JonBenet Ramsey’s dad reveals heartbreaking details about her final Christmas

JonBenet Ramsey’s dad has recounted heartbreaking details from his final Christmas with his beauty queen daughter, hours before she was found dead in the family’s basement in a horrific crime that remains unsolved.

John Ramsey, 79, told The US Sun that he has one particular regret about his last Christmas with six-year-old JonBenét that continues to play on his mind almost 26 years later.

For her main present that year, John and Patsy bought their daughter a new bicycle.

So excited to ride her new bike, John went outside with JonBenét to watch her pedal up and down in an alleyway behind the family’s home.

But pressed for time, and needing to be at a friend’s home for Christmas lunch, he had to hurry her back inside, ignoring her pleas of “please, just one more go around”.

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Calling the memory “hurtful” now, John shared: “We went out in the back alley and she rode it up and down the alley a couple of times.

“And I said, ‘okay, we gotta’ go, we’re going to be late for dinner.’

“To which she said, ‘Oh dad. Please let me go just one more time,’ but I told her no, we’ll do that tomorrow.

“And that’s what I remember vividly, her asking me to go just one more time, and me telling her no we’ll do it tomorrow.

“Of course, there was no tomorrow […] it’s a hurtful thought now.”

John called the haunting memory a life lesson to never be too busy to spend more time with your family because you never know what the future may hold.

“I had a mother write me [years later] and she said your loss made me take that extra five minutes when my child asked for my time because you don’t know,” he added.

“So that’s another life lesson […] don’t be so busy that you say we’ve got to wait until tomorrow.

“That’s what I remember most from that day.”


When the Ramseys returned home late Christmas night in 1996, John remembers carrying his sleeping daughter from the car and up to bed before Patsy changed her into her pyjamas.

The family had to be up early the following morning as they were due to meet up with John’s older children from his first marriage to celebrate the holiday season on a Disney red boat cruise.

John and Patsy woke up sometime before 6am on December 26. He had been shaving in the bathroom when he heard Patsy let out a guttural scream from down the hallway.

JonBenét was not in her bedroom and a strange, two-and-a-half-page ransom note has been left on a staircase towards the back of the home.

Addressed to John, and purported to have been written by a “foreign faction”, the author of the rambling letter demanded $US118,000 in exchange for the girl’s safe return.

Hours later, JonBenét would be found by John in a seldom-used room they referred to as the “wine cellar” in the basement of the Ramseys’ sprawling four-floor mansion.

Laying on a white blanket, John was initially overcome with feelings of relief to have finally found his daughter, though as he got closer he realised her hands had been tied above her head and duct tape placed over her mouth.

Her eyes were closed and she was not moving.

John screamed. He then picked his daughter up, carried her upstairs, and laid her down next to the Christmas tree.

It was the second tragedy to afflict his family in less than five years.

His eldest daughter, Elizabeth Ramsey, was killed in a car accident on January 8, 1992. She was just 22 years old.

John and Patsy’s lives would never be the same again.

Within days they were declared suspects in JonBenét’s murder and became household names in the global media.

John was accused of being a child molester who staged JonBenét’s kidnapping and murder to cover up the unfounded accusations of abuse.

Patsy – who was painted as a pushy pageant mum living vicariously through her daughter – meanwhile, was accused of killing her daughter in a blind rage in the middle of the night having apparently grown incensed that the six-year-old had wet her bed again.

JonBenét’s older brother Burke, who was just nine at the time, also fell under a veil of suspicion. Before long, articles would appear in the press claiming he had killed JonBenét after years of harboured jealousy, which his parents helped cover up to spare him a life behind bars.


John said the accusations against him and Patsy didn’t bother them, for they’d already been hurt as much as they possibly could be by losing their daughter.

But to see their young son being attacked in the press was a hard pill to swallow.

“It didn’t matter,” he said of the attacks against him and Patsy. “I’d already been hurt as deeply as I could be hurt, so to call me the murderer of my child was just noise-level stuff; it didn’t bother me.

“You can’t hurt us anymore, but go ahead and try. We’re as hurt and as low and down as we could possibly be emotionally, and the only thing that got us up off the floor was the realisation that we have other children that need us now more than ever to be strong parents.

“So that really got us going again, focusing on that.”

The media frenzy that followed in the two or three years after JonBenét’s murder served as a distraction from John and Patsy’s grief, he said.

All their efforts instead were focused on protecting Burke and providing him with the most normal childhood they could, considering the circumstances.

“The media would follow us everywhere,” he said. “You know, we had to figure out how to get Burke to school without photographers seeing us.

“We couldn’t go into a supermarket without seeing our names or faces on the cover, one of which was ‘Brother Did It’.

“I also started noticing that when I booked trips or tickets for things with my American Express, the press was always watching us when we got there. I realized there was a mole somewhere, so I switched to Visa.

“But it was a distraction; we had to everyday plan how to get out of the house and not be seen.

“Patsy was a very strong woman, a very kind woman, and a wonderful mother,” added John.

“She became very focused on Burke after we lost JonBenét because it was quite a challenge to give him a normal childhood.”


Though distracted from their grief, one thing the Ramseys could not bring themselves to do in the wake of JonBenét’s death was to celebrate Christmas.

Calling the time of year “too painful”, John said neither he nor Patsy could stand the thought of putting up a tree and celebrating as they once had, considering the dark cloud of grief hanging over their family.

But after a few years, hoping to give Burke the treasured childhood memories that time of year brings, the couple eventually found it within themselves to start celebrating it once again.

“It was [initially] too painful and it still is a little bit,” said John.

“Then we figured out we’ve got to remember what Christmas is all about and do it for Burke’s sake.

“Because he was still a child and he needed to have those memories of family Christmases, so Patsy was really good at giving him that.”


This year, Burke will be spending Christmas with John and his third wife, Jan Rousseaux-Ramsey, at the couple’s home in Utah.

Speaking about his daughter ahead of what will be the 26th anniversary of her death, John says life has pretty much stood still for him over the last two and a half decades.

Each morning he wakes up the first place his mind goes is to his daughter’s murder.

While desperate for answers about what happened to her and why, John tries to fill his mind with other things to distract himself.

But something he has noticed since JonBenét was killed is that he no longer allows himself to feel carefree or happy anymore.

“First of all, you feel guilty for feeling that way. Like you shouldn’t feel that way. So you don’t let that emotion temper down,” he said.

“It doesn’t rule or ruin my day anymore, but I saw a little girl who was about JonBenét’s age holding her dad’s hand walking down the street the other day, and that put a lump in my throat.

“So you get little reminders like that, of what you’ve lost.

“I met a mother who lost a child, and she told me, ‘You know, I feel like I have a hole in my heart and it won’t heal.’

“And it doesn’t, you don’t get over it. You move on but you’re a different person.

“You’ve been hurt and that’s as hurt as you could be by the world.”


John and Patsy Ramsey were both exonerated of any wrongdoing by the DA’s office in 2008 – two years after Patsy died from ovarian cancer.

Burke was never formally considered a suspect despite rampant speculation.

Having just turned 79, John is worried that he’s running out of time to get answers about who killed JonBenét.

He is once again campaigning to have the case removed from the jurisdiction of Boulder PD so that fresh eyes can look over the case and better resources applied to the investigation before time for him runs out.

He also recently appealed to the Governor of Colorado Jared Polis to instruct BPD to release any DNA evidence they have to a state-of-the-art genealogy lab.

The murder of JonBenet Ramsey remains one the most famous cold cases in US history.

John is also urging investigators to take a look at an attack on another young girl that happened in Boulder months after his daughter’s murder, which he believes could be connected.

The existence of the attack was unearthed by The US Sun in an exclusive report last month.

This article originally appeared in The US Sun and was reproduced with permission

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