"Listen carefully! We are a group of individuals that represent a small foreign faction. We respect your business but not the country that it serves. At this time we have your daughter in our possession."
So began a chilling ransom note that demanded $118,000 for the
life of JonBenet Ramsey, a 6-year-old child beauty queen whose life
came to a brutal end.
It was early Dec. 26, 1996, when JonBenet's mother, Patsy
Ramsey, called 911 and reported finding the ransom note on the back
stairs of their upscale Boulder home. Several hours later, her
father, John Ramsey, found his daughter's body in a basement room.
After many spinoff criminal cases and civil lawsuits, infighting
among police and prosecutors and a grand jury investigation that
ended without an indictment, no one has been arrested for beating
and strangling JonBenet.
Police say JonBenet's parents remain under suspicion. They
repeatedly have professed their innocence and maintain an intruder
A break is unlikely to come without new forensic technology or
new evidence uncovered in one of the civil cases stemming from the
slaying, legal analyst Scott Robinson said.
"Short of something relatively astounding, JonBenet's death
will never become the subject of a criminal trial," he said.
Ramsey attorney Lin Wood said charges probably will never be
filed unless experienced new investigators take over.
This year will be a difficult one for the family, Wood said.
"The five-year anniversary carries with it ... the lack of
progress in finding the killer of their daughter and the stalemate
in their minds of the status of the investigation," he said.
"They survive Christmas the same way they survive every other
day of the year and that is through their faith."
The Ramseys declined to be interviewed, but told the Rocky
Mountain News this month that they believe authorities have failed
them and their daughter.
"Our strength comes from our innocence," John Ramsey said.
"We cannot sit idly by for JonBenet's sake, for the sake of the
next child this person will attack, if he's still alive. This is
not right. Our government has failed, and our intention is to hold
The curious still seek out the former Ramsey home. Its new owner
recently got the house number changed and young evergreen trees on
the front lawn help block the view.
JonBenet's grave near Atlanta, her parents' new home, also is
frequented by visitors, many of whom leave remembrances such as
small angels or stuffed animals.
Tensions among police officers, the Ramseys and the district
attorney flared almost immediately after JonBenet's body was found.
They disagreed on conditions for interviews, and neither parent was
formally interviewed by police until four months after JonBenet was
Former District Attorney Alex Hunter was accused of hindering
the police investigation, which he denied.
Hunter, the police chief at the time and several of the
detectives have resigned or retired.
Work continues, both for police and for the Ramseys.
Police Chief Mark Beckner, who inherited the case in 1998 after
former Chief Tom Koby resigned, said four investigators and one
commander are assigned to it, but no one has worked it full-time
for at least a year.
Police have interviewed at least 650 people, many more than
once, and consulted with more than 60 experts and consultants.
About 140 people have been investigated, and about 1,400 pieces of
evidence have been collected.
Investigators have traveled to 18 states and the cost thus far
stands at about $1.7 million. Leads still trickle in.
"You can't turn the clock back," Beckner said. "We all wish
it never happened, but we have to go forward and move on. You do
the best you can."
He declined to speculate on whether the case would be solved,
but said 35 to 40 percent of homicide cases are never solved.
This month, the Ramseys were deposed under oath in a lawsuit by
a Boulder journalist who claims they defamed him by naming him as a
suspect in their book. It is one of two such lawsuits.
Wood said nothing new was revealed.
Wood plans to file an open-records demand this month for all
police records to help defend against the libel lawsuits and clear
the Ramsey name.
And JonBenet's face framed with golden curls occasionally graces
magazines and skips across television screens.
"The cruelest of all ironies ... was that this was a little
girl who was being groomed for magazine covers and that's where she
managed to end up," Robinson said.
- December 18, 2001: Many Drawn To JonBenet's Grave
- December 14, 2001: Patsy Ramsey Asked If She Wrote Ransom Note
- December 12, 2001: For First Time, Ramseys Talk About Murder Under Oath
- September 13, 2001: Attorney Wants Ramsey Friend Jailed
- September 7, 2001: Arrest Warrant Dropped Against Former Ramsey Detective
- July 17, 2001: Ramsey Detective Fights Possible Contempt Of Court
- July 16, 2001: Ramsey Fallout: Police Chief Mounts Letter Campaign
- July 6, 2001: Judge's Ruling Could Open Up Ramsey Case
- July 6, 2001: Ramsey Housekeeper To Give "Dramatic New Evidence"
- June 26, 2001: Former Ramsey Friend May Be Jailed
- June 13, 2001: Ramsey Detective Case Thrown Out
- June 12, 2001: Ramsey Detective 'Made Mistakes,' Chief Testifies
- June 8, 2001: Testimony: Ramsey Detective Didn't File Report
- June 8, 2001: Ramsey Detective Needs Money
- June 5, 2001: Testimony: Ramsey Detective Wasn't At Fault
- May 28, 2001: Ramsey Detective Lawsuit To Begin
- May 15, 2001: Ramsey Detective's Case Dealt Setback
- May 1, 2001: Ramsey Detective Describes 'Stun Gun' Photos
- May 1, 2001: Ramsey Investigator Pushes Intruder Theory
- April 26, 2001: Former Ramsey Investigator To Release Crime-Scene Photos
- March 30, 2001: Ramseys Sue Former Boulder Detective For Libel
- March 19, 2001: Housekeeper's Lawsuit Against Ramseys Moves Forward
- March 8, 2001: Ramseys Settle With Tabloid Over JonBenet Murder Stories
- January 10, 2001: Ramseys Claim They Were Set Up