KUSA - Much like O.J. Simpson, the mention of the name JonBenet Ramsey prompts debate and conversation.
While two very different murder cases, there are many similarities between the two. Both involved a murder investigation that many call fatally flawed and both became the focus of the 24-hour news networks.
The Ramsey case began December 26, 1996 with a call for help. Patsy Ramsey called police saying her daughter had been kidnapped. Nearly everyone knows what happened in the following hours. A strange ransom note was discovered and eventually JonBenet was found dead in a small basement room. She had been beaten, strangled and sexually assaulted.
Within days, the case became a national obsession. The Ramsey family was wealthy, the police department had not had a single homicide the entire year and videos surfaced immediately of JonBenet competing in beauty pageants.
“It blew up December 31, 1996 when pageant people started selling their videos to the networks and the local affiliates like Channel 9 picked them up and the story went viral,” explains Paula Woodward.
Woodward is a former 9NEWS investigative reporter. She was assigned to the story and covered it for years. After leaving television news, she decided to write a book called “We Have Your Daughter” to share what she learned about the murder case that captured international attention.
Woodward says her book reviews the evidence, the lack of evidence, the police response, and the misinformation reported. She says she wants the reader to decide. Did an intruder kill JonBenet, were her parents involved, or someone else close to the family?
Woodward interviewed John and Patsy Ramsey several times over the years. Regarding critics that accused her of getting too close to the Ramsey family, she says this. “People say, ‘She was pro-Ramsey.’ No. What I did was my job. I covered trials for the Ramsey attorneys where they were representing their clients, this was way before JonBenet was killed. So I knew them. I called them and that’s what I did. So, I was one of four people in the beginning who were able to reach those attorneys and ultimately the Ramseys.”
Woodward says what is lost in the obsession about the case is that JonBenet was a beautiful little girl who was trying to color inside the lines, and enjoy a typical childhood. Even 20 years later, so much is known and yet not known about her life. Woodward adds, “We know to the minute when JonBenet was born. But we don’t know when she died. It was either 11(p.m.) Christmas day or up to 1(a.m.) the day after Christmas.”
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