Who Did It?
The next question to be answered is, if the Ramseys didn't do it, who did? There are two main theories. The first is that JonBenet was murdered by an
unknown assailant who entered the house, presumably via the basement window. JonBenet was found lying in the middle of the basement floor wrapped in a
blanket. She had duct tape across her mouth. She lay with her arms above her head and a white cord was wrapped tightly around her neck. The same cord
was tied loosely to her wrists. The broken handle of a paintbrush, measuring approximately 4.5 inches in length, had been looped into the cord to form
The evidence suggests that either someone took the girl from her bedroom by force, or lured her to the kitchen with the promise of food, which would
explain the undigested remnants of pineapple found in her stomach at the time of her death. She was then taken to the basement, had tape placed over
her mouth and bound with the nylon cord. She was then sexually assaulted after which she was strangled with the garrote and bashed about the head. The
killer or killers then wrote out a two and a half page "ransom" note on a pad from the house demanding $118,000 and left it at the foot of the
If this theory is correct, then the killer would have to be someone who:
is familiar with the layout of the house.
knows the Ramseys personally enough to know that John Ramsey received a bonus of $118,000.
is small enough to have gained entry via a narrow basement window and possibly exited the same way.
was confident enough to spend the time to not only commit the offence, but have the presence of mind to write a long note in an attempt to draw
suspicion away from himself.
Former FBI agent and expert criminal profiler, Robert Ressler believes that: -
JonBenet knew her killer
the killer could have come from a small circle of friends around the Ramsey home in Boulder
the circle would include family, neighbors, and employees of the Ramseys.
Ressler's analysis is further strengthened by an excerpt from a letter of resignation that Detective Lou Smits, a veteran investigator of thirty-two
years experience, sent to District Attorney Alex Hunter:
"The case tells me that there is substantial, credible, evidence of an intruder and lack of evidence that the parents are involved."
The evidence observed by police at the scene strongly suggests that the attack came from someone outside the house, for instance:
A footprint was found in the concrete dust of the wine cellar by a Hi-Tec stamped hiking boot. The boot has not been connected to any of the Ramseys
or to the 400 people or more, which 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 that JonBenet was wrapped in. 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 offence. 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 draw back
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, eighteen-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.
A factor to consider is the time that JonBenet died. The normal body temperature of a human is 98.6 degrees F. The body gradually cools after death
and the rate of cooling is determined by the ambient temperature around the body, the victim's body size and clothing. The temperature of the body is
normally taken rectally by the medical examiner as the buttocks, being the largest area of a body's mass, are the last area to retain body heat. Body
heat dissipates from a deceased person at approximately 1.5 degrees per hour, but will often vary according to the temperature in the room, and age
and gender of the victim.
The rate of advancement of rigor mortis is another method used to determine time of death. Rigor mortis is the stiffening of the muscles caused by
chemical changes in the muscle tissue after death. The onset of rigor mortis normally begins within 2 to 4 hours after death and takes between 6 to 12
hours for the entire body to be affected. Normally after 24-36 hours after death, the affects of rigor mortis have dissipated.
According to the police report, JonBenet was last seen alive at approximately 10:00 p.m. on December 25, 1996. John Ramsey, in company with Fleet
White, found JonBenet dead in the basement at approximately 1:05 p.m. on December 26, 1996. When police first sighted the body, they observed that the
body was affected by advanced rigor mortis. Rigor mortis is known to spread through the lesser muscled parts of the body first and gradually spreads
through the body affecting the larger body parts last. John Ramsey found JonBenet at 1:05 p.m. and her body was completely set with rigor mortis,
which indicates that she had died between 10:00 p.m. on December 25 and 6:00 a.m. on December 26.
The police also reported a smell of decomposition on the body. Again, the rate of decomposition depends on room temperature and the body's levels of
bacteria and enzyme activity. Typically, for every ten-degree increase in room temperature, the rate of decomposition is doubled. For the odor of
decomposition to have been detected by the police, JonBenet would have had to have died near the beginning of the estimated time frame. If that was
the case, the perpetrator would have had ample time for the commission of the offense, write a ransom note and effect his or her escape.
The second theory is that the murder was committed by someone in the house. Given that the evidence implicating the Ramseys had been largely based on
rumor and innuendo and all physical trace evidence has failed to prove their involvement, there aren't too many other possibilities. Police never
seriously considered Burke Ramsey, JonBenet's brother, a suspect..