The Washington Post
Navigation Bar
Navigation Bar

  Profile of JonBenet's Parents

By Sandy Shore
Associated Press Writers
Wednesday, Oct. 13, 1999; 7:56 p.m. EDT

BOULDER, Colo. –– When they met, she was a beauty queen and he was a pilot turned entrepreneur.

Patsy Paugh and John Ramsey fell in love, married and began a family. Business flourished and their family life blossomed amid a close circle of friends.

After a decade of personal and professional prosperity, tragedy struck in 1992, when one of Ramsey's daughters from his first marriage, Elizabeth, was killed in a car accident.

Tragedy struck a second time the next year, when Mrs. Ramsey was diagnosed with an advanced stage of ovarian cancer.

The Ramseys persevered, armed with their religious faith.

Then in 1996, a third tragedy thrust the family into a spotlight that has yet to fade. Their 6-year-old daughter, JonBenet, was beaten and strangled.

While the parents have been under suspicion ever since, there was also evidence to back the theory that an intruder had killed the child beauty queen. On Wednesday, a county grand jury finished its 13-month investigation by ruling that there was insufficient evidence to issue any indictments.

"The Ramseys were the kindest, most loving parents that I've ever met," former family nanny Shirley Brady said shortly after JonBenet was killed. "They never hit their children. I never heard them even speak a harsh word to their children. It's insane to think that the family could do anything like this."

Born Dec. 29, 1956, Mrs. Ramsey is the oldest of Donald and Nedra Paugh's three daughters. The family was active in both church and school in Parkersburg, W.Va.

As a young girl, Mrs. Ramsey developed a reputation as a straight-arrow leader, who studied hard, enjoyed performing and frequently thought of others first.

In high school, Mrs. Ramsey discovered her love of beauty pageants, becoming first runner-up in the Miss Teen-Age West Virginia. She began competing for the ultimate crown of Miss America a few years later at West Virginia University.

She was a runner-up in two preliminary competitions before winning the Miss West Virginia title as a sophomore. At the national pageant, she took home a talent award and a $2,000 scholarship.

Her younger sister, Pamela, was crowned Miss West Virginia in 1980, marking the first time a set of sisters has won the state title.

Mrs. Ramsey graduated with a degree in journalism and advertising and moved to Atlanta, where she met Ramsey through mutual friends.

Born in Nebraska in 1943, Ramsey moved with his family to Okemos, Mich., at age 14. His father, Jay, was a decorated World War II pilot before becoming director of the Michigan Aeronautics Commission.

As a teen-ager, Ramsey competed in cross-country and played in the band, and nurtured a love of aviation he inherited from his father.

He joined ROTC at Michigan State University, where he also met his first wife, Lucinda "Cindy" Lou Pasch. They were married in 1966 and moved to the Philippines, where Ramsey spent two years as a Navy pilot.

After they returned to Michigan, Ramsey earned a master's degree in marketing from Michigan State in 1971. He accepted an Atlanta sales job with an electronics engineering company in 1973, before eventually striking out on his own.

He and his wife had three children, Elizabeth, Melinda and John, before divorcing in 1978.

On Nov. 15, 1980, he married Patricia Ann Paugh, 14 years his junior. Their first child was Burke, and then came the little girl Mrs. Ramsey had dreamed of, JonBenet.

In 1988, Ramsey founded Access Graphics in Boulder, which was later acquired by Lockheed Martin. Access Graphics grossed more than $1 billion in 1996.

After the killing, the Ramseys moved to the Atlanta area to be near relatives. Ramsey quit Access Graphics, while Mrs. Ramsey remains a stay-at-home mother who is active in her son's life.

© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press

Back to the top

Navigation Bar
Navigation Bar