It was early morning, the day after Christmas, probably one of the quietest days of the year for some of us. The presents have been opened, the fridge stocked with enough leftovers to feed an army. The house is calm and quiet. This is the way it should be, but it's not the way it was for the Ramsey family in 1996. That day, December 26, 1996, was the day Patricia Ramsey discovered her 6-year-old daughter was missing after finding a ransom note for little JonBenét on her kitchen stairs.
The note, which was addressed to Patricia's husband John, asked for exactly $118,000; the amount John Ramsey had received in a bonus earlier that year. The note was allegedly from a "group of individuals that represent a small foreign faction", and promised that JonBenét would be returned unharmed once the ransom had been received. The note also warned that no police should be involved, and was signed, "Victory! S. B. T. C."
John reportedly asked a friend to withdraw the money from his bank account while Patricia notified police despite the warning in the ransom note, according to testimony she gave later that day. JonBenét was never seen alive again; Hours later on that same day, she was discovered in the basement of her family's Boulder, Colorado home strangled to death with a head injury.
It has now been 20 years since Patricia Ramsey found that ransom note on her kitchen stairs, and we still don't know who killed JonBenét. For years, her parents and even her brother Burke (who was just 9 years old when she died) were considered suspects, but were cleared in 2008 by DNA evidence. Patsy Ramsey died 10 years after her daughter of ovarian cancer. She died not knowing who had written that note, who had killed her little girl.
There have been moments in the past 20 years when investigators thought they might have solved the case. Certainly, the arrest of John Mark Karr in 2006 looked to be the eerie, troubling end to the case of JonBenét Ramsey. While Karr claimed to have "accidentally" killed the little girl, his confession proved to be false. And so the search for JonBenét's killer continues.
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:
In terms of the accusations against John and Patsy Ramsey, the Boulder District Attorney, Mary Lacy, publicly exonerated them in 2008 based on irrefutable DNA evidence. She apologized to the family and assured them that in the future, they would be correctly treated as victims. The days of Ramsey accusations should have ended then and there.
However, I acknowledge that the conclusion by District Attorney Lacy is difficult for many uninformed viewers to accept as the media with the active assistance of the Boulder Police Department disseminated lies about the family and the evidence for many years in a calculated public relations plan to apply pressure to John and Patsy. That plan was undertaken at the suggestion of the FBI and I confirmed that involvement and the existence of the plan as undisputed fact when I deposed former District Attorney Alex Hunter in past litigation related to the investigation.
I also know that members of the media have profited to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars from the tragedy of this family over the past 20 years and many hope to continue to do so at the present time as they attempt to duplicate the financial success of Netflix in its recent series, Making a Murderer. There is no new information or evidence or justification for the renewed coverage of the Ramsey case other than the media’s desire to make more money on the tragedy. The fact that the brutal murder occurred 20 years ago is merely a thinly veiled excuse to seek ratings and profits by certain networks in September by declaring that the twentieth anniversary merits another mini-media frenzy.
A new six-part docu-series will begin airing on Sunday, Sept. 18 — called The Case Of: JonBenét Ramsey — in which investigators already familiar with the case and new investigators will team up to try to definitively solve her murder. Hopefully they will discover who wrote this unusual, perplexing ransom note.
Hopefully, the ransom note and the latest docu-series will eventually lead to the killer — and JonBenét's family will finally see justice served.