JonBenet Ramsey: How detective Lou Smit saved John and Patsy with 'intruder' theory based on crime scene photos

Retired detective Lou Smit who strongly believed the Ramseys were innocent was able to put forth a theory that theorizes the likeliness of an intruder breaking into the home

                            JonBenet Ramsey: How detective Lou Smit saved John and Patsy with 'intruder' theory based on crime scene photos
JonBenet Ramsey's house and gravestone (Getty Images)

The murder of six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey has continued to grip the world since she was found dead in her parent's basement in 1996. She was discovered dead in her home in Boulder, Colorado, in 1996 on December 26, just a day after Christmas around eight hours after she was reported missing. 

Her murder remains unsolved to this day with no clue as to who is responsible for the brutal and tragic murder. Discovery plus' documentary 'JonBenet Ramsey: What Really Happened' that airs on January 4, 2021, sheds light on the iconic cold case and provides a fresh perspective on the case. 

Who was Lou Smit?

A former Colorado Springs detective, Lou Smit was 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. He was also integral in maintaining the innocence of JonBenet's parents John and Patsy who had been falsely named as suspects in the murder of their child. 

Given that JonBenet was a beauty pageant star, the case had garnered international media attention. The year 1996 and the years following that were trying times for JonBenet's parents, John and Patsy, who had become the prime suspects.

Smit was a highly successful detective who had managed to solve 200 homicide cases and was called in to work on the JonBenet case. He believed that given how wealthy the Ramsey's were, they were possibly targeted to extract money from. He was also convinced that it had not been John or Patsy who had killed JonBenet. 

The grave of JonBenet Ramsey is shown August 16, 2006, in Marietta, Georgia (Getty Images) 

The 'Intruder' theory

While the Boulder Police Department stood firm that there was no sign of an intruder, Smit 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 have 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. He also pointed out the very first video taken of the crime scene and basement where JonBenet was found. He noticed how the window of the wine cellar which leads out, was left wide open. There was also a suitcase at the bottom of the window and a mark on the wall which seemed to be consistent with someone sliding down from the window. 

A grate covers a basement window at the home of John and Patsy Ramsey April 30, 2001, in Boulder, CO. Retired investigator, Lou Smit, who was involved in the JonBenet Ramsey case, stated on national television that photos that he presented could be used as evidence to support a theory that an intruder killed the 6-year-old (Getty Images) 

If the killer had got in from the window, it would explain why there was a sliding mark on the wall. It could also mean that the killer had used the suitcase to step on to climb back out of the window. Both these points also shine a light on a possible intruder. 

When the question arose as to how an intruder could have climbed in and kidnapped the child from her bedroom without any sound or commotion, Smit began to wonder too. He observed the pictures of JonBenet's bedroom and did not see a sign of struggle. 

However, when observing pictures of the victim's body he noticed two distinct marks on her body. He reached the conclusion that these had likely been stun gun marks which would explain why there was no commotion or any sound as JonBenet was taken into the basement by the killer. He was even able to identify and found a stun gun that matched the child's marks. 

He also looked into a neighbor's report who claimed to have heard a bone-chilling child-like scream which led to questions as to why the parents had missed this scream when it was heard 150ft from the Ramsey house. Smit found that in the wine cellar where JonBenet was found, there was an open vent furnace that started in the room and opened outside the home.

Given that the Ramseys were three levels above the basement, the sound did not reach them but was heard outside the home with the furnace acting like a megaphone. This was even tested with people being made to stand in the master bedroom while someone screamed in the basement. The people above could not hear the scream but people placed outside heard it loud and clear.

Post the screaming sound, the neighbor had said they also heard the sound of metal hitting cement which could well be the metal grate outside closing and the killer leaving.

Saving the Ramseys

Using the arguments made via the intruder theory and foreign DNA being found on JonBenet's clothing, Smit was able to provide valid reasons as to why the Ramseys were not behind the murder. A ransom note found on the scene did not match any of the Ramseys handwriting either. Eventually, John and Patsy were declared innocent over the lack of evidence for them to stand trial.

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