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The case of jonbenet ramsey
Presented to: Rehka Iyer
Submitted by:
Sarah Pinsonneault
The first images of JonBenet Ramsey that were broadcast to the world showed
a pretty little girl in heavy make-up and flamboyant costumes parading
across a stage. At the time, the media described her as being “a painted
baby, a sexualized toddler beauty queen.” From the day in 1996, when
JonBenet was found dead in the basement of her home in Boulder Colorado,
the Boulder police and a large proportion of the world’s media believed
that her parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, were responsible for her death.

Prior to the murder of their daughter, John and Patsy Ramsey’s life seemed
almost ideal. Patsy, a former beauty queen, was married to a successful
businessman. They had moved to Boulder in 1991 where John ran a computer
company that had started in his garage. The Ramsey’s readily adapted to
their new life in Colorado and made several new friends. They built a large
house in an elite suburb, and entertained often. Their last party in
Boulder, just three days before the murder, was particularly happy. Over a
hundred guests were present at a Christmas function with a difference as
the Ramsey’s had good reason to celebrate. Patsy had warded off cancer and
John had been voted Boulder’s “businessman of the year.”
According to the Ramsey’s testimony, they drove home the few blocks from a
party at a friend’s house on Christmas night. JonBenet had fallen asleep in
the car so they carried her up the stairs to her room and put her to bed at
9:30 pm. Shortly after, Patsy and John went to bed as they planned to get
up early to prepare for a trip to their holiday home on Lake Michigan.

The next day, Patsy woke just after 5:00 am and walked down the stairs to
the kitchen. At the foot of the staircase, she found a two-and-a-half page
ransom note that said that JonBenet had been kidnapped by a “small local
faction” and was being held for a ransom of $118,000. She was to be
exchanged for the money later the same day. The letter warned that if the
money were not delivered, the child would be beheaded. Patsy yelled to John
as she ran back up the stairs and opened the door to JonBenet’s room.

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Finding she wasn’t there they made the decision to phone the police. The
911 dispatcher recorded Patsy’s call at 5:25 am. The police arrived at the
house seven minutes later.

The uniformed police officers that attended were openly suspicious from the
start. The Ramsey’s, treating the demand seriously, were already taking
steps to raise the ransom. The note said that the kidnappers would call
John Ramsey between 8-10 am but no call came. It was while the police were
waiting for the call that they made several critical mistakes. They did not
conduct a proper search of the house, the area was not sealed off and
friends were allowed to walk in and out at their leisure. No moves were
made to protect any forensic evidence. The scale of their mistakes became
apparent later. On December 27, the Rocky Mountain News quoted an
Assistant District Attorney as saying, “It was very unusual for a kidnap
victim’s body to be found at home – it’s not adding up.” According to
Charlie Brennan, the journalist who wrote the story, the police had also
indicated to him that they held a strong belief that the parents were
responsible. Julie Hayden, a television reporter for Denver’s Channel 7,
also covered the story on the same day and drew the same conclusion. She
later explained that from her first exposure to the case, the police had
made it very clear that they were not scouring the area looking for “some
mad kidnapper” but instead, concentrating their efforts on John and Patsy

While spokespersons for the Ramsey’s have contended that the Boulder police
failed to investigate anyone but the Ramsey’s, this is untrue. There was a
wide-ranging investigation. Other suspects:
1.All present and former employees of Access Graphics (and their spouses) –
which had 360 employees in July 1997 – were asked to give handwriting

2. People who had been in the Ramsey house on Dec. 23 were questioned and

3. The man who had played Santa on that day (for the third year running),
67-year-old Bill McReynolds, a retired University of Colorado journalism
professor, provided handwriting, blood and hair samples to police.

4. His wife Janet, 64, who’d been a film and drama critic for the Boulder
Daily Camera for 10 years, also gave handwriting, hair and blood samples
after police learned she had written an award-winning play in 1976 about a
young girl who was tortured and sexually abused for months, before being
murdered in a basement. It was based on a true story from Indiana.

(Coincidentally, on Dec. 26, 1974, a 9-year-old daughter of the McReynolds
was abducted and forced to watch as another young girl was molested. The
two girls were then released and no one was ever arrested.)
The McReynolds told police that they both went to bed at 8 p.m. the night
JonBent was murdered. McReynolds, who had allowed his Santa-like beard to
grow for years, eventually shaved it off and he and his wife moved to the
East Coast.

5. Then there’s Randy Simons, the 46-year-old professional photographer
who was a veteran of the beauty pageant circuit. In October 1998, Simons
was arrested while walking nude down a rural road in Colorado. When a
deputy sheriff walked up to Simons, before the deputy said a word, Simons
blurted, “I didn’t kill JonBent.” Simons had taken some of the best-known
pictures of JonBent, and told authorities he felt his career as a
photographer was ruined because he had been questioned in connection with
her death.

The Ramsey’s had reneged on an offer during the spring of 2000 to
voluntarily submit to polygraph exams. On April 11, the Boulder Police
Department had accepted John and Patsy Ramsey’s public offer with certain
conditions to take polygraph exams regarding the death of their daughter.

During the next month, from May 6 through 17, they underwent “a series” of
polygraph exams administered by nationally prominent polygraphists of their

The first indication that all was not well at the Ramsey household took
place three days before JonBent’s murder. At 6:48 p.m., Dec. 23, 1996, a
911 call was placed from the Ramsey home to the Boulder Police Department.

The call was terminated before an emergency dispatcher could speak to the
caller. Six minutes later the police called the Ramsey home, but got a
voice-mail message, so a police officer was dispatched to the house. No
police report was filed, so one must presume the officer was told that the
call was in error, and was satisfied with the explanation.

While initially vowing they would do everything in their power to cooperate
with police so the killer of JonBent could be caught, the Ramsey’s erected
barriers that would stifle the investigation to this day.

The major findings of the autopsy, however, were that she died of ligature
strangulation, with a furrow surrounding her neck, and cranial damage –
including an 8-inch long skull fracture, with a piece of skull nearly an
inch square broken loose. However, there was no laceration of the scalp, as
would be expected if she was struck with a flashlight or a golf club. The
wound would be more likely the result of her head being bashed against a
toilet or a bathtub. It was determined that the strangulation was
accomplished by the murderer using part of the handle on one of Patsy’s
paint brushes to tighten the cord around JonBent’s throat to choke her to
death. There were also abrasions on her back and legs consistent with her
having been dragged.

There was bloody mucus under the tape, and a perfect set of the child’s lip
prints, which did not indicate a tongue impression or resistance,
indicating that JonBent had not been alive when the tape was affixed to
her mouth.

The Ramsey’s have vigorously promoted the theory that an intruder murdered
JonBent. The first fact militating against this possibility is the alleged
absence of footprints in the snow around the house. Plus there was no sign
of a forced entry. One of the fact’s pointing at the family is the ransom
note. The person who breaks into a house to kidnap a child is apprehensive
— fearful lest any sound wake the parents. Such intruders tend to come
prepared — complete with a ransom note if they intend to leave one.

The police quickly eliminated John Ramsey as author of the ransom note, but
after a series of handwriting samples from Patsy Ramsey (five altogether),
the police refused to eliminate her as the possible author of the note.

Det. Thomas a handwriting specialist said that after studying all the
writing samples “I believe I am going to conclude the ransom note was the
work of a single individual: Patsy Ramsey.” Thomas explains that his
textual analysis work is based on “much more than one letter looking like
another. Even the slightest things, such as the use of periods or the space
before the start of a paragraph, could create a distinctive linguistic
fingerprint “We can’t falsify who we are, Sentence structure, word usage,
and identifying features can be a signature,” says Det. Thomas. Thomas had
studied Patsy Ramsey’s writing samples from both before and after the
murder of her daughter. According to Thomas he noted to the investigators
“Not only did certain letters change, but her entire writing style seemed
to have been transformed after the homicide. There were new ways of
indenting, spelling, and writing out long numbers that contrasted with her
earlier examples, and she was the only suspect who altered her usual
preferences when supplying writing samples to the police.”
These findings alone, considering they were coming from the top-most
authority in the nation in textual analysis — the same expert who had
unmasked the anonymous author of the sensational best-seller Primary Colors
and that the FBI had used to identify Theodore Kacznski as the Unabomber —
would have been more than enough evidence for the Boulder Grand Jury to
return an indictment against Patsy Ramsey, but the Boulder District
Attorney’s office chose not to permit Foster to testify before the grand

A year after JonBenet’s murder, police basically have two theories about
the case:
That someone entered the Ramsey’s house through unknown means, possibly
sexually abused then brutally, yet silently, killed JonBenet, hid her body,
took the time to write a long ransom note, then left unheard and unseen;
Or that someone who was in the house that night committed the horrible

However the investigation is concluded, police will have three options:
make an arrest, ask for a grand jury investigation, or deactivate the case
until new information is obtained.

As things stand, it is highly unlikely that anyone will ever be charged or
prosecuted for the murder of JonBent Ramsey – unless someone were to come
forward and confess.

Time is on the Ramseys side. When the grand jury failed to indict them,
they passed their gravest test. In the Ramsey’s’ book, The Death of
Innocence, they describe in great detail the fear they had of the grand
jury and how they expected an indictment against both of them. They were so
sure they would be indicted that they returned to Boulder in the days
before the grand jury was mandated to finish its deliberations. They wanted
desperately to avoid the ignominy of being arrested in Atlanta and forced
to spend several days in the Fulton County Jail before being extradited to
Colorado. Both had a deep revulsion to the image of their being arrested
and handcuffed. Above all, they did not want to be handcuffed. They wanted
to be able to just turn themselves in to the District Attorney’s office and
have bond posted immediately for their release.

Chances that the new district attorney, Mary Keenan, will convene another
grand jury are not strong, but not so fast, there is another shoe that
could drop. The Ramsey case is spawning a number of lawsuits, both criminal
and civil, and, no doubt, more will be filed down the road. Two civil suits
that are perking their way through the legal system could be of particular
value in breaking the case open if they make it into a courtroom.

The Ramsey’s talk with CNN on New Years Day
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