What Did The JonBenét Ramsey Ransom Note Say? It's Extremely Unusual

One of the most unusual pieces of evidence in the JonBenét Ramsey murder case is the ransom note that was left behind, presumably by whomever murdered her. The discovery of the note was what first tipped Patsy Ramsey off that her daughter was gone, but it was strange on its own for a number of reasons. It's essentially the longest ransom note in history at two and a half pages (most ransom notes are quick and to the point) and it was filled with oddly specific information about the Ramseys – things a stranger would be unlikely to know. It was also written using materials from the home, meaning an interloper had been there for a good long while composing it. But what did the JonBenét ransom note say?

The note reads almost like something out a movie, and former FBI agent John E. Douglas has speculated that the person who wrote it borrowed lines from the movies Ransom and Speed. It is addressed directly to John Ramsey and speaks specifically to him throughout, as well as asking for a very particular amount of money: $118k, the exact amount John Ramsey had received in a bonus that year. It was signed S.B.T.C., which no one has yet puzzled out.


The note begins with the perpetrator describing themselves as "a group of individuals that represent a small foreign faction" and assuring John Ramsey that JonBenét was "safe and unharmed," but adding "if you want her to see 1997, you must follow our instructions to the letter." The note has repeated references to the instructions that were to come at sometime between eight and 10 in the morning the following day, but no call ever came to the house between those hours. The perpetrator also claims to be watching the house and the police, insisting that if anyone outside the family is notified, then JonBenét will be killed. The language of the note is somewhat more florid than that, however.

Any deviation of my instructions will result in the immediate execution of your daughter. You will also be denied her remains for proper burial. The two gentlemen watching over your daughter do not particularly like you so I advise you not to provoke them. Speaking to anyone about your situation, such as Police, F.B.I., etc., will result in your daughter being beheaded. If we catch you talking to a stray dog, she dies. If you alert bank authorities, she dies. If the money is in any way marked or tampered with, she dies. You will be scanned for electronic devices and if any are found, she dies. You can try to deceive us but be warned that we are familiar with law enforcement countermeasures and tactics. You stand a 99% chance of killing your daughter if you try to out smart us. Follow our instructions and you stand a 100% chance of getting her back.

The language is one of the most bizarre things about the note. The kidnapper or kidnappers advise John to rest up because the instructions to deliver the money will be "exhausting," and also make sure to tell him to bring a large enough "attaché" to carry the money in. And if JonBenét is already deceased at the time of the note being written (the timeline can be a little hard to figure out), then why leave a note at all?

The note ends with more statements directly addressed to John. It tells him not to "try to grow a brain" (a line from Speed) and to "use that good Southern common sense of yours." Though the writer of the note apparently knew enough about John Ramsey to know the exact number of his bonus that year, they did not appear to know that he was not Southern; he was born in Nebraska and attended school in Michigan.