Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder of JonBenet Ramsey

Personal Attack

A time of grief
A time of grief

On December 29, four days after the murder, a memorial service for JonBenet was held at a local church. As the Ramseys mourned their daughter, the police and the media turned their attention to the behavior of Patsy and John. One story, printed by Vanity Fair magazine, suggested that John Ramsey had left the house before the police had arrived. Ann Bardach, the journalist who wrote the story, described how John Ramsey had used the excuse of going out to get the mail. The story was false and was traced back to another leaked police report. Curiously, even after the story was proved to be untrue, the police did not make any attempts to correct the situation. Perhaps they were hoping that such stories would place additional pressure on the Ramseys.

Next to come under attack was the level of the family's grief. Vanity Fair quoted a policeman saying that on the first morning, Patsy Ramsey, while weeping, had been "peering at him through splayed fingers." Friends and family members who were present at the time tell a far different story, describing how John and Patsy were so overcome with grief that they were unable to talk without crying. Their opinion was quickly dismissed as being biased.

By Monday, December 30, the Ramseys had returned to Atlanta to bury JonBenet. Again, another story was released concerning how they got there. According to the article written by Charlie Brennan, John Ramsey flew his family to Atlanta in his private jet. The story, which had attempted to portray John as an unfeeling elitist, was also false. The jet actually belonged to Lockheed-Martin, the company that had previously purchased Access Graphics, John Ramsey's company. He did not pilot it. The company, hearing of their loss, had offered the services of one of their jets.

JonBenet's funeral took place on New Year's Eve, 1996, at her parents' family church in Atlanta. That day, the family had to shield the Ramseys from the growing hostility that the media coverage had created. Even as they buried their daughter, a new story emerged that revealed that John and Patsy had hired several criminal lawyers. Although Mike Bynum hired the attorneys, it was seen as another indication of the parents' guilt. Alarmed by the mounting criticism, Bynum and members of the family urged the Ramseys to go on television and defend themselves. The following day they appeared on CNN.

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