Since December 1996, the mystery surrounding 6-year-old JonBenét Ramsey's murder has haunted America. Two decades later, the case remains unsolved — as well as just as unsettling and bewildering as it was 20 years ago. That may be about to change, though: A series of new documentary shows delving into the case arrived on television in September, including A&E's The Killing Of JonBenét: The Truth Uncovered , Dateline's Who Killed JonBenét , Investigation Discovery's JonBenét : An American Murder Mystery and CBS' documentary series set to air Sunday, The Case Of: JonBenét Ramsey , and each seem to be focused on finding the answers that detectives working the case investigated for years. Before watching, however, there are a few essential details about the Ramsey murder case that you should brush up on.
It's been well documented that the case has been fraught with difficult evidence, strange developments, and several unsettling details. These characteristics manage to add to the overall mystery surrounding the crime — considering there are a lot of loose ends involved in the investigation, it’s understandable that the public remains just as invested in the mystery as professional investigators are.
With a wide range of impressive specialists involved in each documentary, we’ll hopefully see many of the case's idiosyncrasies addressed. But, until then, here’s everything you should know before the documentaries about the case air.
1. JonBenét Ramsey Was A Beauty Pageant Star
Before her death, JonBenét (named after her father, John Bennett Ramsey), was a 6-year-old beauty pageant star. According to PEOPLE's 1997 cover story about her murder, she took home trophies in competitions like Little Miss Colorado, Little Miss Charlevoix, and America's Royale Miss.
2. Her Body Was Discovered The Day After Christmas In 1996
Also according to PEOPLE's 1997 cover story, on Dec. 26, 1996, Ramsey's mother, Patsy Ramsey, found a ransom note on their home's kitchen staircase, detailing that Ramsey had been kidnapped. Eight hours later, Ramsey's father found her body in the basement of their family home. The 6 year old had been strangled, with apparent injuries that may have resulted from a blow to the head.
3. No One Other Than Ramsey's Brother And Parents Was Known To Be Home At The Time Of Her Death
Although Ramsey's half-brother John had spent time with the family on Christmas Day, according to another PEOPLE article about the case from August 2016, the only people known to have been home at the time of the 6 year old's death was her older brother and her parents.
4. There Are Countless Conspiracy Theories About The Case
If you end up falling into a rabbit hole while you're reading as much as you can about the case, you'll quickly find out that there are tons of conspiracy theories about the Ramsey murder on the internet. Some of them are ridiculous, such as the one that alleges Katy Perry is actually Ramsey as an adult — that one appears to have originated thanks to a YouTuber named Dave Johnson back in 2014.
5. The Ransom Note Was Deeply Unusual
In 2015 a Reddit AMA, former Boulder Colorado Police Chief Mark Beckner divulged the fact that circumstances surrounding the ransom note, as well as it's length, were unprecedented. He explained: "The FBI told us they’d never seen a 2.5 page ransom note ... no note has ever been written at the scene, and then left at the scene with the dead victim at the scene, other than this case."
6. Ramsey's Family Was Formally Cleared Of Any Involvement In Her Death
In 2008, following the discovery and analysis of DNA evidence from the scene (which was found to have come from a man not related to the Ramsey family), John, Patsy, and Burke were all formally cleared of any involvement in the crime. .
7. John Ramsey Had Recently Received A Bonus Which Matched The Ransom Value
Prior to his daughter's death, according to the Daily Mail, John had received a bonus from work to the value of $118,000 — the exact same value that the kidnappers named in their ransom note at the threat of "beheading" the child if they didn't receive it. It's a fact which has continued to mystify researchers of the case: Who would have been aware of that sort of information?
8. There Was Originally A False Confession For Her Murder
In August 2006, former schoolteacher John Mark Karr was arrested for the murder of Ramsey. Despite delivering a confession to the murder, stating that he was "with JonBenét when she died," and that her death was an "accident," evidence didn't match up to his statements. Karr's wife confirmed that they spent Christmas together in Alabama when the crime happened, and the charges were eventually dropped when DNA evidence failed to connect him to the case.
Official court documents produced by District Attorney Mary Lacy raised the motion that the arrest warrant be dropped against Karr based on a lack of DNA evidence. Gov. Bill Owens of Colorado then criticized Lacy's handling of the case in a prepared statement for the press, suggesting that the district attorney "should be held accountable for the most extravagant and expensive DNA test in Colorado history," based on such thin, circumstantial evidence.
In one of his first on-screen interviews following the charges being dropped against him, Karr spoke to Larry King on CNN, and was careful to avoid speaking directly about the case or his false confession. Instead, he both stated that he didn't ever "recall saying that [he] did harm a child" and that he had "never harmed a child."
For those of you eager to find out even more information regarding the investigation, CBS' The Case Of: JonBenét Ramsey will screen in two episodes, starting on Sept. 18.