The JonBenet Ramsey Case

I had to do a search to see if I had done this case already and part of me was surprised that I had not.  For a long time I read everything I could find on this case as it aggravated and intrigued me.  The other part of me was not so surprised that I had not blogged about it because I have feelings about this case that tend to be different than other cases that I research or hear about.  I have mentioned before about what I call my "icky" feeling and this is surely a case that gives it to me.  There is little doubt from anyone, no matter what you think of the case, that this case was sabotaged from the beginning.  I do not mean to say that in the sense that it was necessarily purposely sabotaged, although I cannot say for certain that it was not.  What I can say with almost complete certainty is that, beyond a legitimate confession, this case will never be solved.  

I think what I struggle with most in this case is that in general, the evidence that has emerged years later should be evidence to steer my mind in another direction but it has not in this case.  In July of 2008 the DA in Boulder announced that the Ramsey family was "completely exonerated" as to being involved in the death of JonBenet.  They base this it seems almost solely on the fact that they claim that the DNA of an unknown male was found on her clothes or near her body and that no other Ramsey DNA was found. In most cases, this would be enough for me, but it is not for this case. The question is why.  Some can and I am sure will argue that the media played a huge role in this as the Boulder Police Department and the media focused in on the Ramsey's nearly immediately.  Others may argue that I am being narrow minded in my dismissal of the DNA evidence.  I would agree that the focus was soon on the Ramsey family but I would argue against being narrow minded.  I have researched many cases and followed hundred, read many books on cases and often times I will change my mind throughout a case based on the evidence found.  If you read my blogs you know that I am one of the first people to say when I believe in the guilt of someone but when they are acquitted, the jury got it right simply because the prosecution did not prove their case.  I have seen cases in which new laws are made so the prosecution can get "their man." In one case in particular that comes to mind I did and do believe the defendant to be guilty but the way the prosecution went about could be detrimental to the general public.  However, in this case DNA, in my opinion, whether it was found, not found, matched or not matched, plays a non role for a few reasons.  

First, as the years went on it was announced that no other Ramsey DNA was found near the scene or body obviously besides JonBenet's.  I find this odd in itself.  We drop skin particles by simply walking; we leave DNA by touching things; we bleed in our own homes; and some of us do some other things in our homes that leave DNA in places others may not expect.  We do not know what people do behind closed doors or where they do it.  I am not implying that anything "kinky" went on in that home from anyone, I am just stating that our DNA is all over our homes and our loved ones who live with us.  Even if they had found semen DNA belonging to John Ramsey in the "wine cellar" room in which the body was found, unless it was directly on JonBonet's clothing or body I am not sure that would be enough evidence to prove he was involved in the death of his child.  Why?  It was his home.  Who is to say that was not a "private" room he used.  I am not trying to say that I know things like this, I am simply pointing out that DNA in the home of the person that died of the people who live there would be abundant.  

Secondly, it was announced that DNA of an unidentified non Ramsey family member was found on or near the body.  Supposedly, to this day, this unknown DNA is ran through the database of known criminals on at least a monthly basis and in over 15 years nothing has been found. This is the evidence that has been technically used to exonerate all members of the Ramsey family and it sounds good... right? Well first it would if the home would have been immediately secured upon the report of JonBenet missing and a ransom letter found inside the home, that if we believe all but tells us that perpetrators were inside the home.  Remember... DNA is left everywhere we go.  But the home was not secured.  There were multiple people in and out of that home for many, many hours.  These people were not just family members or law enforcement officers but friends and family of John and Patsy Ramsey.  In fact, law enforcement did not even do a proper search of the home.  It was John Ramsey and a family friend who found JonBonet in the basement of the home and they brought her body upstairs, contaminating the full crime scene even more and hindering the case.  Granted, I am not going to say that if I were to have found my child in the manner in which she was that I would not have contaminated the scene myself, what I am saying is that law enforcement did not do their job properly.  The other reason this male DNA bothers me to the extent that it makes it a non issue for me is the fact that in all these years it has never been matched to anyone.  Most murderers, or criminals in general, do not start with children, they escalate to them and they do not simply stop.  One would assume that all of the law enforcement people who were there that day, as well as family friends who were present were also tested, but I have found no complete evidence of that.  It has been said that, at least around that time the Boulder Police Department did not handle very many homicides and were ill equipped to do so.  There have also been allegations made about their laboratory process.   It is my opinion, and one that any defense attorney would likely successfully argue if anyone was ever brought up on charges that contamination occurred in this case.

So absent DNA what is there?  In my opinion, plenty.  Although admittedly I am unsure it would be enough to fully convict someone.  

I have already mentioned the fact that the police seemed to focus in on the Ramsey family (father:John, mother; Patsy and older brother; Burke) almost immediately.  This in and of itself is not uncommon, nor was it unwarranted, especially in this case.  Patsy Ramsey claimed to have gotten up sometime between 5 and 6 am and had gone down the stairs leading into the kitchen.  She stated she found a note on the stairs.  The note was two and a half pages long, rather long for any sort of ransom letter.  Within the note a "group" had taken credit for kidnapping JonBonet.  The note also demanded $118,000, warned against contacting anyone, including friends, family or the police and all but ensured that had they followed the note to the letter JonBonet would be returned safely. So the first thing that Patsy does, presumably after waking John is call their friends, The Fleets.  According to the wife Patsy told her to contact the FBI.  Then the police were contacted.  One of the more noteworthy things about the ransom letter was the amount demanded.  John had recently received a bonus from work that was nearly that same amount. Later reports regarding the ransom note brought even more questions.  Handwriting experts claimed that Patsy could not be eliminated as being the writer of the note.  It was also claimed at some point that the ransom note was written on a pad inside the home.   Obviously the handwriting thing could likely be dismissed.  It is not necessarily a confirmed science and even if it was there was no conclusive evidence that Patsy did write the letter, only that "she could not be excluded."  However, if true, the fact that the note was written in the home is another puzzle.  First, as mentioned above the fact that the note was over two pages long is very unusual to begin with.  Kidnappers and/or murderers that do so for ransom generally do not go into great detail of things. They are rather simple in nature... "We have (loved one). We want (X amount of money). Do not contact police or they will die. Will contact with further instructions (if they aren't given)" the end.  They do not elude to who they are, where they came from, and rarely, although some times they do, elude to a motive.  In this one they told everything.  They said they were a from a "small foreign faction." They first indicate that they do not have an issue with John Ramsey or his company but "the country that it serves" yet later it throws insults in his direction. There are a few misspellings in the note but not significant ones and yet a lot of "larger" words are used and spelled correctly.  What does this mean?  It means that the person writing it is likely of a higher intelligence, more so than your average low life killer. And yet, it continually states throughout the letter that if they abide by the rules JonBenet would be unharmed, all the while as she lay dead in their own home.  This simply does not make sense.

Some will argue that there had been several burglaries in the area over the preceding few months, however, there is no indication of any sort of violence, let alone at this level.  If we are to take the letter and the evidence at face value... here is what you have.  You have someone who entered the Ramsey home possibly without any force.  There were much later questions surrounding a small window leading into the basement. This window was very small which would indicate a small intruder obviously.  This intruder wrote a 2.5 page note (presumably inside the home), searched the home and found this six year old girl in her bed, and subdued her to the point that no one else heard her.  There were later speculations that the autopsy missed marks presumed to have been made by a stun gun. The perpetrator then took her down to the basement of her own home and strangled her making a garrote out of twine and a handle of a paintbrush from the home, left the note on the stairs and left.  If it is true that the note was written within the home, which obviously there are those out there that disagree, there was significant time in that home.  So was the note written in the home?  I lean towards yes.  Why? There are many places in which a word is started or used and then crossed out as if it was written in a hurry.  If it was written outside of the home for one I would think that instead of handwritten it would have been typed so there was less chance of comparison, as well as more of a chance to make sure that it was clear and understood, hence there would not have been the scratching out of words. Using this theory at most, the perpetrator brought possibly a stun gun with them but no other materials.  Of course this would go with the theory of the note that JonBonet would have simply been kidnapped to be returned later but then why was she killed, killed so quickly and left in her home?  After presumably stunning her could they somehow not get her out of the house?  Why then leave the note placing the blame on someone other than someone in the household?

Common sense would say that when the note was found and likely before the police were called or at the very least while they waited for the police that every nook and cranny of that home would have been searched by the parents or even their friends considering they were there before the police arrived.  This also brings in the issue of how Burke supposedly stayed asleep through all of this.  Both theories whether he stayed in his room asleep several hours after police arrived, or was awaken and taken to a friends house just seems strange to me.  One would think that if a mother is going down stairs and finds a note stating her daughter was kidnapped for ransom her very first reaction would be to scream, secondly she would have ran to her daughter's room, which was next to Burke's, thirdly she would have ran to his room to at the very least ensure he was there, if not wake him up and see if he had seen her and then if through all of this and the presumed screaming she would have been making if John had not heard the commotion she would have gone to get him.  However, it does not appear that things went this way.  In fact, once the police arrived they did not clear the home to do a complete search, nor did they even sequester the people in the home to remain in one particular room.  Friends, family and officers were all over the home and apparently not searching but waiting... waiting for a call?  Waiting for the bank to open to secure money?  Waiting for what?  It was not until 1 pm that while one detective was in the home at that time that she came up with the idea for John and his friend to search the home for clues.  They started in the basement and this is when they found the body of JonBonet.  This is seven hours after the note was found!!!  She was found in a room in the basement considered to be a wine cellar but from all accounts was not really used as such.  She was covered in her own blanket.  There was a cord wrapped around her neck, her wrists were tied above her head and there was duct tape covering her mouth.  
The autopsy revealed that her death was caused by strangulation and skull fracture.  The autopsy could not rule in or out the act of sexual assault.  As stated earlier there were later speculation that a stun gun was possibly used due to marks that were missed in the autopsy but the issue with this seems to be that this conclusion was based solely on pictures.  So remember when I said the perpetrator brought only the stun gun? They may not have even done that.  The autopsy also revealed something else interesting.  There was pineapple in her stomach, indicating she had died a few hours after eating it.  There was a bowl of pineapple on the dining room table with a spoon.  DNA said that the bowl and spoon had been handled by Burke Ramsey, and presumably JonBonet but I have found no record that says her DNA was found also.  Both John and Patsy claimed that they had not fed her this pineapple and seemed to not know how she had it.  They had been at a friend's home for a Christmas party until late the previous night and claimed that the children went straight to bed.  So did Burke and JonBonet get up in the middle of the night and eat pineapple?  Burke was 9 years old at the time so unlike his 6 year old sister he could have maybe reached a cabinet.  Although admittedly I have found nothing to indicate what kind of pineapple it was or where it came from.  Was it canned?  Was it fresh?  Was it cut or opened and in the fridge?  This was an issue that seemed to go as fast as it showed up.

The next odd thing to happen was it was not long before John and Patsy stopped working with authorities.  Some say that is because they felt the police were only focusing on them.  Almost immediately this story went national and much of it was because JonBenet had been very involved in beauty pageants. JonBenet had previously been named Little Miss Colorado and pictures of her in her outfits, wearing lots of makeup were all over the local and national news.  This in and of itself brought a lot of criticism to the parents, especially Patsy.   They did presumably hire their own investigators to look into the case.  Not surprisingly their investigators were critical of the Boston Police Department, who did hold a fair share of blame.  Their department was ill prepared for a case of this magnitude and it seems that ego's got in the way of them asking for help.  If you know anything about investigations and jurisdiction issues, this is not highly uncommon.  Other agencies, including the FBI, cannot just walk into a police station and start helping or take over a case.  They have to be asked and by all accounts noone in Boulder thought they needed help. Was this because they were convinced it was the Ramsey's and the case would easily be solved?  Maybe so, but even still not only were they dealing with a murder in which they were unaccustomed to dealing with they were dealing with a prominent family in the community who had the means and ways to influence a case.  In cases like this, it is imperative to have all the help and information they can have to successfully prosecute someone who is thought to be guilty.  Any defense attorney worth their salt could have successfully defended any one of the Ramsey family (and probably friends) members simply putting doubt that the investigation was not handled properly, and there is clear evidence of that.  So whether they believed one of the Ramsey members to be guilty, cold hard solid proof would be needed for a successful conviction and that would have required all the help they could get.  Another thing that raised the eyebrows of the public as well as investigators was the fact that while they had stopped cooperating with the police, the Ramsey's were continuing to talk to the press.  This does not sit well with any investigation.

By 1999 the community as well as the country were well past demanding for answers in this case.  We all wanted to know who killed this innocent 6 year old child in her own home, and most of us felt we had an idea.  The case was given to the grand jury of the area and after 13 months of investigating and questioning it was announced to the public that they failed to indict anyone, especially the Ramsey's.  The funny thing about this is that in 2013 the media had filed a case requiring that documents from this investigation be released and they won.  Within those documents were the results of this 1999 grand jury. We all wanted to know how they came to the conclusion that they did. What we found out was that they had not come to the conclusion that we had been told.  The grand jury had in fact voted to indict both John and Patsy Ramsey.  Not for murder though.  They voted to indict them for child abuse resulting in death.  While it has not been fully explained a line does say that the Ramsey's had put JonBonet "in a situation which posed a threat of injury to the child' life or health which resulted in death." This indicates that they felt the pageants, which had always been highly criticized were to blame.  They also proposed charging the Ramsey's with hindering the investigation. The theory behind this was that by in essence displaying her in the way they did and in their minds exploiting her they had endangered her life to the point in which she was susceptible to danger. Basically the idea was that the pageants, the displaying and the exploitation made her more exposed to unsavory characters.  Early on the police had canvassed the area and checked in to sex offenders and had ruled everyone out but that did not mean there was not one out there.  While I hate to give the idea of pageants a bad name, I do have to agree with this theory at its base.  However, I think we also have to go back and look at the fact again that in 15 years there has never been a match to the unknown DNA.  I know, I said that it could be anyone's but if we're going to base this on a theory of her pageants exposing her to unsavory elements in the community then it would be unlikely that that same element had not sexually molested her (although it was not ruled out), possibly (or may not) left a trace and in all of these years has still never been caught.    When the results of the grand jury from 1999 were released in 2013 it was also revealed that while they voted to indict it was ultimately the local District Attorney in which declined to file charges saying there was not enough evidence.  This so confuses me because why would he give the grand jury the case if he did not think there was enough to file charges?  That is what they are there for.  You give a grand jury what you have and you let them decide if you are on the fence of charges.  If they fail to indict then you know you need to get more but when they do indict it should be just re-enforcing what you already believe.

In July of 2008 the District Attorney formally cleared the Ramsey and issued an apology to the family for the "umbrella" of suspicion they were under.  As I have continually pointed out this was largely due to the presence of the unknown male DNA found, but it was also likely to get the Ramsey's and their friends off their back.  By this time Patsy had passed away (in 2006) from ovarian cancer and there had even been a false confession (will address in a bit) made in the case. There had been many cases filed by the Ramsey's as well as their friends for defamation of character based on the media reports as well as investigators.  It is likely that Boulder finally decided that no matter what evidence they may or may not recover in the future this case was lost to them so they may as well make the best of it and attempt damage control and that started with the Ramsey's.   

As I pointed out above there was a false confession made.  Patsy had died in June of 2006 and two months later a man by the name of John Mark Karr was arrested.  He had actually been calling Patsy in the months before her death and investigators were looking into him.  He was a former teacher and had supposedly confessed to the murder.  He was also wanted for possession of child pornography and was eventually arrested in Thailand and extradited back to the United States.  He apparently was a nut.  He would confess and retract, confess and retract.  However, even in his confessions they did not match the evidence.  The two largest problems with Karr's story were in the investigators eyes he did not match the DNA...eh... but he had insisted that he drugged JonBonet and there were no drugs found in her body.  Aside from that, most of the "facts" Karr gave were ones that were publicly known.

So did someone in the Ramsey home take this innocent child's life? I truly believe we will never know, at least from a legal sense, with justice served.  If it was someone in that home that leaves only 3 people... John, Patsy and Burke.  Patsy has passed away... John is rather up there in age now I would imagine as he was not a spring chicken in 1996 and unless he loses his mind and makes a confession I think his line of business has taught him when to keep his mouth shut.  That would only leave someone who was 9 at the time.  It has been theorized that maybe Burke did do it and of course his parents would have covered it up for him.  We simply will never know.

***  As a side note several years after this murder I was living in a small town outside of Lafayette Indiana, where Purdue University is located.  It was probably around 2008 and I was looking for a small television for my bedroom.  I had gone onto one of the "yard sale" sites and had found one in Lafayette.  I contacted the seller and received an email back.  As I recall it was signed or the email address contained B. Ramsey (or maybe it did say Burke).  At first I did not think much of it but it really struck me so I did a search and discovered that Burke Ramsey was indeed attending Purdue University.  It was obviously him.  My husband and I were going to be in Lafayette a few days later to attend a wrestling meet for one of our children so we set up the meet.  It just so happened that my son was going to probably wrestle within the time frame we would have been gone and quite honestly I did not want to meet this person alone so my husband went. Of course I had 20 questions for him when he returned.  He said he seemed to mostly be a typical college student absent the fact that he had a very nice car for a student.  He said there seemed to be a lot of skateboard equipment in the car also.

UPDATE:  (June 2016):  
When I originally wrote this blog I had only read the book by Lawrence Schiller, which after reading more things, not just on the case but about that author I believe his book to be a fluff piece.  I had also followed the case throughout the years and obviously did my research through the Internet to compose the blog. I knew there were more books on the subject but I had not gotten around to reading them.  Recently I read two on the subject, both by people who worked on the case. The first was "JonBenet: Inside the Ramsey Murder Investigation" by Steve Thomas and the second was called "Foreign Faction: Who Really Kidnapped JonBenet?" by A. James Kolar.  Both were excellent books and I recommend them to anyone interested in this case.  Steve Thomas became an investigator within days of the case and tells his story as to the ins and outs of the investigation and what really went wrong. Kolar did not actually come into the case until 2005 when the DA's office hired him as an investigator to look at the case.  His fresh eyes to the case was interesting as well as gave information that had stopped when Thomas had resigned from the police force in the summer of 1998.  

Both Thomas and Kolar had their theories as to what happened in this case and while they differ in who they believe the actual perpetrator was, they both agree that all of the evidence pointed to the family. They both were able to successfully (at least in my opinion) disprove the "intruder theory" that some have fought for.  They also both showed just how resistant the DA was in pursing the Ramsey family.  Thomas' book showed how the DA not only handed the Ramsey attorneys everything they had, as they had it, they often allowed (or disallowed) things based on what the Ramsey attorneys wanted.  

Although Kolar had already left the case when the DA, Mary Lacy, formally exonerated the Ramsey's in 2008 he was still following, and involved in the case and addressed this issue in his book.  There are many in the public that believe that because she exonerated them (and formally apologized to the Ramsey's) that they are in fact not guilty. This was something I always took issue with and I was apparently not alone from an investigation standpoint. Lacy had worked under previous district attorney, Alex Hunter, who had been the original DA on this case and the entire DA's office completely resisted anything that led to the Ramsey's, in fact they prevented search warrants from being had on things that in a normal case would have been routine, such as phone and credit card records.  Lacy continued this train of thought while she was in office.  Kolar states in his book that after looking over the case beginning in 2005 he presented Lacy with his findings and noticed some things that they really needed from the Ramsey's that they had resisted throughout the investigation.  Kolar recommended a grand jury look into these things, in essence forcing them to be produced.  According to Kolar, Lacy flat told him that they would not do that because it would "ruin" her relationship with the Ramsey's.  Kolar believes that her act of exonerating the Ramsey family was simply an act in which she made one last play before leaving office herself.  Her "exoneration" technically means nothing as it was nothing from a court of law but more it seems for the public, and apparently there are those that believe it to be true.  Maybe it is but we will never know.  As I stated above, short of a confession, that will likely never ever happen, this case will never be solved and it seems that the only people who do not have a problem with that are the Ramsey's, their attorney's and the original people in the DA's office in Boulder. 

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