JonBenét Ramsey was born in 1990 in Atlanta, Georgia, the younger of two children of Patsy (1956–2006) and John Ramsey (1943–). She had an older brother named Burke (1987–). Her first name is a feminized portmanteau of her father’s first and middle names. JonBenét was enrolled in kindergarten at High Peaks Elementary School in Boulder, Colorado.
In a case that shocked the country, 6-year-old JonBenet disappeared from her Boulder, Colorado home the day after Christmas in 1996. Upon discovering a lengthy ransom note on their back steps, her mother Patsey called 911, but, just 8 hours later, father John Bennett found the girl’s corpse in the cellar. The junior pageant queen had been struck on the head and strangled to death, causing authorities to investigate her parents. She sustained a broken skull from a blow to the head and had been strangled; a garrote was found tied around her neck. The autopsy report stated that the official cause of death was “asphyxia by strangulation associated with craniocerebral trauma.” Her death was ruled a homicide.
Though a handwriting test of her mother remained inconclusive, lead investigator Lou Smit suspected an intruder, and the eventual trial ended with the decision not to indict the family.
Later, police theorized that JonBenet’s brother had likely accidentally caused her death, leading the family to cover up the crime, but it remains open with the Boulder Police Department.
In 1998, the police and the DA both said that JonBenét’s brother Burke, who was nine years old at the time of her death, was not a suspect. The Ramseys gave several televised interviews but resisted police questioning except on their own terms.
In October 2013, unsealed court documents revealed that a 1999 grand jury had recommended filing charges against JonBenét’s parents for permitting the child to be in a threatening situation. John and Patsy were also accused of hindering the prosecution of an unidentified person who had “committed … the crime of murder in the first degree and child abuse resulting in death”. However, the DA determined that there was insufficient evidence to pursue a successful indictment.
In 2002, the DA’s successor took over investigation of the case from the police and primarily pursued an alternative theory that an intruder had committed the killing. In 2003, trace DNA that was taken from the victim’s clothes was found to belong to an unknown male; this discovery induced the DA to send the Ramseys a letter of apology in 2008, declaring the family “completely cleared.” In February 2009, the Boulder police took the case back from the DA and reopened the investigation.
Media coverage of the case has focused on JonBenét’s brief beauty pageant career, as well as her parents’ wealth and the unusual evidence found in the case. Media reports have also questioned how the police handled the case. Ramsey family members and their friends have filed defamation suits against several media organizations.
JonBenét was murdered in 1996 in Boulder, and was laid to rest at St. James Episcopal Cemetery in Marietta, Georgia. She was interred next to her much older half-sister Elizabeth Pasch Ramsey, who had died in a car crash four years earlier at age 22.
Will we ever know the real truth behind what happened to her? I doubt it will ever really surface. Years ago a convicted pedophile tried to take blame, but for all we know he got all his information from the media and lied. They couldn’t match any of his DNA to the crime scene either. I’ve noticed crazy people love to make shit up once they’re already in trouble, all they want is attention good or bad. Why anyone would kill such a beautiful soul is beyond me, but whoever did it got away with it. Which even then shouldn’t have happened. I mean I hope if I’m murdered in my basement they don’t just say “eh no good evidence” and on to the next one. Either way it was a senseless killing and no kid should worry about such horrors.