How Burke Ramsey Found Out That His Sister JonBenét Had Died Is Heartbreaking

It has been almost 20 years since JonBenét Ramsey was found dead in her family's Boulder, Colorado, home. On Monday night, the public saw her brother Burke give his first interview to Dr. Phil McGraw, thereby breaking his silence for the first time since JonBenét's murder. In a new interview, Burke tells Dr. Phil how he learned JonBenét had died. He was only nine years old at the time.

"The first thing I remember is my mom bursting in my room, really frantic saying 'Oh my gosh, oh my gosh,' running around my room, now, I know, looking for JonBenét," Burke recalls. He tells Dr. Phil that he didn't immediately realize what his mom was looking for. "She woke me up," he says. "I remember her saying, 'Where's my baby? Where's my baby?'"

Not entirely understanding what was going on, Burke says he stayed in his room. "I kind of like to avoid conflict, I don't know," he tells Dr. Phil. "I guess I just felt safer there ... I was scared. I think I didn't know if there was some bad guy downstairs my dad was chasing off with a gun. I had no idea."

Less than an hour after his mom came into his room looking for JonBenét, Burke says a police officer entered his room, shining a flashlight. He also recalls that a detective interviewed him, and he realized his sister was missing. "I was trying to be positive," Burke says. "I told the guy 'she's probably hiding somewhere, did you check the whole house or outside or something?'"

It was only later, at a friend's house, that Burke learned that JonBenét was dead. "My dad just said 'she's in heaven now,'" Burke says. "I started crying. I don't think I said anything. I didn't believe it at first."

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As the 20th anniversary of JonBenét's death approaches this December, multiple networks are preparing to release TV specials and documentaries about the murder case. At one time, Burke was a primary suspect in his sister's murder for a long time, much like his parents. JonBenét's family, however, has been cleared by DNA evidence and has always maintained their innocence. When Dr. Phil asked him the speculation surrounding JonBenét's death, Burke — now a 29-year-old computer security analyst — conceded that "I know people think I did it, that my parents did it. I know that we were suspects. ... I want to honor her memory by doing this interview. I don't want anyone to forget."

In an interview with Savannah Guthrie, Dr. Phil talked about his own perspective on the interview with Burke. He told Guthrie that Burke was "a very socially awkward young man" because his parents "either protected him or hid him" ever since his sister died. He also said that Burke had chosen to come forward and break his silence now because the extensive coverage around the 20th anniversary of JonBenét's death had ultimately taken away his anonymity. Burke "wanted to control the narrative," Dr. Phil alleged.

Burke's conversation with Dr. Phil is included in a three-part interview series — airing September 12, 13, and 19 — that will also include an interview with his and JonBenét's father, John Ramsey. Whereas this is Burke's first public interview, his father says this will be the last time he will publicly discuss the murder of his daughter.