A possible break in the JonBenet Ramsey case

I heard earlier today that a new suspect has been found in the Ramsey murder case. A man named John Karr had sent e-mails to Patsy Ramsey earlier this year containing “disturbing details of the murder” and “details of the murder that were unknown to the public”, to quote news sources. He has also reportedly confessed to the crime, and has been arrested. He is in the process of being extradited to the U.S. from Thailand. According to what’s been reported about him, he used to work as a school teacher in the U.S., and so far the only U.S. addresses found for him are in Georgia. This doesn’t take him out of consideration though, since the Ramseys had long had a home in Georgia. It’s where they’ve lived since moving away from Boulder, after JonBenet’s murder.

Another tidbit reported earlier today said that John Karr’s father was relieved to hear that his son had been found. He said he thought that John was dead, because he hadn’t heard from him for a few years. It’s sounding like perhaps John fled the country sometime after the murder.

Now there are many who feel bad about having thought that JonBenet’s parents did it themselves. But I wouldn’t be so quick to feel bad about it. Let’s recap the history.

JonBenet’s murder in 1996 came on the heels of the case of Susan Smith, who two years earlier had at first claimed that her children had been kidnapped. A call went out to look for her kidnapped children. Search parties were organized to look for them. It was discovered later that she had drowned her own children by strapping them into the back seat of her car and then backing it into a stream, where it became submerged. People felt very betrayed. After this story came to light, police and investigators let it be known that when children are murdered, most of the time it’s one or both parents who do it.

People carried this into the context of the JonBenet murder. According to the evidence there was no forced entry into the house, and no sign of a struggle. There was a ransom note found, and at first it was assumed that she had been kidnapped. Later the police suggested that the parents search the house for evidence. This was a big mistake on the part of the police, but John Ramsey, the father, heeded their advice and searched the house. He found JonBenet’s body fairly quickly in a basement room, and in the commotion of sorrow and pain, he picked up her body and brought it upstairs, compromising the crime scene. The police had searched the house beforehand, but the house was large. It had some rooms that the police did not know existed, and so did not search.

In the public’s eye, this was another Susan Smith case. First there was a supposedly faked kidnapping, and then it was found that their daughter was murdered. Combine that with the other circumstantial evidence, plus the rule of thumb that “it’s usually the parents who do it”, and people could be excused for coming to the conclusion that one or both parents did it.

A year or so later the Ramseys hired their own investigator to look into the case, and he concluded, based on other evidence found, that an intruder had broken into the house through a small basement window. The state investigation team dismissed this notion, saying that the basement window was too small for an adult to get through.

I personally was not convinced at the time that they did it. I have no way of documenting this since I only started this blog this year. I thought that there was a “cloud of suspicion” over the Ramseys, mainly because there was no evidence of forced entry or struggle, plus the ransom note was written on a pad of paper that was in the house before the crime. I think the ink on the note was also found to be from a pen that was in the house. Plus, a “practice ransom note” was found, a note that was started but then discarded. A second one was written in its place. The ransom note rambled on for pages and pages. Whoever did this felt very comfortable in the house, not to mention that the murderer knew the house well. Whoever did it managed to get JonBenet out of bed (the murder happened in the middle of the night) and take her down to the basement without waking anyone else up.

I heard most of the evidence that was released to the public at the time, and most of it was circumstantial. The only thing definite that anyone could hold on to was the ransom note. Handwriting analysis was done on Patsy Ramsey, but even to me this alone seemed flimsy. If I were on a jury I wouldn’t have voted to convict just on that. It’s possible two people’s handwriting might look similar, particularly in non-cursive script, which is what the ransom note was written in.

In hindsight the Boulder DA’s decision not to go to trial on the evidence that was at hand appears to have been the right one.

Patsy Ramsey died a month or so ago from ovarian cancer. The news reported that she had been fighting it since 1994 1993. This was a revelation to me. I had not heard that she was dealing with cancer even before JonBenet was murdered. It sheds new light on something she said after the murder. In a joint interview with her husband, when asked whether she thought about JonBenet she said, “I talk to her often,” and, “I tell her that I will join her soon.” People at the time thought this was strange, because she didn’t give a reason for saying it. Some, including the lead investigator in the case at the time, insinuated that this might be evidence of some kind of psychosis. I was a little puzzled about this myself at the time, but I figured that she’s a woman of faith. She believed in an afterlife, and thought that her daughter’s spirit lived on and she could communicate with her. I didn’t think about it after that. Had she disclosed that she had a history of fighting off cancer, people might’ve understood.

Another thing that was a late-coming revelation to me was that the DNA found on JonBenet’s clothing did not match John or Patsy Ramsey, nor did it match JonBenet herself. I don’t remember this being revealed at the time. If it’s in fact true that it was not revealed I really wonder why not. It could’ve relieved some of the persecution that the Ramsey’s have suffered, because it gives some credibility to the intruder theory.

Patsy Ramsey’s sister said today that Patsy was aware that this man, John Karr, who had been sending her e-mails, was being pursued as a possible suspect in the case, before she died. So she had knowledge that might have given her hope that her daughter’s murder will finally receive justice, on Earth at least.

I’d like to think that Patsy was reunited with her daughter in spirit, and that the reunion was sweet.

I’ll keep track of this. I’m sure I’ll be writing more about this on here.

6 Responses to A possible break in the JonBenet Ramsey case

  1. Scott S. says:

    I have to say that this arrest in the JonBenet case gives me an uneasy feeling. Something doesnt quite add up. I know I have only read a few dispatches, but so far, this strange man that has been arrested has not said ” I did it”, but rather, “I was there when she died…”, and something to the effect that it was an accident. Furthermore, so far as I can tell, this suspects’ ex-wife says that he (the suspect) was not in Colorado at the time of the murder, and that he did a lot of reading about the Ramsey case, as well as the Polly Klass case…So I remain skeptical

  2. hairybeast says:

    Yeah, The Hairy Beast thinks he is a wack-job who is faking the whole thing. The DNA tests will tell us more…

  3. PIBoulder says:

    Hi guys. Yeah, I’ve been hearing about these things too, and it has caused me to be less optimistic that this is the guy. I’ll post about this later.

  4. David says:

    I’ve been reading up on this case lately.. spent about 16 hours reading the interviews, etc… I can’t get around the following information….

    1) The child was changed into new clothing after they were woken up by the “intruder”. Why would an intruder do that? They changed them in the upstairs bathroom. That makes no sense. The person who changed them had to know Jonbenet.

    2) The child ate pineapple after they were woken up by the “intruder”. Why would an intruder feed them? The bowl had no fingerprints on it other than Patsy’s

    3) A scream was heard across the street from the Ramsey’s around midnight. Why wouldn’t the parents hear such a thing if they were in the house? Even if they didn’t hear anything, why wouldn’t an intruder make a run for it? Instead, the intruder took the time to strangle the child. A child can’t scream while being strangled, so this must have occured after the scream.

    4) The ransom note was no ransom note at all. It is filled with inconsistancies, intentinoal mispellings, and stated a “foreign” faction was doing this. When you are overseas, do you ever call yourself a foreigner? No, only locals call people foreigners. So, a local wrote this. The handwriting also is believed that it could be Patsy’s. The paper and pen were from the home. The letter took a long time to write, thus comfort in the home. The writing style eases into a normal writing style by the end and the wording matches the type of wording the Ramsey’s used in a Christmas message the following year, using the very obscure “and hence” phrase.

    5) The Ramsey’s called friends and police even though the note told them not to or the child would die. That makes no sense. They could have easily come up with the low amount of money required.

    6) John Ramsey didn’t tell police important details, such as that he found an open window in the basement during a search or that one time during the day, he spent 40 minutes alone in the basement prior to finding JonBenet’s body. A friend of the family stated that he looked in the room that Jonbenet was found in hours before and didn’t see a body. Yes, there was no light, but this man no longer speaks to the Ramsey’s, thus there probably was enough light to know if there was or was not a lbody in the room, especially since the body was emiiting an odor.

    7) Medical evidence shows that Jonbenet’s hymen was twice the normal size of a 6 year old. The medical evidence shows prior sexual activity with this girl by someone. A dictionary in the house had the “i” paged tabbed. The end of the tab pointed to the word “incest”.

    I could go on and on, but those are the big ones for me. I’m sorry, I just think Patsy did this, maybe a mistake out of rage, then tried to cover it up and her husband may or may not have tried to help her cover it up.

  5. PIBoulder says:

    Hi David. Regarding your points:

    1) I’ve also heard that her clothes were changed. This is puzzling to me too, but I don’t see how it points to anything. Even if it was one of the parents who did it, why would they change her clothes before killing her? The very act is inexplicable. My memory is fuzzy on this, but I thought the bedrooms were upstairs. I hadn’t heard that the clothes were changed in the bathroom though.

    2) I had not heard about the pineapple. How would the investigators know that she had been given the pineapple after she had been woken up? She could’ve eaten it before going to bed that night. The way that the forensics investigators figure this out is they look at how digested the pineapple is in the digestive tract. Digestion would stop around the time of death. They can establish a rough time period of death based on the state of the body at the time it was found, from body temperature, state of rigor mortis, etc. So they could conceivably “count backwards” from time of death to when she ate the pineapple. But still, when did she go to bed? When was she woken up? Are these established facts?

    3) I have a vague memory about this coming out during the media coverage of this. Even so, this alone would not prove a case. Was the scream coming from outside the house, or inside the house? Being across the street, could one really tell if it was coming from a neighbor’s house, or maybe the house behind it? Information like this would have to be corroborated by other witnesses. Did next door neighbors hear the scream? I can tell you, having lived in Boulder for years I’ve heard brief screams from people in the middle of the night. As best I could tell they were not connected to any murders or assaults. Maybe somebody just got drunk went outside and decided to wail at the top of their lungs. It happens. Maybe there’s a party going on late into the night in some house close by (the Ramseys’ house was in a neighborhood close to the University of Colorado) and some rough housing went on and somebody screamed. Yes, this could even happen Christmas night. It wouldn’t surprise me in Boulder. Such information would have to come from more than one witness, from people who heard it from a few different locations (like next door, from behind the Ramsey house, etc.) who could all point to the same location in order for the claim to be credible.

    4) Regarding the logical inconsistencies, does this matter? Who says the assailant has to write a note that follows logically? The handwriting analysis was inconclusive. It did not point conclusively to Patsy. I remember the “and hence” phrasing being pointed out, and personally I was a little dubious of this pointing to Patsy. I vaguely remember using this phrase myself on a few rare occasions. It could be that whoever wrote it was college educated and had a good, sophisticated vocabulary. I’ll admit I’ve never read the complete note. I’ve only heard about pieces of it.

    I’ll also add that both John and Patsy volunteered to take polygraph tests, and the results were that neither of them was determined to be untruthful. In these tests they were asked if they killed JonBenet. This is not conclusive proof of innocence (it’s inadmissable in court), but to investigators it points away from guilt nevertheless.

    5) Who were they told to contact to deliver the money? This may be just my lack of knowledge about the note, but if there was no contact, I don’t think any parent would just sit there and do nothing. What I’m surprised about is that apparently the Boulder police and DA could find nobody who knew about John Ramsey’s bonus (reportedly the exact amount cited in the ransom note) and who would be a credible suspect in this case. Was Ramsey’s bonus blabbed all over town? I don’t remember hearing about it until the murder came to light.

    6) No comment on this. I don’t know enough details.

    7) I heard on the news recently that a splinter was found inside JonBenet, which came from the handle of the paintbrush that was used for the garrote, so the paintbrush was also used to sexually abuse her. I hadn’t heard about the incident with the dictionary.

    I must admit I have a bias towards the Ramseys’ innocence. I am in no way associated with them. Never have been. I just find the idea of parents killing their children abhorrent. I’d prefer to believe that an intruder did this. However if the hard evidence showed that one or both parents did it, I would say, sadly, that this was the case. To date I haven’t seen it.

    One piece of the story I heard recently was that lots and lots of people had come through the house in the days and weeks before JonBenet’s death. They had something like an “open house” where it sounded like people “off the street” could come in and look at the place. Years ago I heard more than one person familiar with the case put forward the possibility that perhaps the intruder hid in a basement room for a period of time, and “at the right moment” came out of hiding and did what they did to JonBenet. Everyone familiar with the case said that it is a large house. Even the police missed some of the rooms when they searched the place. One scenario I could imagine is on one of those “open house” days near Christmas the assailant could’ve snuck downstairs and hid. Just as there was no evidence of forced entry, there would be no evidence of that in this scenario. And given the size of the house, it would be easy for someone to hide undetected. The question remaining would be how they slipped away.

    As I said, I agree there’s evidence that would make one suspicious of the Ramseys, but suspicion is not enough to convict in court.

    Good discussion.

  6. Slipkid says:

    First of all, this arrest of Karr is a joke…he is a liar and this is the biggest hoax ever. Notice that he never said he killed her but “I was with JonBenet when she died” and that “she died accidentally.”

    I don’t believe in the intruder theory. The person who did this had a high degree of comfort in the house. It must have taken hours to change her clothes, carry her downstairs, feed her pineapple, sexaully assault her, strangle her, bludgeon her skull, tie her up, and then write several practice samples before writing the final edition ransom letter.

    I also heard about the neighbor hearing a sceam….it was never followed up on but agree it could have been anyone. Also, the window seal outside the basement window ledge had leaves, dust, and cobwebs, so the “intruder” could not have come in that way without disturbing the window ledge, but there was no disturbance. No footprints were found outside the basement window but there was snow on the ground. Also, the child was covered with a blanket which shows it was done by someone who was close to the child. A ruthless murderer would not do this. Did you know that the ransom note was filled with sayings from the movies Dirty Harry, Ransom, and Speed? Yep, that’s true! Also, why would someone request only $118,000 in the ransom note? This is an odd amount…most killers would say “give me a million” or “five million”, but never 118,000, which coincidentally was the amount of John Ramsey’s bonus that year!!!!!!

    Bottom line: I don’t know who did it but it was definitely someone very familiar with the layout of the house. This was a crime of convenience. Karr is a liar!

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