Who Killed JonBenet Ramsey? Everything We Know About the Cold Case

The 6-year-old was found dead during the winer holiday season of 1996, and her case has remained a mystery since. 

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Image Credit: Courtesy of the Boulder County Sheriff’s Department

The 1996 holiday season was completely uprooted after 6-year-old pageant star JonBenét Ramsey was found dead in the basement of her family’s home. To this day, her case has remained an unsolved murder, but her immediate family — Patsy, John and Burke Ramsey — were suspects for a while, and one person falsely confessed to her murder. Now, a scripted series is in the works, which will focus on the child’s murder case. 

Learn more about JonBenét’s case below. 

Who Killed JonBenet Ramsay? 

Although a ransom note was left for the Ramsey family at the time of JonBenét’s death, Boulder, Colorado, police initially suspected that Patsy and John staged the scene to avoid being caught for her death. They also didn’t fully cooperate with police questioning. Nevertheless, there wasn’t enough evidence to support the theory that they killed their daughter.  

JonBenét’s’s older brother Burke later became a suspect by the court of public opinion, as some believed that he struck his sister with a golf club. However, he was never identified as an official suspect in the case, and he denied any wrongdoing in the years since JonBenét died. 

JonBenet Ramsey
Courtesy of the Ramsey Family

After DNA testing was put into place in 2002, authorities found an unidentified male’s DNA on JonBenét’s remains, which cleared the Ramseys from the investigation by the DA’s office. Seven years later, the Boulder police department reopened the case.

In 2006, a man named Alexis Val Reich (who was known as John Mark Karr at the time) falsely confessed to killing JonBenét. He was arrested in Bangkok, Thailand. Despite his confession, authorities found no DNA match to the crime scene. 

What Has Her Family Said About the Case? 

JonBenét’s parents have vehemently denied abusing and/or killing their late daughter. Patsy died in 2006 after battling ovarian cancer, and John has continued to shut down rumors that he was behind his daughter’s death. 

In 2016, Burke sat down with Dr. Phil to explain everything he knew about his sister’s death. Since he had been downstairs in the house that night, he explained that he was simply playing with a toy.

“Yeah, I had some toy that I wanted to put together. I remember being downstairs after everyone was in bed … wanting to get this thing out,” Burke said. “I just remember being downstairs with this toy.”

New JonBenet Ramsey Series in Development

The Hollywood Reporter revealed in March 2024 that a scripted series about Ramsey’s case is in development. Though the show doesn’t have a confirmed title yet, its logline indicates that the show will “detail the mysterious death and the surrounding media frenzy in the murder of JonBenét Ramsey, a case that captivated an entire nation and left us with more questions than answers.”