Who killed JonBenet Ramsey, what did her autopsy report say and when did she die?
The murder of JonBenet Ramsey is one of the most well-known unsolved cases of our time.
It seems, however, that a new lead could change the course of the investigation for good.
Convicted paedophile Gary Oliva, a longtime suspect in the murder of the six-year-old, claimed responsibility for her ‘accidental death’ in a string of letters, which have now been passed to investigators in the US.
With this in mind, let’s look back at what happened to JonBenet, and the developments in catching her killer so far.
JonBenet was born in 1990 in Atlanta, and was the youngest child (she had an older brother named Burke) of John and Patsy Ramsey.
The family moved to Boulder, Colorado, and JonBenet began participating in child beauty pageants, winning titles such as America’s Royale Miss, Little Miss Charlevoix, and Little Miss Colorado.
She was found dead on Boxing Day in 1996, after her mother found a ransom note in their kitchen and called police.
Forensics teams initially believed she had been kidnapped and cordoned off her bedroom, not realising her body was in the basement of the home.
John and family friend Fleet White found her body, with John immediately picking her up and bringing her upstairs, which many said altered the forensic evidence available.
The autopsy revealed that her death was ruled a homicide, and that JonBenet had been killed by strangulation and a skull fracture.
There was no evidence of conventional rape, although sexual assault was not ruled out due to injuries found on her body.
A garrote made from a length of nylon cord and the broken handle of a paintbrush owned by Patsy Ramsey was tied around the six-year-old’s neck.
Pieces of pineapple were found in her stomach, which investigators believed she had eaten a few hours prior to her death.
Photographs found in the house from that day showed a bowl with pineapple on it, but neither of her parents remember feeding it to JonBenet. Nine-year-old Burke Ramsey’s fingerprints were found on the bowl.
Patsy and John both maintained that Burke was asleep throughout the whole thing.
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Theories on murder
There have been a number of theories on the topic, with some people coming to conclusions based on specific pieces of evidence.
Police believed the ransom note found in the house was staged due to a lack of fingerprints and because of its length. It was reported that an investigator said that Patsy Ramsey’s handwriting ‘set off alarm bells’ during tests, but nothing ever came of this.
There were also theories that stemmed from the lack of footprints in the snow around the home, suggesting it may have been someone already in the home.
John Mark Karr, a 41-year-old elementary school teacher, was arrested in Bangkok, Thailand, on August 15, 2006 when he confessed to murdering the child. This was found to be false, and went no further.
A CBS docuseries in 2016 claimed that JonBenet’s brother Burke was responsible for the murder. Burke filed a $750,000 lawsuit against CBS over this, which was settled this year.
Patsy died of ovarian cancer at age 49 in 2006 and, in 2008, Patsy and John Ramsey were officially cleared of any involvement in the murder due to DNA evidence.
There have never been any charges for JonBenet’s murder, but it’s hoped that the confession from Oliva might shed light on what happened to her that fateful night.