Life came to a tragic end for 6-and-half year old JonBenet Ramsey when she was murdered in her Boulder, Colorado home on Christmas day 16 years ago. Now on the anniversary of her death, the shocking homicide of the child beauty queen that shook Colorado, and the nation, still remains unsolved to this day.
On Dec. 26, 1996, JonBenet was found bludgeoned and strangled to death in the basement of her family home. A ransom note from an anonymous group of individuals "that represent a foreign faction" asking for $118,000 in exchange for the safe return of JonBenet was found just hours before, but no call ever came from a kidnapper and it was never linked to a murderer. See the full text of the ransom note originally published by Vanity Fair magazine here.
Although there has not been any new evidence uncovered in the homicide case for some time, two new books that came out this year shed new light on the young girl, her family and ask some troubling new questions.
The first book, published in March and written by JonBenet's father John Ramsey, titled "The Other Side of Suffering," chronicles John Ramsey's religious faith throughout his tumultuous life, including the death of his eldest daughter in a car accident, the international media attention to JonBenet Ramsey's still-unsolved murder and the loss of his wife Patsy to ovarian cancer in 2006.
During an ABC News interview with John Ramsey at the time of the book's release, Ramsey says that he now regrets putting his daughter in child beauty pageants. From the ABC News interview:
Patsy had [JonBenet] sitting atop a friend's convertible in the Christmas parade waving at the people lining the streets," Ramsey recalled. "Patsy's mother later told me that a strange man approached the car during the parade and it made her uncomfortable. I think about these things now and it makes me cringe. We were so naive. I now believe with all my heart that it's not a good idea to put your child on public display.
Published in June, the second book is by James Kolar, a former lead investigator in the JonBenet case, titled "Foreign Faction: Who Really Kidnapped JonBenet?" The book raises some new questions about the intruder theory -- the same theory that eventually led to JonBenet's parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, being cleared as suspects.
Kolar's theory is simple: there could not have been an intruder on the night of JonBenet's murder because of evidence that was overlooked or dismissed during the investigation. The former detective had access to 60,000 pages of evidence, including crime-scene video and photos, interviews with individuals related to the case and forensic reports, according to The Daily Beast's exhaustive analysis of the book.
Among the contradicting evidence Kolar points to: fully intact cobwebs stretching over the window the intruder allegedly entered, DNA evidence found on the garrote cord used to strangle JonBenet and a child's toy that may have been responsible for some of the abrasions on JonBenet's body, rather than a stun gun which has been considered the source of some injuries.
John and Patsy Ramsey were prime suspects for years and repeatedly appeared on news channels defending their innocence and demanding justice for the murder of their young daughter. The entire Ramsey family was cleared of any involvement in the murder of JonBenet back in 2008, thanks to then newly discovered DNA evidence, according to 9News. Patsy Ramsey, JonBenet's mother, died 2 years earlier in 2006 of ovarian cancer, tragically, she was still considered a possible suspect when she died.
Beginning in 2010, investigators reopened the case and launched a fresh round of interviews with witnesses that could provide more insight into the murder, according to ABC News, but nothing fruitful came of those interviews.
The DNA evidence still points to an "unexplained third party" that serves as a vague lead for authorities still pursuing the case, TIME magazine reported.
According to 7News, Boulder police have tested more than 150 DNA samples and investigated nearly the same amount of potential suspects in their ongoing investigation, but none have ever been linked to the crime.
After all these years, Boulder police have received thousands of tips about her murder and still receive several monthly. Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett said in 2010 that he personally gets five or more tips each month, according to Fox31. The ones that have potential are passed along to Boulder police's Major Case Unit. There have been plenty of false leads as well, including most famously Mark Karr -- who bizarrely admitted to being with JonBenet the night of her death, but DNA evidence later cleared him of any wrongdoing in this case, MSNBC reported. Craig Silverman, talk radio legal analyst on 630 KHOW that has covered the unsolved murder since it first broke, spoke to KDVR about the public's interest in the case back in 2010:
It's an enduring, epic mystery. Everybody would like to know who killed little JonBenet.
Silverman went on to say on his Huffington Post blog, "This JonBenet murder mystery has never been lacking for clues. There are too many clues. It is putting all the puzzle pieces together that matters."
It remains one of the most notorious murders in U.S. history and a decade and a half later there is still no justice for JonBenet. Had JonBenet lived, she would have turned 22 years old in 2012, on August 6.
For a timeline of the events of the unsolved murder case during its peak years in the 1990s check out the Daily Camera's chronological summary of the major events between Dec. 1996 to 1999.