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Death of a
Beauty Queen:
The Murder of
JonBenet
Ramsey
Background
• JonBenet Ramsey was found
dead at age 6 in her Colorado
home on Dec. 26, 1996
• Parents were John and Patsy
R...
JonBenet Ramsey
http://caosblog.com/wpcontent/uploads/2008/08/pl_jonbenet_060817_ss
v.jpg

Ramsey Family
i.cdn.turner.com/...
Background
• Parents testified that JonBenet was
in bed at 9:30 pm on December 25
• Patsy Ramsey awoke at 5:00 am
– Found ...
Background
• John Ramsey and detectives
eventually conduct search of
home and find JonBenet in
basement at 1:05 pm
• Daugh...
Case History
• John and Patsy Ramsey were suspects
from the beginning
• Media speculation begins immediately
as details ar...
Case history
• Cause of Death
– Asphyxiation due to strangulation
– Blunt force trauma to the skull

• Time of death
– Ind...
Case History
•

Time of death determined by:
– The rate of advancement of rigor mortis (stiffening of
muscles caused by ch...
Case History
• Time of death
–
–
–

Last seen at 10 pm on 12/25/1996
Body found approx. 1:05 pm on 12/26/1996
Advanced rig...
Case History
• John, Patsy and Burke Ramsey

– Media began circulating reports that the family was
responsible for the dea...
Evidence
• Two theories
– Intruder committed murder
– Family committed murder

• Evidence to support both
Evidence
• Ransom note
• DNA trace on body and under fingernails
• White synthetic cord and paint stick used as
murder wea...
Evidence

• Ransom note analysis
– Handwriting analysis
– Use comparison microscope
• Need examples from suspects

– Visua...
Evidence
• Many investigators believed that the
Ramseys were responsible
– Paper/pen found in Ramsey home
– Wording indica...
Evidence
• Fingernail scrapings

– Identified by Y-STR markers
• Y chromosome short tandem
repeats

– Difficult to separat...
Evidence
• DNA found underneath JonBenet’s
fingernails was unidentified male DNA
– Did not match father or brother

• Poin...
Evidence
• DNA was found on the victim’s underwear
• Analyzed by V-NTRs

•
•
•
•

– Use specific restriction enzyme sites ...
Evidence
• Pubic hair samples
– Not individualizing

•
•
•

Match color, length, diameter
Use comparison microscope
Pubic ...
Evidence
• Murder Weapon
– Synthetic white cord that was tightened with a
paint stick around child’s neck and wrists
• Kor...
Evidence
• Open basement
window
– Point of entry for
intruder?

• Unidentified palm
print found outside
basement window
– ...
Basement window
i.cdn.turner.com/.../PG-Basement-

Boot
www.tripleblaze.com/.../2008/10/hi-tec-boot.jpg

window.jpg

Murde...
Contamination
of a Crime Scene
• Police arrive around 5:40 am
– Do not search home or treat as active crime
scene

• Frien...
Ramseys : guilty
until Proven
Innocent?
• Media circus

http://images.google.com/imgres?
imgurl=http://msnbcmedia1.msn.com...
Vindication?
• 2003

– DNA profile of unknown male assailant
– No match in database

• 2004

– Patsy Ramsey dies from ovar...
Current
• July 2008, Boulder District Attorney
office releases statement that Ramseys
are no longer suspects
• New DNA tec...
Current
• As of February 2009 the new district
attorney of Boulder, Colorado has
reopened the case based on touch DNA
evid...
Works Cited
•
•
•
•
•

http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/notorious_mur
ders/famous/ramsey/evidence_2.html
http://forensic...
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Ramsey

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Ramsey

  1. 1. Death of a Beauty Queen: The Murder of JonBenet Ramsey
  2. 2. Background • JonBenet Ramsey was found dead at age 6 in her Colorado home on Dec. 26, 1996 • Parents were John and Patsy Ramsey • Older brother Burke Ramsey age 9
  3. 3. JonBenet Ramsey http://caosblog.com/wpcontent/uploads/2008/08/pl_jonbenet_060817_ss v.jpg Ramsey Family i.cdn.turner.com/.../family-gallery-081806.jpg
  4. 4. Background • Parents testified that JonBenet was in bed at 9:30 pm on December 25 • Patsy Ramsey awoke at 5:00 am – Found a ransom note – JonBenet is not in bedroom • Police are called at 5:25 am – Arrive 7 minutes later and no search of the premises is conducted at this time – Do not secure home as crime scene • Friends and family allowed to enter to be with the Ramseys
  5. 5. Background • John Ramsey and detectives eventually conduct search of home and find JonBenet in basement at 1:05 pm • Daughter had been strangled and beaten • John Ramsey removes daughter from basement • The question becomes: Who Killed JonBenet?
  6. 6. Case History • John and Patsy Ramsey were suspects from the beginning • Media speculation begins immediately as details are leaked to press • Boulder police department under fire for improper processing of a crime scene http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2009/02/03/article1134823-053413B10000044D-519_468x286.jpg
  7. 7. Case history • Cause of Death – Asphyxiation due to strangulation – Blunt force trauma to the skull • Time of death – Indicated using 3 common methods
  8. 8. Case History • Time of death determined by: – The rate of advancement of rigor mortis (stiffening of muscles caused by chemical changes in muscle tissue after death) • Onset usually begins 2 to 4 hours after death. • Takes 6 to 12 hours to set in for entire body. • Dissipates after 24-36 hours – The rate of cooling • Normal body temp. is 96-degrees F and gradually decreases after death at approx. 1.5-degrees per hour (varies with room temperature, age and gender) • Determined by ambient temp. around the body and body size and clothing. – The odor of decomposition • Depends on room temperature and levels of bacteria and enzyme activity • For every 10 degree increase in room temp. the rate of decomposition doubles
  9. 9. Case History • Time of death – – – Last seen at 10 pm on 12/25/1996 Body found approx. 1:05 pm on 12/26/1996 Advanced rigor mortis was already present when body was found – Time of death between 10pm on Dec. 25 and 6am on Dec. 26. – Based on the odor of decomposition, death probably occurred at the beginning of this time frame
  10. 10. Case History • John, Patsy and Burke Ramsey – Media began circulating reports that the family was responsible for the death beginning as early as December 28, 1996 – Media lambasted Ramseys for “exploiting” daughter in beauty pageants • Parents maintained innocence and suggested the presence of intruder – 2000 released book “The Death of Innocence” – Libel suits brought against Fox Network for saying no evidence suggested intruder in a 2002 broadcast
  11. 11. Evidence • Two theories – Intruder committed murder – Family committed murder • Evidence to support both
  12. 12. Evidence • Ransom note • DNA trace on body and under fingernails • White synthetic cord and paint stick used as murder weapon • Broken/open basement window • Palm print found outside basement window • Baseball bat found with carpet fibers present • Abrasions from stun gun? • Footprint in basement • Pubic hair
  13. 13. Evidence • Ransom note analysis – Handwriting analysis – Use comparison microscope • Need examples from suspects – Visual • Letter – curves, slants, size • Line –smooth, dark lines • Formatting - spacing – Individualizing evidence http://www.miami-criminal-defense.net/blog/wpcontent/uploads/2008/12/jonbenet_ramsey_ran som_note.jpg • If too many differences exist between the samples and ransom note than it is not a match
  14. 14. Evidence • Many investigators believed that the Ramseys were responsible – Paper/pen found in Ramsey home – Wording indicated a “female” voice – $118,000 demand unusual • Amount of John Ramsey’s bonus – 3 pages in Length – Signed S.B.T.C?
  15. 15. Evidence • Fingernail scrapings – Identified by Y-STR markers • Y chromosome short tandem repeats – Difficult to separate epithelial cells of males and females • Ideal method when victim is female and suspect is supposedly male – Use PCR to amplify and analyze – Not individualizing because all males of the same paternal line would have matching results • Same as mitochondrial analysis http://www.forensicmag.com/articles.asp? pid=140
  16. 16. Evidence • DNA found underneath JonBenet’s fingernails was unidentified male DNA – Did not match father or brother • Pointed to possibility of intruder theory
  17. 17. Evidence • DNA was found on the victim’s underwear • Analyzed by V-NTRs • • • • – Use specific restriction enzyme sites to compare suspects DNA to unknown sample from crime scene DNA must be isolated from matrix Measure quantity of DNA from sample Amplify with PCR Gel Electrophoresis to compare with reference samples • Results can be inclusive, exclusive or inconclusive – 1997 results were inconclusive
  18. 18. Evidence • Pubic hair samples – Not individualizing • • • Match color, length, diameter Use comparison microscope Pubic hair at crime scene did not match any family members
  19. 19. Evidence • Murder Weapon – Synthetic white cord that was tightened with a paint stick around child’s neck and wrists • Korea printed on stick • Several types of paint – Duct tape found on mouth • • • Removed by John Ramsey No photos taken Could not find any evidence that duct tape was from home – Need to have something to compare to under a microscope » Analyze adhesive backing by FTIR » Could have been useful if comparison sample was available
  20. 20. Evidence • Open basement window – Point of entry for intruder? • Unidentified palm print found outside basement window – Did not match any family members • Stun gun marks? • Foot print made by Hi-tec stamped hiking boot found in dust in cellar – Did not belong to anyone in family • Baseball bat found outside with fibers matching carpet from basement
  21. 21. Basement window i.cdn.turner.com/.../PG-Basement- Boot www.tripleblaze.com/.../2008/10/hi-tec-boot.jpg window.jpg Murder weapon i.cdn.turner.com/.../Gallery/PG-Garrote.jpg Stun gun http://www.spycentre.com/images/Air_Taser_G un_Style.jpg
  22. 22. Contamination of a Crime Scene • Police arrive around 5:40 am – Do not search home or treat as active crime scene • Friends and family are allowed to enter the home for hours until they find JonBenet • John Ramsey finds daughter – Removed from basement – Removed tape – Locard’s principle • • Lack of crime scene photos Only murder in Boulder for over a year
  23. 23. Ramseys : guilty until Proven Innocent? • Media circus http://images.google.com/imgres? imgurl=http://msnbcmedia1.msn.com/j/msnbc/Components/Photos/060624/060624_patsy_ramsey_hmed_8a.hmedium.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.msnbc. msn.com/id/10892646/&usg=__6M1eIuRPqlKTzKLSmZb3CuznW7Q=&h=273&w=375&sz=15&hl=en&start=1&um=1&tbnid=ZjFusNnEkgBCRM:&tbnh= 89&tbnw=122&prev=/images%3Fq%3Djohn%2Band%2Bpatsy%2Bramsey%26hl%3Den%26rlz%3D1T4ADBF_enUS315US315%26sa%3DN%26um %3D1 – Ridicule Ramseys for “exploiting” daughter in beauty pageants – Guilt indicated by “lawyering” up, not “cooperating” with police, and hiring a PR firm • All leaks to media – – – “staged” crime scene “intentional” contamination of crime scene No signs of forced entry
  24. 24. Vindication? • 2003 – DNA profile of unknown male assailant – No match in database • 2004 – Patsy Ramsey dies from ovarian cancer • 2006 – John Mark Karr admitted to killing JBR • Was being held on child pornography charges • DNA did not match profile • Possible accomplice – handwriting possible match for ransom note • Charges eventually dropped
  25. 25. Current • July 2008, Boulder District Attorney office releases statement that Ramseys are no longer suspects • New DNA technique – Touch DNA – Based on skin cells (7-8 cells) • Analyze what is left behind on victim or murder weapon • Use PCR • Fluorescent compound mixed with 13 specific locations on DNA – Guess work : Where was a victim touched?
  26. 26. Current • As of February 2009 the new district attorney of Boulder, Colorado has reopened the case based on touch DNA evidence Nancy Grace Clip: Reopening JonBenet Ramsey Case
  27. 27. Works Cited • • • • • http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/notorious_mur ders/famous/ramsey/evidence_2.html http://forensicscience.suite101.com/article.cfm/fore nsic_evidence_in_the_ramsey_case http://edition.cnn.com/2006/LAW/08/18/ramsey.cri mescene/index.html http://www.crimeandinvestigation.co.uk/famous_cri me/121/the_investigation/1/JonBenet_Ramsey.htm www.dropshots.com/.../63223/20060816/173551.jpg

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