Cold Case: The Story of JonBenet Ramsey
A case that littered magazines and news articles for years, this is probably one of the most famous cold cases of the ’90s. A beautiful young pageant star that would have taken over the pageant scene if not for her untimely death at only the age of six years old, which is still to this day considered an unsolved case.
The events that led to JonBenet’s death took place the night of Christmas Eve when the family was attending a party at a family friend’s house. JonBenet’s mother, a former beauty pageant queen herself, was a socialite who was attending friendly gatherings quite often, so the party was not out of the norm for the family, her father John Ramsey was a local businessman. After attending the party, the family came home at what was said to be around 9 pm that evening and went straight to bed. Patsy was up early around 4 am the next morning, getting ready for the Christmas festivities when it was said that she found the ransom note that conveyed JonBenet’s kidnapping; this is when according to record, she screamed and ran upstairs for her husband, John. The parents allegedly searched the entire house for the young girl, but she was nowhere to be found. After searching, they called 911. In this case, this is where it starts to get a bit hazy. While some people believe it was the family trying elaborately to cover up her possibly accidental death, others believe that it was maybe JonBenet’s older brother Burke who might have killed his sister.
In the ransom note that was left for the Ramsey’s, there were certain things that just did not add up when it came to the killer being someone that was outside of the family. The ransom note began as follows:
Listen carefully! We are a group of individuals that represent a small foreign faction. We respect your business but not the country that it serves. At this time we have your daughter in our possession. She is safe and unharmed, and if you want her to see 1997, you must follow our instructions to the letter.”
The beginning details of this note sound like something out of a movie… why would kidnappers word a ransom letter in this fashion? “We are a small foreign faction,” this statement seems slightly confusing as John Ramsey was the chief executive officer of Access Graphics, a computer services company that was the subsidiary of Lockheed Martin. In 1996, Access Graphics grossed over $1 billion in sales, and Ramsey was named “Entrepreneur of the Year” by the Boulder Chamber of commerce. The only reason a foreign faction would be paying that close of attention to a computer graphics company is because of the money, which they had, but why single out John Ramsey?
The letter continues:
“You will withdraw $118,000 from your account. $100,000 will be in $100 bills and the remaining $18,000 in $20 bills. Make sure that you bring an adequate size attache to the bank. When you get home, you will put all of the money in a paper bag. I will call you between 8, and 10 am tomorrow to instruct you on delivery. The delivery will be exhausting, so I advise you to be rested. If we monitor you are getting the money early, we might call you early to arrange an earlier delivery of the money and hence earlier pickup of your daughter.”
The original letter contained several strikeouts of words and replaced with other words, was this due to the message being written in a hurry? If this was a so-called foreign faction, why would they have taken the time to handwrite the letter? Why not type the letter so the handwriting could not be easily traced? FBI stated that it was strange for a letter of this length to be written at the crime scene and not done before the kidnapping. The police believed the note was staged because it only had the fingerprints of Patsy Ramsey and the authorities who handled it. Later on, in the case, they went on today that the note might have been authored by Patsy herself. They believe that both the appearance of the body and the note had all been staged to cover up the death of their daughter. However, when a DNA analysis was done, none of the family members were under suspicion for the crime.
Another mysterious fact from this case was that the dollar amount that was asked to be withdrawn was about the same dollar amount of the yearly holiday bonus that John Ramsey received each year. Many speculate that it was the EXACT dollar amount of the bonus he received.
The number of clues that this case racked up caused the case to be prolonged for years, along with several other gruesome details about the way that JonBenet was found later in her family home with signs of child abuse and sexual abuse. In October of 2013, unsealed court documents were released that a 1999 grand jury had given the recommendation of filing charges against John and Patsy for permitting their child to be in a threatening situation. The parents were also accused of hindering the prosecution of an unidentified person of whom had “committed… the crime of murder in the first degree and child abuse with the result of death”.
It has been over 20 years since the death, and there are still no confirmed details as to what happened in the case of JonBenet. Multiple people still believe that this could be the work of the family trying to cover up either accidental or purposeful death of their young daughter. In 2019, an article posted on Rolling Stone stated that a convicted child molester confessed to accidentally killing JonBenet named Gary Oliva. Oliva admitted that he assaulted her, and she fell accidentally hit her head but was also asphyxiated; however, Oliva’s DNA test was not a match to the DNA that was found.
This crime was never solved correctly due to improper handling of evidence and evidence tampering. The case today remains unsolved.