December 25, 1996) was an American child beauty pageant contestant who was murdered in her home in Boulder, Colorado, in 1996. The six-year-old's body was found in the basement of the family home nearly eight hours after she was reported missing. She had been struck on the head and strangled. The case, which after several grand jury hearings remains unsolved, continues to generate public and media interest.
Colorado law enforcement agencies initially suspected JonBenét's parents and her brother. However, the family was partially exonerated in 2003 when DNA taken from the victim's clothes suggested they were not involved. Her parents would not be completely cleared until July 2008. In February 2009, the Boulder Police Department took the case back from the district attorney to reopen the investigation.
Media coverage of the case has often focused on JonBenét's participation in child beauty pageants, her parents' affluence and the unusual evidence in the case. Reports have also questioned the police's overall handling of the case. Several defamation suits have been filed against several media organizations by Ramsey family members and their friends over reporting of the murder.
JonBenét Ramsey was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on August 6, 1990. When she was nine months old, the family relocated to Boulder, Colorado. Her first name is a combination of her father's first and middle names, John Bennett; her middle name is the first name of her mother, the late Patricia "Patsy" Ramsey. JonBenét was enrolled by her mother in a variety of different beauty pageants in several states. Patricia Ramsey funded some of the contests that JonBenét participated in, as well as rock climbing and violin lessons. Her active role in pageants was highly scrutinized by media following the murder.
JonBenét is buried at St. James Episcopal Cemetery in Marietta, Georgia; next to her is her mother, who died of cancer in 2006, and her half-sister Elizabeth Pasch Ramsey (daughter of John Ramsey and his first wife), who died in a 1992 car accident at the age of 22 with her boyfriend Matthew Derrington.
According to the testimony of Patsy Ramsey, on December 26, 1996, she discovered her daughter was missing after finding on the kitchen staircase a two-and-a-half-page ransom note demanding $118,000 for her safe return — almost the exact value of a bonus her husband had received earlier that year. Despite specific instructions in the ransom note that police and friends not be contacted, she telephoned the police and called family and friends. The local police conducted a cursory search of the house, but did not find any obvious signs of a break-in or forced entry. The note suggested that the ransom collection would be monitored and JonBenét would be returned as soon as the money was obtained. John Ramsey made arrangements for the availability of the ransom, which a friend, John Fernie, picked up that morning from a local bank.