Why JonBenet case wasn't solved 20 years ago

By Emma Reynolds

New evidence could prove that JonBenet Ramsey could have been murdered by her family. Photo / Supplied
New evidence could prove that JonBenet Ramsey could have been murdered by her family. Photo / Supplied

A dramatic documentary has claimed JonBenet Ramsey's brother Burke was the most likely suspect in the six-year-old pageant queen's shocking murder.

The crack team of experts who painstakingly worked through the theories over months are calling for the case to be reopened after they all came to the same conclusion - that she was killed by her nine-year-old sibling and their parents covered it up.

But the most damning revelations in The Case of JonBenet Ramsey came from police who investigated the case 20 years ago and say it could have been solved back then if they were not "hamstrung by politics."

Gretchen Smith, a former officer who worked on the murder case in Boulder, Colorado, told the documentary-makers: "The district attorney's office and some of the administration did not want to hear that an affluent member of the community was guilty of a crime like this.

JonBenet Ramsey, who was killed in her Colorado home in 1996 was covered throughout the media. Photos / News Corp Australia
JonBenet Ramsey, who was killed in her Colorado home in 1996 was covered throughout the media. Photos / News Corp Australia

"Idon't think they wanted to solve this crime and if they had to go down a different path that might not be the truth, I think they were willing to do that."

John and Patsy Ramsey were wealthy and respected pillars of the community. But behind closed doors, it appeared things were not as perfect as they seemed.

Burke was said to harbour some resentment over his pageant-loving mother's closeness to her youngest. He had previously hit his little sister with a golf club, leaving a scar just below her eye, a family friend revealed.

He had also left a ball of faeces "the size of a grapefruit" in her bed, a former housekeeper revealed. After her murder, crime scene technicians apparently found faeces smeared on a box of candy she had received for Christmas.

JonBenet Ramsey performing during a beauty pageant.
JonBenet Ramsey performing during a beauty pageant.

The forensic experts, former FBI agents and psychologists in the documentary concluded that after coming home from a Christmas dinner, John carried JonBenet upstairs to bed while Burke sat down to eat some pineapple in the kitchen downstairs.

They theorised that Burke was jealous and angry at JonBenet over Christmas presents. When she came downstairs and tried to steal some of her brother's food, he hit her over the head with a nearby torch - before prodding her with a piece of train track to see if she was alive, leaving two marks in her back.

JonBenet Ramsey performing during a beauty pageant. Photo / AP
JonBenet Ramsey performing during a beauty pageant. Photo / AP

Their parents then placed her in the basement with a nylon cord around her neck, covered her with a blanket and made it look as though an intruder broke in, with Patsy writing a ransom note.

The next morning, Boxing Day 1996, she made a hysterical call to 911 saying her daughter was missing. It was eight hours before John found the body in the basement and carried it upstairs, meaning much of the forensic evidence was obscured before police even visited.

THE DA WANTED TO CREATE SOME PARALLEL UNIVERSE

In the documentary made by former FBI special agent Jim Clemente, the investigators prove that an intruder could not have come through the basement window without disturbing cobwebs in the corners and trampling plant debris into the home.

If they weren't going to hide the suitcase they supposedly used to climb out, why would they clean up other signs of entry?

Furthermore, why would they leave a two-and-a-half page ransom note if they had killed JonBenet at the scene?

John Ramsey looks on as his wife Patsy holds an advertisement promising reward for information leading to arrest and conviction of murderer of their daughter JonBenet. Photo / AP
John Ramsey looks on as his wife Patsy holds an advertisement promising reward for information leading to arrest and conviction of murderer of their daughter JonBenet. Photo / AP

"We know that was [Patsy's] pad, her fingerprints were on that pad," former Boulder detective Steve Thomas, who quit over the case in 1998, told the documentary-makers. "The Sharpie pen we located, that ink matched the ransom note, which bore handwriting characteristics some experts said were remarkably similar to Patsy's.

"If we found that body of evidence in the possession of any third party, that's pretty damning evidence but in this case, for some reason, the DA wanted to create some parallel universe where it wasn't her. I find it preposterous."

The Ramseys were accused of not co-operating, declining to submit to detailed police interviews until April 30, 1997.

Worse, they were provided copies of police reports to prepare for their interviews, Thomas said. He and the FBI were "furious." Police were not given search warrants, phone records or credit card receipts to aid their investigation.

Dr Phil explains to the media the Burke Ramsey's bizarre composure and odd smile in front of the cameras that left viewers troubled.
Dr Phil explains to the media the Burke Ramsey's bizarre composure and odd smile in front of the cameras that left viewers troubled.

"The Ramsey family did not want law enforcement to resolve this case and that's why it remains unsolved," said Mr Clemente. It seemed it wasn't just the Ramseys who wanted to buy into their alternative perception of reality.

The last straw for Thomas came in June 1998, when Boulder detectives, FBI agents and personnel from the DA's office congregated to discuss the possibility of indicting the Ramseys before a Grand Jury.

Thomas says he recalls leaning against a cinderblock wall as the FBI's Bill Hagmaier asked prosecutor Alex Hunter: "Mr District Attorney, no disrespect intended but a little girl is mouldering in the ground and something needs to be done. Are you going to call a Grand Jury?"

He said he would never forget the DA's response. "I need to get with my people. This is a political decision."

The next day, the FBI agents decided they could no longer be part of the investigation. Thomas felt the same. "I thought, I can't do this any more, I won't do this any more," he said.

Burke Ramsey, JonBenet's older brother who was just nine years old when his sister was brutally murdered, has broken his silence.
Burke Ramsey, JonBenet's older brother who was just nine years old when his sister was brutally murdered, has broken his silence.

In October 1999, Mr Hunter reported that the "Grand Jury has finished its work ... no charges have been filed", adding that there was not sufficient evidence to indict.

It was only years later that a Grand Jury member revealed they had voted to indict the Ramseys for child abuse resulting in death, only the prosecutor had never signed the indictment.

In 2001, Mr Hunter left office after 28 years.

EVERYONE FORGOT ABOUT JONBENET

His successor, DA Mary Lacy, fully exonerated the Ramseys in 2008 on basis of DNA evidence found in JonBenet's underwear that did not match any family member.

But the documentary cast doubt on this. The sample was tiny, and DNA expert Dr Henry Lee showed how even brand new underwear can have fragments from a manufacturer on them.

He said retesting the garotte, the torch and the ransom note would be far more significant.

John and Patsy Ramsey, with their 10-year-old son Burke in 1997. Photo / AP
John and Patsy Ramsey, with their 10-year-old son Burke in 1997. Photo / AP

After building a scale model of the home, the experts showed there was unlikely to have been an intruder. JonBenet's parents had no history of domestic violence or child abuse and seemed to dote on their daughter.

They also showed it was unlikely she would have been "subdued" with a stun gun, since this was more likely to have made her scream. The manufacturer of such devices said the marks on her lower back were not consistent with a stun gun.

But they did fit the shape of a toy train track.

The documentary played footage of bizarre interviews with Burke in which he showed no sadness over his sister's death, and behaved evasively when questioned about eating the pineapple and staying in bed throughout the commotion on Boxing Day morning when she was apparently found missing.

In fact, extra recordings from Patsy's 911 call suggest he may have been present, with a child's voice audible and her saying something sounding like: "What have you done?"

She also told police at one stage she would have "nothing left to live for" if she lost Burke.

The documentary asserts that the Ramseys do not appear to have deliberately killed their child, but the fact remains that a child is dead and has never found justice.

As former New Scotland Yard detective Laura Richards concludes: "Everyone forgot about JonBenet, it became about politics and agendas and creating a smokescreen. Why?

"This is a young girl who's become a footnote in her own murder."

- news.com.au

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