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JonBenet Ramsey: Did Boulder Police overlook facts? Here are the biggest mistakes that stalled the cold case

There were many mistakes in the JonBenet Ramsey case which could have hampered it and delayed finding the person responsible for her murder
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey was found brutally murdered in the basement of her parents' home on December 26, 1996. JonBenet, who was first reported missing by her parents John and Patsy Ramsey, was then found dead in the family's basement. To date, the case has remained unsolved for several years with no leads on who the killer is. It is said that there were a lot of mistakes while the case was investigated which could have led to the delay in finding the person responsible.

Discovery+ 's documentary 'JonBenet Ramsey: What Really Happened' which airs on January 4, 2021, sheds light on the iconic cold case and provides a fresh perspective on the case. 

Murder scene

JonBenet was found bludgeoned, strangled and hidden underneath a white blanket with a nylon cord around her neck. Her wrists had been bound above her head while her mouth was covered using duct tape. Her body was found by her father around eight hours after she was reported missing. The child was found in the basement of the home in the wine cellar by her father John Ramsey. There was also a ransom note found in the house which threatened the wealthy family. 

Boulder Police mistakes 

The first and biggest mistake that happened was that the family was allowed to remain inside the home once the ransom note was found. The family was also allowed to call their friends and family over as comfort which saw the crime scene being destroyed piece by piece. 

While the police had photographed the home and the basement, they failed to check the wine cellar where JonBenet was eventually found. The lone detective on the scene had told John to go around the house and see if they were anything out of the ordinary. 

In the documentary, he says, "She had tape over her mouth, wrists tied over her head. I immediately took the tape off her mouth and I tried to untie her wrists. I scooped her up." He took her upstairs where the detective told him "she's gone". Had the police thoroughly checked the house and come across the crime scene, the evidence could have been preserved and kept sterile since no one had been there since the killer. 

John Ramsey and his wife Patsy talk to the media outside their house on February 20, 2001, in Atlanta, GA (Getty Images) 

Boulder Police theories 

The Boulder Police were convinced without strong enough evidence that John and Patsy Ramsey had been behind the death of their child. They believed that the ransom note which was written on one of Patsy's notepads was a cover-up in order to try and deflect attention away from the murder. 

They thought that since JonBenet was a bedwetter, she had probably wet her bed after which Patsy had become enraged and slammed her head against something with either parent then strangling her. They also believed that there had been no sign of an intruder entry or exit which was very misleading. 

While there had been foreign DNA found on the underpants of JonBenet, giving rise to a possibility that someone else had come into the home, the police had discredited that part of possible evidence. 

The case was not being treated right with misleading information being put forth that the child's family was not willing to cooperate, something that John Ramsey completely dismissed saying that they had done and provided all they could in the case of JonBenet's murder.

As it turned out, the handwriting in the ransom note was not a match to any of the Ramseys and was carefully examined many times. The family was also constantly put under pressure and questioned several times as a means to try and pressurize them into false admissions. 

Members of the news media gather outside the residence at 749 15th Street, where JonBenet Ramsey was murdered in December, 1996, on August 17, 2006 in Boulder, Colorado (Getty Images)

Lou Smit's 'intruder theory'

A former Colorado Springs detective Lou Smit was very deeply connected to the JonBenet Ramsey case and put forth an interesting theory that was overlooked by the Boulder Police Department and others involved in the case. Smit had put forth a theory that there had very likely been an intruder who had broken into the home of the Ramseys. While studying the pictures taken from the crime scene and home, he was able to find a few discrepancies in the no-intruder theory. 

The first thing that stood out to him was the fact that even though an intruder exit and entry point had been dismissed, he was able to identify a footprint on one side of the house. It was initially suggested that for the amount of snow in the front and side of the house, there would have been bound to be footprints in the deep snow, which were not there.

However, the other side of the house where there was no snow, had a shoe mark visible — a print that was not matched to anyone's shoe in the house. This was the first clue that gave rise to the possibility of a foreign entry. 

Another major clue was the small metal grate on the ground outside the house which could be lifted open and had enough space for a person to get through and slip into the wine cellar where JonBenet was found. Smit tested the same entry point as well to find that it was easy to enter the house from this route without breaking in at all. Smit was convinced that the story being told to the media was not factual.

Cold case

Eventually, both John and Patsy Ramsey were declared innocent in the case which still has no leads as to who killed JonBenet Ramsey.