Jon Benet Ramsey: Case Study of a Murder

The whole country was shocked when 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey was murdered in her own home on Christmas night, 1996. Her father found her body in the basement of their home the next day a little less than eight hours after she had been reported missing (World Law Direct web site). JonBenet's parents, John and Patsy Ramsey were very affluent. Her father, who had just sold his company, was former president and CEO of Access Graphics (a computer services company John Ramsey started in his garage). He reportedly had a net worth of $6.2 million (Maloney & O'Connor, 2003; and Bardsley, 2006). JonBenet's mother Patsy had been Miss West Virginia of 1977. JonBenet lived with her mother and father and 9-year-old brother Burke in a 15-room home in an exclusive neighborhood in Boulder, Colorado. Boulder was known to be safe place; in fact, JonBenet's murder was the only murder in Boulder that year

Only two days before the murder, on the 23rd of December, her parents had thrown a celebratory Christmas party. Even though they were rich, the Ramseys had experienced some adversity. John Ramsey's daughter Elizabeth (from his first marriage) had been killed in a car accident in 1992. Patsy had been treated for ovarian cancer during 1993 and 1994 and had lost her hair to chemotherapy for a time. But she had just found out she was free of cancer, and John Ramsey had just been named "Businessman of the Year." JonBenet was getting a new bike for Christmas, but of course, she didn't know that then (or that she would never get to ride it). Things were going well, and an article the next day in the Boulder Daily Camera reported the Ramsey's Christmas party as a social event (JonBenet Ramsey case encyclopedia web site). The event is mentioned here because a call was put through to 911 from someone at the party. Whoever called hung up, and when the 911-dispatcher called back, the call was picked up by the Ramsay's answering machine. Two police officers went to the Ramsay home. They were assured that nothing was wrong and left shortly (JonBenet Ramsay Case Encyclopedia web site).

Patsy Ramsey was known as a devout Christian and a devoted mother. She said that JonBenet was her "best friend." Her dream was that JonBenet would one day be Miss America, and that was not unrealistic because she herself had been a beauty queen, and JonBenet was a beautiful and talented child (Bane, 1998).

The little girl held several contest titles. She was America's Royal Miss, Colorado State All-Star Kids Cover Girl, Little Miss Charlevoix Michigan, Little Miss Colorado, Little Miss Merry Christmas, Little Miss Sunburst, and National Tiny Miss Beauty. JonBenet's unusual first name was a combination of her father's first and middle names, John Bennett (JonBenet Ramsey Case Encyclopedia web site).

On Christmas Eve the family attended an evening Christmas service at St. John's Episcopal Church in Boulder. Later that night after JonBenet and Burke went to bed, John Ramsey got the new bike from its hiding place in a neighbor's garage and put it under the Christmas tree for JonBenet to find in the morning. Other presents for the children were brought up from the basement. On Christmas Day in the afternoon, the family went to their best friends' home (Fleet and Priscilla White) for Christmas dinner where reportedly they appeared happy. On the way home, according to her parent's testimony later, both JonBenet and her brother Burke fell asleep in the car (JonBenet Ramsey Case Encyclopedia web site).

Exactly what time the family got home is uncertain. John carried his daughter up the back spiral staircase from the kitchen to her room and to bed. Her mother undressed her and tucked her in. John then helped Burke put together a toy he had received for Christmas, after which Burke went to bed. Patsy Ramsey was the last person to see JonBenet alive when she kissed her goodnight between 9:30 and 10 p.m. John and Patsy said they both went to bed shortly after Burke did because they had to get up early in the morning. They were planning to fly to Charlevoix, Michigan for a family vacation in their second home. They said they slept and "were not awakened during the night" (JonBenet Ramsey Case Encyclopedia web site; and World Law Direct Forums web site).

Early the next morning, December 26th, Patsy Ramsey stated that she found a ransom note someone had laid across the bottom step of the spiral staircase when she came downstairs to make coffee. The family always used the back stairway when going up to the bedrooms or returning. The stairway led from the kitchen upstairs, and JonBenet's room was at the landing on the 2nd floor. The parents' room was on the 3rd floor. The note was two and a half pages long (3 sheets) and said:

Mr. Ramsey, Listen Carefully!

We are a group of individuals that represent a small foreign faction. We do [cross out do] respect your business (sic) but not the country that it serves. At this time we have your daughter in our possession (sic). She is safe and unharmed and if you want her to see 1997, you must follow our instructions to the letter.

You will withdraw $118,000.00 from your account. $100,000 will be in $100 bills and the remaining $18,000 in $20 bills. Make sure that you bring an adequate size attache to the bank. When you get home you will put the money in a brown paper bag. I will call you between 8 and 10 am tomorrow to instruct you on delivery. The delivery will be exhausting so I advise you to be rested. If we monitor you getting the money early, we might call you early to arrange an earlier delivery of the money and hence a (sic) earlier delivery [cross out delivery] pick-up of your daughter.

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 outsmart us. Follow our instructions and you stand a 100% chance of getting her back. You and your family are under constant scrutiny as well as the authorities. Don't try to grow a brain John. You are not the only fat cat around so don't think that killing will be difficult. Don't underestimate us John. Use that good southern common sense of yours. It is up to you now John!

Victory!

S.B.T.C (ransom note cited in Maloney & O'Connor, 2003).

Patsy Ramsey called the police at 5:45 A.M. Officers Karl Veitch and Rick French arrived within seven minutes and made a cursory search of the 15-room house but noted nothing unusual. They found no footprints or obvious signs of forced entry. Detective Linda Arndt arrived at 8:00 A.M. Patsy also called her family, the Whites (at whose house they had been the day before), John Fernie and his wife, Patsy's close friend Barbara, the family doctor, and the minister from their church. When Detective Arndt arrived at 8 a.m., they were all there (Maloney & O'Connor, 2003; and Bardsley, 2006).

John Ramsey made arrangements with the bank to get the ransom money, and his friend John Fernie picked it up later in the morning (Maloney & O'Connor, 2003).

Boulder Police Detective Linda Arndt stayed and waited with the family for the ransom call; however, the call never came. At about 1:00 P.M. Det. Arndt asked John Ramsay to search the house for "anything unusual." John and his best friend Fleet White started in the basement. First they looked in the bathroom and "train room;" then, the two men moved on to the wine cellar room (although it was not used for wine). There they found JonBenet's body under a white blanket. Fleet ran upstairs and shouted to call an ambulance. According to the search warrant affidavit filed that day, "Detective Arndt ran to the front of the house, where the door leading to the basement stairs is. John Ramsey was carrying a young girl in his arms. Both arms of the girl were raised above her head. There appeared to be a string hanging from the girl's right wrist. The girl's lips were blue; she appeared to…