JonBenet Patricia Ramsey

JonBenet Patricia Ramsey was born on the 6th of August 1990 in Atlanta, Georgia, to parents Patricia (commonly known as Patsy) Ramsey and John Ramsey. She had one older brother, Burke, who was born in 1987.

In 1991, John, Patsy, Burke and JonBenet moved to Boulder, Colorado. Whilst living there, Patsy enrolled JonBenet into lots of pageant contests. JonBenet won the pageant titles of America’s Royale Miss, Little Miss Charlevoix, Little Miss Colorado, Colorado State All-Star Kids Cover Girl, and National Tiny Miss Beauty.

Jon Benet Ramsey. Credit: Wikipedia

On December 26th, 1996, Patsy realised that her daughter, JonBenet, was missing when she found a two-and-a-half-page handwritten ransom note at the bottom of their staircase.

The ransom note demanded $118,000, which John would later tell police was almost the same amount of money that he got as a Christmas bonus the year before. This information suggested that someone who had access to that information was involved in the crime.

Investigators looked into possible employees at John’s business who would have had access to that information, whilst also considering the possibility that the number $118,000 may be a reference to Psalm 118: “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, He is good! For His mercy endures forever!”

The FBI has said that the ransom note is unusually long, but also that it was very strange to find the note at the scene. Because of this, and the fact that the note had no fingerprints apart from Patsy’s and the authorities that handled it, the police believe that the note was staged. The note also used exclamation marks and initialisms a lot more than what is usual for ransom notes. The note, and a practice draft, were written using a notepad and pen from the family home.

A report from the Colorado Beaura of Investigation (CBI), there are “lots of indicators that the author of the ransom note is Patsy Ramsey”. However, a federal court ruled that it was highly unlikely that Patsy did write the note, citing six handwriting experts.

Board-certified forensic pathologist Michael Baden said that he had not seen anything like it in his 60-year career, and he believes that it was not an outside stranger who wrote the note.

The ransom note. Credit: The Guardian

Patsy called the police at 5:52am that morning. She also called other family members and friends to let them know what had happened.

Police officers arrived at Ramsey’s house within three minutes and conducted a search. They found no signs of forced entry. As JonBenet was still missing, John started to make arrangements to pay the $118,000.

A forensic team arrived, and as they believed that JonBenet had been kidnapped, they only cordoned off her room. The rest of the house was left open, and with family, friends, police officers and the family’s minister picking up items, touching furniture etc, a lot of potential evidence was destroyed.

Detective Linda Arndt arrived at 8:00am, with the intention of being there when the kidnappers sent more instructions – but they never did. There was also never any attempt to claim the money requested.

At 1:00pm, Detective Arndt asked John and their family friend Fleet White to search the house, to see if anything “seemed amiss.” They began their search in the basement, and within moments, John found his daughter’s body.

JonBenet with Patsy and John. Credit: The Sun

JonBenet was found with duct tape over her mouth and a nylon cord around her wrists and neck. Her torso was covered by a white blanket.

Despite being asked not to move her, John took the body and moved her upstairs. By moving her body, John had contaminated the crime scene and destroyed critical forensic evidence.

The autopsy revealed that JonBenet’s cause of death was strangulation and a skull fracture. There was no evidence of rape, however sexual assault could not be ruled out as there was evidence of a vaginal injury, and it appeared that her vaginal area had been wiped clean with a cloth. There was no semen present.

A length of nylon cord with the broken handle of a paintbrush had been used to strangle JonBenet. The bristle end of the paintbrush was found in a tub containing Patsy’s art supplies, but the other third of the paintbrush has never been found despite extensive police searches.

The autopsy also revealed a “vegetable or fruit material that may have represented pineapple” was found in her stomach. Photographs of the home taken on the day that JonBenet’s body was found showed a bowl of pineapple with a spoon in it on the kitchen table, but neither Patsy nor John remember putting the bowl on the table or serving pineapple to JonBenet.

Police did find fingerprints on the bowl that matched Burke, JonBenet’s older brother, but John and Patsy have always said that he was asleep throughout the night and did not wake up until several hours after the police had arrived.

JonBenet’s brother, Burke, spoke to Dr Phil in 2016. Credit: The Sun

The investigation focused primarily on John and Patsy, who were both interviewed for more than two hours during the preliminary investigation. Investigators also interviewed Burke within the first two weeks of the investigation.

By October 1997, the police department had over 1,600 people as persons of interest in this case.

In December 2003, forensic investigators extracted enough material from a mixed blood sample found in JonBenet’s underwear to establish a DNA profile. The DNA profile was tested against the DNA from the Ramseys, but it was no match to any of them. It was also tested against the FBI’s CODIS system, which has more than 1.6 million DNA profiles, but it was no match again.

As of now, all that is known about the DNA is that it belongs to an unknown male.

One theory, in this case, is that Patsy struck JonBenet in a moment of anger after a bedwetting accident, and then strangled her to cover the head injury up – thinking that she was already dead.

However, Patsy was never known to have had any “rage” moments. Burke even said that they were never spanked, or even that they laid a finger on them.

Another theory was that Burke had killed JonBenet, but police interviewed him three times, and there were never any concerns about him killing his sister. A child psychologist even stated that it appeared that the Ramseys had “healthy, caring family relationships.”

In 1998, Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner said that Burke was not a suspect in the case. In 1999, the Boulder County District Attorney’s office reiterated that Burke Ramsey was not a suspect in JonBenet’s murder.

A CBS show, The Case of JonBenet Ramsey, used a group of experts to evaluate the case and the evidence. They came to the conclusion that Burke hit his sister in the head with a heavy object (potentially a flashlight that was found nearby) after she stole a piece of pineapple from his bowl, and that the ransom letter was an attempt to cover up her death.

On behalf of Burke, his counsel filed defamation lawsuits against CBS, the producers of the show, and many of the people who were on the show due to the claims that the show had made.

The Ramsey Family. Credit:

In 2013, previously sealed court documents brought to light that in 1999, a Colorado grand jury voted to indict the parents on “two counts of child abuse”, and said that the parents “did lawfully, knowingly, recklessly, and feloniously permit a child to be unreasonably placed in a situation that posed a threat of injury to the child’s life or health, which resulted in the death of JonBenet Ramsey, a child under the age of sixteen.”

However, the district attorney at the time refused to sign the indictment saying that the evidence provided was insufficient for prosecution. In 2002, the statute of limitations on the grand jury’s charges had expired.

Another theory, in this case, is the theory of an intruder breaking into the home and killing JonBenet.

Lou Smit, a detective in the case, came to this conclusion after assessing all the evidence.

On the night that JonBenet had been killed, two windows had been left slightly open to allow electrical cords outside for the Christmas lights, there was also a broken basement window and one unlocked door. Smit theorised that the intruder came through the broken window in the basement, subdued JonBenet using a stun gun, and took her down to the basement where she was killed. The intruder then left the ransom note and left. Former FBI agent John E Douglas agreed with his theory.

There was also an unidentified boot mark in the room where JonBenet’s body was discovered.

However, Smit’s theory has been criticised as there was an intact cobweb in the basement window. The steel grate that covered the window was also covered in cobwebs and the foilage outside of the windows had also been left undisturbed.

As of 2022, JonBenet’s killer still has not been found. Patsy passed away in 2006, at age 49, due to ovarian cancer. John and Burke Ramsey are still alive.

Hopefully, with the use of DNA technology, it won’t be long until the person who killed JonBenet is found.

Jon Benet. Credit: The Denver Channel


JonBenet Ramsey, Boulder, Colorado, 1996, the 1990s, Unsolved Homicide, Unsolved Murder, True Crime, Real Crime, Murder, Homicide, Unsolved True Crime, Unsolved Mystery, Ongoing Investigation

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