Real Name: JonBenet Patricia Ramsey
Location: Boulder, Colorado
Date: December 26, 1996
Details: On the day after Christmas in 1996, six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey vanished from her home in Boulder, after her parents found a ransom note demanding $118,000 for her safe return. Eight hours later, her body was found in the basement of her home. She had been struck in the head and strangled. Her father John, in an apparent panic, picked up her body and took it upstairs. Unfortunately, this destroyed important evidence. A lack of a secured crime scene also caused great amounts of evidence to be destroyed. As a result, many have criticized the official police investigation.
Her father John was a millionaire businessman. Her mother Patsy was a former Miss West Virginia who guided her career as a child beauty queen. Investigators have considered them suspects in their daughter's murder; however, they have not ruled out a random assailant.
Criminologist Prabha Unnithan has investigated the murder. He believes that the police may have made several mistakes because they were not equipped to handle a high-profile murder investigation. He also notes that stranger child homicide is a rare occurrence, which would mean that the parents should still be investigated as suspects.
Suspects: JonBenet's parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, are considered suspects in her death. It was determined that the ransom note and an apparent practice note had been written on a notepad from the Ramsey home. Also, the $118,000 sum in the note was the exact amount of John's Christmas bonus. Handwriting analysis would later be unable to rule out Patsy as the writer of the note. The Ramseys lack of cooperation with the police has also made many suspicious of the family.
However, the Ramseys deny any involvement in their daughter's murder. Neighbors, friends, and relatives have stated that they do not believe that the couple would be capable of such an appalling crime.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the January 31, 1997 episode.
The segment focuses on an interview with a criminologist, Professor Prabha Unnithan, who gives his theories on the case.
Results: Unresolved. After being suspects for several years, John and Patsy Ramsey were cleared of any involvement in JonBenet's murder in 2003 after DNA found on her body did not match either of them or any other close relatives. In 2006, John Mark Karr confessed to her murder, but DNA found at the crime scene did not match him either, and no charges were filed against him. Sadly, Patsy succumbed to ovarian cancer that same year. JonBenet's highly publicized murder remains unsolved.
Despite her parents being ruled out by the police, many still believe that someone in the Ramsey family was responsible for JonBenet's death. They note the DNA that "cleared" the Ramseys was touch DNA, which could have ended up on her clothing when it was originally manufactured. Also, in 2013, it was revealed that a grand jury that reviewed the case decided to indict the Ramseys on charges of child abuse leading to the girl’s death. However, prosecutors declined to file charges against them at that time.
More recently, suspicion has fallen on her older brother, Burke, who was twelve at the time. Some amateur sleuths and retired investigators have theorized that he accidentally killed her during a fight. Afterwards, his parents staged the death to look like a random crime. This theory is unconfirmed.
- JonBenet Ramsey's Murder on Wikipedia
- JonBenet Ramsey on Biography.com
- No Charges in Death of Child Beauty Queen
- Ramsey Case Suspect Cleared After DNA Tests
- New DNA Technology Clears the Family of JonBenet Ramsey
- Grand Jury Urged Charges in JonBenet Ramsey Case
- 20 years later, JonBenet Ramsey murder remains unsolved. Why?
- Who killed JonBenet Ramsey? The theories and questions of the case