picture of his family and draws his mother, his father, and his own self – but no JonBenet. When asked why he didn’t include JonBenet in the photo, he claimed he was getting on with his life.
– In another clip shown on the Dr.Phil show, Burke claims he thinks someone took her “very quietly downstairs” and then “whooped her” across the body with a knife.
– Burke admits to going downstairs the night of the murder, after everyone was in bed, to retrieve a toy he had gotten for Christmas.
– The lead investigator on the team claims he believes the killer is Burke, due to the fact Burke never asked about the welfare of his sister when taken from the scene.
– Burkes fingerprints were found on the pineapple bowl.
– Speculation Burke was jealous of the attention his sister received.
– Speculation that Burke accidentally kills his sister and his parents help to cover it up.
– Was originally on the list of suspects due to the access she had to the house, and also due to the fact that she had recently asked the Ramsey’s for money.
– However, both the housekeeper and her husband had alibies that checked out.
– Access employees were thoroughly looked into because they would have had knowledge of John’s bonus money. No one was considered overly suspicious after DNA and handwriting samples were taken.
REGISTERED SEX OFFENDERS
– Not much turned up.
– Not much turned up.
“SANTA” AKA. BILL MCREYNOLD’S
– A man in his late 60’s.
– Had played Santa at a Ramsay Christmas party and reportedly had told JonBenet that he would be paying her “a special visit”.
– “Santa” showed up to her memorial service and made some unnerving comments.
– Police discovered he had had open-heart surgery a few months prior to the murder and found it hard to believe he could have murdered the little girl.
– In the book they later wrote, the Ramsey’s claim the killer could be a man named Chris Wolfe whose girlfriend says he was acting strange the night of the murder.
– Chris sued the family for this.
– Police had already cleared Chris of the crime.
JOHN MARK KARR
– Following the death of Patsy, due to cancer, in 2006, John Mark Karr became a suspect.
– The schoolteacher living in Thailand claimed he was with JonBenet Ramsey when she died.
– Says he raped her and hit her on the head with a flashlight.
– Police later claimed he made up the whole thing.
INSIDE THE HOUSE OPINION = POLICE
(Based on a police presentation referenced in “Who Killed JonBenet Ramsey with Josh Mankiewicz)
– The Ramsey’s did it.
– Burke’s voice was on the 911 call.
– Murder began when someone hit JonBenet on the head and then chaos ensued.
– A horrible accident.
– There was a cover-up.
Lou Smit (D.A)
– Claimed that an intruder could have gotten into the home through a hidden basement door (he demonstrated this to Katie Couric in 2001).
– He said a scuffmark on the wall below the window could have come from the intruder’s shoe.
– He also examined the autopsy photos and brought the stun gun claim to life.
– He believes the intruder stunned the girl and then planned to put her in a nearby suitcase he noticed in the crime scene photos.
– There were fibers found on JonBenet from the inside of that suitcase… Lou says the intruder planned to take her out of the house in the suitcase, and out of the window, but failed when the suitcase wouldn’t fit.
Bob Whitson (Retired Detective)
– Originally was suspicious of the Ramsey’s, but after leaving the force, changed his mind… says the scene matches that of a psychopath
– Took over the intruder theory when Smitt died of cancer
– Says intruder came in the house while the family was at dinner… giving plenty of time to write the letter.
– Says we must look at what was never found… source of duct tape, source of chord, stun gun, foot print source, etc… How would the Ramsey’s be logical at that point to destroy all of this evidence?
INTERESTING EXTRA DETAILS
– The police were highly criticized that they narrowed in too early to blame the family.
– The police have been highly criticized for mistreating evidence and contaminating the scene.
– The media played a huge role in shaping public opinion about the Ramsey’s and their public reactions/interactions.
– The Ramsey’s maintain the killer is an intruder.
– The Ramsey’s were not charged with the murder of their daughter and went on to write a book called “The Death of Innocence”.
– Patsy has since passed away (2006) from another diagnosis of cancer and therefore can no longer comment on the case.
– JonBenet, being wrapped tightly in a blanket, suggested to investigators some sort of emotional attachment to the little girl.
– Police overheard John on the phone saying the family would still need the private jet to get out of there while their house was a crime scene… police told them no, they would not be going anywhere.
– The Ramsey’s didn’t want to talk to police and the police were told they could submit only written questions to the Ramsey’s through their attorney.
– The Ramsey’s hired representatives to handle both the police and the media for them. However, they refused to talk to police, but would talk to CNN…. curious.
– Reports say that the Ramsey couple barely even spoke to each other behind closed doors.
– The blow of the unknown object to JonBennet’s head would have knocked her into unconsciousness, the little girl appearing as if she were dead… could this have lead to her being fully murdered and not kidnapped instead?
– JonBenet’s tombstone reads Decemeber 25th… suggesting her parents knew she was killed before 12am.
– This year marks the 20th year of this unsolved mystery and many news outlets are beginning to re-cover the story.