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.