The Unsolved Murder of JonBenet Ramsey Comes to TV

Okay true crime fans, step away from “Making of a Murderer” for a minute because a new documentary series is coming this fall. This time, it’s not arguing that the convicted killer is innocent…in fact, no killer was caught at all. The new series will follow those trying to solve an infamous cold case from 20 years ago: the murder of JonBenét Ramsey.

The new docuseries will air on CBS, and will consist of six hours of footage that attempts to solve the mystery. Entitled “The Case Of: JonBenét Ramsey,” the series will run for six nights straight, starting on Sept. 18 and ending on the Sept. 25. It intends to take a close look at the original 1996 investigation, and will include interviews with those involved in the case.

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But that’s not all. Another docuseries, this time a three-night special, will air on Investigation Discovery, and is called “JonBenét: An American Murder Mystery.” This series aims to present new evidence and will include exclusive interviews.  It will premiere before the CBS documentary, on Sept. 12, incidentally the same day as JonBenét’s brother will appear for the first of three interviews about the case on the “Dr. Phil” show.

Probably least reliable of all of these is the Lifetime movie based on the murder, called “Who Killed JonBenét?” It will apparently begin with the Ramsey’s 911 call and subsequent investigation, examining what happened on the day Ramsey’s body was found in the basement of the family home. It will also look at recently surfaced information and theories surrounding the murder of the six-year-old beauty queen.

The JonBenét Ramsey case is one of the more bizarre unsolved murders in history. And for that reason, there are some crazy theories surrounding it…like the idea that Katy Perry is secretly JonBenét. Simply typing her name into Google will reveal at least 20 names of supposed suspects, though none of these rumors are verified. Her parents are among the most frequently listed, though DNA has since ruled them out. So, leaving speculation to the upcoming TV programs, here are the facts you should know before watching:

On the night of December 26, 1996, a 911 call from the Ramsey house is placed saying that JonBenét was missing and a ransom note was found. Several hours later, the six year-old was found dead in the family’s basement. In early January it was revealed that the girl had a fractured skull and died of strangulation. Police also stated that the ransom note was from a paper tablet in the Ramsey Home. The Ramsey parents became suspects, particularly Mrs. Ramsey. They were charged with child abuse resulting in death and the case was presented to a grand jury.

In September of that year, an investigator resigns, stating in his letter that “John and Patsy Ramsey didn’t kill their daughter.” In October of 1999, the grand jury failed to indict the Ramseys and send them to trial.

In 2001, the Ramseys file an $80 million lawsuit for defamation against officers at the Boulder Police Department. There was an undisclosed settlement.  Another libel lawsuit was brought against the Ramseys in 2003, by a journalist, Chris Wolf, who was a briefly a suspect. The lawsuit was dismissed and the judge stated that the evidence supported the theory that an intruder killed JonBenét, rather than her parents. The Boulder DA, Mary Lacy, agreed.

In December of 2003, Lacy confirmed that DNA from blood found on Jonbenét’s underwear was entered into the national FBI database. It was confirmed that the DNA came from a male who was not related to the Ramseys.

In 2006, Mrs. Ramsey died of ovarian cancer without knowing who killed her daughter. Less than a month later, John Mark Karr, an American teacher in Bangkok confessed to the crime and was arrested. His DNA did not match the DNA found at the crime scene. He was let go by Boulder police.

In 2008, DA Mary Lacy publicly stated that no member of the Ramsey family should remain under suspicion and that her office would now treat the family as victims of the crime, rather than perpetrators. The case was reopened in 2009, and new interviews were conducted. It was revealed in 2013 that the grand jury did want to indict the Ramseys for child abuse resulting in death, but the then District Attorney Alex Hunter believed there was not enough evidence to convict and did not sign the indictment. Since then, no new evidence has been publicly confirmed.

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