Why JonBenét Ramsey's Brother Broke His Silence

by Seth Millstein

It’s been 20 years since JonBenét Ramsey’s body was found in her parent’s basement, and the case is no closer to being solved than it was that day. The child beauty pageant queen’s death is one of the most famous unsolved murders in American history, and on the 20th anniversary of her death, her family members are shedding some new light on the case. In his first-ever interview with the media, Burke Ramsey talked to Dr. Phil about that tragic period, and explained how his sister’s death shaped him into who he is now.

“The first thing I remember is my mom bursting into my room really frantic, saying ‘Oh my gosh, oh my gosh,’ running around my room,” Burke said. “Now, I know [she was] looking for JonBenét.”

Although Burke was only 9 years old when his sister was killed, some briefly suspected that he may have been involved in her death. JonBenét’s autopsy revealed pineapple in her stomach that appeared to have been eaten hours before she died — a period of time during which her parents claimed she was asleep. Burke’s fingerprints and DNA were found on a bowl of pineapple in the Ramsey home. “I know people think I did it,” Burke told Dr. Phil, “[or] that my parents did it.”

One of the investigators in the case later hypothesized that Burke was responsible for JonBenét’s death, and that their parents had fabricated the crime scene in order to protect their son. However, DNA evidence exonerated both Burke and his parents in 2008. “For a long time, the media basically made our lives crazy,” Burke said. “It’s hard to miss the cameras and news trucks in your front yard. And we’d go to the supermarket sometimes, and there’d be a tabloid with my picture, JonBenét’s picture, plastered on the front.”

Burke said the unrelenting media maelstrom had a lasting effect on him. “Seeing that as a little kid is just kind of a chaotic nightmare, so I was pretty skeptical of any sort of media,” he told Dr. Phil. "It just made me a very private person.” He added that he “wanted to grow up like a normal kid, which does not include going in front of TV cameras.”

All of this begs the question: Why is Burke finally speaking to the media now? “It’s the 20th anniversary, and apparently still a lot of tension around it,” he explained. “I guess I kind of wanted to make it about remembering her, and not just another news story.”

Image: The Dr. Phil Show (1)