Many Drawn To JonBenet's Grave

Tokens Left Behind On Gravestone As Anniversary Nears

There are various reasons why people visit the grave of JonBenet Ramsey five years after her death.

Some were deeply moved by the murder of the 6-year-old beauty queen at her home in Boulder, Colo., on Dec. 26, 1996.

For others, it's simply morbid curiosity that draws them to the St. James' Episcopal Church Cemetery north of Atlanta.

Still others leave behind tokens in an attempt to express their feelings for the child, whose death remains a mystery.

Along with the stuffed animals, notes, toys and other mementoes, one Easter someone placed a large pinwheel with a plastic duck on the grave, said Marcia Copassaki, an administrative assistant at the church.

The gravestone is now decorated with a whimsical angel and a small ceramic baby shoe filled with artificial red and blue flowers. The branches of a dogwood tree next to the gravesite are weighted with windchimes, crosses and angels.

Recent visitors have left two American flags and a small plastic Halloween pumpkin.

Evans said the church staff is used to the routine maintenance of the grave.

"We do lock the cemetery at night, but we don't mind visitors," she said. "But JonBenet's not the only one buried there. The other graves need to be respected, too."

A woman from Chicago came several years ago with prayer cards from churches in her community, and a homeless man spent his mornings for several months sitting on a stone bench next to the grave, Evans said. He told her that JonBenet was watching after him and he was watching after her.

Some of the items collected by the church are sent to JonBenet's parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, while others deemed in good shape go to the church thrift shop.

The Ramseys lived in metro Atlanta before moving to Boulder and have returned since the murder.

Under an overcast sky Monday morning, Patsy Ramsey stood in the cemetery, holding a small stone someone had left at the grave with the handwritten words, "God bless the sweet heart of JonBenet Ramsey." The stone was dated July 1, 2001.

Ramsey, accompanied by five family members and friends, was wearing bright yellow garden clogs. She planted pansies and hung ornaments on a tree nearby. The women also brought a broom and rake to clean around the grave.

Before leaving, the six women prayed quietly. On her way out of the parking lot, Ramsey rolled down the window of her car and said she was glad her daughter is still remembered.

The Ramsey family plot is much like the nearby gravesites of Marietta's founding families -- many dating back more than 100 years.

The Ramseys have 12 plots in St. James' cemetery. A garden with a trellis, bench and flowers takes up a portion of the burial sites. JonBenet's half-sister, Elizabeth, who died in 1992, is buried next to her, and a grandmother is also buried there.

Boulder, Colo., police never made an arrest in her brutal murder. The case remains an open, active investigation, with up to four detectives working on the case on an as-needed basis. The work includes following up on tips received, reviewing the case file, occasional laboratory analysis, and keeping current on new forensic technologies that may assist the case, police said.

"Any homicide, but particularly the death of a small child, has a tremendous impact on the community," said Mark Beckner, Boulder police chief. "We know that there are some cases we will never bring to a resolution. We also know that there are some cases we solve many years after the crime. We will never give up hope for finding justice in this case."

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