The Ramsey family came home after celebrating Christmas and went to sleep like any regular day. The next morning Patsy Ramsey was in shock when she found a ransom note on the stairs, Patsy called 911 at 5:51 in the morning, as she found a ransom letter for her 6-year-old daughter, JonBenét Ramsey. On the call, she reported her daughter missing.

JonBenet Ramsey
JonBenet Ramsey

What makes this case more bizarre is that the body was found inside the house, 8 hours later and there were only 3 people inside the house that night, JonBenét‘s father John Ramsey, her mother Patsy Ramsey and her brother, Burke Ramsey.


Who was JonBenét Ramsey?

JonBenét Ramsey was born on August 6th, 1990 to the Ramsey family, John and Patricia “Patsy” Ramsey. She was named after her father John Bennett Ramsey.

She won various beauty pageants growing up such as Little Miss Colorado, Little Miss Charlevoix, Colorado State All-Star Kids Cover Girl, America’s Royale Miss, and National Tiny Miss Beauty.

The murder of JonBenét Ramsey — Mysterious Death

JonBenét Ramsey was found in less than eight hours and even stranger is that her body was found inside the house, in the utility room, in the basement of Ramsey Residence. The body was found by her father, John Ramsey. She was found with duct tape over her mouth and a smooth cord around her neck.

Candles surround a portrait of Jon Benet.
JonBenet Ramsey, Credits: Forever Six

The police did not search the house, as there was no reason to search the house after reading the ransom note. The crime scene was heavily compromised by people arriving at the scene and thus not much evidence found during the investigation.

The autopsy revealed that JonBenét was bludgeoned to death, but the coroner ruled out that she died as a result of strangling. A paintbrush from Patsy’s hobby kit was used to tighten the rope that strangled JonBenét.


Evidence in JonBenét Ramsey‘s case

The DNA found on JonBenét long johns and underwear belonged to a single unidentified man, who is believed to be the killer of pageant queen JonBenét Ramsey. When the sample was matched with the FBI’s record of 1.5 million samples, no match was found.

JonBenet Ramsey's father and JonBenet Ramsey's mother
John Bennett and Patsy Ramsey

There were two unidentified footprints found at the scene, but strangely no footsteps in the snow outside the house, as well as there were no signs of forced entry. A rope was also found in the basement but it did not belong to the Ramseys.


The Ransome note in case of Jonbenét Ramsey

A 3 paged ransom note was found on the stairs by Patsy Ramsey in the morning at around 5 am right before Jonbenét Ramsey’s body was found. The ransom note had details about how there are two gentlemen watching over JonBenet, who do not particularly like her father and told them not to speak of this to anyone, including police or FBI, or they (Jonbenét’s parents) will find their daughter beheaded. The letter was signed S.T.B.C. the initials still remains a mystery.

JonBenét Ramsey's ransom note
The ransom note sent in the JonBenét Ramsey’s case. It is believed to be the longest ever recorded. Photograph: Handout

The note asked them to withdraw $118,000.00 from the bank account. $100,000 will be in $100 bill and the remeaning $18,000 in $20 bills. This is the approx the amount John Ramsey received for his Christmas bonus. Indicating that the killer was someone from his office circle or someone close to him.


The most interesting fact was that it was determined that the note was written using a pen and paper from inside the house. This raised suspicion over the authenticity of the letter and whether it was just a hoax created by Ramseys. The letter was almost 3 pages long and with the spelling mistakes and all the information written, it was not close to a ransom note that can be taken seriously, also, it must have taken the killer 20 minutes or so to write the letter, if he had already planned and prepared what to write. Otherwise, it would have taken more than 40 minutes.

When the letter was analyzed, parts of the practice note were found. The letter had many spelling errors on words thought to be easy like possession, yet some wonder how words such as attaché were written with an accent on E and were spelled correctly. When the letter was combined with the chances of an intruder the letter would result in a hoax.


Suspects in the Jonbenét Ramsey’s case

The Ramsey family was considered a major suspect for the first few years and later more and more joined the search for the killer.

The Ramsey Family — First suspect in Jonbenét’s murder

The reasons to believe that JonBenét Ramsey’s family killed her were many. Such as

  • Less evidence to support the case of an intruder.
  • The authenticity of the Ransom Note.
  • No one even heard something while she was being murdered.
  • The letter was written from inside the house.
The Ramsey Family
‘The Case of JonBenet Ramsey’/CBS

According to a recent television program, the police theorized that Patsy Ramsey accidentally killed Jonbenét Ramsey. The same program cited that her brother, Burke Ramsey might have accidentally killed JonBenet as well.

JonBenet was still alive when she was strangled, so the evidence doesn’t add up that someone from her family killed her. Furthermore, handwriting analysists ruled out the handwriting of both the parents.


Jonbenét Ramsey’s brother — Burke Ramsey

Many also believed Jonbenét Ramsey’s brother to be the murderer and the parents covered it up for him. The theory behind this belief that Burke was having pineapples and JonBenet came to him and ate some of his pineapples. Burke got angry over this and hit her in the head with a flashlight, to which she died.

Burk Ramsey Interviewed
Burke Ramsey interviewed.

Bill McReynolds — second close suspect in Jonbenét Ramsey’s murder

Bill visited the Ramsey House two days before the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. He dressed up as Santa Claus. The reason for him being a suspect is because his own daughter was kidnapped in 1974, Bill’s wife had written a play about a child getting molested and murdered in a basement.

Bill even brought a vial of glitter gifted to him by JonBenet into heart surgery. The gift meant much more to him as no child has given him gifts while playing Santa. He asked his wife to mix the glitter with his ashes if he were to die.

However, there is nothing else that would point him towards being a killer, he was just a friendly old man.


Gary Oliva — third suspect in Jonbenét Ramsey’s case

Gary Oliva was arrested in 2016 for charges of Child Pornography and in the year 2000, he was arrested on drug charges and was found to be carrying a photo of Jonbenét Ramsey in his backpack. He explained the reason behind the photo,

“JonBenet’s murder touched me very deeply. I felt she was an exceptional girl whose death was an exceptional loss. I felt the need to build a monument, a shrine, to remember this little girl.”

Michael Vail, highschool friend of Oliva revealed in an interview with InTouch magazine that his friend Oliva called him a day after the murder occurred and said “I hurt a little girl, I hurt a little girl,” according to Vail, Oliva also told him his location, Boulder Colorado, after which Oliva hung up the phone. If Vail is believed true, records show no other girls were harmed in that area that night.

Vail also revealed that the strangulation method was similar to how when Oliva attempted to strangle his own mother with a telephone cord. Nonetheless, Gary Oliva was not a match to the DNA evidence found on JonBenet’s clothes.


A fourth suspect — John Mark Karr

A divorced father and an elementary teacher, Karr did not come into the picture until 10 years after the murder, in 2006 he confessed it via email, to a journalism professor, Michael Tracey. Tracey had sent emails to him for 4 years back and forth to gain his trust.

JonBenet Ramsey's murder suspect John Mark Karr
John Mark Karr, the suspect in the killing of child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey. (Photo by Mario Anzuoni-Pool/Getty Images)

In the emails sent to Tracey, Karr had used similar wordings as the ransom note. He even used Patsy’s mother’s nickname in an email, “Neddie,” it was strange that he even knew that name. Karr later confessed to hitting JonBenet in the head with a flashlight. He also told that he was in love with JonBenet.


Karr was caught in Thailand by British Intelligence, U.S. Department of Homeland security and the Royal Thai Authorities while he was trying to escape the child pornography charges in California.

After his arrest, Boulder County District Attorney Mary Lacy issued a formal apology to John Ramsey for the suspicion his family had lived with and said that “No one in the Ramsey family is considered a suspect.”

Karr’s DNA did not match with the DNA found on the scene and he was not charged with the murder. However, the U.S. Department of Homeland security continued to investigate John Mark Karr. Who kept saying that he did not act alone.

The Former Boulder Police Chief answered on Reddit AMA that “His confession, once they shared it with is, did not match the evidence at the scene. We knew in about 18 hours that he was not the guy. We were able to confirm that he was not even in colorado at the time by just doing some routine checking and then obtained photos of him in Georgia at the time.”


DNA Evidence from JonBenet’s case

Dr. Henry Lee, a DNA expert, studied the DNA from JonBenet’s underwear and found out that JonBenet underwear may have held transfer DNA from the manufacturing process and proved this by testing an unopened bag of underwear which also had foreign DNA on them. The CBS program concluded that DNA from the crime scene was considered Fallacious.

The case is back open now and all the suspects should be check again if Dr. Henry Lee’s test should be taken into account but till then, the case remains unsolved.

Since you have read about Jonbenét Ramsey, you might also like reading about How a nurse became an Angel of Death. You might also like reading about the Mysterious Boy in the Box.

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