Twenty-four years after the horrendous murder of JonBenét Ramsey, her family is still feeling the repercussions of her death reverberating through their lives.
JonBenét’s half-brother, John Andrew Ramsey, said he was getting ready to meet his father’s family, including JonBenét, in Michigan the day after Christmas when he found out that she was missing. He was already on the airplane waiting to take off from Atlanta, where he was spending the holidays with his mother and sister.
“I think I was paged or I was handed a note by one of the flight attendants saying that I needed to call home,” recalled John Andrew Ramsey, who said he and his sister immediately changed course to Denver. “I yelled and screamed and kicked to get on the airplane to Denver… I remember just thinking and processing it all.”
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He said that when they arrived, police were erecting a full-fledged crime scene at John and Patsy Ramsey’s home in Boulder, Colorado. He said JonBenét’s body had been found and the couple was inconsolable.
JonBenét was only 6 years old when she was found dead in the basement of her parent’s home on Dec. 26, 1996. The case was widely televised and suspicion fell on her parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, who denied having anything to do with JonBenét’s death and insisted an intruder was to blame.
Although DNA found underneath JonBenét’s fingernails and in her underwear did not match anyone in the Ramsey family, police did not immediately release that information publicly. Authorities eventually cleared the family years later.
The case remains officially open and ongoing. However, the Boulder Police Department has never publicly commented on the handling of the case and the murderer has never been found.
“JonBenét was the kid that kept the conversation at the dinner table going. You know, she would go around and ask everybody how their day was and what they did and [she] was just an energetic and fun kid,” John Andrew Ramsey told “20/20.”
“Our family has gone through a lot of adversity,” John Andrew Ramsey added.“Patsy was a stage 4 cancer survivor. We had lost my oldest sister Beth in an awful car accident. [After JonBenét], it was a lot of emotions coming back from losing my oldest sister, Beth. You kind of think you're immune from that happening again. When it happens a second time, it's an unthinkable tragedy.”
Over the last 24 years, the case has garnered a cult-like following and has gradually become embroiled in true-crime conspiracy theories.
John Andrew Ramsey said that the investigation by the Boulder Police Department changed their lives for the worse.
“We lost our sister and our daughter, a family member. We were victims, and the very people that we thought were gonna come in and protect us and help us were pointing the finger at us.” he said, adding that the media fanned the rumors. “We were just regular people and then all of a sudden our world just got turned upside down.”
John and Patsy Ramsey, who spent a decade defending themselves against allegations, were officially cleared in 2008 after new DNA technology found traces of an unknown male’s DNA on JonBenét’s pajama pants.
Macy Lacy, who was then the chief deputy district attorney heading up the Sexual Assault Unit under Boulder County DA Alex Hunter, told ABC News in 2016, that she cleared the Ramseys, not just based on the DNA, but also from looking at the totality of the evidence.
Patsy Ramsey died in 2006 from ovarian cancer and was buried in Marietta, Georgia, next to JonBenét.
John Andrew Ramsey said that his father, John Ramsey, has suffered tremendously.
“Why I'm speaking out 24 years later, it's in part to relieve some burden from my father, who [has] fought tirelessly and advocated on the family's behalf,” said John Andrew Ramsey. “I think he’s focused on life today and enjoying life with his family and grandkids.”
John Ramsey remarried in 2011. John Andrew Ramsey said that while the family is focused on healing, they have not lost the will to find the killer.
“I think it's really important for people to understand that this case can be solved. There's a narrative out there that this is an unsolved homicide and that we just have to accept that as fact, and that is not the truth,” said John Andrew Ramsey. “If we leverage the evidence [and] we follow the facts, we will find this killer.”
He said that he’s still motivated to find his little sister’s killer, but called upon investigators to do better for the sake of JonBenét.
“What happened to JonBenét, what happened to my family, what happened to the community at large, is wrong,” he said. “This 6-year-old little girl was killed on their watch and, ultimately, they are responsible for finding the killer, and they can do it and we want them to do it.”