Who killed JonBenet Ramsey? : The cold case of a beauty queen murdered

Emily Aiken ’20, Managing Editor

On Christmas night of 1996, JonBenet Ramsey, a six-year-old girl known for her participation in beauty pageants, was brutally murdered in her own home in Boulder, Colorado. To this day, no one knows who to hold responsible for the murder of JonBenet, but there are many clues to pay attention to when trying to solve this murder.

When JonBenet’s parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, realized she was missing, they immediately called the police. There was a three page ransom note found in the house that said things such as, “We are a group of individuals that represent a foreign faction,” and “At this time we have your daughter in our possession. She is safe and unharmed and if you want her to see 1997, you must follow our instructions to the letter.” They went on to demand $118,000, which was a weirdly specific number, but it turned out to be John’s Christmas bonus that he received that year. About eight hours after she was reported missing, John found her dead in the wine cellar in the basement. She died from asphyxiation by strangulation and sustained a broken skull from a blow to the head. Her death was ruled a homicide.


The parents:

There is a lot of speculation that the parents had something to do with the murder. Some may say that Patsy or John accidentally killed JonBenet. The six-year-old often would wet her bed, and there are some theories that Patsy, outraged one night, killed her daughter and used the ransom note as a cover. When handwriting experts took a look at the note, they ruled that it was not John’s handwriting, but Patsy was inconclusive. The note was also written in their house, with the family’s paper. There is no reasonable explanation as to why a kidnapper would have the time to write a ransom note while in the house without getting caught. To make the family even more suspicious, there was no sign of forced entry or intrusion. To many, this family seemed very happy. John was a very rich and successful man; however, you never know what goes on behind closed doors. A Netflix original documentary, Casting JonBenet, takes a look at the possible theories involving the parents, and if you want to know more, it gives a lot of details behind the many conspiracies. We may never know if the parents did it since Patsy recently passed away from ovarian cancer.

The town Santa Claus:

This stranger theory revolves around a man named Bill McReynolds. McReynolds was a close friend to the Ramseys and would often dress as Santa Claus for the Christmas parties. He apparently arranged a secret meeting with JonBenet and even referred to her as his “special friend”. He had a vial of glitter that JonBenet gave him and at her funeral, he said, “The stardust was all I took with me for good luck when I had heart surgery (last summer)… Her murder was harder on me than my operation. She made a profound change in me. I felt very close to that little girl. I don’t really have other children that I have this special relationship with — not even my own children or my own grandchildren… When I die, I’m going to be cremated. I’ve asked my wife to mix the star dust JonBenet gave me with my ashes. We’re going to go up behind the cabin here and have it blow away in the wind.” It is important to note that his daughter was also kidnapped, and McReynolds denied having anything to do with the murder of JonBenet due to the horrors his family went through with his own daughter.  

John Mark Karr:

Ten years after the murder, a school teacher at the time, John Mark Karr, confessed to the murder of JonBenet. However, prosecutors found no evidence connecting him to the murder besides his confession. The DNA from JonBenet’s underwear did not match his, and it was concluded that his confession was made up. This makes the case even more confusing. Why would someone falsely confess to a murder? When he confessed to being sexually involved with the child and accidentally killing her, the police tracked him to Thailand, where he had been living. He was also connected to child pornagraphy charges in the U.S.. There is a whole bunch of mystery surrounding Karr, and no one really knows why he wanted to be known for such a tragic murder.

Despite this case being almost 22 years old, people still want to know the truth. To this day, JonBenet’s murder sparks debate, and while many media outlets may say they have new evidence, this case grows colder and colder each year, and we may never know who killed the beauty pageant queen, JonBenet Ramsey.

Photo courtesy of Fox 6 Now

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