How To Get Away with Murder

How+To+Get+Away+with+Murder

Written By Hailey Kim, Editor in Chief

Christmas Day, 1996. 

Creak

Bits of dust fall from the basement ceiling. 

Shoot. They’re home. About half an hour too early. 

Do NOT panic. 

Everything that might have gone wrong went wrong. There was so much, so much blood. It was an accident. She wasn’t supposed to struggle this much. She wasn’t supposed to make that much noise. Her brother should’ve been asleep. 

She should’ve been gagged. 

She shouldn’t have been hit in the head. 

She shouldn’t have died.  

So you ran, and tossed that note, what is supposed to be a ransom note, in front of the back door and you slipped out into the night. And you ran.

 

Present Day. 

 

JonBenet Ramsey, a six year old children’s beauty pageant queen, was murdered on Christmas Day of 1996. And her murder remains unsolved to this day, even with the advances in modern forensics. Here are some reasons why.

JonBenet Ramsey in a children's pageant competition photo in Teen Vogue 2017(posthumous)
JonBenet Ramsey in a children’s pageant competition photo in Teen Vogue 2017.

The Ramsey family (father, John; mother, Patsy; son, nine year-old Burke; and daughter, six-year old JonBenet) lived in Boulder, Colorado. That year, the Ramseys celebrated the Christmas holiday and John Ramsey’s 118,000 Christmas Bonus. Upon their return, the family all retired to their beds

The next morning, as Patsy was brewing coffee in the kitchen, she discovered a note on the back stairs which led to the kitchen. This note instructed them to “withdraw $118,000.00 from their account”, which was the exact amount of John Ramsey’s bonus. The note also demanded that the money be put into cash if they wanted the remains of their daughter for a proper burial. It also instructed Patsy to not call the police. However, Patsy called the local police at 5:30 AM. 

Later that afternoon, as the police were doing a sweep of the whole house, the first detective on the case, Linda Arndt, discovered the little girl’s mutilated body in the basement. Her neck and mouth were covered with duct tape, and marks on her arms and neck implied strangulation. Distraught, John carried the body from the basement into the living room, leaving the basement door wide open. Cece Moore, a DNA specialist, claims that the evidence, from both the crime scene and the body, may have been contaminated which may be one of the reasons modern forensics have not been able to help. 

The Ramsey family willingly handed all kinds of evidence hoping it could be some kind of help: hair, blood, handwriting samples. Through the handwriting samples, investigators ruled out John as a suspect, but Patsy was not. There was evidence, from wording, that the letter was practiced beforehand. And further investigations take place to test her handwriting, but nothing comes of it because there was no solid evidence to truly incriminate Patsy. 

DNA was found in JonBenet’s underwear as well as abrasions on the wrist, neck, and vaginal area, implying sexual harrassment. Suddenly, scrutiny returns to John. The DNA was tested, but the only thing released about the results are that there was “nothing surprising.”

Finally, after two months of being scrutinized, interviewed by both news outlets and the police, the Ramseys ask to review the evidence collected throughout the investigation. The investigation denied this request. The head investigator at this time, Mark Beckner, claims to have specifically 1058 pieces of evidence which have yielded “significant results,” but never clarifies what that means. Then, JonBenet’s brother who was 11 years old and was nine yearsold at the time of the murder, was interviewed as a possible suspect. A child.

Multiple detectives have resigned at this point, and one detective, Steve Thomas, resigned with an eight page letter saying that the office had “crippled” the case because the evidence had been “thoroughly compromised.” 

Now, what does that mean?

Jonbenet’s tragic story received widespread publicity and became a sensation across the US. Many people were fascinated with this case, and how it has remained unsolved for close to 30 years. Just how and why, even with new developments in forensics including DNA testing, did this case go cold? Many believe that it is due to the contamination of the original evidence. The Colorado police, in an attempt to save face, have let this case go cold to cover up their carelessness in handling important evidence from this case. Steve Thomas’s resignation letter, the denial of the viewing of evidence for the Ramsey family, and the ambiguous results of DNA testing and handwriting tests all indicate mistakes on the investigative part. 

The former home of the Ramsey family located in the 700 block of 15th street in Boulder, Colorado. (Westword.com/Carol Schuller Milner).

Okay, so then why didn’t the FBI ever take this case? Couldn’t they prove the negligence of the Colorado investigation? This was because the FBI onlytakes on cases where the crime is suspected tobreak a federal law or “specifically felony killings of state law enforcement officers (28 U.S.C. § 540), violent crimes against interstate travelers (28 U.S.C. § 540A0), and serial killers (28 U.S.C. §540B)” which this case was none of the above. And since, technically, murder is not a federal crime, the case falls under state jurisdiction rather than federal. 

This case is particular because it was one of the most publicized cases in the past 30 years. The whole country mourned the death of the child pageant and followed the investigation, in hopes that the cruel murderer who erupted the lives of the lovely Ramsey family. This is what makes it weider that the investigation went cold. They had sufficient evidence as well as resources such as DNA testing. Furthermore, based on the letter and the state in which the crime scene was left, the perpetrator does not seem to be experienced. So I think the carelessness of the state investigation and their want to cover their mistakes instead of taking a bit of humiliation and bringing closure to the Ramsey family. What use is modern day forensics if human pride and selfishness stay the same? 

So, in conclusion, I guess we’ll never know. *play American Boy*