Childhood & Early Life
Patsy Ramsey was born Patricia Ann Paugh, on December 29, 1956, in Gilbert, West Virginia, U.S., into the middle-class family of Donald Ray Paugh and Nedra Ellen Ann. Her father worked as an engineer and a manager at ‘Union Carbide.’ Her mother was a homemaker. She grew up with two sisters, Paulette and Pamela. Pamela, too, was a beauty-pageant winner.
Patsy attended the ‘Parkersburg High School’ and was an above-average student there. She graduated high school in 1975. Following this, she joined the ‘University of West Virginia.’ In college. she belonged to the ‘Alpha Xi Delta’ sorority.
She was a beautiful and extroverted teenager. She participated in the “Miss West Virginia” beauty pageant in 1977 and won the first prize there. When she won the competition, she was pursuing a BA degree in journalism.
At 23, she got married to a rich businessman named John Ramsey. The couple had dated for a few months before getting married. It was John’s second marriage. He also had three children from his previous marriage.
John worked as the CEO of a computer services company named the ‘Advanced Product Group.’ In 1987, John and Patsy had a son, Burke Ramsey. Soon after his birth, the family moved to Atlanta, Georgia, for work. Patsy gave birth to her daughter, JonBenét, in 1990.
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The JonBenét Rape & Murder
JonBenét was born on August 6, 1990. Her name was a combination of her father’s first and middle names and her mother’s first name. She was an extroverted child who enjoyed being the center of everyone’s attention. She was beautiful and healthy. Thus, her mother pushed her to participate in various beauty pageants. Her confidence and smile impressed many. Even before she had turned 6, she had won many beauty pageants.
JonBenét was born into a rich family and led a comfortable life. However, her family fell apart in December 1996.
On the morning of December 26, 1996, John and Patsy found out that their daughter was missing. A ransom note was found by Patsy, and the police were informed. Within a few hours, the police found JonBenét’s dead body in the basement of their house. She had been strangulated and hit on the head with a heavy item. The post-mortem report said that her death had been caused by asphyxia due to strangulation and that she had been sexually abused before her death.
The news spread in the locality, and Patsy Ramsey and her husband, John, emerged as the two prime suspects. However, the police department made several errors early in the investigation. For instance, they let John move her body from the basement. Similarly, John and Patsy had not been interrogated separately.
The police were also unable to find any more suspects beyond the parents. Hence, the investigation remained focused on them. The news channels telecast the story for a long time, and the media ran their own “investigation.”
However, there were many aspects of the murder that questioned the parents’ innocence. For instance, the ransom note was written on a paper that was found around their house. Additionally, their stories were inconsistent when they were questioned separately. They made several appearances in the media, trying to prove their innocence. However, public opinion held the parents as perpetrators.
The police had their own “intruder theory” to focus on. According to this theory, an intruder had broken into the house through the window, committed the act, taken a piece of paper from the basement, written a random note, and fled. The theory was justified after some marks on the window were found. However, there was not enough evidence to prove this theory.
The news about the entire incident continued to be featured in the local news channels regularly till 1999. The case also revealed the local police’s inadequacy in handling it. As a result, several law-enforcement officers resigned. The case also led to a big political turmoil.
Detective Lou Smit was brought in to help the police investigate the case, and he claimed that John and Patsy were innocent.
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Illness & Death
Patsy had been suffering from ovarian cancer since 1993, and it was successfully treated, too. She was in remission for the next few years, until she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer again in 2002. Back then, the case was still being investigated. Meanwhile, she took medical help for her condition. She passed away on June 24, 2006, at her father’s house, with her husband by her side.
Posthumous Case Developments
Patsy Ramsey’s death also invited a lot of media attention. In July 2008, about 2 years after her death, Patsy and her husband were declared innocent by the district attorney. This was done after the investigation on a DNA strain that was found on JonBenét’s body. Interestingly, the DNA did not belong to any member of the family. Soon after this, the search for the unidentified male began.
However, the case is still unsolved, and both John and Patsy Ramsey have not been cleared of the charges yet. Experts believe that the “foreign DNA” that was found on her body was so minute that it could have belonged to someone from whom the dress that she was wearing at the time of her death had been bought.
Over time, as more advanced technology arrived, a more intricate investigation was conducted. New investigations, which took place in 2016, claimed that two unidentified DNA strains were found on her body. They were of people who were not in any U.S. government database.
Despite the police coming very close to accepting that the parents did not have any involvement in JonBenét’s murder, the media constantly aired news stories that defamed the family. As a result, lawsuits were filed against ‘American Media Inc.,’ ‘Fox,’ ‘Star,’ and other media organizations.
John and Patsy wrote a book titled ‘The Death of Innocence,’ in which they named a few people as suspects. Those people were interrogated by the police. All of them filed defamation lawsuits against the couple.
In Pop Culture
The entire case was a goldmine for the film producers, and several films and TV shows sprung up with their own perception of the truth. In 2000, the miniseries titled ‘Perfect Murder, Perfect Town’ was released. This was followed by a ‘South Park’ episode titled ‘Butters’ Very Own Episode,’ in which the creator satirically showed that Patsy and John had murdered their daughter. However, the creators apologized later.
Several documentaries and books highlighting the case, too, have been released.
In 2016, JonBenét’s brother, Burke, made his first public appearance since his sister’s murder and appeared on ‘The Dr. Phil Show.’ However, he did not offer anything new on the case and talked about what his family had gone through and how he felt about the entire case.