When JonBenét Ramsey was found murdered in her family's Boulder, Colorado home on Dec. 26, 1996, her tragic death became national news almost immediately. It was impossible to go anywhere without seeing the 6-year-old's face on a magazine cover, and the unsolved murder dominated the news cycle. Now, 20 years later, the public remains just as fascinated with the case as they were in the months after it happened. Turning on the TV lately feels like a throwback to 1996 because a number of series and specials, including The Case of: JonBenét Ramsey on CBS, have placed the murder back in the national spotlight. Every aspect of the case is being re-examined and it seems that even the layout of JonBenet Ramsey's house could offer clues about her death.
In fact, The Case Of will feature full-scale replicas of certain areas of the Ramsey home and, according to Vanity Fair, investigators hope that examining these replicas will help crack the case. For years, the members of Ramsey's immediate family who were in the home that night — her parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, and her brother, Burke Ramsey, who was nine years old at the time of the murder — faced public scrutiny, though the family maintained their innocence and were officially cleared of any involvement in 2008 due to DNA evidence. At the time of the exoneration, Boulder District Attorney Mary Lacy wrote a letter to John stating:
"To the extent that we may have contributed in any way to the public perception that you might have been involved in this crime, I am deeply sorry... No innocent person should have to endure such an extensive trial in the court of public opinion."
In the months following the murder, John and Patsy pointed out that someone could have been hiding inside their house all day, waiting for the family to return from a Christmas party, as reported by The Daily Camera, and the exoneration of the Ramseys means that "the intruder theory" now dominates the investigation. It's definitely worth exploring the house's layout in order to understand how someone was able to carry out this horrific crime without waking up the family or being caught.
According to a recent report from AOL, the five-bedroom house is 11,000 square feet. A layout of the three-story home published by the The Denver Post in 1999 shows that JonBenét's bedroom was on the north side of the second floor. Meanwhile, Burke's room was on the opposite of side of the same floor and it was separated by a large playroom and the bedroom of John Andrew Ramsey, John's child from a previous marriage who was not in Boulder on the night of the murder. Although there was considerable distance between JonBenét and Burke's bedrooms, it seems likely that she didn't scream when the killer entered her room and thus didn't wake anyone else in the house. There are two theories surrounding the possible reason for this — either the person was potentially someone she knew, or a stun gun was used to incapacitate JonBenét and prevent her from making a sound, a theory put forth by Detective Lou Smit that has been disputed.
The same floor plan shows that John and Patsy's bedroom was on the south side of the third floor — a significant distance from their daughter's room. As we know, JonBenét's body was found in a small wine cellar in the family's basement — and Detective Lou Smit has stated there's "strong evidence" that the murder took place in the basement and that there was a struggle between JonBenét and her killer in the room. Based on the layout of the house, this would certainly make sense — the wine cellar was as far away from John and Patsy's third-floor bedroom as a person could get and therefore a struggle occurring there would have been less likely to wake them. The Denver Post's original article about the house's layout notes that an unidentified palm print was on the wine cellar door, and an unidentified foot print was found near the body. In 2002, The Washington Post reported that an anonymous source claimed to the Rocky Mountain News that new evidence showed these prints were made by JonBenét's family members and were unrelated to the murder. At the time, the Ramseys' attorney told the Chicago Tribune that "the investigators' conclusions" about the prints did not rule out an intruder.
The same floor plan also reveals information about the ransom note, which Patsy discovered at the top of the first floor staircase. It shows that the writing pad and the Sharpie pen used to write the ransom note were in close proximity to where the note was left. Presumably the note was written on the first floor, and experts have varying opinions regarding whether it was written before or after the murder. The letter was apparently penned in the home and, at nearly three pages, it would have taken considerable time to write. The first floor is also where a flashlight was found, which has been considered as a potential murder weapon. Although it can't be confirmed, there has been speculation amongst experts that the flashlight was the blunt object used to strike JonBenét on the head.
In this complex, multi-layered case, every clue matters — but the pieces of the puzzle have yet to come together.