JonBenet Ramsey’s father has shared heartbreaking details of his last Christmas with his beauty queen daughter, hours before she was found dead in the family basement in a horrific crime that remains unsolved.
John Ramsey, 79, inches The US sun that he has a particular regret about his last Christmas with six-year-old JonBenét that still lingers in his mind nearly 26 years later.
As the main gift that year, John and Patsy bought their daughter a new bicycle.
John was so excited to ride her new bike and took JonBenét outside to watch her pedaling up and down an alleyway behind the family home.
But pressed for time and having to be at a friend’s house for Christmas dinner, he had to rush her back inside, ignoring her pleas “just one more time, please.”
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John now called the memory “hurting” and shared: “We went into the back alley and she drove up and down the alley a couple of times.
“And I said, ‘Okay, we have to go, we’ll be late for dinner.’
“And then she said, ‘Oh dad. Please let me go again, but I said no, we’ll do that tomorrow.
“And I remember that vividly, she asked me to go again and I told her no, we’ll do it tomorrow.
“Of course there was no tomorrow […] it is a hurtful thought now.”
John called the haunting reminder a life lesson to never be too busy to spend more time with your family because you never know what the future will bring.
“I had a mother who wrote to me [years later] and she said your loss made me take that extra five minutes when my kid asked for my time because you don’t know,” he added.
“So this is another life lesson […] don’t be so busy that you say we have to wait until tomorrow.
“That’s what I remember most from that day.”
A FAMILY DESTROYED
When the Ramseys returned home late on Christmas night in 1996, John recalled carrying his sleeping daughter out of the car and into bed before Patsy changed her into her pyjamas.
The family had to get up early the next morning 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 just 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 wasn’t in her bedroom and a strange two and a half page ransom note was left on a stairway at the back of the house.
Addressed to John and reportedly written by a “foreign faction,” the author of the rambling letter demanded $118,000 in exchange for the girl’s safe return.
Hours later, JonBenét was found by John in a rarely used room they dubbed the “wine cellar” in the basement of the Ramseys’ sprawling four-story mansion.
Lying on a white blanket, John was initially overcome with feelings of relief at finally having found his daughter, although as he got closer he noticed that her hands had been tied above her head and tape had been placed over her mouth.
Her eyes were closed and she didn’t move.
John screamed. Then he picked up 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 just 22 years old.
John and Patsy’s life would never be the same again.
Within days, they were named suspects in JonBenét’s murder and became household names in the global media.
John was accused of being a child molester who orchestrated the kidnapping and murder of JonBenét to cover up baseless allegations of abuse.
Patsy – who was portrayed as a pushy pageant mom living vicariously through her daughter – meanwhile was accused of killing her daughter in the middle of the night in a blind rage after apparently becoming furious that the six-year-old had wet her bed again.
JonBenét’s older brother Burke, then just nine years old, also came under suspicion. Articles soon appeared in the press claiming he had killed JonBenét after years of harbored jealousies, which his parents helped cover up to spare him a life behind bars.
John said the allegations against him and Patsy didn’t bother her because they had already been hurt as badly as could be by the loss of their daughter.
But seeing her young son being attacked in the press was a tough pill to swallow.
“It didn’t matter,” he said of the attacks on him and Patsy. “I had already been hurt as badly as I could be hurt, so calling me my child’s killer was just noise pollution; 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 be emotionally, and the only thing that got us off the ground was the realization that we have other kids who need us now more than ever to be strong parents be.
“So that really got us going again and focused on that.”
The media frenzy that ensued in the two or three years following JonBenét’s assassination served as a distraction from John and Patsy’s grief, he said.
All of their efforts instead focused on protecting Burke and allowing him to have as normal a childhood as possible, given the circumstances.
“The media would follow us anywhere,” he said. “You know, we had to figure out how to get Burke to school without 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 noticed that when I used my American Express to book trips or tickets for things, the press would always watch us when we got there. I realized there was a mole somewhere, so I switched to Visa.
“But it was a distraction; Every day we had to 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 was very focused on Burke after we lost JonBenét because it was quite a challenge to give him a normal childhood.”
CHRISTMAS “TOO PAINFUL”
Despite being distracted by their grief, the Ramseys couldn’t bring themselves to celebrate Christmas after JonBenét’s death.
John called the time of year “too painful” and 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 sorrow hanging over their family.
But after a few years, hoping to give Burke the treasured childhood memories this season brings, the couple finally found themselves to celebrate it all over again.
“It was [initially] too painful and it’s still a little bit,” John said.
“Then we found out we need to remember what Christmas is about and do it for Burke’s sake.
“Because he was a kid and needed to have those family Christmas memories, so Patsy was really good at giving him that.”
THINK OF JONBENÉT
This year, Burke will spend Christmas with John and his third wife, Jan Rousseaux-Ramsey, at the couple’s Utah home.
Speaking about his daughter as she approaches the 26th anniversary of her death, John says life has pretty much stood still for him for the past two and a half decades.
Every morning he wakes up, the first thing on his mind is the murder of his daughter.
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’s noticed since JonBenét’s death is that he no longer allows himself to feel lighthearted or happy.
“First of all, you feel guilty for feeling this way. As if you shouldn’t feel this way. So don’t let that emotion go away,” 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 father’s hand walking down the street the other day and it gave me a lump in my throat.
“So you get these little reminders of what you’ve lost.
“I met a mother who lost a child and she said to me, ‘You know, I feel like I have a hole in my heart and it’s not going to heal.’
“And it doesn’t, you can’t get over it. You move on, but you are a different person.
“You’ve been hurt and that’s as hurt as you could be of the world.”
John and Patsy Ramsey were both cleared of any wrongdoing by prosecutors in 2008 – two years after Patsy died of ovarian cancer.
Burke was never officially considered a suspect, despite rampant speculation.
John has just turned 79 and worries he is running out of time to get answers about who killed JonBenét.
He lobbies again to have the case removed from Boulder PD’s purview so that fresh eyes can look at the case and better resources can be devoted to the investigation before his time runs out.
He also recently appealed to Colorado Gov. Jared Polis to direct BPD to turn over any DNA evidence they have to a state-of-the-art genealogy lab.
The murder of JonBenet Ramsey remains one of the most famous cold cases in US history.
John also urges investigators to look into an attack on another young girl that took place months after his daughter’s murder in Boulder, which he believes may be related.
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 is reproduced with permission
Originally posted as JonBenet Ramsey’s dad reveals heartbreaking details about their last Christmas