Chances are if you owned a television in 1996, you were constantly bombarded by the twist and turns of the mysterious case of JonBenét Ramsey.
If, however, by some miracle you were able to escape the media circus that surrounded the death of this 6-year-old beauty queen, you’re probably going to need to brush up on the facts before you watch CBS’ docu-series “The Case Of: JonBenét Ramsey”.
We’ll catch you up on the basics with the five major things you need to know about the kidnapping, death, and investigation of one of the most famous murder mysteries in recent history.
Early in the morning on December 26, 1996, JonBenét’s parents — John and Patsy Ramsey — called the police after finding a threatening note on their stairs and their daughter missing from her bed.
They made arrangements to pay the ransom requested, but JonBenét’s body was found in their basement only a few hours later when friends of the Ramsey family helped conduct a search of the house. The cause of death was strangulation and a blow to the head, and she had duct tape on her mouth and a nylon cord wrapped around her neck.
The ransom note
The note JonBenét’s mother found on the stairs was a source of confusion for police, given the strange language and rambling nature, which differed from a typical list of demands in a kidnapping case.
On top of that already worrying detail, the note demanded $118,000 for JonBenét’s safe return, which just so happened to be a near exact match for a bonus which JonBenét’s father received earlier that year.
John and Patsy Ramsey were made to be the prime suspects for this murder, given that it likely occurred in their house, while they were home. However, there was never much evidence found against them, especially given that the crime scene was contaminated when found by John Ramsey and family friends.
The media had no qualms about going after them though, and JonBenét’s parents were immediately put in the spotlight as the lead suspects in her murder.
The fact that Patsy Ramsey’s handwriting analysis in relation to the sketchy ransom note came back inconclusive was one of the most interesting facets in the case against the couple, but official charges were never brought.
Another suspect the media zeroed in on was JonBenét’s older brother, Burke.
Besides a strange bit of pineapple-flavored evidence, the case against Burke was mostly media hype. One of the few clues the coroner was able to suss out from JonBenét’s autopsy was that the child had eaten pineapple a few hours before her death. A crime scene photo showed a bowl of pineapple slices on the Ramsey’s kitchen table, and the police found Burke’s fingerprints on that bowl.
Without conspiracy theorists flinging blame in every direction, most people would just assume the kids shared a snack the night before JonBenét was murdered. Thanks to the media frenzy surrounding this case though, Burke became a nefarious co-conspirator in the public eye.
The Katy Perry thing
Weirdly enough, the case of JonBenét Ramsey got some newfound attention earlier this year, when a Youtube video postulated that the young victim sure looked a lot like Katy Perry. Obviously the Internet ran with the conspiracy, making random claims to have found evidence that JonBenét was alive and well and performing Super Bowl halftime shows.
Out of all the bizarre aspects of this case, the Katy Perry thing has got to take the cake.
“The Case Of: JonBenét Ramsey” premieres Sunday (Sept. 18) at 8:30 p.m. ET/8:00 p.m. PT on CBS.