JonBenet Ramsey was the daughter of Patsy and John Ramsey. Her father was a multi-millionaire businessman and her mother was a former Miss West Virginia. She was raised in luxury and comfort by her parents in Boulder, Colorado. She was an extrovert and had won several child pageant titles. She was six years old when her mother found a ransom note one morning, and immediately informed the police. Her body was found in the basement of the house with a fractured skull by her father that afternoon. She had been sexually assaulted and strangulated with a garrotte. The official cause of death was stated as ‘asphyxia by strangulation associated with craniocerebral trauma’ and classified as homicide. The police made several mistakes in the initial investigation that compromised evidence in the case. Though there were several indicators to implicate her parents in the case, no conclusive evidence could be established. The District Attorney stated that the DNA analysis did not implicate the immediate family. After the case was dropped, her parents relocated to Atlanta, Georgia, and kept away from the media glare. Her father released a book titled ‘The Death of Innocence,’ a memoir of the experience that the family went through. He claimed to have lost his entire earnings due the turmoil that the family went through. The case remains a mystery till today.
Childhood & Early Life
JonBenet Ramsey was born on August 6, 1990, in Atlanta Georgia, US, to Patsy and John Ramsey. She had an elder brother named Bruke who is three years older than her and two surviving adult half siblings from her father’s previous marriage. Her father was a multi-millionaire businessman who was the president of Access Graphics and her mother was a former Miss West Virginia in 1977.
She was brought up in the comfort of a luxurious home in Boulder, Colorado, with all the love and affection of her parents.
JonBenet was an extrovert and enjoyed being the centre of attraction. She had already won multiple pageant titles by the age of six and was known for her trademark smile and bouncy blond hair. She loved dressing up. She attended kindergarten at High Peaks Elementary School, Boulder Colorado.
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She was just six years old when on December 26, 1996, her mother found a three page handwritten ransom note on the kitchen staircase in the morning that demanded $ 118,000 for the safe return of JonBenet. He mother only realised that her daughter was missing when she saw the note and informed the police.
By the afternoon her body was found in the basement of the house with a fractured skull by her father. She had been sexually assaulted and strangulated with a garrotte made out of a cord and a broken paintbrush belonging to her mother. There was no evidence of rape.
The official cause of death was put down to ‘asphyxia by strangulation associated with craniocerebral trauma’ and classified as homicide. Her body was put to rest at St James Episcopal Cemetery, Marietta, Georgia, US, next to her elder half sister, Elizabeth Pasch Ramsey, who had died in a car crash four years ago at the age of 22.
The police made several mistakes in the initial investigation that compromised evidence in the case. The child was initially presumed to be kidnapped and no part of the house, except for her room, was cordoned off to prevent tampering of evidence. The parents were allowed to move the body from the basement and were jointly questioned by the investigating officers, instead of being dealt with separately.
The ransom note was written on paper that belonged to the house and was unusually long for someone to write in a hurry. The fibre from the duct tape used to bind JonBenet’s body matched the material on her mother’s cloths. There was no one in the house in the morning except her parents and her brother and there were no signs of forced entry. No one contacted the parents for the ransom.
Though there were several indicators to implicate her parents in the case, no conclusive evidence could be established. In 1998, the District Attorney stated that the DNA analysis did not implicate the immediate family.
Though the media and public sentiments were against Patsy and John Ramsey and the Boulder grand jury voted to indict them for their alleged role in the murder of JonBenet, the Boulder District Attorney, Alex Hunter, decided not to charge them, citing insufficient evidence in December 1999.
In 2003 the DNA samples were linked to another unknown man who was assumed to be the killer and an apology was rendered to the parents. After their name was cleared the parents filed a defamation case against media companies who had alleged the family’s involvement in the case.
The crime still remains unsolved and is a case of ongoing open investigation in the Boulder Police Department.
After the case was dropped her parents returned to Atlanta Georgia and kept away from the media glare. Her father released a book titled ‘The Death of Innocence’ in 2001 that was a memoir of the experience that the family went through. Her mother died due to ovarian cancer four years later at the age of 49. Her father claimed to have lost his entire earnings due the turmoil that the family went through.
In 2016, her brother broke his 20 year silence and spoke about the case when he appeared on the ‘Dr Phil Show’. However, he could not bring out any fresh evidence in the case.
The ransom demanded was exactly the amount that John Ramsey had received as bonus that year.
The case generated nationwide interest in the media because of her mother’s celebrity status and the fact that she had launched her daughter into a series of child beauty pageants.
Many books and articles have been written about the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. However, nothing has been conclusive. Besides her parents, suspicion has been cast on the child sex offender Gary Oliva, the housekeeper Linda Hoffman, an electrician named Michael Helgoth and even the town Santa Bill McReynolds.
In August 2006, a 41 year old elementary school teacher falsely confessed to the murder of JonBenet but investigations proved him to have no connection with the case.