JonBenét Ramsey is certainly not the first beautiful young girl to have her life taken away from her too soon, but she may be the most famous. Born on August 6, 1990, JonBenét was only 6 years old when she was found murdered in her family’s wine cellar on December 26, 1996. With so many bizarre clues, the case remains open today.
What exactly about this case is so bizarre? Well, honestly, just about everything. Patsy Ramsey phoned the police at 5:45 am on December 26th, after finding a ransom note from the person who claimed to have kidnapped her daughter. Every detail of the ransom note was odd, as it was three pages long and drafted twice within in Ramsey’s household. If you’re ever going to kidnap a child, it seems unlikely that you would write such a long ransom note within the house you were committing the crime. Also, the note asked for $118,000, which was the exact amount that John Ramsey received as his bonus that year. This prompted police to investigate those close to the family, because who else would know that exact amount?
The case got even weirder when the police came to the house. An officer told John Ramsey to search for anything unusual, at which point he went straight to the wine cellar and found JonBenét’s dead body. She died of strangulation, but there was also a skull fracture. In a fit of grief, John ripped the tape off his daughter’s mouth, thus contaminating important evidence. Those are the basic facts, but the case got even odder with the parents’ behavior and other details that were later revealed. This article will discuss all of the odd details… like the fact that JonBenét could have been murdered over a bowl of pineapple. No, seriously.
The whole case was mishandled with much of the evidence contaminated, virtually making it unsolvable. That hasn’t stopped several conspiracy theories from popping up in the 20 years since her death. Below are 15 theories about JonBenét’s death. Unfortunately for JonBenét, even if one of these theories is correct, we will most likely never know what exactly happened due to how long the case has remained opened.
15. Gary Howard Oliva Did It
One reason that this case has captivated the public in such a way is JonBenét’s participation in beauty pageants. A quick Google search will reveal several photos of JonBenét fully made up and wearing beauty pageant gowns. This prompted police to question if a pedophile was perhaps to blame for this sick crime.
Just this year Gary Howard Oliva was arrested for possession of child pornography. This new revelation coupled with how odd Oliva behaved after JonBenét’s murder makes him an obvious suspect. In 2002, Oliva appeared on a televised interview, during which he read a poem called Ode to JonBenét. On the same interview, he said he felt that JonBenét came to him after her death and that he’d like to set up a memorial for her. Besides his obsession with the young girl, Oliva was arrested in 2000 and on his person was a stun gun. Many experts believe that JonBenét’s body showed marks of having a stun gun used on her the night of her death.
14. Michael Helgoth Did It
Unsatisfied with the local police investigation, Patsy and John hired a private investigator, Ollie Gray. Gray came to the conclusion that Michael Helgoth and his associates committed the crime. There is even supposedly a tape recording, during which Helgoth confesses to the crime. Someone who was close to Helgoth is believed to have the recording, leaving it out of the police investigation.
Helgoth was a 26-year-old whose family owned a junkyard on the outskirts of the city. A month before the crime, it’s rumored that Helgoth had been telling people that he and his partner were working on a great deal that would bring in about $50,000 to $60,000 each. Splitting the ransom note money would, in fact, result in that amount of money. It is also rumored that Helgoth has told his friend that he wondered what it would be like to crack a human skull. JonBenét’s skull was cracked.
On February 13, 1997, the then district attorney held a press conference which said that they were closing in on the killer. Two days later, Michael Helgoth killed himself. However, some believe that one of his accomplices killed Helgoth to keep him quiet. While some of this evidence points to Helgoth, none of his DNA was found at the crime scene.
13. Santa Claus Did It
There’s a theory that Santa (err, a man dressed as Santa) committed the crime. Bill McReynolds dressed as Santa Claus for a party at the Ramsey home. Adding suspicion to McReynolds as a suspect is the fact that Bill gave JonBenét a card that said, “You will receive a special gift after Christmas.” I mean, who gives a little girl a card that says that?
Furthermore, McReynolds’ daughter was abducted 22 years before JonBenét’s death… to the exact day. Also, Bill’s wife, Janet, wrote a play about a child who was molested and then murdered. However, the couple was complicit in the police investigation, giving handwriting and hair samples. They were cleared as their DNA didn’t match the crime evidence. While the husband and wife were definitely creepy, that didn’t mean they murdered JonBenét.
12. Their Gardner Did It
Brian Scott, the Ramseys’ gardener, was mainly considered a suspect because of his access to the house.
At the time of JonBenét’s death, Scott was 27 years old and had been working as a gardener for the family for about 18 months. Scott’s alibi was that he was at the apartment of Ann Preston, his girlfriend at the time. Of course, alibis of this nature are usually considered a bit flimsy in an investigation, because of the limited amount of people who can back up your alibi. He freely gave hair and saliva to the police and was ruled out due to DNA.
11. It Was A Satanic Ritual
This theory goes deep into the realm of conspiracy theory. Supposedly, many children are raised to be sex slaves for pedophile politicians. This theory suggests that JonBenét was raised to be a sex slave and was also perhaps under the influence of mind control.
In this theory, it is suggested that John Ramsey may have known about all of this, as his company, Access Graphics, was linked to the child pornography industry. However, it is suggested that Patsy Ramsey may have been under mind control as well, meaning that she actually didn’t have any idea about the murder of JonBenét. Adding fuel to this theory is the Illuminati’s term for the devil: Jonbet. With her murder taking place on Christmas night, that also points to the probability of this being a satanic ritual.
10. Patsy Was Having An Affair And Her Lover Did It
While John was actually the one who was known to have extramarital affairs, it’s been theorized that perhaps Patsy had a lover of her own and he had committed the crime.
Because the ransom note was demanding the exact amount of money that John had received for his bonus, it’s been theorized that Patsy had told her lover about his bonus, thus prompting him to ask for that amount of money. Also, the fact that the note was drafted twice inside the house suggests someone who was familiar with the home.
When police came to the home that morning, Patsy was wearing the same outfit she had worn to the Christmas party the night before. This was a red flag to police, who thought that a woman of Patsy’s class would most likely not sleep in her party clothes. It’s lead people to think that Patsy was up all night, perhaps having something to do with the murder. In this theory, it’s believe that she’s in the same clothes instead because she was having an affair. Whatever the case, the fact that Patsy was still in her party clothes certainly seems out of character for a woman who was also a beauty pageant queen.
9. A Fan From The Pageant World Did It
The fact that JonBenét was a beauty pageant queen is something that gained much attention. However, it is also what made it difficult for investigators. The young pageant circuit is a breeding ground for pedophiles. The likelihood that JonBenét had a few inappropriate fans could be plausible due to the amount of success she had and the number of pageants she participated in. In fact, the Denver DA even told reporters “It’s impossible… not to see a terribly exploited little girl.”
The way JonBenét was dressed and made-up painted Patsy is a negative light. Many people questioned why she would put her daughter out there like that. People also argued that because Patsy grew up doing pageants herself, she didn’t see anything wrong with pushing JonBenét into it at that young age. John Ramsey later told reporters that he regretted letting her compete in those competitions.
8. A Family Member Did It By Accident
The cause of JonBenét’s death was noncommittal by the coroner. He officially reported that she died due to “asphyxia strangulation associated with craniocerebral trauma.” This means that they are not ruling the blunt force trauma to her head out as a means of her death. It’s most likely that JonBenét did die from the strangulation, but would have died from the trauma to her skull had she not been strangled.
There was a flashlight found on the counter of the Ramseys’ kitchen, which several believe could be the murder weapon. While there is none of her DNA on the weapon, experts have stated that a blow to her head may have broken her skull without breaking the skin. What’s odder is that the Ramseys did not claim that flashlight as their own. So, who does this flashlight belong to? Or were they just unwilling to take responsibility for the flashlight because they knew it was the weapon?
While the trauma to her head is not be forgotten about, JonBenét was then strangled to death with a garrote and sexually assaulted. The garrote was made from a broken paintbrush handle, much like the paintbrushes Patsy used herself. It’s been theorized that JonBenét may have been hit by a member of the family, who had no intention of murdering her. To cover up the crime, she was then strangled to death.
7. Patsy Did It Because She Wet The Bed
Bouncing off the theory that a family member may have accidentally killed JonBenét, it’s been theorized that her bed wetting may have been the cause. Apparently, JonBenét’s bed wetting had become an almost nightly occurrence. This theory suggests that JonBenét wet the bed and Patsy grew angry about it. Then, Patsy struck JonBenét in the head, much harder than she had meant to. This theory would follow the logic that then the strangulation was done in order to throw off investigators.
What’s more interesting about JonBenét’s bed wetting is that it’s very abnormal for a 6-year-old. Chronic bed wetting at this age could be due to anxiety or sexual abuse. Because there was evidence of JonBenét being sexually abused the night of her death, it’s possible that her chronic bed wetting is a sign that she had been sexually abused prior to the night of her death.
6. The Ransom Note Was Staged
Regardless of whether JonBenét was murdered because of her bed wetting or not, there were several reasons why the crime scene looked staged. The staged scene would suggest that a family either purposely or accidentally murdered JonBenét, then staged a crime scene to lead police away from the members of the house.
The ransom note was the biggest red flag, as it was drafted twice on a note pad within the house. This means that the kidnapper would have sat down and drafted the extremely long ransom note inside the house he was planning to commit the crime. The length of the note also raised eyebrows, as the FBI said they had never seen a ransom note of that length before. They also said that they had never seen a note left at a scene with a dead body.
Handwriting analysis ruled out John Ramsey, but proved inconclusive for Patsy Ramsey. Some experts believed that Patsy’s handwriting was a match, while other believed it wasn’t. Besides that, though, there were other oddities with her sample. When asked to write $118,000 (the amount demanded in the ransom note) out, she wrote it out with words as opposed to numbers. It’s also been noted that she changed the way she wrote many letters throughout her analysis. Many have speculated that these things were done in order to deliberately throw off the analysis.
5. A Police Officer Close To The Case Did It
Because of how insanely mishandled the case was, there is a theory that it was actually a police officer close to the case who did it. Of course, this theory doesn’t have a clear motive, but it does account for just how mishandled this case was.
When the police arrived, they apparently did not comb through the house for clues. Instead, a police officer asked John if he’d like to look for clues. This was supposed to be a way to distract John from his anxiety, as he still believed that his daughter had been kidnapped. It was at this point that John went to the wine cellar and found JonBenét’s body. John immediately ripped the tape off her mouth, contaminating the evidence.
On top of this, neighborhood friends were freely walking around the house this day. While no police officer has really been pinned as a suspect, this theory does account for the mishandling of the case that day.
4. The Intruder Who Left The Note Did It
While many theories point to the fact that much of the crime scene seemed staged, this theory suggests that an intruder committed the crime.
Some experts believe that an intruder broke in through the open window in the basement. The intruder then subdued JonBenét with a stun gun and planned on taking the young girl while leaving the ransom note. This theory could point to either Gary Howard Oliva or Michael Helgoth committing the crime. On top of those two suspects, there had been more than 100 burglaries in their neighborhood in the months before JonBenét’s death. There were also 38 registered sex offenders living within a 2-mile radius of the Ramsey home.
While this theory accounts for many of the clues, it would then mean that you’d have to believe someone wrote that ransom note, which has always seemed to be the biggest red flag. This theory does account for the male DNA on JonBenét’s underwear. That DNA was not a match with anyone in the family. However, that doesn’t quite rules them out, as an argument still stands that the DNA could simply have gotten on the underwear at the factory before it was packaged.
The fact that there were still cobwebs in the open window that the intruder would have entered through leaves many skeptical about this theory, as someone entering that window would have disrupted the cobwebs. Also, there were no footprints in the snow leading to said window.
3. John Mark Karr Did It, Like He Said
In 2006, John Mark Karr confessed that he was the one who killed JonBenét. However, DNA evidence exonerated him.
Before even the DNA evidence, police had many reasons to doubt his confession. For example, Karr claimed that he drugged her and yet there were no drugs in her system during the autopsy. He also couldn’t explain how he got into the house and couldn’t tell the police anything about the case that wasn’t already public knowledge. Why would he confess to a crime he didn’t commit? Perhaps the notoriety, or perhaps he is delusional.
The fact that Karr makes such assertive statements about the crime does make some believe that he may in fact be connected to the murder. In interviews, he’s said, “Nobody wanted that little girl to die that night… nobody. Her death was an accident. I was with her when she died. But I was not the person who caused it.”
He’s also said, “How she was found, that’s not how she died. Where she was found in that basement is not where she died.”
2. Brother Burke Did It
Most recently, some have believed that JonBenét may have been murdered by her older brother, Burke, who was just 9 years old at the time. This all rests on a piece of pineapple. No, seriously.
According to Patsy, JonBenét was put to bed after the party and did not have anything to eat. However, JonBenét had pieces of pineapple in her digestive tract during the autopsy. This suggested that JonBenét ate pineapple just an hour or so before the time of her death.
When the police arrived at the house, a bowl of pineapple was found at the dining room table. This bowl had both Patsy and Burke’s DNA on it. Of course, it’s not absurd that their DNA is on that bowl since they live in that house, but it is interesting that there is not a stranger’s DNA on said bowl. If one were to buy the intruder theory, it would then mean that this man fed JonBenét pineapple before killing her. However, he would have to do so without getting any of his DNA on the bowl of pineapple.
This had lead many people to believe that Burke may have been enjoying some pineapple as a midnight snack. When JonBenét stole a piece of pineapple from her brother, this angered him. It’s theorized that Burke then struck JonBenét in the head and Patsy and John then covered this up in order to save Burke from jail.
Burke recently sat down with Dr. Phil for an interview, during which he acted strange, especially when shown a photo of the pineapple. Of course, Twitter exploded with many people buying the Burke/pineapple theory.
1. Katy Perry Is JonBenét Ramsey
This is the single most outlandish theory of the bunch. It’s 100% not true, but due to the buzz around the theory, we threw it in.
For whatever reason, it’s been theorized that JonBenét’s death was actually faked and that she grew up to become Katy Perry. It seems be linked to the Illuminati in some way, as this theory suggests that she had to make a sacrifice in the form of her faked death in order to achieve fame. People have also pointed to the fact that Katy Perry’s parents look similar to John and Patsy Ramsay as further proof. This is all leaving out the fact that Patsy died in 2006 of ovarian cancer.
This theory believes that JonBenét/Katy Perry had been in hiding since 1996, that is until she rose to fame with “I Kissed a Girl” in 2008. Of course, Katy Perry was born in 1984, a full six years before JonBenét. People can’t resist an outrageous conspiracy theory. I mean, there’s even a theory that Ted Cruz is the zodiac killer.
Despite all of these theories, some plausible and some not, the case still remains open today.