In 1996, 6-year-old pageant queen JonBenet Ramsey was found murdered at her family home in Boulder, Colorado. She was reported missing by her parents – then eight hours later, her body was found in the basement. The case had several grand jury hearings, yet still remains unsolved.
According to the testimony of JonBenet’s mother, Patsy Ramsey, she discovered her daughter was missing after coming across a ransom letter in the kitchen demanding $118,000 for the safe return of her daughter. The note said JonBenet would be returned as soon as the money was paid.
JonBenet’s father, John Ramsey, made arrangement to pay the ransom and collect the money that morning from a local bank. The instructions were not to call the police or contact any friends, but at 5.45pm that day they rang the police and also contacted friends and family.
After officers arrived, they believed she had been kidnapped from her bedroom and cornered off the area. They then suggested John Ramsey search the house for anything unusual and he headed to the basement in the house. Here he found his daughter’s body covered in a blanket and carried her upstairs in his arms. The police were later ridiculed for allowing the father to move the body from the scene of the crime. A nylon cord had been tied around her neck, her wrists were tied above her head, and her mouth was covered by duct tape. An autopsy revealed that JonBenet had been killed by strangulation and a severe skull fracture.
The case has since become one of the most speculated murder mysteries of the past twenty years. Mark Beckner, who was Chief of Boulder police at the time of the murder, explained during a Reddit chat: “The media attention and the intrigue of a good murder mystery attracts lots of people. Add a small beauty queen and it only intensifies the interest. If only 1% of the population is crazy, in our country alone that would mean there are about 3,600,000 crazy people out there wanting to give us their wacky ideas.”
Here are nine theories of who killed JonBenet Ramsey….
9. Burke Ramsey
Burke was 9-years-old when his sister was murdered. 69-year-old Judith Phillips, who was a family friend of the Ramsey’s for more than ten years, has finally spoken out after the death of JonBenet. She claims Burke had always been jealous of his younger sibling and she believes he could have lashed out at her. She told The Sun newspaper, “When Burke was born he was the absolute apple of Patsy’s eye. Then along came this little girl who stole all the attention. He could well have been very jealous.”
She added, “I agree with the theory Burke killed JonBenet but I don’t think he meant to do it. I think Patsy did everything in her power to protect her living child. I think she wrote the ransom note whilst John staged the scene in the basement. After calling the police Patsy began inviting friends over to the house and in the commotion John went missing for an hour and half. It is my opinion he was disposing of evidence.”
During the CBS documentary The Case Of: JonBenét Ramsey there was more evidence that Burke could have been involved when the original 911 call was made public for the first time. Jim Clemente, former FBI agent and producer of the program, listens in on the call and reveals: “I think I hear a man say, ‘We’re not speaking to you.’ I think that’s John Ramsey’s voice. The tone is apparent, talking to a child.” He then overhears a woman’s voice, most likely Patsy, saying ‘What did you do? Help me, Jesus.’
There is also a second voice saying, ‘What did you find?’ Clemente concluded this voice may have belonged to a child. He said, “It sounds like a smaller voice. It doesn’t sound like a booming adult.” Investigator Laura Richards clarified that if this is Burke’s voice it could be “hugely significant” because “their account is that Burke was asleep at that time.”
Forensic expert Dr. Werner Spitz also stated that a Maglite flashlight found at the Ramsey residence was the murder weapon used to kill JonBenet. When asked if a child could cause a skull fracture with this weapon, he replied, “The skull of a 6-year-old – we call them eggshell skulls. It could be an adult, it could be a child. There was, in my view, no doubt that it was this flashlight or one exactly like it.”
During his one-to-one interview with Dr. Phil, Burke Ramsey revealed when the police entered his bedroom as the search for JonBenet took place that he did not get out of bed. This is considered odd behaviour for a 9-year-old, who anyone would expect to be alarmed if police officers started walking around their bedroom, which led many speculate he wasn’t curious because he knew exactly why they were there.
Ramsey’s attorney Lin Wood publicly stated: “In May of 1999, the Boulder District Attorney and the Boulder Police Department publicly confirmed that Burke Ramsey was not a suspect or even a possible suspect. Any statement conveying that this young man was involved in the brutal murder of his sister – his life’s best friend – is unquestionable false and defamatory.”