One member of the Ramsey family has been in the spotlight as the twentieth anniversary of JonBenét's death nears. Her brother Burke was just nine years old at the time of her death, but as an adult he decided to give an interview to Dr. Phil to honor his sister. He may feel the need to clear his family's name after revelations that a grand jury wanted to indict his parents. "I know people think I did it, that my parents did it," he told Dr. Phil in a preview. But did Burke ever testify to the grand jury?
Yes, he did, according to news reports from the time. The New York Times reported on the formation of the grand jury in April 1998, noting that the investigation into JonBenét's murder "stalled last winter when, after two months of negotiations, the girl's parents, John and Patricia Ramsey, refused to meet with detectives or to allow their 11-year-old son, Burke, to be interviewed." But through a grand jury, District Attorney Alex Hunter could compel certain witnesses to the stand, and it seems he did with Burke.
The Denver Post reported in May 1999 that Burke was "secretly questioned" as part of the grand jury investigation. His parents chose not to contest the subpoena, but the boy's lawyer was in the room as Burke was questioned by the 12 jurors. Officials told the paper at the time that the boy was just a witness, not a suspect. A Scripps Howard News Service article noted that everyone who was in the house when JonBenét's body was found had testified — except for her parents. Among others who testified were Rev. Rol Hoverstock, Fleet White, and John and Barbara Fernie.
Unlike her brother, JonBenét's parents were under suspicion, and the grand jury in 1999 indicted both parents, John and Patsy, on "two counts each of child abuse resulting in death in connection to the first-degree murder," The Denver Post reported years later in 2013. D.A. Hunter, however, did not believe there was enough evidence to successfully prosecute and he did not follow the grand jury's indictment and refused to sign the papers or charge John and Patsy. In 2008, the D.A.'s office issued an apology to the family for placing them under suspicion, as DNA proved they were innocent.
Burke also made headlines recently for excerpts of an interview with police that aired as part of an A&E special. That was not his 1999 grand jury testimony. Instead, it's a 1998 interview with one police officer, Detective Dan Schuler. Burke explained what he remembers from the day his sister was killed, including opening Christmas presents. JonBenét was very excited about a bike that she had received.
He also said he remembered waking up when his mom came into his room to check on him. She ran in, turned on the light, looked around, and ran out. He said she seemed "psycho." He explained that he didn't know what was happening as the search went on in the house; he stayed in his bedroom. Then the family went to a friend's house. "I thought JonBenét was gonna be there, I thought they found her," he said. "I came in excited ... almost relieved ... then my dad told me that JonBenét was in heaven."
Some of these moments may be rehashed in the Dr. Phil specials which air Sep. 12, 13, and 19. Burke explained in a preview why he wanted to give the interview 20 years later. "I want to honor her memory by doing this interview," he said.