Twelve years after the tragic 1996 death of 6-year-old JonBenét Ramsey ― and 12 years after being the subjects of intense scrutiny from the police and the public ― her parents, John and Patsy, were formally exonerated by the Boulder, Colo., district attorney. Patsy died of ovarian cancer before the D.A. cleared the Ramseys of involvement in JonBenét’s death, but John spoke out about the case on behalf of his family. He appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” a few months after the exoneration.
As John told Oprah on that show in 2008, he and Patsy always held out hope that their daughter’s killer would be captured. In fact, John said back then, Patsy was so optimistic that she followed a rather unusual practice to ensure she’d be ready for the news anywhere at any time.
“Anytime we traveled, she took a blue dress with her. The blue dress was ... in case they found the killer and she was asked to be interviewed,” John said. “She did that for years.”
As time went on, Patsy eventually stopped carrying the blue dress everywhere, but John said that she never stopped believing that police would find JonBenét’s killer. Both John and Patsy always asserted that an outside intruder was responsible for the little girl’s bludgeoning, strangulation and sexual assault inside their home on that Christmas Day.
“We believe they came in while we were out, waited for us to go to bed and sleep, and took JonBenét from her room,” John said. “I’ve said, always, that I don’t know anybody this evil. Or, I’ve not had anybody around me this evil. This was a horribly evil act.”
For as certain as John and Patsy were that an intruder was responsible for the crime, the police were not. They questioned the parents as prime suspects. “It didn’t make sense, but I accepted it. In fact, I told the police, ‘Well, OK, investigate us, but for heaven’s sake, don’t stop with us,’” John said. “Of course, they did.”
In his opinion, law enforcement bungled the investigation. “I don’t know how to say that in a polite way, but they were inexperienced, had a lot of arrogance, and that’s a very dangerous combination,” John said.
Despite being in the media spotlight and under a dense cloud of suspicion, John adds that he and Patsy were able to move forward with their lives for the sake of JonBenét’s older brother, Burke.
“We realized pretty early on that we needed our life back to normal as best we could for the sake of our son, who at the time was 9,” John said. “That really became our focus.”
Another moment from that interview: