Twenty-four years after child pageant queen JonBenet Ramsey was found murdered in the basement of her family’s Boulder home on Christmas Day, and authorities still haven’t been able to identify her killer. “There is an abundance of evidence that’s available. This case can be solved,” said half-brother John Andrew.
Here’s why the infamous murder case is once again making headlines:
John and Patsy Ramsey woke up to a ransom note on Christmas morning in 1996, demanding $118,000 and no contact with the police, for the safe return of their six-year-old daughter, JonBenet. Her body was found in their basement bludgeoned and strangled hours later.
The wealthy Colorado couple were primary suspects in their daughter’s murder, as the handwriting in the note was similar to Patsy’s and there were no footprints in the snow around the house. Andrew, who was due to visit from college that day, said: “For whatever reason, I’d seen a Geraldo Rivera [talk show] before and it had the families of kidnapped victims. I just remembered that statistically, the likelihood is that she was dead.”
Though Patsy submitted a writing sample to police, and it was determined she did not write the ransom note, the couple wasn’t officially cleared until 2008. Tragically, she passed away of Ovarian cancer in 2006. “It’s absolutely unfathomable that they would be involved in this murder,” commented Andrew.
Tabloids suspected Burke Ramsey, the couple’s nine-year-old son, had murdered his sister and his parents tried to cover it up with the ransom note. Though Burke was cleared by the Boulder Police in 1998, a CBS docu-series asserted he was JonBenet’s killer. L. Lin Wood, the lawyer that represented Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse, sued CBS on Burke’s behalf for $750 million, and the network settled for an undisclosed sum in 2016.
Lou Smit, a former homicide detective came out of retirement to investigate the Ramsey’s, but concluded an outside intruder was responsible for the child’s death. He became an independent investigator for the family to establish their innocence. He investigated the case until his death in 2010, when his family members used the encyclopedia of evidence he gathered to continue his work.
DNA evidence found underneath JonBenet’s fingernails and in her underwear did not match any member of the family, though police did not release that information publicly immediately. “When we look at the advancement in technology and forensic science, it’s hugely encouraging,” Andrew remarked. “We’re hoping to finally put the pieces together and end up with the killer.”
The purpose of the new Discovery+ true-crime documentary “JonBenet Ramsey: What Really Happened?” is to “keep JonBenet’s case in the spotlight,” explains Andrew. “We hope it can keep memories fresh for people who may know anything. Maybe it can compel someone to come out and share information that they’ve been holding on to for 24 years.”’