JonBenét Ramsey’s family speak out on revelations in murder case

‘We have lots of open avenues to pursue and a narrowing window of opportunity,’ JonBenét’s half-brother John Andrew Ramsey said

Kelly Rissman
Monday 02 October 2023 15:37 BST
DNA 'enhancements' may solve JonBenet Ramsey killing 25 years later

After new unnamed persons of interest in the cold case of child pageant star JonBenét Ramsey came to light last week, her father and step-brother shared their thoughts on the revitalised case.

“We are encouraged by this new leadership in our case and are now finally hopeful for progress,” John Ramsey, the child star’s father, told Westword.

Mr Ramsey, who found his six-year-old daughter’s body in the basement of the family home in Boulder, Colorado in 1996, was one of the main targets of the initial investigation.

Boulder County officials have reportedly been meeting with the family since January, officials told the outlet.

The police department, FBI, DA’s Office, Colorado Department of Public Safety and Colorado’s Bureau of Investigation have been working “extremely hard” on the cold case, breathing new life into the cold case. The agencies are teaming up with “private labs that specialise in different types of DNA analysis,” Boulder District Attorney Michael Dougherty told the outlet.

“We always want to ensure that every possible avenue to solving a murder case has been pursued,” the Boulder DA added. “The Boulder Police Department has spoken with the victim’s family about these efforts, which is what should happen in a case of this nature.”

JonBenét’s father said the family have been trying to move the case along by supplying as much relevant information as possible.

“To support their efforts to catalogue and digitise all the evidence/information, we have given them all of our attorney’s investigation files in case there is information in those files that would help,” Mr Ramsey said.

Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold said that her team has been staying in touch with the Ramseys over the past year, and keeping them “updated on new developments.”

“These meetings are to keep clear communication on this investigation,” she continued. “That includes all the evidence being electronically catalogued, which is the first step for the Colorado Cold Case Review Team to review it.”

Family members also weighed in on possible theories in the 27-year-long case. More information about Gary Oliva, who has long been a person of interest, was revealed over the summer after a former high school classmate told the US Sun that Oliva sent him disturbing recordings, packages containing hair, news clippings of missing girls, and letters with drawings of JonBenét. The outlet reported that Oliva is currently behind bars for child pornography charges.

Oliva has apparently admitted to killing the six-year-old in over a dozen letters sent to the former classmate, but has never been charged.

Despite the ex-classmate’s assertions, John Andrew Ramsey, the little girl’s half-brother, said he didn’t think Oliva was the culprit, telling Westword: “I am a numbers guy. Always looking for a way to improve the odds of catching JonBenét’s killer.”

He added, “An easy way to improve the odds is to identify and investigate any child sex offenders living in Boulder in 1996. To further narrow the field, we are looking for a very rare breed of paedophile. A sadistic paedophile. A creature so craven they gain pleasure by torturing and quite often killing young children. These guys sit at the very top of [a] large pile of s*** birds. Based on Gary’s past actions, it does not seem he rises to that level.”

The new insights come after the state’s Cold Case Review Team announced in November 2022 that it planned on taking on the cold case.

Chief Herold discussed with the outlet when the agencies might probe the investigation: “We’re pushing to have that happen by the end of the year.” She added that “multiple agencies, private DNA labs and forensic experts” are trying to tie together loose ends.

The renewed efforts have been praised by the little girl’s family, who have a history of criticising the handling of the investigation. John Andrew Ramsey posted on X on 30 September: “I have had a number of meetings with BPD over the past couple of years. Major tonal shift beginning in 2023. Real forward progress.” He added, “Now we just need to go faster!”

Her half-brother echoed his thoughts on the renewed efforts when speaking to the outlet: “Conventional thinking is a 26-year-old case is ‘cold,’ therefore no real rush.” However, he said, “For JonBenét’s investigation, it’s quite the opposite. We have lots of open avenues to pursue and a narrowing window of opportunity: High-risk criminals keep doing high-risk things and die; witnesses pass; and we are all getting older. We are at this point because of new DNA tech, new leadership and a renewed commitment to finding JonBenét’s killer. It is a unique opportunity that should not be wasted.”

On 26 December 1996, the six-year-old’s mother first reported her missing. Hours later, JonBenét’s father found his daughter’s body in the basement of the Ramseys’ home.

A garrote was found around her neck, and her skull had been fractured following a blow to the back of the head. Her official cause of death was asphyxia by strangulation.

The initial investigation focused on the girl’s father John and mother Patsy but DNA testing later cleared them of suspicion.

Boulder police have been searching for the culprit ever since. John Andrew Ramsey told the outlet that he and his family are “cautiously optimistic” about finally getting answers from the revisited probe.

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