BOULDER, Colo. — The 15th anniversary of JonBenet Ramsey’s
murder passed with little fanfare a few months ago.
There were no long takeouts in the local media pondering who might have strangled the 6-year-old and left her in the basement of her family’s home.
No press releases from police seeking clues about who might have written that long ransom note. No “48 Hours Mystery” feature marking the milestone and wondering whether DNA might eventually identify the killer.
The book is subtitled as Ramsey’s “Journey From Grief to Grace.” In it, Ramsey compares himself to Job, noting that another daughter had already died in a car crash when JonBenet was 2, and that his wife, Patsy, died of ovarian cancer almost 10 years after her daughter’s murder.
In the GMA interview, Ramsey noted that the family called JonBenet by the nickname JonnieB. And he shared far more casual photos of the little girl than those seen at the time of her death.
He called the competitiveness of the pageants his daughter participated in “unhealthy” and said he regretted his daughter’s involvement in the beauty biz. He referred to the TLC reality show “Toddlers & Tiaras” as “very bizarre.”
As the assistant city editor at the Daily Camera when this tragedy transpired, I still find the whole situation simply sad.
It’s sad that Ramsey now refers to his daughter by a nickname never mentioned in the hoopla after her death. It’s sad that now he offers photos of an authentic-looking 6-year-old, hair tousled, photos never offered to counteract the beauty pageant images of JonBenet.
It’s sad that now he questions the wisdom of dressing up young girls in suggestive outfits and makeup.
Finally, it’s sad that JonBenet’s father considers her criminal case “pretty dead.”
Perhaps if the Boulder police had cleared the crime scene and conducted a thorough search of the Ramsey home on Dec. 26, 1996; perhaps if John and Patsy Ramsey had cooperated with police instead of hiring a defense attorney and talking to CNN less than a week later; perhaps if the family had done more to create a portrait of their daughter beyond beauty pageant queen; perhaps if the public and media focused less on the spectacle and more on the crime. Perhaps, then, a 6-year-old’s murder might be solved.
JonBenet’s first-grade classmates are in college now or out in the world on their own. Her peer group likely remembers little from the years right after her death — the “celebritization” of her murder, with frequent visits by Geraldo Rivera and the international media, the tabloid “revelations,” the finger-pointing at the Ramsey family (all cleared in the case by the district attorney’s office) and the constant parade of pageant photos that can still be found on the Internet.
Perhaps John Ramsey’s book will bring him peace. Perhaps it will inspire others going through difficult times.
More likely, it will make a little money and create a little publicity surge around the memory of his daughter’s death.
But of course it won’t bring her back, and it’s unlikely to catch her killer.
Sandra Fish teaches journalism at the University of Colorado and has reported on politics in Iowa, Florida and Colorado. Follow her on Twitter at @fishnette.