The Case of: JonBenét Ramsey


Sep 19, 2016 Web Exclusive
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The murder of six-year-old child beauty pageant queen JonBenét Ramsey rocked America starting the day after Christmas, 1996. Twenty-years later, the murder remains one of the most publicized and speculated about unsolved crimes of recent note. (One of the newest conspiracy theories posits that Katy Perry is actually Ramsey, fully-grown and very much alive.)

For two decades, criminologists, investigators, and the general public have pondered the events of the night that spanned December 25 and 26, 1996. No one knows for sure what happened in the Ramsey's Boulder, CO household that evening. Just before 6am, police received a call from JonBenét's mother, Patsy, that her daughter had been kidnapped. Within hours, and with police and detectives present, JonBenét's father, John, discovered his daughter's lifeless body in the basement. The case was an overnight sensation; the media ran wild with it, as the Ramsey family placed itself front and center. Before even formally speaking with the police, Patsy and John were in front of CNN cameras. Rumor and suggestion flew rampantly, but the case was never closed. In The Case of: JonBenét Ramsey, retired FBI special agent Jim Clemente and former Scotland Yard behavioral analyst, Laura Richards, lead a team of experts in revisitingand hopefully crackingthe case.

CBS's two-part series (it concludes tonight at 9/8 Central) begins slowly, as Clemente, Richards, and their team analyze the 911 recording Patsy made upon finding a ransom note from JonBenét's alleged kidnappers. Despite the opening episode's 90-minute run-time, the producers feel the need to hammer home time and again the "discoveries" the experts make in the garbled audio. (The muffled sentences are supremely up to interpretation, yet they seem to form the basis of much of the program's investigative foundation.) The audiotapes, and the information contained within them, are repeated ad infinitum and quickly pass the point of redundancy. However, by the episode's midpoint, the investigators are onto the next bit of evidence. From there, the show sails. In a particularly inventive bit of (network-funded) investigation, the team reconstructs the Ramseys' house in a soundstage, so that they might better understand the events of that fateful night. The Case of: JonBenét Ramsey takes a while to find its footing, but when it does, it's undeniably engaging, especially for true-crime enthusiast. It's unlikely to have the pop impact programs such as Making a Murderer and Serial did (those took largely unknown cases and thrust them into the national dialogue), but at just two-parts, it is a must-watch. (

Author rating: 6.5/10

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