October 13

This Day in History

Crime

Oct 13, 1999:

Grand jury dismissed in JonBenet Ramsey murder case

The Colorado grand jury investigating the case of child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey, who was murdered in December 1996, is dismissed and the Boulder County district attorney announces no indictments will be made due to insufficient evidence.

On the morning of December 26, 1996, Patsy Ramsey discovered her 6-year-old daughter was missing after finding a ransom note in the family’s Boulder home. Patsy, a former Miss West Virginia, and her husband John, a wealthy business executive, called police and JonBenet’s body was discovered in the basement later that day. The coroner determined the girl had died of asphyxia strangulation and an autopsy later revealed she had been bound and struck violently in the head, causing bleeding and an 8.5-inch fracture to her skull.

Police questioned various people, including a man who had played Santa Claus at the Ramsey home several days before the murder; however, John and Patsy Ramsey eventually emerged as the primary suspects in the case. After being formally interviewed by investigators on April 30, 1997, the couple held a news conference the next day proclaiming their innocence. They believed the murder was committed by an intruder. The case generated an enormous media frenzy but no arrests and the Boulder police and prosecutors received criticism for their handling of the investigation. In September 1998, a grand jury was convened to investigate the murder. The following year, on October 13, 1999, Boulder County District Attorney Alex Hunter announced that the grand jury had been dismissed and no indictments would be made due to lack of evidence.

John and Patsy Ramsey continued to face intense public scrutiny. In March 2000, the couple released a book about the case titled The Death of Innocence. On June 24, 2006, Patsy Ramsey died of ovarian cancer at age 49. In August of that year, U.S. law enforcement officials in Thailand arrested 41-year-old John Mark Karr, an American schoolteacher, in connection with child pornography charges in California. Karr stated he was with JonBenet Ramsey when she was killed but her death had been an accident. He was charged with murder, kidnapping and sexual assault on a child.  However, on August 28, 2006, all charges against Karr were dropped after DNA tests failed to link him to the crime. To date, the murder of JonBenet Ramsey remains unsolved.

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