"Go where the evidence leads you"
This is a presentation of key pieces of evidence, biggest police mistakes, and autopsy results. This article is not a statement of opinion. At the end, you can find the 911 call, Burke's taped interviews, a link to the ransom note, a poll, and a timeline of the morning. The book linked at the bottom: "We Have Your Daughter" by Paula WoodWard is an excellent source for this case. The evidence is laid out and almost every side of this case is explored.
Evidence Suggesting an Intruder
- An open window in the train room with a shoe scuff mark on the wall under the window, and a suitcase placed under the window. This suggests that someone could have come in through the window and placed the suitcase there to get back out. A Hi-Tec boot print was found on the suitcase. The window had previously been broken by John Ramsey when he locked himself out of the house.
- Leaves and packing peanuts were found in the grate area outside of the window. Leaves, packing peanuts and glass were also found on the suitcase and on the floor around the suitcase.
- After John locked himself out, the Ramseys placed a key under a rock on the porch. The key was missing the morning of the murder.
- The leaves and foliage around the grate were found disturbed.
- The butler door that is located in the rear of the kitchen was found open on the morning of the murder.
- A flashlight not belonging to the Ramseys was found on the kitchen counter.
- A canvas bag, not belonging to the Ramseys, was found in a crawl space in the home.
- A partial boot print was found on top of the toilet tank in the northeast bathroom in the basement, near a crawl space.
- In the wine cellar where JonBenét's body was found a red pocket knife not belonging to the Ramseys and Hi-Tec boot print. No one in the family owned Hi-Tec boots. Another shoe print was found. Indicating there could be two perpetrators.
- A neighbor found a latex glove in the trashcan in their alley.
- A note from the man who played Santa Claus at the Christmas party gave JonBenét a note that said: "something special will happen to you after Christmas".
- An unidentified pubic hair was found in the blanket that was partially covering her body.
- A blood smear was found on JonBenét's body.
- With the new technology, touch DNA was used to collect DNA from the waistband of her longjohns and the DNA found matched the one found under her fingernails. The DNA did not match anyone in the Ramsey family.
- An unidentified palm print was found on the area of the wine cellar door, where the body was later found.
- Neighbors reported seeing a dark van parked across the street from the Ramsey home the evening of the murder.
- Unidentified male DNA and urine were found in JonBenét's underwear.
- Lou Smit, a former detective, tested a stun gun on anesthetized pigs and found the marks to be identical to the ones found on JonBenét's left lower back and cheek.
Evidence That Could Suggest an Intruder or Someone in the Ramsey Family Committed the Crime
- Burke's baseball bat was found outside of the home. Burke has said this was not out of the ordinary, he said it was common for him to leave it there. There were carpet fibers from the basement carpet found on the bat. Meaning it had recently been in the basement. There were no fingerprints found on the bat, not even Burke's. This implies someone cleaned the bat.
- The media had reported that the snow on the walkways of the Ramsey's home did not have any footprints. Crime scene photos showed that there was no snow on the walkways on the morning of the murder.
- The ransom note was found to be written with a pen found in the home and on a pad from the home. Some say this says that someone living in the home had to have written it. It could also mean that an intruder used what was there. The pen was wiped clean of fingerprints and the pad was missing seven pages of practice notes that were never found. The fact that they were never found indicated to some people that it was an intruder who took them when they left, some saw it as the Ramsey's covering up evidence.
- The amount requested in the ransom note was the same amount John received as a holiday bonus from his company.
- Handwriting experts were brought in from both sides to compare Patsy's writing and the writing of the ransom note. Both said there were similarities, but not enough to say without a doubt she wrote it. A scale is used to measure how likely it was that the person wrote it. A 1 indicates the person without a doubt wrote it, and a 5 indicates there is absolutely no way they wrote it. Patsy scored between a 4.2 and a 4.5.
- In the wine cellar room where JonBenét's body was found, there was a broken Christmas tree ornament and her Barbie nightgown.
- No fingerprints were found on the duct tape over JonBenét's mouth, the broken paintbrush or rope of the garrote, or on the pen used to write the ransom note.
- Some the items in the murder were never found in the home: the unused roll of tape used to cover JonBenét's mouth, the unused section of rope used in the garrote, the other part of the broken paintbrush, seven pages from the pad used to write the ransom note, object used to cause the head trauma, stun gun or object that made the marks on her back and face, the cloth and liquid used to wipe her body clean, beaver hairs matching the one found on the duct tape, animal hairs matching the ones found on her hands, source of the brown cotton fibers found on her body and the the source of the paper fragments found on her cheek.
- A rope in a brown paper bag was found under the guest bedroom's bed.
- The Barbie nightgown found next to the body also had JonBenét's blood on it.
- Fibers from the rope used in the garrote were found in JonBenét's bed.
Evidence Suggesting Someone in the Ramsey Family Committed the Crime
- There was an undisturbed cobweb found in the corner of the window.
- A bowl of pineapple in milk and a glass of tea was found on the kitchen counter. Burke's fingerprints were found on the glass and bowl. Some saw this as evidence against Burke because it proved he was awake late at night. Some also thought he killed his sister over her stealing a piece of his pineapple. The coroner concluded that JonBenét had pineapple, cherries, and grapes in her stomach, not just pineapple like what was found in the bowl.
- Some experts report hearing Burke's voice in the background of the 911 call. Burke, Patsy, and John said Burke was in his room during the 911 call.
- Some say Burke was jealous of JonBenét because of all the attention she got. Burke denied this claim, but it is worth mentioning.
- Some say the marks let on JonBenét's left lower back and face could be from a piece of Burke's train set.
- Patsy was wearing the same sweater she wore to dinner the night before.
- The duvet on Patsy's side of the bed was pulled up. Some say this indicates she never slept in it. Others say she could have put it up after she had gotten out of bed.
Patsy Ramsey 911 call
Ramsey Family Interviews and Police Cooperation
It was reported that John and Patsy would not cooperate with police because they had not been "interrogated". The media used interview, formal interview, and interrogation interchangeably. These are different things and should not be used interchangeably. An interview is anytime the police spoke with the family, no matter the location. The family was interviewed at their home many times the morning of the murder. A formal interview is set at a neutral location. The family was formally interviewed at the family's home where they were staying, the evening after the murder and days after. An interrogation is when police see you as a suspect. The Ramsey's were not considered legitimate suspects until months after the murder and were not asked to come in for an interrogation for a year after the murder.
Patsy, John, and Burke gave hair, blood, saliva and handwriting samples on three different occasions. Patsy and John went on CNN and were criticized for their behavior. At the time of the CNN interview, Patsy had to be medicated by medical professionals because she could not walk on her own or talk in complete sentences.
Burke's interview with a psychologist raised red flags with the public (clips have been attached below). One child expert said that his behavior was not completely out of the ordinary. Burke was described as an awkward and shy child. The year prior to the murder, the media claimed that Burke had beaten his sister with a golf club. The Ramseys and family friends have said that JonBenét walked up behind Burke on his back swing.
The autopsy of JonBenét Ramsey began at 8:15am on Friday, December 27, 1996. The autopsy was performed by Dr. John Meyer, the Boulder County Coroner. Two Boulder District Attorneys, two Boulder detectives, and two medical assistants were in attendance. This was the first and maybe the only time everyone was on the same team and recognized that the investigation should be focused on the young girl.
Cause of death
Dr. Meyer concluded that the cause of death was asphyxia by strangulation associated with craniocerebral trauma. It could not be determined which came first, but it could be determined that the head trauma happened while she was alive. There was an eight and a half inch fracture in her skull and a one and three-fourths by one and a half inch chunk of skull broken off. The object did not break the skin, so the bleeding was contained within her skull. The trauma was caused by a heavy blunt object. There fingernail marks on JonBenét's neck from when she tried to pull the garrote from her neck, indicating she was alive when the garrote was placed on her neck. The rope was embedded in her neck. It was determined that the garrote was tightened, loosened, and then tightened a second time. Petechial hemorrhages were found on the tops of her eyelids and under her eyes. This can be caused by about twenty things, but one of them is asphyxia.
Blood and wood fibers from a paintbrush were found in JonBenét's vaginal canal. A pediatric expert was brought in by Dr. Meyer to determine sexual assault. Foreign DNA was found under the fingernails of both of her hands and mixed with blood in JonBenét's underwear.
Remnants of cherries, grapes, and pineapples were found not completely digested in her stomach. These ingredients were matched with a fruit cocktail, which does not match the fruit found in the bowl on the counter. The food she had eaten for dinner was completely digested.
JonBenét had two sets of abrasions on her skin: one set on her left lower back and another on her cheek. She also had a runny nose when she died.
Mistakes Made By Police
No one was in charge that morning. The Ramsey friends were allowed to stay and contaminate the scene. The friends cleaned the kitchen and picked up in various rooms of the house. When officers first showed up they searched the exterior and the main level and upstairs of the home. A second search by law enforcement was done, but was not a detailed search. The entire house should have been marked off, but only JonBenét's room was.
The detectives did not go straight to the scene, they arrived two and a half hours later. When detectives arrived, they were ill-prepared. Of all law enforcement officers, there was only one tape recorder brought. That recorder was hooked up to the phone in case of a ransom call. Therefore, no interviews on the scene were recorded.
Detective Linda Arndt was left alone with no law enforcement back up. Arndt instructed John and a friend to search the house, which is when her body was found. They should have never been searching the house without law enforcement accompanying them. Since the men were not supervised by law enforcement ,nobody stopped them from removing the body from where it was found, removing the duct tape from her mouth, or laying a sheet over the body. All of these actions contaminated the scene. This could have been prevented if they were with a law enforcement officer.
Throughout the investigation, detectives and law enforcement did not go where the evidence took them. They looked for evidence that could make the Ramseys guilty. They overlooked possible suspects. One woman came forward to say she saw a man approach JonBenét at a pageant. When the man noticed the woman watching he told her he was Jonbenét's dad. Then when the woman saw she was murdered and what the child's father actually looked like, she reported it. Michael Helgoth was also a possible suspect. He had Hi-Tec boots, a stun gun and admitted to wanting to crack someone's skull. His DNA did not match that of the DNA found under her fingernails. Another man who called himself "Daxis" began emailing a journalist. He knew things about the case that no one could know. One example, he knew that the underwear that JonBenét was wearing when she died said "Wednesday" on them. That fact had not been released to the public. He said that he loved JonBenét and had sexual feelings for her. He said that he was present for her death and that her death was an accident. He confessed: "I grabbed the flashlight and I hit her over the head with it". He later recanted that statement. The DNA test was negative. Some federal authorities believe he could have been there with a partner or that he wanted "twenty-minutes of fame". A partner was never investigated in that lead or the Michael Helgoth lead.
The parents should have been taken from the scene and interviewed at a neutral location. When the forensic investigation team arrived, unnecessary civilians were allowed to stay in the house. Detective Arndt took too much time to turn in her reports. The reports by Arndt and other responding officers were contradictory and inconsistent. Police and the District Attorney refused to release JonBenét's body unless the Ramseys agreed to be interrogated less than a week after the murder.
Role of the Media
At this time media was gaining speed. This case happened just behind the high-profile OJ Simpson case. Generally, most media outlets enforce a rule that information has to be confirmed from both sides before being reported. That rule was ignored during this case. Tips and information were never checked before being published. Three former Boulder law enforcement officers have recently come forward and said that there was deliberate leaking of misleading information to the media. For example; leaking information about the handwriting experts.
Many times it was reported that the Ramseys were not cooperating and not giving DNA and handwriting samples. This information was false. The media reported that John flew his family to Georgia "too soon after the murder". John did not fly the plane, a pilot did and the family was going to Georgia for JonBenét's funeral. Many media outlets reported that there was no evidence of forced entry, which was false. The media reported that the Ramseys hiring attorneys was an admission of guilt. The Ramseys actually did not hire the attorneys, John's business attorney, and friend did. Nor is hiring attorneys an admission of guilt.
The media referred to Jonbenét as “beauty queen” and “pageant princess”. She was more than pageant queen. She was a small child who was murdered. The media chose to primarily display photos and videos of her competing in pageants.
Around the time of the murder, there was an incident that happened about three houses away from the Ramseys. A mother woke up to her child screaming. When the woman ran towards her daughter's room, a man dressed as a ninja ran down the hallway and out the front door. The girl had been sexually assaulted in her bedroom. This was never reported by the media.
Recently in the Media
In 2010 a judge ordered that the decision that the grand jury came to be unsealed. In 1998 a grand jury was convened to hear the evidence from the prosecution. A grand jury only hears the evidence from the prosecution, it is commonly said by lawyers that anyone can get a grand jury to convict a ham sandwich. The grand jury heard from the prosecution for over a year. Lou Smit and others who supported or had evidence for the intruder theory were denied the ability to testify before the grand jury. The grand jury suggested that Patsy and John Ramsey be convicted of child neglect resulting in death. After this discovery, the case picked up renewed interest. Three officers with the Boulder Police Department flew to Indiana to show up unannounced at Burke's Purdue University apartment to ask for an interview. Burke declined their requests and said he felt it was inappropriate for them to fly out and show up unannounced.
Three officers with the Boulder Police Department flew to Indiana to show up unannounced at Burke's Purdue University apartment to ask for an interview. Burke declined their requests and said he felt it was inappropriate for them to fly out and show up unannounced.
Many television networks have recently aired some type of JonBenét Ramsey special. Most of these specials choose a side and hire officials who believe in their specific side. Burke Ramsey agreed to an interview with Dr. Phil in 2016. To some this interview sparked controversy. Burke is smiling and nervously laughing throughout the entire interview. To some this proved that he is guilty of murdering his sister. Those close to Burke say this is how he acts. He had not done any publicized interviews and was nervous. Burke is now suing CBS for alleging that he killed his sister.
Timeline of the Morning of December 26, 1996
- 5:00am Patsy Ramsey wakes up
- Ransom note is found on the bottom third step of the back spiral staircase leading to the main floor
- 5:45am John Ramsey is woken up by Patsy screaming
- 5:52am Patsy Ramsey makes a frantic 911 call
- 5:56am-5:59am First law enforcement officer arrives. (Different times reported in police reports)
- 6:01am Ramsey friends arrive.
- 6:02am Second officer, Sergeant Reichenbach arrives
- 6:10-6:20am More Ramsey friends arrive
- 6:10am/6:16am Officer Veitch arrives (two times listed in police reports)
- 6:30am Victim advocate arrives
- 6:40pm/6:56am Officer Barry Weiss arrives (two times listed in police reports)
- 7:00am Another victim advocate arrives
- 7:00am Burke is woken up by John and friend
- 7:13am Ramsey’s minister arrives
- 8:10am Detectives Linda Arndt and Fred Patterson arrive
- 8:15am FBI is contacted
- 9:15am Commander-Sergeant Bob Whitson arrives
- 9:45am Whitson and Patterson leave
- 10:00am All officers leave except for detective Arndt. Ramsey friends still present. JonBenet is still presumed missing.
- 11:00am FBI arrives at Boulder Police headquarters
- 11:45am FBI meets with Sergeant and the ransom note is looked over.
- The media reported that John was not seen for about an hour and a half, but there was never a report from police or anyone at the scene that John left for a period of time.
- Sometime around 12:45 detective Arndt told John and friend to search the house.
- 1:05pm John carries the body of his daughter up from the basement.
- JonBenét’s arms were above her head and rigor mortis had already set in. Her body was partially covered with a blanket from her bed. She is still wearing the clothes she was put to bed in.
- Before bringing her up the stairs, John took the tape off of her mouth
- At some point, John called the pilot that was supposed to take him and his family to Atlanta to cancel their flight
- The JonBenet Ramsey Ransom Note - Statement Analysis
An analysis of the JonBenet Ramsey ransom note. You can also find the 911 call and interviews with the Ramseys.
© 2016 Molly Hanson
SClemmons from the Carolina Coast on January 25, 2017:
I've always thought it was either Patsy or Patsy and John covering for Burke
Molly Hanson (author) from Saint Louis, MO on November 08, 2016:
I personally believe an intruder did it. There is too much evidence for me to think otherwise.
CJ Kelly from the PNW on November 08, 2016:
I can see the changes that were made to the original work. Good job. What is your opinion of who did it? Unless I missed it...
I still believe it was an intruder (the guy who worked at the local junkyard and his buddy, who was later found dead from a gunshot).