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Jon Benet Ramsey
The Murder and Subsequent Investigation of a Six-Year-old Beauty Queen
(Due Date with Month, Day, Year)
The murder of child beauty pageant winner JonBenet Ramsey in Boulder, Colorado has not yet been solved despite years of investigation on local, state, and even federal levels (Allen 2010). The six-year-old child's murder has never been forgotten. She has spurned debates over child abuse, the sexualization of minors, of the impropriety of child beauty pageants, and the frustration over unsolved murders of young people in the United States. It has been the subject of news program, documentaries, books, and television movies. Suspects have been named and hounded in the attempt to elicit confessions. Most of the general population came to believe that the murderers were John Ramsey and/or his wife; a belief based on the media attention given to the case and to the impropriety of declarations of investigators and not on any real facts. People have been cleared; some have died while still trying to clear their names. Still the crime goes unsolved more than fifteen years later.
On December 26th, 1996 police were called to the home of John and Patsy Ramsey to investigate a possible kidnapping. During the day of the 25th, the Ramsey and their two children attended a Christmas party at the home of family friends Fleet and Priscilla White (Henry 2013). The children reportedly fell asleep on the car ride back to the home and were carried to bed by their parents at approximately 9:30 PM. Mr. And Mrs. Ramsey were taking the children on a family vacation to Michigan the next day and had planned to wake up early on the 26th. At 5:00 A.M. Patsy woke and while walking down the stairs found a note of several pages which claimed JonBenet had been kidnapped. The note claimed she would be returned in exchange for $118,000 (Bardsley & Bellamy 2013). Handwriting experts later determined that neither John or JonBenet Ramsey 3
Patsy's penmanship was on the note but the paper was confirmed to have come from the house. Patsy woke her husband up and looked in the child's room but she was not inside. When they could not find her, Mrs. Ramsey called 9-1-1 at exactly 5:25 A.M, and officers arrived seven minutes later.
Eight hours after JonBenet was reported missing, her lifeless body was found under a blanket in the wine cellar which was part of the basement of her Boulder, Colorado home. The father and a friend had been ordered by police to search the house. The pair started with the basement where JonBenet's body was located by her father John (Bardsley & Bellamy 2013). His finding of the body added to the suspicions of the police about the unusual circumstances surrounding the death.
Physical evidence gathered at the crime scene by police included: unknown pubic hair, bondage devices, duct tape, hair that was proven to be from a beaver and other animals, a boot and palm print, a mark from a stun gun, and DNA from an unknown male suspect (Henry 2013). Duct tape was covering the child's mouth when her body was found. In addition to this, a cord was wrapped around the child's neck which was attached to a wooden garrote. Her hands were bound and placed over her head. Experts on the devices concluded that the slipknots and the garrote used by the killer were a type of bondage device which gave complete control to the perpetrator. This led to the determination that the killer had to be an expert with knots and bondage materials. The materials used were not found to have sources in the Ramsey home. It was also found that the duct tape was not connected to any tape found in the house. The autopsy of the body indicated that the child had suffered a severe blow to the head at some point shortly
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before her death. A forensic pathologist determined that marks on the side of JonBenet's face were consistent with injuries acquired by a stun gun being used on the victim. Unknown DNA and trauma to the child's genital area, including blood, showed that she had been sexually assaulted shortly before death. There was no scarring or evidence of previous sexual abuse as had been alleged by the media against Mr. Ramsey (Bardsley & Bellamy 2013). Undigested pineapple was also found in the child's stomach although neither of the Ramsey's had given it to her. The official cause of death was listed as asphyxiation due to strangulation and craniocerebral trauma.
A neighbor claimed to have heard screaming from the Ramsey house sometime in the early morning of the 26th (Henry 2013). It was found that because of the location of the basement and its proximity to the rest of the house, it was possible for the witness to hear the scream without the Ramseys also having heard it. Additional evidence was found in a guest bedroom of the Ramsey home. This included a brown paper bag with rope inside consistent with that found on the body. Also, a baseball bat was found on the side of the house; the bat had fibers consistent with those on the basement carpet. A window from the family basement had been broken prior to the incident and so was unable to be closed, allowing for access to the house without requiring forced entry.
Criminal Justice Procedures and Tests Conducted:
DNA was extracted from the clothing on JonBenet's body. The DNA was analyzed and ruled to be from an unknown source. The same was true of a hair found on the body.
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After analysis, it was ruled to be from a Caucasian and to have been a "pubic or auxiliary" hair (Henry 2013).
Animal hairs found on the scene were proven to be from a beaver and another unknown animal.
Experimentation by police proved that an intruder could have entered the house through a low window and not leave footprints in the snow.
Handwriting experts compared the ransom note to the handwriting of John and Patsy Ramsey.
It was alleged that John Ramsey had been sexually abusing his daughter and had murdered her to cover up his actions (Leung 2009). Investigation ruled that the body had no signs of this kind of abuse; no scarring on the genitalia as would be found on victims of sexual abuse. In addition, a woman claiming to be Ramsey's mistress proclaimed that he was violent. It could never be proven that she and Ramsey ever had a relationship let alone that he was violent with her. In 1999 a grand jury voted to indict John Ramsey on charges of first-degree murder of his young daughter but the District Attorney's office refused to push the case. John Ramsey was finally exonerated by DNA evidence in 2003 (Lacy 2008). When the case was reopened in 2010, Ramsey was once again questioned as was his son Burke.
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When police arrived on the scene, Patsy Ramsey was found to be wearing the same clothes as the day before, leading to suspicions that she had never been to bed the night before. The theory was that Patsy became enraged when JonBenet wet the bed and responded by striking the child or slamming her head against a hard surface leading to her accidental death. According to this theory, the stage of her murder was then set to put suspicion away from JonBenet's mother. Another theory was that Patsy was a "stage mother." She was angry with JonBenet either because she performed badly in her last pageant or because the child said she no longer wanted to participate in pageants and her mother struck her in a rage (Leung 2009). Like her husband, Patsy Ramsey was indicted by a grand jury for first-degree murder in 1999. Patsy Ramsey was finally exonerated by DNA evidence in 2003 (Lacy 2008). Patsy Ramsey died in 2006, never knowing what happened to her daughter.
Journalist Wolf was named by a suspect in the Ramseys' book The Death of Innocence. Wolf was alleged to have inside information of the case which only the killer and the police should have had. In response, Wolf sued the Ramsey family but his claims were dismissed (Henry 2013). He was never seriously investigated by the Boulder, Colorado police following the murder of JonBenet. They ruled much of his knowledge having come from investigatory leaks as with other members of the media, both in print and on television.
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John Mark Karr
Karr confessed to the murder of JonBenet but in 2006 it was shown that his DNA did not match the sample found on JonBenet's underwear (Boulder 2013).
A boot and palm print were found at the scene which could not be traced to Mr. Ramsey, the police workers, or any known visitors to the house. Also, DNA found on JonBenet's body…[continue]
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