Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder of JonBenet Ramsey

Someone Outside the House

The evidence observed by police at the scene strongly suggests that the attack came from someone outside the house; for instance:

  • A footprint made by a Hi-Tec stamped hiking boot was found in the concrete dust of the wine cellar. The boot has not been connected to any of the Ramseys or to the 400 people or more who have been to the Ramsey house.
  • An unidentified palm print was found on the door of the wine cellar. It does not belong to John, Patsy or Burke Ramsey.
  • A pubic hair was found on the blanket in which JonBenet was wrapped. It does not belong to John, Patsy or Burke Ramsey.
  • A piece of broken glass was found under a basement window. The window was open and the sill showed signs of disturbance.
  • There was a scuff-mark on the basement wall below the window. Someone had to have climbed in or out of this window (however, no footprints were found outside the window).
  • The duct tape and the cord used in the murder were not found in the Ramsey house. The offender must have brought them in and taken them out when he/she left the house after the murder.

The list of possible suspects in this case is enormous. Not only did the Ramseys have hundreds of guests through their home at various times, they also had a large number of trades people that worked on an extensive remodeling project on the house. One theory suggested that because the Ramseys had given out a number of house keys to friends, one of them may be responsible. If that is true, why then would the killer bother to enter via a basement window? (Assuming that is where the entry was made)

One possibility is that the killer wanted to give that impression.

A basic method of homicide investigations is to draw up a list of possible suspects and concentrate on eliminating them, either by comparison with physical evidence or by checking their whereabouts at the time of the offense. Using this method, the investigative body does not become side-tracked by suspects who "seem" suitable at the time. By using this process of elimination, the list of suspects is narrowed considerably. The only drawback with this method is that in a case like that of JonBenet Ramsey, the large number of suspects would take a great deal of time to examine in the necessary detail, even with a large task force.

Another possibility would be a person with a history of child sex offenses who may have frequented the pageant circuit to select future victims. Given the Ramsey's penchant for entertaining, it would not be difficult for a prospective perpetrator to insinuate himself into the Ramsey's social circle to gain the necessary information required to commit the offense. Presumably, the police have cross checked offenders of this type with anyone who knew the family or had access to the house.

Another side theory is that the killer may have been involved in a child pornography ring that operated in or around Boulder, and had earmarked JonBenet as a likely subject. The connection of child pornography with child sex murders isn't new. In 1997, 18-year-old Jeremy Strohmeyer stalked a seven-year-old girl in a Las Vegas casino before raping and murdering her in a restroom. Strohmeyer was a self-confessed devotee of child pornography on the Internet. If the pornography connection is true, then the murder may have been committed by more than one person as part of a conspiracy to possibly kidnap JonBenet — a plan that was later abandoned when the victim died before she could be removed from the house.

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