On Sunday night, CBS aired the first segment of their two-part docuseries The Case of: JonBenét Ramsey. Following televised investigations from A&E and Dr. Phil, The Case of assembled a team of investigators to reexamine key pieces of evidence surrounding the case.
Over the course of their investigation, led by former New York City prosecutor and retired FBI supervisory special agent and profiler Jim Clemente and former New Scotland Yard criminal behavioral analyst Laura Richards, the team unearthed never-before-publicized details, many of which cast a suspicious shadow on the six-year-old beauty queen’s family: the now-deceased Patricia “Patsy” Ramsey, John Ramsey, and the couple’s eldest son, Burke.
For starters, the team spent Sunday’s segment attempting to identify voices in the background of Patsy’s 911 call and deconstructing a ransom note from a “foreign faction” claiming to have kidnapped her daughter. Clemente and Richards also spoke to the original 911 dispatcher, reconstructed the Ramseys’ home using a built-to-scale model and linguistically dissected televised interviews given by the Ramseys in the days and months following JonBenét’s murder.
On the series’ two-hour conclusion, the group continued to pick apart the case evidence, this time focusing on a bowl of pineapple in the Ramsey kitchen which JonBenét allegedly ate from shortly before she died, the underwear she wore and an injury on her back, which some have attributed to a stun gun. Clemente and Richards also delve into the odd behavior of brother Burke Ramsey and attempt to prove that an outside intruder did not commit the crime. But they do think they know who did. Here’s everything we learned from The Case of: JonBenét Ramsey, Part Two.
The ‘Intruder Theory’ could well be inaccurate
In 2001, investigator Lou Smit postulated that somebody was able to shadow the Ramsey family and find a time to break in when they wouldn’t be discovered. When everybody went to sleep, they took JonBenét, possibly using a stun gun to subdue her. Then they took her down to the basement, tied her up, killed her, but still left a ransom note. At the time, Smit, who died in 2010, filmed a video of himself fitting through a broken basement window in the Ramsey home to show how someone could easily fit through, a demonstration A&E used as one of the main pieces of evidence in their special.
But Clemente, Richards and their team weren’t so sure. Consulting a crime-scene photo, Clemente points to a cobweb in the corner of the window, which he thinks wouldn’t still be there had someone successfully shoved their body through.
To prove his theory, Richards herself pushed through the “basement” window from the built-to-scale home model. As Clemente guessed, the force of Richards’ body squeezing through the small window, which wouldn’t even open all the way, would clear out any leftover debris clinging to the side, rendering Smit’s theory improbable – at least in a replica house.
It’s not clear that a stun gun could have made the marks on JonBenét’s back
In conjunction with the intruder theory, Smit thought that the marks on JonBenét’s back could have been made by a stun gun in an effort to subdue her. Clemente, Richards and forensic pathologist Dr. Werner Spitz had doubts again, so they sought to disprove the theory by actually stunning Sgt. Jay Wilson of the Telluride Marshal’s Department to see what would happen.
The team ultimately found that upon being tased, Wilson was more energized, not less, and the marks left on his skin looked nothing like the ones found on JonBenét. Later, we learn that pins in the toy train tracks from the Ramseys’ “train room” could have been responsible for the injuries.
DNA evidence exonerating the Ramsey family might have been erroneous
In 1999, DNA evidence cleared Burke of any wrongdoing, and in 2008, Boulder County District Attorney Mary Lacy exonerated the rest of the Ramsey family based on foreign genetic material found in JonBenét’s underwear. The DNA, she said, belonged to a male but could not be attributed to any family member.
Clemente and Richards, though, felt the evidence wasn’t sufficient to clear them. Using today’s improved DNA technology, Clemente and Richards worked with forensic scientist and DNA expert Dr. Henry Lee (of O.J. Simpson trial fame) to study whether or not such evidence really could prove the existence of an outside intruder.
According to Lee, it could not. As he explained to the investigators, JonBenét’s underwear may have held on to some transfer DNA from the manufacture process, which he proved by testing an untouched pair of new panties, straight from the package. As he suspected, the new, untouched underwear had foreign DNA on them leftover from the manufacture process. They took this to mean that the DNA evidence is erroneous and it shouldn’t be enough to fully exonerate the Ramseys.
The video of nine-year-old Burke being interviewed is suspect
In their investigation, Clemente and Richards took a look at a video of Burke, not long after the murder, being interviewed by a child psychologist on camera about his sister’s death. The two appear disturbed at Burke’s playful and untroubled demeanor as he brushes off the idea of his sister’s killer coming back. “I’m basically just going on with my life, you know?” he says. Burke also gives a physical demonstration of how JonBenét might have died, waving an imaginary weapon.
Later, we find out via an interview with Ramsey family friend and photographer Judith Miller that Patsy told her Burke had actually struck JonBenét in the face with a golf club a year and a half prior to her murder. Clemente and Richards also note how Burke had committed some prior “scatological” infractions in the past, spreading feces around the Ramseys’ bathroom and in even JonBenét’s bedroom, lending credence to the theory that his relationship with his sister was less than perfect.
Investigators believe that Burke struck JonBenet with the flashlight, and the Ramsey parents tried to cover it up
One of the most widely discussed pieces of evidence in the JonBenét Ramsey case is the pineapple she ate shortly before she died. Clemente and Richards posit a theory that it was actually Burke eating pineapple before bed on Christmas night, and JonBenét may have ventured downstairs from her bedroom and grabbed a piece from the bowl, perhaps sparking her brother’s temper. From there, they allege, he may have struck her with the flashlight, but there was not the intent to kill. Everything that happened afterward can be traced back to the parents: the letter that Patsy likely wrote, the way John appeared to “find” his daughter in the basement, the Ramseys’ general reluctance to cooperate with Boulder law enforcement. The Ramsey family, Clemente says, did not actually want law enforcement to solve this case.
So there you have it. According to The Case of: JonBenét Ramsey, Burke Ramsey (who declined to be interviewed for the docuseries, though he grinned straight through a recent Dr. Phil interview about his sister) may very well have killed JonBenét. But like a lengthy CBS disclaimer notes at the end, they can’t actually prove anything – so audiences should feel free to draw their own conclusions.