JonBenet Ramsey’s father, John Ramsey, reflected on celebrating Christmas 27 years after his 6-year-old daughter was murdered in the basement of her family’s Boulder home the day after Christmas in 1996.
An autopsy conducted after JonBenet was found dead revealed that she was bludgeoned in the head and strangled to death. The Boulder City Medical Examiner reported an 8 1/2-inch fracture to her skull. The case remains an active, open investigation, and there are currently no suspects.
“We didn’t celebrate Christmas for several years, and we thought, ‘Well, this isn’t fair to Burke.’… We really tried to give him a normal childhood,” John Ramsey, 80, told Fox News Digital of celebrating Christmas after his daughter was killed 27 years ago. “Now, we have grandchildren, and we have to enjoy those in our life. We will be with my daughter and her children and [my son’s] children this Christmas. It’ll be a joyful Christmas. You’ve got to remember what Christmas is all about, and that helps solidify our view of life and what life’s all about.”
He continued: “It impacts us, not just on Dec. 26. It’s with us – I’ve told people, the death of a child… you don’t get over. You don’t move on. You’re a changed person. And I’m sure that’s the same for my other children. It’s a horrible thing for them to have to live with, but you move on, and you’ve got to move on and create new memories.”
JonBenet’s mother – the late Patsy Ramsey, who died of cancer in 2006 – reported the 6-year-old missing to police on the morning of Dec. 26, 1996, after finding a lengthy ransom note demanding $118,000 in exchange for JonBenet. John Ramsey found her body later that same day in their basement.
Ramsey said seeing photos of JonBenet and his oldest daughter, Beth, who died in a car accident in 1992, “brightens” his day.
Ramsey takes comfort in the fact that “JonBenet is in heaven.”
“I don’t understand heaven and can’t possibly comprehend it, but I believe she’s there. And that’s comforting,” he said.
As for his daughter’s murder case, Ramsey is still holding out hope that the Boulder Police Department (BPD) will test and re-test evidence from the 27-year-old case for DNA evidence using updated technology and genetic genealogy tools that were not available in the 1990s and come up with a suspect name.
Last year, after Ramsey petitioned Colorado Gov. Jared Polis to remove the case from BPD and allow an independent genetic genealogy company to test evidence, the police department announced it would be partnering with private DNA labs and consulting with the Colorado Cold Case Review Team, comprised of cold-case experts from across the state, at some point next year. BPD described the team as a tool to help further cold case investigations.
“We think there’s still hope for some movement and progress based on the new leadership and in the organization,” Ramsey said. “So we’re cautiously hopeful that there is some progress and effort being made to do those things we’ve asked be done.”
BPD says it has investigated leads from more than 21,000 tips, letters and emails and traveled to 19 states to speak with more than 1,000 people about the case.
But Ramsey says even if “the killer confessed, was arrested, convicted and in prison,” a small percentage of Americans would still “not believe it.”
“For the people that matter, we have lots of friends, lots of support. And I told people, look, once your reputation is blemished, fairly or unfairly, it never goes back to pure white. There’s always going to be doubters and skeptics,” he said. “It’s the same crowd that thinks Elvis lives in Boca Raton still, and there is no moon landing.… The Bible calls them fools.”
The 80-year-old father and grandfather said he tries not to dwell on fairness.
“I’ve told people I’ve learned two things: one, life’s not fair. So don’t dwell on fairness. And life’s not easy.… There’s risk in living. And I had someone once tell me, ‘Oh, I want to be rich and famous.’ And I said, ‘Well, rich is OK, but you don’t want to be famous,'” he said. “Certainly, with the internet and social media, it’s an easy platform to target people with hate and mean comments.”
Even directly after JonBenet’s murder, when Ramsey said his family was “being vilified in the media and by the police, people on the street were wonderful” to them. He felt “uplifted” by strangers at the time.
“All the the horrible things that were said about us in the media and so forth, at that stage, it didn’t matter. We’d lost our child. And couldn’t hurt us any more than that,” Ramsey said.
“Lots of people are impacted by unfairness, and you just… don’t let it bother you. Don’t dwell on it.”
The father of five has been critical of BPD’s handling of the case over nearly three decades but is holding out hope that recent changes within the police department will bring new answers to light. Recently, he has been focusing his efforts on making child murder a federal crime so the FBI and other federal authorities can get involved in cases involving children under 12 years old immediately.
“I’d like to see the murder of a child 12 years and under be a federal crime and… bring the full resources of our country to bear when a child is murdered. It’s insane to leave it up to the local police department to decide what should be done. Some of them make the right decisions. They bring in help,” he said. “We have 18,000 police jurisdictions in this country, approximately, and for that authority to be vested in each of those chief of police officers is risky.”
Authorities are asking anyone with information related to the JonBenet investigation to contact 303-441-1974, BouldersMostWanted@bouldercolorado.gov or Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).