It’s a case that has garnered international attention, and 20 years later, it still remains a mystery.
The body of JonBenet Ramsey was found in the basement of her Boulder home on Dec. 26, 1996. She was last seen alive after a Christmas party the night before.
Though speculation has been rampant in the years since, no one has been convicted of killing the former beauty queen.
Here are the key players in the case:
Born: Dec. 29, 1956
Died: June 24, 2006
Police initially suspected that someone in Ramsey’s family was responsible for her death, and covered it up with a bizarre ransom note and a staged crime scene. Though Boulder officials say the family was cleared through DNA evidence in 2008, many aren’t convinced.
Patricia “Patsy” Ramsey, JonBenet’s mother, was “under an umbrella of suspicion” in wake of her daughter’s murder. Like her daughter, she competed in beauty pageants, and was selected as Miss West Virginia in 1977 and married John Ramsey in 1980.
Patsy was the one who found the ransom note and made the 911 call after JonBenet’s disappearance. She and her husband spent years defending their family in the wake of public scrutiny, and filed several defamation lawsuits against publications that said they were responsible for the murder.
She died at age 49 from ovarian cancer, and is buried at St. James Episcopal Cemetery in Marietta, Georgia – next to JonBenet.
Born: Dec. 7, 1943
JonBenet’s father was the first person to find his daughter’s body in the basement of their home. Some have criticized John Ramsey for carrying her body up the stairs and into the living room, contaminating the crime scene.
John Ramsey accrued a small fortune as the founder of the Advanced Product Group, one of the three companies that became Access Graphics – a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin.
The year JonBenet was killed, he was named “Entrepreneur of the Year” by the Boulder Chamber of Commerce. His net worth was $6.4 million on May 1, 1996, and whoever wrote the ransom note asked for $118,000 – the exact of amount of his year-end bonus.
John Ramsey has said in interviews that he believes the news of his success could have played a part in the murder.
Like his wife, the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office says due to Touch DNA analysis, he was cleared in JonBenet’s death.
He remarried five years after Patsy’s death.
Born: Jan. 27, 1987
JonBenet’s older brother Burke was just 9 years old when his sister was killed, and has been considered a suspect in the crime – particularly in a CBS documentary about the murder that aired this year, despite 1998 assertions by Boulder Police that he had been cleared.
The Ramseys have maintained that Burke was asleep in the hours after JonBenet’s disappearance, and didn’t wake up until several hours after police arrived.
Burke broke his 20-year silence this fall with an interview on the Dr. Phil Show. He said he believed a pedophile was responsible for JonBenet’s murder.
In wake of the CBS special where investigators claimed he killed JonBenet in a fit of rage over a bowl of pineapple, the 29-year-old is going after a pathologist for $150 million in damages.
Like his parents, he was cleared by Touch DNA analysis in 2008.
District Attorney Alex Hunter
Alex Hunter served as Boulder’s district attorney from 1973 until he stepped down in 2001. After the death of JonBenet Ramsey, he formed an Expert Prosecution Task Force aimed at bringing the killer to justice.
Among those on the task force were forensic expert Henry Lee and DNA specialist Berry Scheck, who were both involved on the OJ Simpson defense team.
In 1999, a Boulder County grand jury voted to indict John and Patsy Ramsey for child abuse resulting in death – however, Hunter refused to sign the indictment, saying there wasn’t sufficient evidence to charge them.
District Attorney Mary Lacy
Mary Lacy served as Boulder County DA from 2001 to 2009. She made headlines when she issued a formal apology to the Ramsey family as well said due to touch DNA evidence, no one in the family could have committed the murder.
You can read part of her apology below:
It is the responsibility of every prosecutor to seek justice. That responsibility includes seeking justice for people whose reputations and lives can be damaged irreparably by the lingering specter of suspicion. In a highly publicized case, the detrimental impact of publicity and suspicion on peoples lives can be extreme. The suspicions about the Ramseys in this case created an ongoing living hell for the Ramsey family and their friends, which added to their suffering from the unexplained and devastating loss of JonBenet.For reasons including those discussed above, we believe that justice dictates that the Ramseys be treated only as victims of this very serious crime. We will accord them all the rights guaranteed to the victims of violent crimes under the law in Colorado and all the respect and sympathy due from one human being to another. To the extent that this office has added to the distress suffered by the Ramsey family at any time or to any degree, I offer my deepest apology.
He was hired as the Ramsey family lawyer in 1999 after the family decided to go on the offensive in wake of a firestorm of media coverage.
Since, Wood has prosecuted defamation claims against St. Martin’s Press, Time Inc., the Fox News Channel and more on behalf of the Ramseys.
He’s also prosecuting Burke’s most recent lawsuit.
Wood also represented the woman who claimed she was raped by Kobe Bryant in an Edwards hotel room.
John Mark Karr
Back in 2006, it seemed like there was finally a break in the JonBenet Ramsey case.
John Mark Karr, a 41-year-old elementary school teacher, was arrested in Thailand after he confessed to killing the 6-year-old with graphic details.
This confession was later discovered to have been false. Police say nothing Karr said contained information that wasn’t publicly available, and none of Karr’s DNA was found on JonBenet’s body.
There’s also no evidence that he was anywhere near Boulder at the time of the murder.
Gary Howard Oliva
Known pedophile Gary Howard Oliva, 52, has been listed as a suspect in Ramsey’s murder by proponents of the theory that an intruder killed the little girl.
A 2002 CBS “48 Hours Investigates” program claimed Oliva was possibly close to the Ramsey home the night JonBenet was killed, and that he had called a close friend after death to say he had “done something horrible and had hurt a child.”
When he was arrested in 2000, he was found carrying a photo of JonBenet in his personal property. He had also written a poem called “Ode to JonBenet.”
In a jailhouse interview, he denied having any role in her death.