Six-year-old JonBenét Ramsey is killed in her Boulder, Colorado, home. John and Patsy Ramsey, her parents, called police at 5:52 the following morning to report that their daughter was missing. Although police found a ransom note demanding $118,000, the money would never be necessary, because JonBenét's body was found under a blanket in the basement that afternoon. The crime soon became a national sensation.
JonBenét, who had been beaten and strangled, was found with tape over her mouth and her hands tied together with a cord. There were also some signs of sexual assault. However, Boulder detectives did a poor job of preserving the evidence and actually allowed John Ramsey to disrupt the crime scene by removing his daughter’s body from the basement.
With no signs of an intruder, suspicion quickly fell on JonBenét's parents. The ransom note seemed suspicious to authorities. Not only did the strangely specific amount of the ransom—$118,000—match the exact amount of John Ramsey’s bonus from his employer, the paper that the ransom note had been written on paper found in the Ramsey home. The note also seemed to be unusually wordy.
For the curious public, the fact that John and Patsy Ramsey failed to cooperate with the investigation fueled speculation about their guilt. In addition, JonBenét's active participation in beauty pageants, which required her to wear heavy makeup and sophisticated clothing, was widely considered to be inappropriate.
The investigation into JonBenét's murder continued for more than two years. But in October 1999, the grand jury hearing evidence in the case was finally dismissed with no recommendation for filing charges. The jury did, however, vote to indict the Ramseys on child endangerment and obstruction of a murder investigation, but the prosecutor declined to prosecute. In 2006, former schoolteacher John Mark Karr was arrested after confessing to the murder; however, Karr’s DNA did not match samples found on JonBenét's body and he was released.