Was A Stun Gun Used On JonBenet Ramsey? The Theory Has Been Disputed

ATLANTA - AUGUST 16: The grave of JonBenet Ramsey is shown August 16, 2006 in Marietta, Georgia. A suspect in the murder of Ramsey, the 6-year-old beauty queen whose parents were under suspicion early on, was arrested today in Thailand. (Photo by Barry Williams/Getty Images)
Source: Barry Williams/Getty Images News/Getty Images

It's been 20 years since JonBenét Ramsey was murdered and the anniversary of the crime — along with CBS' The Case Of: JonBenet Ramsey — is sparking renewed interested in the unsolved case. The docuseries is revisiting evidence and theories about the young girl's death, such as the conflicting views on whether a stun gun was used on JonBenet Ramsey. According to the New York Times, former Colorado Springs detective Lou Smit had theorized that a pedophile had invaded the Ramseys' home, subdued JonBenet with a stun gun (also known as a taser), molested her, and killed her with a "blow to the head, possibly with a flashlight." This theory has never been proven, but has been heavily analyzed.

Smit died on Aug. 11, 2010 at the age of 75, but his theory still stands. The former detective had long maintained that the Ramsey family was innocent in JonBenét's death — the Ramseys also maintained their innocence and were officially cleared of any involvement in her death in 2008 due to DNA evidence. "I believe the Ramseys are innocent," Smit said, according to Time. "If it's an intruder, it's not the parents, and I think it's that simple. The theory doesn't determine the evidence. The evidence should determine the theory."

Smit was passionate about this, as according to ABC News, the former detective came out of retirement to join the investigation and then resigned from his post when other investigators on the case did not seriously consider the Ramseys' innocence. 

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The possibility of a stun gun being used was one part of Smit's intruder theory. According to the Daily Camera, Smit had noticed two marks on JonBenét's body approximately 3.5 centimeters apart, the same distance as some stun guns. In 2002, Arapahoe County coroner Dr. Michael Dobersen, who is also a stun gun expert, supported Smit's theory, according to CBS News. Doberson tested the theory by using a stun gun on the skin of an anesthetized pig and said of the results, "The marks are similar in size, shape and color and are a certain distance apart." 

However, CBS also reported that former forensic pathologist Doctor Werner Spitz, who is featured on The Case Of, believed that the marks were left by debris on the ground. "Stun gun injury is an electrical burn, and these do not look like electrical burns," he said. Additionally, a representative for Air Taser, a brand that made a stun gun that Smits believed could have been used, told the Daily Camera, "We have never seen those types of marks when you touch somebody with a stun gun ... We are talking hundreds of people that have been touched with these devices. I can't replicate those marks."

The Los Angeles Times reported in 1997 that a member of the Ramseys' defense team, Rachelle Zimmer, said, "We have known about the use of a stun gun in this murder for many months ... at the request of law enforcement authorities, we have not previously disclosed it." Boulder police spokeswoman Leslie Aaholm did not comment at the time and told the newspaper, "We are conducting an investigation and we are not going to comment on the details."

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According to CBS News, investigators considered having JonBenét's body exhumed to further analyze the marks, but decided against it. And now, two decades later, the possibility of a stun gun being used is still being disputed as the investigation continues.

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