The JonBenet Ramsey murder case was one of the most shocking of the 20th century. The case, which remains unsolved, continues to perplex both the Ramsey family and the world at large because it's jam-packed with weird suspects, suspicious details, and uncanny coincidences.
A 6-Year-Old Beauty Queen Is Kidnapped…Sort OfABC News
JonBenet Ramsey was only six years old when she was found dead at her parents home in Boulder, Colorado the day after Christmas in 1996. While the case is jam packed with strange details and unbelievable coincidences, everything seemingly started with a very peculiar ransom note. Apparently, JonBenet Ramsey's mother, Patsy Ramsey woke up on December 26 believing it would be just like any other day. She wandered to the kitchen, and discovered a lengthy two-page ransom note demanding $118,000 for the return of her young daughter.
Police Arrive At The Scene, Chaos EnsuesKarl Gehring/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
The police were phoned around 6:00 a.m., and the family claimed that the only people known to be in the house were family members, including JonBenet Ramsey's mother and father, as well as her 9-year-old brother Burke Ramsey. After calling the police, Patsy Ramsey also phoned family and friends. The police arrived at the house within a few minutes, and found no signs of a break-in. As JonBenet Ramsey's father, John Ramsey, prepared to withdraw the money from his bank account, a forensic team arrived at the house to search the girl's bedroom for fingerprints. As friends and family members arrived at the scene, they started cleaning and unknowingly destroying evidence, as police believed the only area that needed to stay untouched was the bedroom.
The Family Discovers The Body In The Basementacandyrose.com
By 8:00 a.m., a special police task force had arrived to intervene with the ransom situation, but no one ever tried to claim the money from the family. As time went on, things began to get even weirder. The family's minister suggested that the family search the house to see if they could find anything, and within a few minutes John Ramsey discovered his daughter's lifeless body in the basement wine cellar. She was tied up by the wrist and around the neck with a nylon cord, and there was duct tape over her mouth. The family moved her upstairs and then to another room, further damaging the crime scene. According to Patsy Ramsey, her daughter was wearing different clothing than what she had on when she was put to sleep.
JonBenet's Revealing Autopsyacandyrose.com
Once the body was found, a chain of strange events set off in connection to the Ramsey case. Police took the body away from the crime scene to perform an autopsy, and everyone in the family was required to provide handwriting, blood, and hair samples. The autopsy revealed that JonBenet Ramsey was killed by asphyxiation by strangulation, but authorities also found she had severe head and vaginal trauma, and the head trauma could have led to death eventually.
The Ransom Notecrimejail.com
Additionally, police found it incredibly suspicious that the ransom note was two pages long and was written on a legal pad from inside the house. Apparently, it is highly uncommon for kidnappers or thieves to write the note at the scene of the crime. Also, the amount the kidnappers asked for was highly specific—and was the exact amount John Ramsey had received as his bonus that year. As the investigation continued, police discovered that Patsy Ramsey's handwriting was almost a perfect match to the ransom note, but they couldn't conclusively prove that she did write it.
Errors In The Investigationforumsforjustice.org
In general, the case was ripe with investigative errors, and it's one reason why the case became so diluted so quickly. For one, the police became hell-bent on proving that the Ramseys did kill their daughter, and didn't pursue any other viable leads. Also, they allowed a lot of people to enter the house before and after the body was discovered, which compromised a lot of the evidence. In 2002, the case was sent to the district attorney because the Ramsey family didn't think the police were doing a good job.
20 Years Of Weird CoincidencesNBC
The case has unfolded over the course of 20 years, and in that time several strange coincidences have popped up in connection to the Ramsey family. For starters, JonBenet wasn't the first Ramsey child to die; in 1992, just four years before JonBenet Ramsey's death, John Ramsey was married to another woman named Lucinda Pasch and the two had a daughter named Elizabeth Ramsey. In 1992, Elizabeth Ramsey was killed in a car accident and after JonBenet Ramsey died, the police reopened Elizabeth Ramsey's case to see if there was any way the parents could have been involved in foul play there as well.
Interviewing Lucinda Paschbdbphotos.com
The police were so determined to find a connection within the family they even interrogated Lucinda Pasch to see if she knew anything about JonBenet's murder. However, the interrogation wasn't private; John and Patsy Ramsey actually flew to Atlanta, Georgia to sit with Pasch during her meeting with police. According to the media at the time, John Ramsey claimed he went to Georgia to provide Pasch with support. Although the police focused solely on John and Patsy Ramsey at the beginning of the case, by the fall of 1997 they were considering over 1,600 suspects—including John Ramsey's college age son from his marriage with Pasch, John Andrew Ramsey.
The Suitcase Held A Semen Covered Blanket And Children's Bookacandyrose.com
The main thing that thrust John Andrew Ramsey into the murder case was a suspicious suitcase found near the body in the basement. The suitcase was dark blue, and Patsy Ramsey claimed it didn't belong to anyone in her family. Initially, she believed the suitcase was brought into the house by kidnappers who intended to stuff JonBenet Ramsey's body into it. However, when police opened it up, they found a semen stained blanket and a Dr. Seuss book, which both belonged to childless John Andrew Ramsey. The suitcase was a pretty disgusting find, but it wasn't enough to connect John Andrew Ramsey to the murder—especially because he was able to provide a solid alibi.
Sexual Assault And A Mystery 911 CallNBC News
Something that added a lot of confusion to the case was the fact that there was clear evidence that JonBenet Ramsey had been sexually assaulted. At the scene of the crime, there was evidence of sexual trauma, but beyond that police believed there was a history of sexual abuse for poor JonBenet Ramsey, either inside or outside of the home. Three days before the murder, someone called 911 from the Ramsey household, but quickly hung up. This could suggest something was happening to JonBenet Ramsey but she was unable to speak up.
Evidence That Sexual Abuse Had Been Happening For YearsBBC
During the autopsy, authorities found bloodstains in her underwear and claimed that her vaginal opening was two times larger than the average girl her age; this kind of trauma is usually present when a child has been abused over the course of several years. Additionally, there were doctor's records of her parents taking her to the hospital because her vagina was irritated and red. Curiously, JonBenet Ramsey was also forced to be in beauty pageants, which have been criticized for over sexualizing little girls. Patsy Ramsey herself had once been on track to be queened Miss America (just as her mother was in 1952) but failed to win the crown.
Over Sexualizing JonBenet In Pageantskidspot.com.au
Several years later, John Ramsey claimed he regretted placing JonBenet Ramsey in the pageants because he believed it could have placed her in the company of sex offenders. On one occasion, the Ramsey family did deal with a strange man who approached the car after a pageant parade, and made everyone feel incredibly uncomfortable. JonBenet Ramsey's brother, Burke Ramsey, also told the press he thought his sister was murdered by "some pedophile in the pageant audience," but his overall attitude about the murder was puzzling in general.
Burke Ramsey, Jealousy, And Fecesextratv.com
Burke Ramsey was a very odd child who had a habit of smearing feces around the bathroom and his sister's bedroom. On one occasion he smeared feces all over his sister's bed. Some believe he was jealous of the attention his sister received, and could have killed her out of rage. Just a few days after JonBenet died, the police interviewed Burke Ramsey and he was nonchalant about her death. He even smiled and joked around with the child psychologist while talking about the crime; he claimed his mother was "going psycho" and "overreacting" about the death. Nearly 20 years later, he held the same attitude and Dr. Phil claimed he was "a very socially awkward young man."
False Confessions And Elusive Suspectsnationalenquirer.com
As if all that weren't weird enough, the case creeped along for years with a host of odd suspects popping up all over the place. For starters, police suspected a local Santa Claus who had visited the house on Christmas night, and whose own daughter had been kidnapped 22 years prior. Police also suspected a man named Michael Helgoth (pictured above), who killed himself after a private investigator hired by the family caught him on tape confessing to the murder. However, Helgoth wasn't the only person to confess to the murder; another man, John Mark Karr, falsely confessed to the murder in 2006, but was released when police found there was no DNA match anywhere in the crime scene.
The JonBenet Ramsey Case Is Left Unsolved…For NowCrime Jail
To this day, no one knows exactly what happened to JonBenet Ramsey. All anyone really knows is that she was young, beautiful, and incredibly full of potential, which someone stripped away from her. The case was reopened in 2009, and will soon be featured in several TV series on CBS, A&E, and Investigation Discovery. Despite the odds, John Ramsey believes he will get retribution for his daughter's death in his lifetime, and thinks DNA evidence will point police in the right direction. Currently, he offers support to other families going through the trauma that comes from living through a violent crime.