There have been many JonBenét Ramsey conspiracies floating around since her death on December 26, 1996. The adorable six year old from Boulder, CO, first got the world's attention with her pageant skills and indisputable beauty. She was a daughter, young sister, and on the surface she was living a picture perfect life in the Ramsey's 15-room home.
After her murder, though, she was been featured on every media outlet, and questions are still being asked about her mysterious death decades years after the fact. More questions have been raised than answers uncovered in this complicated and convoluted case. It was a mess from the beginning, from the handling of evidence to the overall lack of attention to detail from police officers.While we may never know the truth about what actually happened to JonBenét, it's still worth considering some of these conspiracy theories.
Many believe JonBenét's older brother, Burke Ramsey, was responsible for her death. People think his motivation was jealousy, because his sister was getting way more attention than he was. This conspiracy also places the murder cover-up blame on her parents, because they were scared they would lose both of their children. This theory remains popular despite Burke's exoneration by DNA evidence in 2008.
The CBS docuseries The Case of: JonBenét Ramsey takes the position that Burke was the killer, too. After the series aired in 2016, Ramsey sued the network for defamation, "Seeking no less than $250 million in compensatory damages and no less than $500 million in punitive damages," according to the Michigan case file. On January 4, 2019, NPR reported a CBS spokesperson said the case had been "'Amicably resolved.'"
Sex offender and homeless drifter Gary Howard Oliva rose to suspicion for the murder of JonBenét. Oliva might have lived blocks away from the Ramseys at the time of the murder, and he had a history of sexually abusing children. In 2000, while arrested on a drug charge, police found a photo of JonBenét and a stun gun in his backback. He later told the Denver Post that her murder had touched him "very deeply," and he had felt the need to build a shrine to remember her.
In 2002, Oliva was featured on CBS' 48 Hour Investigates. The show alleged that, after the murder, Oliva had told a friend that he was in Boulder and "had done something horrible" to a child. He also penned a poem at that time, which he called "Ode to JonBenét."
Oliva was arrested again in 2016 on child porn charges.
On January 11, 2019, reports broke when investigators received a series of letters Olivia wrote to a friend and former high school classmate, Michael Vail, acknowledging he had murdered JonBenét but claiming to have done it accidentally. “I never loved anyone like I did JonBenét and yet I let her slip and her head bashed in half and I watched her die,” Oliva wrote in one of the letters. “It was an accident. Please believe me. She was not like the other kids.” Vail turned the letters into authorities, saying he wants his former classmate convicted and offering hope these letters would be the final damning evidence against Olivia.
The investigation is ongoing.
This conspiracy theory is also motivated by jealousy, but jealousy of a different nature: the nature of money. The ransom note found at the crime scene asked for $118,000, which is the exact amount of money Ramsey received as a Christmas bonus that year. Most kidnappers request a less precise price, and typically round up to a more general number like $150,000, adding further support for the theory.
AKA her parents were the killers. Theories range from a bed wetting incident that sent them into a serious state of rage, ultimately ending in JonBenét's death, to placing the blame solely on her mother, because she obviously had to be very envious of her daughter's beauty. So envious that she decided to kill her mini-me, and recruited John to help her cover it up? Some theorists think so.
The Ramseys were exonerated by DNA evidence in 2008.