The mystery and media attention devoted to the JonBenet Ramsey murder case continues to this day. Not only does the article you’re currently reading count toward the total sum of coverage, but there will always be answers in need of questions for many folks.
True crime topics are always fertile ground for discovery, theories and public interest. For JonBenet Ramsey, her case has many qualities that keep it around. The unknown, the victim’s age, the actions of the parents immediately after contacting the authorities. The biggest reason falls with the media and the flood of true crime, courtroom stories that arrested attention and filled the newly launched CNN or Court TV.
This Detective’s Granddaughters Are Dedicated to Solving the JonBenét Ramsey Case https://t.co/WklOArn1Ev
— E! News (@enews) January 15, 2021
But what started on Dec. 26, 1996, as a 911 call to report a kidnapping, soon spiraled into a murder investigation after the child’s body was discovered in the basement of her own home. Patsy Ramsey’s call over the kidnapping was sparked by a note left on the bottom of the stairs threatening to behead her daughter if the family didn’t pay $118,000 in ransom to what E! News calls “some foreign faction.”
The truth, while still murky, is JonBenet Ramsey was dead in the basement of her home. As E! News describes, the young girl had been “garroted” and suffered a fractured skull due to a blow to the head. The autopsy by the medical examiner also discovered “vaginal injuries” that seemed to point to some form of molestation or sexual abuse before her slaying.
No one was ever charged in the death of Ramsey, though a heavy finger was pointed at parents John and Patsy Ramsey and brother Burke with a variety of other theories popping up as the investigation continued. Many nowhere near official.
The has had several flareups over the years, with interest moving like the tides. The decision by District Attorney Mary Lacy to clear the Ramsey family of the killing due to DNA evidence brought scrutiny during an investigation by Boulder, Colorado’s Daily Camera and 9 News. “It’s a rather obvious point, but I mean, if you’re looking for someone that doesn’t exist, because actually it’s several people, it’s a problem,” former state’s attorney Troy Eid told the Daily Camera in 2016.
Apart from this, the family has appeared in media interviews and faced questioning by true crime and daytime TV figures like Nancy Grace and Dr. Phil. Burke Ramsey sat for an interview with McGraw ahead of the release of a two-art CBS News documentary that named him as the guilty party in a way. It was enough for a defamation suit to be filed against the network and later settled in 2019.
“I am convinced that people still care about JonBenét Ramsey case because, A, a child was brutally murdered. The scene was staged. And it’s never been solved,” Nancy Grace told E! News. “Justice has never been obtained.”
And all of this only scratches the surface of what makes the case a recurring source of interest. Glossed over above are details about the ransom note itself, with its odd sum of cash and length that set a record for the FBI. Then the Ramseys sat with CNN before speaking to detectives about the murder. There’s also no way to separate the case from the world of child beauty pageants. And to top it all off, there is a diverse pool of suspects apart from her family.
John Mark Karr was likely a top suspect until DNA testing didn’t link him to the murder. He confessed to accidentally killing Ramsey and was arrested while in Thailand. However, his family later handed police evidence that put him in Georgia when Ramsey was killed.
It is a winding case with tragedy at its core, making it a constant itch for those who enjoy true crime, to parents that fear for their children, to groups that deal only in a conspiracy. It’s a story that has all of those elements and sadness sprinkled all over it.