Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder of JonBenet Ramsey

The Media Evidence

By December 28, various local news sources made it clear to their readers that the Ramseys were the principal suspects in the case. While the police made few comments regarding any evidence they had to implicate the parents, the media began to cite their own "evidence." The first "clue" they focused on was the supposed lack of footprints in the snow surrounding the house, which suggested that someone inside was responsible. Later the media admitted that this opinion was based on an official report from a policeman at the scene who noted: — "Strange, no footprints." The next item was also gleaned from a police report. It stated that there were allegedly no signs of forced entry.

The mayor of Boulder, Leslie Durgan, added further weight to the story when she appeared on television stating: — "By all reports there was no visible signs of forced entry. The body was found in a place where people are saying, someone had to know the house."

The facts surrounding the so-called "evidence" tell a completely different story.

The first point to come under scrutiny is the snow cover. News video footage shot on December 26 clearly shows that large areas surrounding the house had no snow cover at all. In support of this, Julie Hayden, the television reporter states:

"We looked at the videotape once the footprints in the snow started becoming an issue and one of the things that I observed was, there did not seem to be snow going up to all of the doors. So, in my opinion, this thing about footprints in the snow has always been much ado about nothing because it seemed clear to me that people could have gotten in the house, whether they did or not, without traipsing through the snow."

The Basement Window
The Basement Window

Even with blatant visual evidence that proved that the theory was groundless, the story continued to be told. Even more doubtful was the claim of "no forced entry." The police report on December 26 noted that there were a number of open windows and at least one open door; therefore, an intruder would not need to break in. One possible point of entry was the basement window. Not only was it easily accessible via a ground level lift-out grille, it had been broken sometime before Christmas and could not be secured. These facts, although well documented by the police, did not come to public attention until a year after the event.

When questioned regarding the accuracy of the information he received, reporter Charlie Brennan stated that up until March 1997, he and other members of the press did not know that there was a broken window in the basement and believed that his police source had fed him false information.

The reality of this situation is that an intruder could have easily entered the house through the basement window and moved around the house virtually undetected and unheard. JonBenet's bedroom is one floor below her parents' room, a total distance of 55 feet of walkways, covered by thick carpeting, making it ideal for a soundless approach. Furthermore, there is no hidden room. A carpeted spiral staircase, a few feet from her room, leads down to the kitchen. From the kitchen, it is only a few steps to the door that leads to the basement stairs. At the bottom of the stairs is a short corridor that leads directly to the room where her body was found.

The end result? — No secret room, no need for forced entry and very little snow, which leads to one of two conclusions — either the press distorted the facts to embellish their story or someone inside the police department leaked false information, intentionally or otherwise. Despite having been proved incorrect, all three bits of misinformation were given continual coverage.

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