JonBenet Ramsey’s father has told heartbreaking details of his last Christmas with his beauty queen daughter, hours before she was found dead in the family’s basement in a gruesome yet unsolved crime.
John Ramsey, 79, said The US sun who especially regrets her last Christmas with six-year-old JonBenét, which still plays on her mind almost 26 years later.
For their main gift that year, John and Patsy bought their daughter a new bicycle.
So excited to ride his new bike, John went out with JonBenét to watch her ride up and down an alley behind the family home.
But pressed for time, and needing to be at a friend’s house for Christmas lunch, he had to rush her back inside, ignoring her pleas to “please, just one more time”.
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Now describing the memory as ‘hurtful’, John shared: ‘We went out into the back alley and she took him up and down the alley a couple of times.
“And I said, ‘OK, we have to go, we’re going to be late for dinner.’
“Whereupon he said, ‘O father. Please let me go one more time but I said no we will do it tomorrow.
“And that’s what I remember so well, she asked me to go one more time, and I said no, we’ll do it tomorrow.
“Of course, there was no tomorrow. […] now that’s a bad thought.”
John said the haunting memory was a life lesson to never be too busy to spend more time with your family because you never know what the future holds.
“I had a mother write to me [years later] and he said your loss made me take those extra five minutes when my son asked me for time because you don’t know,” she added.
“So that’s another life lesson […] don’t be so busy that you say we have to wait until tomorrow.
“That’s what I remember most about that day.”
A DESTINED FAMILY
When the Ramseys returned home late on Christmas Eve 1996, John remembers carrying his sleeping daughter from the car and into bed before Patsy changed her into her pajamas.
The family had to get up early the next morning as they were to meet John’s grown children from his first marriage to celebrate the holiday season on a Disney Red Boat cruise.
John and Patsy woke up before 6am on December 26th. He had been shaving in the bathroom when he heard Patsy let out a guttural scream from down the hall.
JonBenét was not in his bedroom and a strange two and a half page ransom note was left on a staircase towards the back of the house.
Addressed to John, and allegedly written by a “foreign faction”, the author of the rambling letter demanded $118,000 in exchange for the girl’s safe return.
Hours later, John would find JonBenét in a little-used room they referred to as the “cellar” in the basement of the Ramseys’ sprawling four-story mansion.
Lying on a white blanket, John was initially relieved to have found his daughter, though as he got closer he realized that her hands had been tied above her head and they had taped their mouths.
His eyes were closed and he wasn’t moving.
John shouted. Then he took his daughter, carried her upstairs and placed her next to the Christmas tree.
It was the second tragedy to strike his family in less than five years.
His eldest daughter, Elizabeth Ramsey, died in a car accident on January 8, 1992. She was only 22 years old.
John and Patsy’s lives would never be the same again.
In a few days they were declared suspects in JonBenét’s murder and became household names in the world media.
John was accused of being a child abuser who arranged the kidnapping and murder of JonBenét to cover up unfounded allegations of abuse.
Meanwhile, Patsy, who was painted as a pushy competition mother who lived vicariously through her daughter, was accused of killing her daughter in a blind rage in the middle of the night, apparently angry that the six-year-old girl had wet her bed again. . .
JonBenét’s older brother, Burke, who was only nine at the time, also fell under a veil of suspicion. Before long, articles were appearing in the press claiming that she had killed JonBenét after years of jealousy that her parents helped cover up to spare her a life behind bars.
John said the accusations against him and Patsy didn’t bother them, because they had already been hurt as much as they could have been by losing their daughter.
But seeing her young son attacked in the press was a hard pill to swallow.
“It didn’t matter,” he said of the attacks on him and Patsy. “I had already been hurt as deeply as I could be hurt, so calling me my son’s killer was just noise-level stuff – it didn’t bother me.
“You can’t hurt us anymore, but go ahead and try. We are as hurt and down as we could be emotionally, and the only thing that lifted us off the ground was the realization that we have other children who need us now more than ever to be strong parents.
“So it really made us refocus 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.
Instead, all their efforts were focused on protecting Burke and giving him as normal a childhood as they could, given the circumstances.
“The media would follow us everywhere,” he said. “You know, we had to figure out how to get Burke to school without the photographers seeing us.
“We couldn’t walk 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 travel or tickets for things with my American Express, the press would always stare at 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 plan every day how to leave the house and not be seen.
“Patsy was a very strong woman, a very kind woman and a wonderful mother,” John added.
“There was a lot of focus on Burke after losing JonBenét because it was quite a challenge to give him a normal childhood.”
CHRISTMAS “TOO PAIN”
While they distracted themselves from their grief, one thing the Ramseys couldn’t do after JonBenét’s death was celebrate Christmas.
Describing the time of year as ‘too painful’, John said neither he nor Patsy could bear the thought of putting up a tree and celebrating like they used to, given the dark cloud of grief hanging over them about his family.
But after several years, hoping to give Burke the treasured childhood memories that time of year brings, the couple finally found it within themselves to start celebrating once month.
“Was [initially] too painful and it’s still a bit,” John said.
“Then we discovered that we need to remember what Christmas is all about and do it for Burke’s sake.
“Because he was still a kid and he needed to have those family Christmas memories, so Patsy was really good to give him that.”
This year, Burke will spend 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 stopped for him over the past two-and-a-half decades.
Every morning he wakes up the first place he thinks about is his daughter’s murder.
Desperate for answers about what happened to him and why, John tries to fill his mind with other things to distract himself.
But one thing he’s noticed since JonBenét was killed is that he no longer allows himself to feel carefree or happy.
“First of all, you feel guilty for feeling that way. Like you shouldn’t be feeling that way. So don’t let that emotion go away,” she said.
“It doesn’t rule me or ruin my day anymore, but the other day I saw a little girl who was about JonBenét’s age holding her father’s hand walking down the street, and that put a lump in my throat.
“So you get little reminders like this, of what you’ve lost.
“I met a mother who lost a child and she said, ‘You know, I feel like I have a hole in my heart and it’s not going to heal.’
“And it doesn’t, you don’t get over it. You go on, but you are a different person.
“You’ve been hurt and that’s as hurt as it could be by the world.”
THE SAME GUILTY?
John and Patsy Ramsey were cleared of any wrongdoing by the DA’s office in 2008, two years after Patsy died of ovarian cancer.
Burke was never formally considered a suspect despite rampant speculation.
After turning 79, John worries he’s running out of time to get answers about who killed JonBenét.
He’s once again campaigning to have the case removed from the Boulder PD’s jurisdiction, so fresh eyes can look at the case and better resources apply to the investigation before his time runs out .
He also recently appealed to Colorado Gov. Jared Polis to instruct BPD to turn over any DNA evidence it has to a state-of-the-art genealogy lab.
The murder of JonBenet Ramsey remains one of the most famous cold cases in American history.
John is also urging investigators to look into an attack on another girl that happened in Boulder months after his daughter’s murder, which he believes may be related.
The existence of the attack was discovered The US sun in an exclusive report last month.
This article originally appeared in The US Sun and is reproduced with permission
Originally posted as JonBenet Ramsey’s dad reveals heartbreaking details about his last Christmas