Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder of JonBenet Ramsey

Smit's Investigative Analysis

By Marilyn Bardsley

Patsy and John Ramsey
Patsy and John Ramsey

2002 did not begin well for the Ramseys when in February, Patsy Ramsey learned that her ovarian cancer had recurred after 8 years. "It's been a tough blow to learn that it has recurred," Ramsey attorney L. Lin Wood said.

In an excellent piece of investigative analysis, retired detective Lou Smit presented his evidence on why he believed that JonBenet was killed by an intruder.

Smit had a number of key points to make:

  • The Ramseys are loving parents with no motive for killing their child and no history of criminal or abusive behavior.
  • Lovely JonBenet was a "pedophile's dream" and her visibility in the community made her a target. Likewise, the Ramseys' wealth and high profile made them potential targets of a kidnapper.
  • Three suspicious events point to an intruder: unknown vehicles parked outside the Ramseys' home near the time of the crime; JonBenet's comment to people that she was going to get a "special visit from Santa," even though Patsy never heard JonBenet say anything about a visit from Santa.
  • Police statements about there being no footprints in the snow were misleading as there was no snow around most of the perimeter of the house.
  • The open basement window, movement of the window well grate and the presence of leaves and debris in the basement below the open window and a number of other clues point to the window being the entry point for the intruder.
  • Pieces of debris from the window well were found in the wine cellar where JonBenet's body was discovered.

Train room with the suitcase by the window
Train room with the suitcase
by the window

  • The suitcase below the open window, which was moved there by someone other than the Ramseys, appeared to be the way an intruder boosted himself up to the open window to exit the house.
  • Many hairs and fibers connected to the crime do not belong to the Ramseys or any other family member.

Stun gun marks on the body
Stun gun marks on the body

  • Marks on JonBenet's body are consistent with the use of a stun gun which would have kept her quiet while she was removed from her bedroom.
  • Fresh unidentified footprints which were visible in the mold on the wine cellar floor did not belong to any family member.
  • Tests showed that a scream reported by a neighbor could have come from the basement without the Ramseys hearing it.

The garrotte
The garrotte

  • The expertly constructed garrote used on JonBenet indicates an experienced sexual sadist.
  • JonBenet's vicious injuries occurred before her death and were not part of some post-mortem staging.
  • Unknown male DNA was found under JonBenet's fingernails and other unknown DNA was found on her body and her panties.
  • The ransom note was almost certainly written before JonBenet died by a brutal, calm and deliberate person.
  • Experts concluded that John Ramsey did not write the ransom note and it cannot be concluded that Patsy did.

On November 19, 2002, The Rocky Mountain News reported the unknown male DNA recovered from JonBenet's panties could have been left on the garment at the time the clothing was manufactured. "In exploring that theory, investigators obtained unopened 'control' samples of identical underwear manufactured in the plant in Southeast Asia, tested them and found human DNA in some of those new, unused panties."

Police now claim that the unidentified DNA found under both of JonBenet's fingernails has been contaminated and is of limited value.

At the end of 2002, the Boulder Police Department announced that it will no longer investigate the case, despite new leads and new information. The Boulder investigators have transferred the investigation to the district attorney's office.

The Denver Post wrote on January 8, 2003, that the Ramseys settled their defamation suit against the New York Post. Terms were not disclosed, but the Ramseys had sought $4 million in damages against the paper.

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