Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder of JonBenet Ramsey

John did it!

The basis of the new "evidence" was an allegation that John Ramsey had frequented a pornographic book shop in downtown Denver. Ramsey strenuously denied the allegation, stating that he had never been inside such a store in his life. The book shop in question was never identified and no evidence was ever tabled to support the theory. The extensive police search for pornographic material yielded nothing, but results of the search were never reported. After their failure to prove John Ramsey's involvement with pornography, the police turned their attention to something more sinister: his alleged sexual assault of his daughter. Again, John Ramsey rigorously denied the allegation.

As before, stories circulated in the media which tended to "prove" the allegations of the police. One story element described how JonBenet had been taken to a local pediatric clinic 27 times over a four-year period. Dr. Francis Beuf, the Ramseys' pediatrician, was later interviewed and stated that he did not believe that the number of visits was excessive and considered JonBenet's medical history to be consistent with other children of the same age. In regards to any evidence of sexual abuse, he stated that in all the times he had examined JonBenet, he had never seen any evidence of any such abuse.

Other stories claimed that the "vaginal abrasion" mentioned in the autopsy report suggested sexual abuse, however this conclusion is not supported by the balance of medical opinion. Dr. Thomas Henry, the Denver medical examiner states:

"From what is noted in the autopsy report, there is no evidence of injury to the anus, there is no evidence of injury to the skin around the vagina, the labia and there is no other indication of any healed scars in any of those areas. There is no other indication from the autopsy report at all that there is any other previous injuries that have healed in that particular area."

Unfortunately, the absence of physical evidence, in itself, is not conclusive, but statements given to the media by John Ramsey's ex-wife, Lucinda Ramsey, and by John's brother and sister-in-law, Johnson and Peggy Ramsey, categorically deny that John Ramsey is, or has ever been, a child abuser. To further defend the claims, John Ramsey's son, John Andrew, and elder daughter, Melinda, told interviewers that their father had always been a loving and gentle person who "cherished" his children and had never abused them in any way. Both children were interviewed as possible suspects in the murder but were later cleared.

Happier times
Happier times

While the testimony of his family can be discounted as biased, their comments are supported by Boulder's Family Services department. After the murder, they videotaped a long interview with JonBenet's nine-year-old brother, Burke, while the police watched from behind a two-way mirror. Social Services later reported that there was "No indication of either physical or sexual abuse." In addition, the official police inquiry, conducted over several months, yielded, as one law enforcement official put it, "Zero, f_ _ _ ing zero."

All the allegations against the Ramseys had been proved groundless, but the lack of any real evidence against them and the failure of the police to pursue other explanations for the murder had not lessened the pressure. The media indictment continued to gain momentum, to the point where the host of a major American talk show conducted a live "murder trial," complete with judge and jury. The program's verdict was that John and Patsy Ramsey were considered "liable for the wrongful death of their daughter JonBenet."

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