For a recent TV documentary, a panel of experts came together to re-examine the case of JonBent Ramsey – the six-year-old “child beauty queen” who wasfound murderedin her family’s basement on Boxing Day, 1996.
Initially, suspicion had fallen on her parents. HoursbeforeJonBent’s body was discovered, her mother had called the police, reporting her daughter missing and explaining that she had found a ransom note, asking for $118,000, on the staircase of thefamily’s home. Not only was this almost exactly the amount thatJonBent’s fatherhad received in a recent bonus from work, but it was later discovered that the note was written using pen and paper from the Ramsey’s house.
Later on in the day, a detective asked the Ramseys if they could search their house, to determine thatJonBent definitely wasn’t there. John Ramsey, looking in the basement with two of his friends, found his daughter’s body -covered with her favourite white blanket – with a cord around her neck, duct tape over her mouth, and her wrists tied above her head.
While investigators initially thought that one ofJonBent’s parents was guilty of her murder, upon re-examining the evidence, experts have concluded that it was her brother – the then nine-year-old Burke – who killed her.
Their hypothesis – among other things – took into account the fact thatJonBent’s autopsy revealed that she had eaten pineapple shortly before her death, and police investigating the crime scene found a bowl with pineapple in it, covered in Burke’s fingerprints – in the kitchen.
They believe that JonBent had come down in the night, and tried to steal some of her brother’s food. This had enraged him, and he had lashed out, hitting – and accidentally killing – his sister with a nearby torch. (It wouldn’t be the first time he had been violent towards her; he had hit her with a golf club, leaving her with a scar on her face, just the year before).
To protect their son, John and Patsy Ramseydecided to cover up this accident, and stage the ransom note and basement murder.
The documentary presented plenty of evidence to support this theory: using new technology, they uncovered an extra six seconds of audio from the 911 call that Patsy Ramsey made upon apparently discovering that her daughter was missing. After she thought that she’d hung up,JonBent’s mother can be heard saying, “what did you do? Help me, Jesus“, while her father says “we’re not speaking to you“.
While it wasclaimed that Burke was asleep in bed the whole time, he can be heard asking his parents, “what did you find?“.
Avideo of Burke being interviewed by a child psychologistabout his sister’s murder was also deemed suspicious: the nine-year-old didn’t seem at all concerned at the suggestion that his sister’s killer might come back, saying, “I’m basically just going on with my life, you know?”.
While he refused to participate in the making of CBS’ documentary,Burke Ramsey – now 29 – has given Dr. Phil an exclusive interview, in which he vehemently denied having any involvement in his sister’s death:
“You wont find any evidence because thats not what happened.Theres been a few people who said thats not even physically possible for a nine-year-old to do that.”
When asked who he thought was responsible for JonBenet’s murder, Burke suggested that it might be someone who had seen her compete in a child beauty pageant:
“I kinda always thought it was a paedophile who saw her in one of the pageants and snuck in [to our house], who knows.”
While nothing has been proven, however, it seems that evidence is pointing towards Burke being the guilty party. As Dr. Werner Spitz told CBS Detroit:
“If you really, really use your free time to think about this case, you cannot come to a different conclusion.
Its the boy who did it, whether he was jealous, or mentally unfit or something I dont know the why, Im not a psychiatrist, but what I am sure about is what I know about him, that is what happened here. And the parents changed the scene to make it look like something it wasnt.”