Did John Bennett Kill JonBenet Ramsey? DNA Evidence Suggests Otherwise


As the 20th anniversary of JonBenét Ramsey's murder approaches, television networks are racing to reexamine the killing that has long fascinated and horrified the nation, hoping to find new answers in the unsolved case. In the wake of the murder, suspicion fell immediately on the child beauty queen's family, including her father, John Bennett Ramsey. Many still wonder, did John Bennett kill JonBenét Ramsey? However DNA evidence makes it seem unlikely, and John was later cleared as a suspect.

On Dec. 26, 1996, John discovered the 6-year-old beauty queen's body in the family's basement in Boulder, Colorado. JonBenét had been strangled and wrapped in a blanket. Earlier in the day, her mother, Patsy, had found a two and a half page ransom note demanding $118,000 from John, prompting authorities to investigate what they then believed was a kidnapping. John then began a search of the house, at which point he reportedly discovered JonBenét's body in a basement room which had reportedly been nused to hide Christmas presents, acccording to The Denver Post.

However, the legitimacy of the ransom note came into question in the weeks following JonBenét's death, and those who believe that a member of the family committed the crime often point to it as key evidence against her family. Some analysts claimed was unusual due to its length, specificity, and the handwriting's similarities to Patsy's. Patsy too was later cleared of all charges and wiped from the suspect list.

For years, the Ramsey family's pictures were plastered on newspapers and magazines, and the Boulder police department seemed to treat the parents (as well as their 9-year-old son Burke) as primary suspects in the investigation, although none of them were ever charged. And in 2008, new DNA evidence seemingly exonerated them.

DNA traces from an unidentified male found on JonBenét's clothes did not match her father's DNA. When the new evidence came in, Boulder County District Attorney Mary Lacy wrote a letter to John (Patsy had earlier died of cancer), saying:

In a statement to Romper, Ramsey family attorney L. Lin Wood dismissed any rumors that the family had been involved in JonBenét's death, writing,

Barry Williams/Getty Images News/Getty Images
ATLANTA - AUGUST 16: Lib Waters places a note on the grave of JonBenet Ramsey August 16, 2006 in Marietta, Georgia. A suspect in the murder of Ramsey, the 6-year-old beauty queen whose parents were under suspicion early on, has been arrested in Thailand. The note Waters left reads: 'Dearest Patsy, Justice has come for you + John. Rest in Peace. Your friend, Lib Waters.' (Photo by Barry Williams/Getty Images)

Of course, not everyone believes that the evidence is unequivocal, especially since the crime scene was not properly sealed. Current Boulder County DA Stanley L. Garnett told NBC News, "The Ramsey case is very compromised. ... The exoneration gave the impression that the evidence is clear and unequivocal, which it is not." Multiple TV specials this year about the Ramsey family are hoping to uncover this part of the narrative.

But if the DNA evidence does truly exonerate John, how truly awful to have not only lost a daughter, but to have spent so many years in a cloud of suspicion that you were the one who murdered her. For everyone's sake, let's hope the new CBS special, The Case of: JonBenét Ramsey, puts at least part of the tragedy to rest once and for all.