Thursday, 14 May 2015

JonBenet Ramsey - Unsolved.

JonBenet Ramsey

JonBenet Ramsey was reported missing by her parents on the morning of December 26th, 1996. The six-year old's body was found eight hours later in the basement of the family home. The subsequent murder hunt would play out over years, with false accusations, lies, defamation lawsuits and suspicion ensuring it was and is one of the most talked about cases in America.

John and Patricia Ramsey lived with their children, Burke and Jonbenet, in an affluent area of Boulder, Colorado. The family had relocated to Boulder in 1991 when John Ramsey became president of a computer systems company. Patricia Ramsey soon began enrolling little JonBenet in beauty pageants. Beautiful little JonBenet proved popular as she went on to win a clutch of titles in several different states. Patricia Ramsey's 'obsession' with JonBenet's pageant career was criticised widely after her murder with many accusing her of sexualising the six-year old. Many believed Mrs Ramsey didn't care that her daughter was potentially fodder for padeophiles, she only cared about her winning. It was also indicated after the murder that Jonbenet had begun to rebel against her 'pagent mother' and that this had angered Patricia Ramsey. 

The ransom note found in the Ramsey home.

On the morning of December 26th, 1996, Patricia Ramsey woke up as normal, going through to the kitchen to begin preparing the family's breakfast. It was on the stairs leading to the kitchen that, according to Mrs Ramsey, she found a ransom note. The note demanded money, $118,000, for the safe return of JonBenet. The note contained very specific instructions, if the Ramsey's wished to see their daughter again they were not to contact the police, FBI, family or anyone. Despite these 'orders', Patricia Ramsey immediately called the police and several of her friends and family members. Law enforcement were quick to respond and completed, what was later to referred to as a, cursory check of the family home. As well as finding nothing unusual or any signs of forced entry, they did not find Jonbenet Ramsey. The ransom note gave a detailed account of what the kidnapper(s) wanted the Ramsey's to do regarding the ransom drop off. John Ramsey didn't mess about about and a family friend collected the full amount from the bank on the Ramsey's behalf that morning. It was while police and the family were waiting for the ransom drop off time to arrive that a Boulder police detective suggested John Ramsey and a friend check over the house again looking out for anything 'unusual'. It was during this search that John Ramsey found little Jonbenet's body in the wine cellar room of the basement. Her body was covered with her favourite blanket and she had duct tape over her mouth and nylon cord tied around her neck. There was also a handmade garrote, used to strangle little Jonbenet, fashioned from the broken handle of a paintbrush attached to the nylon cord.

Jonbenet and her brother, Burke - Christmas '96
Jonbenet Ramsey's autopsy revealed the cause of death to be blunt force trauma causing a fracture to the skull and strangulation. While the medical examiner confirmed that Jonbenet had not been raped, he could not rule out sexual assault. It wasn't long before suspicion fell on the Ramsey family. As well as investigating officers saying that the body being found in the family home was suspicious, it transpired that the paintbrush handle belonged to Patricia Ramsey. Law enforcement and members of the public began to question whether the Ramsey's had killed Jonbenet by accident and used the 'kidnapping' story as a cover up. There was even the suggestion that Patricia Ramsey may have killed Jonbenet because the little girl soiled herself. Suspicion even fell on nine-year old Burke Ramsey after his fingerprints were found on a bowl of pineapple. The autopsy had revealed Jonbenet had eaten pineapple just a couple of hours before she died, although both parents say they never saw her eating any. In the days, months and gradually the years following little JonBenet Ramsey's death, suspicion continued to fall on the family. Although there was no physical evidence suggesting guilt, at that time there was no evidence to suggest the murder had been committed by an unknown assailant. Much was also made of the ransom demand, the money requested by the kidnapper turned out to be the exact amount John Ramsey received as a bonus at work.

Thanks to advancements in DNA technology, in 2003, material extracted from blood found on JonBenet's underwear established a DNA profile. The DNA was found to belong to an unknown male - an indication at last maybe that another individual had been in the Ramsey home. Evidence was also brought to light that in the months leading up to the murder, there had been over 100 burglaries in the area where the Ramsey's lived . It wasn't until 2008 however, that the Ramsey family were completely and officially removed as suspects. Boulder District Attorney, Mary Lacy, wrote a letter to the Ramsey's apologising for the suspicious way they had been dealt with over the years and promising that the search for the real killer(s) would carry on. The following year, 2009, Patricia Ramsey lost her battle with ovarian cancer at the age of 49. 

The cordoned off Ramsey home.
Although the Ramseys were suspects in Jonbenet's murder for years, law enforcement also received huge criticism. The Ramsey family home wasn't treated as a crime scene until AFTER Jonbenet's body had been found. The house should of been secured because of the alleged kidnapping and yet friends and family were allowed to come and go as they pleased. Two of the lead investigators resigned, one because he was unhappy the Ramseys were not prosecuted and the other because of the incompetent police enquiry. In October 2013, court documents sealed since 1999 were opened revealing a Grand Jury HAD indicted the Ramseys for accessory to a crime including murder and child abuse leading to death. The court documents alleged that both parents had purposely acted in a manner that prevented or delayed the arrest of Jonbenet's killer. However, the indictment was never acted on because the documents did not say WHO had actually killed the little girl. 

The Jonbenet Ramsey case still causes debate and arguments today. There is one side who believes an inexperienced criminal got into the Ramsey home intending to kidnap Jonbenet and killed her whilst trying to subdue her. Then there is the other side who believe John, Patricia or even Burke Ramsey are individually or collectively responsible for the murder. Boulder County law enforcement insist the case remains active and there is hope one day the real story of what happened to Jonbenet Ramsey will be revealed. 

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