When this six-year-old beauty queen was murdered, police were sure her parents were guilty - only to see them cleared.
In a crime that made headlines around the world, the body of JonBenet Ramsey was found in the basement of her family home. The little girl had been sexually assaulted, her skull fractured and then strangled with a makeshift garotte.
It was a brutal murder but one that the police had every confidence they could solve quickly.
In fact, 12 years since the body was found, the case remains unsolved. So perplexing has it been that a taskforce was set up this week to re-examine every shred of evidence to see if finally the person responsible could be brought to justice. To many who know the case well, it seems not just a long-shot but well-nigh impossible.
The theories about the killer have varied from known sex offenders and serial killers to psychopathic drifters. But one theory has dominated the investigation throughout and still — despite public statements by the police to the contrary — continues to overshadow all other inquiries: was JonBenet brutally murdered by her own parents?
Certainly, as soon as the girl’s body was found on Boxing Day 1996 at their home in Boulder, Colorado, the parents responded in a way which was bizarre to say the least, and — according to many — indicated their guilt.
Friends who pressed the Ramseys too closely about the murder found themselves on a list of suspected killers that John’s lawyers handed to police.
The family had enjoyed all the trappings of wealth, including a lakeside holiday home and use of a private jet.
Patsy later insisted that while JonBenet loved taking part in pageants, it was just a little hobby. JonBenet had been competing from the age of four, dressed like a sex kitten with a full face of make-up and highlighted blonde hair.
The family spent Christmas Day that fateful year at the nearby home of their best friends Fleet and Priscilla White. They returned home at 10pm and put the children to bed.
At 5.52am on Boxing Day, Patsy called the police to say her daughter was missing and she had found a ransom note. Patrolman Richard French arrived three minutes later.
He thought the Ramseys’ behaviour odd. Patsy sobbed, while John paced. They never once looked at each other, let alone embraced.
The two-and-a-half page ransom letter, addressed to Mr Ramsey, had been scribbled in a mixture of upper and lower-case letters on a sheet of paper torn from a yellow legal pad.
Less than 48 hours after the murder, the family — John, a computer tycoon and Patsy, his social-climbing ex-beauty queen wife and nine-year-old son Burke — was being represented by a team of high-powered lawyers and refused to co-operate with the police.
A search of the house uncovered the legal pad — complete with a ‘practice’ ransom note addressed to Mr and Mrs Ramsey — but no signs of a break-in.
John loudly pointed out a tiny broken window, then went straight into the wine cellar, where he discovered his daughter’s body.
John ripped the duct tape off JonBenet’s mouth, then carried her up the stairs with his two arms outstretched as though he was holding a large doll.
By now the crime scene had been trampled over and the evidence contaminated — something Patsy pointed to months later when asked to explain how fibres from her clothes were all over JonBenet.
By the following day, the Ramseys’ behaviour had become even odder.
Detective Arndt tried to question Patsy but was stopped by lawyer Mike Bynum, who said the couple would not answer any further questions.
The Ramseys quickly retained separate lawyers.
They also assembled a team of private investigators, a public relations guru, an ex-FBI criminal profiler and two handwriting experts to look at the ransom note, arguing that the local police had botched the initial investigation.
Detectives dismissed the intruder theory, loudly whispering that the Ramseys were acting guilty.
Snippets taken from article in Daily Mail
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