Unsolved Murder Case of JonBenet Ramsey

On the day after Christmas 1996, JonBenet Ramsey (August 6, 1990 – December 25, 1996), a six-year-old American child beauty pageant queen was found dead in her home in Boulder, Colorado. Her body was found in the basement of the family home and later her murder case has been classified as "cold case" by Mark Beckner, the Boulder Police Chief because the case remains unsolved, even after several grand jury hearings, and continues to generate public and media interest.

JonBenet Ramsey
On December 26, 1996, Patsy Ramsey discovered her daughter was missing after finding on the kitchen staircase a two-and-a-half-page ransom letter demanding $118,000 for her safe return. Despite specific instructions in the ransom note that police and friends not be contacted, she called the police and her family and friends. The local police conducted a cursory search of the house, but did not find any obvious signs of a break-in or forced entry. The note suggested that the ransom collection would be monitored and JonBenet would be returned as soon as the money was obtained. John Ramsey made arrangements for the availability of the ransom, which a friend, John Fernie, picked up that morning from a local bank.

Ransom Note
But it was not long before her body was found in the basement of the house. Her dead body covered in a white blanket with a nylon cord around her neck. Her wrists were tied above her head, and she had duct tape over her mouth. An autopsy report revealed that she had been strangled and bludgeoned to death.

Within hours, the Ramseys themselves became the main suspects of the investigation and police were later criticized for losing focus of the crime scene and other leads by concentrating on the family - including JonBenet's brother Burke - instead of following up other leads.

Based on the autopsy also revealed that JonBenet had eaten pineapple only a few hours before the murder. Photographs of the home, taken the day JonBenet's body was found, show a bowl of pineapple on the kitchen table with a spoon in it, and police reported finding Burke Ramsey's (JonBenet's nine-year-old brother) fingerprints on it. However, both Patsy and John claim not to remember putting this bowl on the table or feeding pineapple to JonBenet. (The Ramseys had always maintained that Burke had slept through the entire episode, until awakened several hours after the police arrived.) While it was reported that no footprints led to the house on snow-covered ground, other reporters found that snow around the doors of the house had been cleared away. Police reported no signs of forced entry, although a basement window that had been broken and left unsecured before Christmas, along with other open doors, were not reported to the public until a year later.

The Ramseys have consistently held that the crime was committed by an intruder. They hired John E. Douglas, former head of the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit, to examine the case. He concluded that the crime was most probably a kidnapping gone wrong, and that Ramseys were not involved in the murder. Douglas's argument focused on the following points:
  • There was no physical evidence linking John and Patsy to the homicide, and physical evidence found near JonBenét's body suggested the presence of an unidentified person in the Ramsey home.
  • There was no plausible motive for the Ramseys to kill their daughter. Douglas regarded the bed-wetting hypothesis as so unprecedented as to verge on absurdity and furthermore inconsistent with Patsy's established behavior.
  • There was no evidence of physical abuse, neglect, sexual molestation, or serious personality disorders in the Ramsey household prior to the murder, some combination of which are associated with most cases of children killed by parents.
  • The behavior of John and Patsy Ramsey after the crime was consistent with the parents of other murdered children, and was inconsistent with known cases of parents who killed their children.
After being suspects for several years, John and Patsy Ramsey were cleared of any involvement in the murder in 2003 after DNA found on their daughter's body did not match either of them, nor did it match any other close family members.

Then, on August 16, 2006, 41-year-old John Mark Karr (now Alexis Reich), a former schoolteacher, confessed to the murder while being held on child pornography charges from Sonoma County, California. Authorities reportedly tracked him down using the Internet after he sent e-mails regarding the Ramsey case to Michael Tracey, a journalism professor at the University of Colorado. However, DNA found at the crime scene did not match him either, and no charges were filed against him.

In 2008, Boulder district attorney’s office completely cleared the Ramseys of any wrongdoing in their daughter’s slaying, and issued an apology.

In 2012, James Kolar a former detective says in his book (Foreign Faction: Who Really Kidnapped JonBenet Ramsey) that an intact spider web left in a Ramsey home window provides telling evidence that no one entered from the outside to kill the child.

And he writes that a child’s toy may explain several abrasions on Ramsey’s body, opposing another theory claiming that the child was attacked by a stun gun. The child’s father, John Ramsey, told police in 1996 that an intruder broke through a window in the basement. But in macabre police video that shows the basement hours after JonBenet was found dead, Kolar points out that there are wispy cobwebs, moving ever so slightly.

In January 27, 2013, the grand jury found sufficient evidence to indict the parents in 1999 on charges of child abuse resulting in death, but District Attorney Alex Hunter refused to sign off on the grand jury's decision, saying there was too little proof.


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