Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder of JonBenet Ramsey

No Wait, Patsy did it!

The program Hard Copy later ran a story by Globe magazine which alleged that JonBenet had gone to her parents' bedroom on the night of her murder because she had wet her own bed. The program then suggested that, "The most likely scenario is that her frazzled mum had completely lost it and battered her." The Ramseys dismissed the claim as "absurd."

Next came the allegation that John Ramsey had a mistress. Kimberley Ballard, the alleged "other woman," was asked on national television whether she thought that John Ramsey was capable of committing such a crime. She answered, "I don't know if he actually did it, but I feel that he was definitely involved, knowing his personality the way I do." After the story ran, John Ramsey denied any such affair or ever having met the woman. The allegations were never investigated and the story and Kimberley Ballard eventually disappeared.

On October 29, Ann Bardach, the author of the Vanity Fair article, appeared on NBC's Dateline and reported that the Boulder police were so sure of their case against the Ramseys that they already had affidavits for their arrest, which had been prepared the previous May. She stated that the affidavits "list evidence against the two parties in quite specific detail. This information supports the charge of murder." The police would not confirm or deny the story.

The Ramseys' concerns regarding the aggression of the media is shared by many journalists who believe that their profession has declined considerably due to intense competition, a loosening in regulations and the increasing view of news as a profit making, rather than a journalistic, pursuit. Sadly, the news has become entertaining instead of informative, and personal tragedy has degenerated into a public spectacle.

The editor of Boulder's own Daily Camera newspaper, Barrie Hartman, viewed coverage of JonBenet's murder with increasing alarm and expressed this opinion:

"One of the failings that we in the news print media have is that when we have stories that the tabloids have reported, we feel obliged to report on them as well, which can cause us some problems. I think JonBenet was a good example of that, where the details are repeated before they are verified as facts."

A candlelight vigil by children outside the Ramsey home
A candlelight vigil by children outside the Ramsey home

Late in 1997, Mayor Leslie Durgan attempted to distance herself from the JonBenet media circus when she told an interviewer, "I now have learned an important lesson and that is I don't believe what I read in the press, hear in the press, listen to on talk radio anymore, but at that point I did. I was pretty naive, I thought that if it was in the press then it was probably true." This was a strange comment considering she claimed that she got her information from the police department.

The final word on this "trial by media" is from John Ramsey when he told an interviewer:

"Where is our common sense as a race of people? We've got a cancer in the American society, in the form of our system of information. We're going to take a shot at trying to fix it and that's what we are trying to do here."

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