JonBenét Ramsey case to be re-investigated by cold case review team in 2023

Nearing the 26th anniversary of the murder of JonBenét Ramsey, Boulder police are seeking help with DNA samples

By Kelly McClure

Nights & Weekends Editor

Published November 10, 2022 4:59PM (EST)

The grave of JonBenet Ramsey (Chris Rank/Sygma via Getty Images)
The grave of JonBenet Ramsey (Chris Rank/Sygma via Getty Images)

Nearing the 26th anniversary of the death of JonBenét Ramsey, Boulder Police are seeking help from The Cold Case Review Team in further attempts to solve her 1996 murder.

In a news release issued on Wednesday, the Boulder Police Department and Boulder County District Attorney's Office announced they will be consulting with private DNA labs, as well as the review team, to see if the minimal amount of DNA evidence they have from the case is viable for re-testing. 

From the news release:

"The amount of DNA evidence available for analysis is extremely small and complex. The sample could, in whole or in part, be consumed by DNA testing. In collaboration with the CBI and the FBI, there have been several discussions with private DNA labs about the viability of continued testing of DNA recovered from the crime scene and genetic genealogy analysis. Those discussions will continue. Whenever there is a proven technology that can reliably test forensic samples consistent with the samples available in this case, additional analysis will be conducted.

As in any cold case homicide, the investigation can always benefit from the perspective of outside experts. So, in addition to talking with the private DNA labs, the Boulder Police Department will be consulting with the Colorado Cold Case Review Team in 2023. The Cold Case Review Team is comprised of professional investigative, analytical, and forensic experts from across the state. The Review Team is another tool to help further cold case homicide investigations, including making recommendations based on best practices in the investigative field."

Prior to this latest advancement in the case, JonBenét's father, John Ramsey, threatened to sue the state of Colorado in July if they stood in the way of his own requests to have his daughter's DNA released for private testing. Judging by their news release, it would appear that they've agreed to cooperate.

"The murder of JonBenét Ramsey is a terrible tragedy and sparked years of unanswered questions and theories," District Attorney Michael Dougherty said on Wednesday. "Our office has successfully prosecuted other cold case homicides and many murder cases. In every one of those cases, it was the evidence that proved the defendant(s) guilty. Whether it is DNA or other evidence, more is needed to solve this murder. I appreciate the collaboration with CBI, the FBI, and the Boulder Police Department."

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JonBenét's official cause of death was ruled to be asphyxia by strangulation along with craniocerebral trauma and the surrounding details of her murder at the age of 6-years-old have been an ongoing mystery. Encouraged into pageantry by her mother, Patsy Ramsey, who died of ovarian cancer in 2006, JonBenét's body was discovered in the basement of her family's home and was believed to have been murdered shortly after the family returned from attending a Christmas party on December 25, 1996.

"It was probably some pedophile in the pageant audience," Burke Ramsey, JonBenét's older brother said in a 2016 interview with Dr. Phil. 

After the issue of the release from Boulder Police on Wednesday, JonBenét's half-brother, John Andrew Ramsey, reacted to the advancement in the case in a tweet, calling it "interesting."

"This is positive. Forward progress," John Andrew furthered on Twitter. "More work to be done to catch a killer but it can be done."

In October, John Andrew expressed his distaste towards Boulder police on Twitter saying "If you haven't noticed I got an issue with the Boulder Police. They maliciously and wrongly defamed my family and have subverted justice by not searching for the killer of my sister JonBenét. I will hold them accountable. Otherwise I am pretty amicable guy."

By Kelly McClure

Kelly McClure is Salon's Nights and Weekends Editor covering daily news, politics and culture. Her work has been featured in Vulture, The A.V. Club, Vanity Fair, Cosmopolitan, Nylon, Vice, and elsewhere. She is the author of Something is Always Happening Somewhere.

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