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True Crime Story -“My Favorite Murder”: JonBenét Ramsey

It may seem sick and twisted, but I have an obsession with True Crime. It may be the detective in me that constantly wants to know what has happened and theorizing what the motive was, or it may be the thinker in me trying to put myself in the killer’s shoes. Either way, I love it. I especially love unsolved or overly complicated stories. I watch all the TV specials, all the new drama series on True Crime, watch amateur “detectives” describe their theories for hours on YouTube, and even listen to podcasts about murders. Yes, I know I’m crazy. But if you’re like me, you’ll enjoy this one. I want to set this up like my favorite podcast “My Favorite Murder”. Two women, Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, just sit and talk about murders that intrigue them. The first one that they ever talk about is the murder of JonBenét Ramsey.


Who is JonBenét Ramsey?

JonBenét was a six-year-old beauty queen who lived in Boulder, Colorado and was murdered on December 25th or 26th, 1996, the time of death is still undecided. She was the youngest child of John and Patsy Ramsey, she had one older brother named Burke. Her father was a businessman who was the President of Access Graphics, which was later a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin. So it is safe to say that they were very wealthy and lived an affluent life. He had previously been married, but that marriage ended in divorce. John also had two other, and much older children. He moved his new family with Patsy from Atlanta, Georgia to Boulder, Colorado. Patsy Ramsey, JonBenét’s mother, was a retired pageant queen and had her daughter entered into pageants as well. JonBenét excelled at being a beauty queen, she won several titles in her short time. Her brother, Burke, was nine years old at the time of her murder and had been known by friends and neighbors to have a temper and be physical with JonBenét.


What happened to JonBenét?

On December 26, 1996, the Boulder Police Department received a 911 call around 5:52 a.m. from Patsy Ramsey. The audio recording is chilling (as any 911 call are) as Patsy Ramsey pleaded to the 911 operator that her daughter was missing and that a note was found, at this time-they believed it was just a kidnapping.  Here’s a link to listen to it here


Once the police arrived on the scene of their home they interviewed Patsy and John, Patsy says that she discovered that her daughter was missing when she saw the two and a half page ransom note. The ransom note and its content have been a large question mark in this investigation. From how long it is, to finding a first draft in the Ramsey’s trash, the amount of ransom that is demanded, or that the note was written with Patsy’s notepad and pen was all a bit suspicious and odd. The note said this:


“Mr. Ramsey,

Listen carefully! We are a group of individuals that represent a small foreign faction. We do respect your business but not the country that it serves. At this time we have your daughter in our possession. 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 an earlier 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 out smart 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!




The ransom demanded by “S.B.T.C” was the exact amount that John had received as a Christmas bonus, suspicions rise as for how would anyone know exactly what the amount his bonus was? The ransom note is also abnormally long, according to FBI analysts. It was also unusual for the note to be written at the scene. The police ended up believing that the ransom note was staged as there were no fingerprints, included strange acronyms and exclamation points. It was also written on stationary from Patsy. There were also tests done to see if the writing on the note matched Patsy’s handwriting, the results were not a definite match but there were similarities. Another weird act of the Ramsey’s was that of calling all of their friends to their house after calling the police. I understand needing support during a traumatic time but inviting people who were not initially in the house during the kidnapping could contaminate possible evidence. The police did nothing in their power to stop the Ramsey’s from inviting these people over, even though they knew that the house was still a crime scene. While John made arrangements to pay the ransom, the officers sent to the house started their search for any signs of forced entry. In their search, they did not find anything suspicious around the house. To ensure this was the case, they sent John and one of his friends to walk around the house to search for anything out of the ordinary. That’s when they found her.


How did she die?

At approximately 1 p.m., they found her body it was in a small bolted off room in their basement, she was covered by a white blanket, her mouth duct-taped, and nylon cord was tied around her hands and neck. John Ramsey made an incredibly large error when out of grief, he picked his daughter up into his hands and brought her upstairs. When she was moved, critical evidence was contaminated and therefore lost forever. The autopsy revealed that JonBenét had been killed by strangulation and a skull fracture. The official cause of death was “asphyxia by strangulation associated with craniocerebral trauma.” There was no evidence of conventional rape, although sexual assault could not be ruled out. Although no semen was found, there was evidence that there had been a vaginal injury and at the time of the autopsy, it appeared her vaginal area had been wiped with a cloth. Her death was ruled a homicide.


Who killed JonBenét?

Her murderer was never found even 21 years later. The theories of who murdered JonBenét are endless. The most basic is that there actually was an “S.B.T.C.” who started to kidnap her and then decided to kill her in the home. The most common that people believe, however, is that her brother had gotten mad at his sister and hit her over the head which ended up leaving her unconscious and having her family believe that she was dead. The theory continues that their parents helped to cover it up, by putting the cord around her throat and hiding her in the basement. In this theory, they were the ones to write the note and fake everything to protect their nine-year-old son. Another common theory is also one that follows an accident and then cover-up, this time they believe that Patsy had accidentally shaken JonBenét or hit her and ended up knocking her out or killing her that way. The most sinister one is that her father was actually molesting her and when she was misbehaving and not being submissive, he became physical and hit her. This theory includes though that her mother knew all along about the abuse but did nothing to stop her husband from hurting her child. Once he believed he had accidentally killed her, Patsy was the one to help cover up his multiple crimes by writing the ransom note and helping to stage the body. This theory believes that she would have done this in hopes to keep her husband’s secret out of the press and keep her away from public embarrassment.

There are about a million and one theories circling the internet from amateur detectives, like myself, but everyone has their own versions of what they believe happened. If I were you, I would research for yourself and watch the many documentaries and news stories to develop your own idea and theory of what happened to JonBenét that fateful night in December of 1996.


Megan Kirk

PS Behrend '21

Cheerleading. Boybands. True Crime. Makeup. College Football. Basic AF.
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