It's been 20 years since the murder of 6-year-old JonBenét Ramsey rocked the nation. Unfortunately, this anniversary hasn't been able to bring a lot of closure to the case and it remains unsolved. What the anniversary has brought, however, is many documentaries and television specials about the case. Now it's Lifetime's turn and the network is bringing a fictionalized movie into the fold. While you're likely expecting the movie to bring on some drama, the scene in which John Ramsey finds his daughter's body really takes it to another level and has me questioning how much of that moment comes from fact. How was JonBenet found in real life?
No one could ever truly fathom what it would be like to to find your 6-year-old daughter the way Ramsey had to find JonBenét — horrific doesn't even begin to cover it. Though that scene in Who Killed JonBenét? is extremely intense, the very premise is already so grim it really did not need any additional theatrical touches. Lifetime definitely captured the agony of that moment and, based on reports of what really happened, seems to have stayed pretty true to the events of that tragic morning. As for the accuracy of the movie as a whole, the Ramseys' attorney, L. Lin Wood, told Bustle in a statement, "On behalf of my clients, I cannot comment on the Lifetime production at this time as I have not seen the show and have no information as to its content or gist."
Fleet White Checked The Room First
In Who Killed JonBenet?, the Ramseys' friend Fleet White actually opens the door to the basement room where JonBenét was later found. He doesn't turn on the light but he opens the door and calls her name. He then walks upstairs and later he and John actually find JonBenét on the floor in that room. According to a 1998 Newsweek article, after the discovery of JonBenét's body, White told police that he had looked in that room earlier in the morning but had not seen her.
The Duct Tape
In the Lifetime version, John instinctively rips the duct tape off of JonBenét's mouth before bringing her upstairs. This is something that John himself has discussed doing and multiple news reports also confirm that this happened.
Initially, this particular scene seemed like a cinematic exaggeration to me, but apparently, it was right on point. The Guardian reported that when JonBenét's body was brought upstairs, Patsy flung herself on top of her daughter and yelled, "Jesus, you raised Lazarus from the dead, please raise my baby!"
What Did John Say?
In the movie, once they place JonBenét on the floor upstairs, John says, "I don't think he meant to kill her, because she was wrapped in a blanket," which is not something that has ever been confirmed as happening. The family's minister, Father Holverstock in also shown in this scene, which was likely on purpose, because James Kolar's book Foreign Faction claims that the real Holverstock heard John say something. Kolar claims in the book:
"The next thing he knew, he was standing in the foyer area near the top of the basement stairs, and John Ramsey had his daughter in his hands. It was Holverstock's recollection that Ramsey blurted out, 'I don't think he meant to kill her, because she was wrapped in a blanket,' or that 'she was warm, she was wrapped in a blanket.'"
Obviously, these are two very different statements, neither of which has ever been confirmed by Ramsey as something he said. Additionally, the Ramseys' attorney has previously discredited Foreign Faction, calling it "nonsense" on Today, and in a recent interview with Westword said, "Jim Kolar's book was published a few years ago. It was self-published. It had no credibility." While discussing the CBS docuseries The Case Of, Wood also told Westword, "Jim Kolar was not worth a lawsuit a few years ago, because I did not feel he had any credibility and I did not want to give him the appearance of credibility that would publicize his book by filing a lawsuit against him," and suggested that he may now sue Kolar.
With the exception of John's dialogue, it seems that Who Killed JonBenét? mostly realistically depicted how JonBenét's body was found, but as with any film that claims to be based on true events, I would urge viewers to do their homework as to what really happened before taking any scene as fact.
Images: Dan Buscher (2), Bob Akester (3)/Lifetime