Could this cold case be warming up? Shocking revelations came to light in The Killing of JonBenét: The Truth Uncovered on Monday, September 5, including never-before-seen footage and documents from the nearly 20-year-old case.
Here are seven things we learned from the A&E special about the unsolved December 1996 murder of 6-year-old pageant star JonBenét Ramsey. (The grisly crime is getting the full television true-crime treatment of late, including an in-the-works Lifetime movie, a CBS docuseries debuting Sunday, September 18, and an Investigation Discovery airing Monday, September 12.)
1. John Ramsey Still Maintains His Family’s Innocence
JonBenét’s father, John Ramsey — who is remarried and now the owner of a small flight-chartering business — ardently maintained his family’s innocence throughout the documentary: “Twenty years later, there’s still people who believe I killed JonBenét.” John, 72, continued, “These accusations are wrong, and they are abhorrent.” (JonBenét’s mother, Patsy Ramsey, who faced similar accusations until both she and John were officially removed from the suspect list in 2008, passed away from ovarian cancer in 2006.)
2. Unaired Interview Footage of Burke Ramsey, JonBenét’s Brother
The special featured interview footage never previously made public of a 9-year-old Burke Ramsey, JonBenét’s brother, shortly after the crime was committed. The young boy could hardly sit still in his chair as the investigator asked him simple questions about his younger sister’s murder. When asked why he never left his bedroom while JonBenét was missing, a timid young Burke responded chillingly, “Because I was just so scared.”
Burke — once thought of as a potential suspect by author James Kollar, a former investigator on the case — was exonerated by DNA evidence in 1999. Of the accusations against his son, John Ramsey told the camera, “The accusation that Burke is some violent 90-pound, 9-year-old-child … is laughable. I’m sorry — I can’t think of a better word. It’s absurd.”
3. Incorrect Information Was Leaked to the Press
Author Paula Woodward spoke out in the documentary about the incorrect and damning information that was leaked to the press, causing the tabloid frenzy of accusations against Patsy and John Ramsey. She stated, “Not a single leak was true: There was no snow around the house. No handwriting expert has ever concluded that Patsy wrote the [ransom] notes. John didn’t leave the home that evening, nor was any porn found.”
4. The Stun Gun Revelation
For the documentary, A&E enlisted a team of investigators to examine past evidence, including a key piece: the possible use of a stun gun. Many have argued that if JonBenét’s mysterious wounds on her face and back are the result of a stun gun, it would rule out the parents as suspects. Previously, some investigators argued that the wounds could have been caused by the brother’s railroad toy and not a stun gun. Expert Stewart Hamilton declared that it couldn’t have been caused by a railroad toy, saying, “Highly unlikely. … It’s a lot bigger than the train track marks. Frankly, it borders on fanciful.”
5. An Unidentified Male Is Implicated
The DNA of an unidentified man was found on JonBenét in two separate locations, another piece of evidence that rules out JonBenét’s parents as suspects. Forensic scientist Lawrence Kobalinsky told the camera, “I think that the unescapable conclusion is that an unidentified male committed this crime. As soon as there’s a hit, he will be nailed, and that solves the crime.”
6. List of Suspects Has Been Narrowed Down to “50 or 60” People
Detective Lou Smit, who performed extensive research on the case over the course of decades, passed away in 2010 of colon cancer. His daughter told the camera, “Lou was working this case up until the day he died. … He was very concerned that it was going to die with him.” She continued, “He started doing a lot of the investigation on his own. … But his frustration there was that he had absolutely no investigative powers at all.”
The documentary revealed that among his data is a spreadsheet that has a list of 50 or 60 suspects. His daughter added, “We hope that a law enforcement agency will be able to pick up where my dad left off.”
7. DNA Technology Could Solve the Case
DNA expert Richard Eikelenboom shed some light on how modern, more-advanced DNA technology might help crack the case. Eikelenboom said to the camera, “What you could do is look for people related to this person.” He then continued to imply that, based on his investigation, the DNA of the unidentified male may not be “from a Caucasian background.”
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