Over the past few months, there has been a rabid resurgence in interest in the 1996 killing of six-year-old JonBenét Ramsey.
Multiple recent TV series and documentaries have been exploring the case 20 years after its occurrence, with access to new techniques and DNA analysis providing further information on how the little girl died, and more importantly, potential suspects.
JonBenét Ramsey was found brutally murdered in the basement of her Boulder, Colo., house the day after Christmas. JonBenét’s father, John, found JonBenét’s body with duct tape over her mouth and a cord wrapped around her neck. A mysterious ransom note was left in the house, demanding the seemingly random amount of $118,000. There was no sign of forced entry into the Boulder home. Authorities stated that the little girl had been sexually assaulted. At the time of her body’s discovery, only her parents and her then-nine-year-old brother Burke were home.
After the pageant queen’s body was discovered, the Ramsey family was put under intense scrutiny by investigators and the media. No evidence was found to incriminate them, and to this day no charges have been laid. They were all cleared of any criminal wrongdoing, with the help of DNA analysis, in 2008.
Now Jim Clemente, a former FBI agent and profiler who worked on the Ramsey case, says to Cosmopolitan that the family shouldn’t have been so easily exonerated. In fact, he says it was “absurd.”
“What I will say is that I have never, ever, in my entire career in law enforcement spanning over 30 years, seen a case in which a DA has issued a letter exonerating somebody, period,” Clemente said. “But exonerating somebody based on one type of evidence – to me that is absurd.”
The Ramsey family’s behaviour has always stoked curiosity, and both John and Patsy Ramsey have been described by media and onlookers as “odd.” From the lack of crying after the incident to their sheltering of son Burke, they haven’t followed the typical “protocol” for parents of a murdered child. (JonBenét’s mother, Patsy, died in 2006 from ovarian cancer.)
Twitter seems to think that Burke was the killer — either deliberately or by accident — and his parents covered up his crime for him.
Clemente and other investigators may also have Burke in their crosshairs; he says that by the end of the CBS two-part special The Case Of: JonBenét Ramsey (which airs tonight), a suspect will be named. The detectives and researchers involved with the series went so far as to rebuild the house to recreate the crime scene.
“When we put all the pieces together, brick by brick, all of the experts — sometimes with a little argument, tension, tearing different issues apart — we all came to one comprehensive theory as to what happened that day,” Clemente said, but did not elaborate.
One major factor in their investigation was the Ramsey family’s relationship with their neighbours. The fact that they were well-liked and frequently had guests over into their home may offer up more suspects for consideration.
Above all, Clemente hopes this TV series has the same effect on the public as Netflix series Making a Murderer: he wants people to talk about it, to remember things that might be helpful in the investigation, and maybe reopen avenues that have been closed for decades.
“We want this investigative documentary to inform the public, just like Making a Murderer,” he said. “The show got the public involved, put pressure on the prosecutors, and it brought forward witnesses and forced the investigation forward. We hope that the same thing happens with the Boulder DA’s office, because the most important goal here is to bring justice for JonBenét. Nobody got to speak for her. She lost her voice.”
The CBS series ends Monday night with its second part, and Burke Ramsey will make his final appearance (of a three-part series) on Dr. Phil on Monday afternoon.