Burke Ramsey will forever be known as the older brother of JonBenét Ramsey. JonBenét was the six-year-old girl who was abducted from her bed in the early hours of December 26, 1996, taken to her family’s basement, sexually abused, and murdered. Over the years, a theory has emerged alleging that Burke accidentally killed JonBenét and his parents tried to cover it up. This Burke Ramsey wiki looks at his early childhood, the mystery surrounding his sister’s unsolved murder, and whether there is any merit to the theory that he could be the killer.
About the Ramsey Family
John Bennett Ramsey was born December 7, 1943, in Lincoln, Nebraska. His parents were Mary Jane Bennett Ramsey and James Dudley “Jay” Ramsey.
|About Burke Hamilton Ramsey|
|Birth||January 27, 1987 Atlanta, Georgia|
|Siblings||John Andrew Ramsey, Melinda Ramsey, JonBenét Patricia Ramsey|
|Parents||Patsy Ramsey, John Ramsey|
John met Lucinda Lou Pasch while they both attended Michigan State University. In 1966, they got married.
After a stint in the Navy, during which time he served as a Civil Engineer Corps officer, John formed his own company, Advanced Product Group.
John and Lucinda had three children together: Elizabeth (born in 1970), Melinda (born in 1971), and John Andrew (born in 1976).
The couple divorced in 1978 after John had an affair with a co-worker.
In 1979, John Ramsey noticed Patricia Ann Paugh, a 22-year-old brunette living in Atlanta, and pursued her romantically.
Two years earlier, Patricia (“Patsy”), while majoring in journalism at West Virginia University, had been crowned Miss West Virginia.
Originally from Gilbert, West Virginia, Patsy was the daughter of Nedra Ellen Ann Paugh and Donald Ray Paugh.
John and his new love married in 1980 at Atlanta’s Peachtree Presbyterian Church. John was 37 and Patsy was 23.
Burke Hamilton Ramsey was born to John and Patsy Ramsey on January 27, 1987 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Three years later, the couple had Burke’s only full sister. JonBenét Patricia Ramsey was born on August 6, 1990.
Death of Burke Ramsey’s Half-Sister
Before JonBenét died, the Ramsey family went through another tragedy.
On January 8, 1992, Burke’s older half-sister Elizabeth Pasch Ramsey was killed in a car accident in Downers Grove Township, Illinois.
Her boyfriend Matthew Derrington was driving the car, when it went out of control and careened into a truck. Elizabeth died from multiple internal injuries.
Elizabeth was just 22 years old at the time, working as a flight attendant.
From Atlanta to Boulder
Once they were married, John and Patsy Ramsey moved to the Dunwoody section of Atlanta. There, John ran his own company, Microsouth, from their house.
In 1989, Burke’s dad merged his company with Boulder-based Access Graphics and one other firm.
He then seized control of the new company and, in 1991, relocated his family to a small, upscale neighborhood in Boulder, Colorado.
Burke’s family moved into a 7,000-square-foot, three-story, $500,000 Tudor-style mansion in a well-heeled neighborhood next to Chautauqua Park. They invested at least $700,000 more into the home in the form of renovations supervised by Burke’s mom, Patsy.
The home at 755 15th St. was listed on the Boulder Christmas tour, as well as the home tour. Patsy would greet visitors at the door with Burke and JonBenét at her side, the three of them wearing matching sweaters.
Christmas was a big deal and a happy time at the Ramseys’ home, until that terrible day in 1996.
Burke’s Family Christmas, 1996
On Christmas morning, Burke snuck downstairs early with little sister JonBenét to see how much loot they had received. Burke said he recalled seeing an electric train set and a big dollhouse for JonBenét. Burke said they both also received new bikes.
That evening, Burke, his sister, and their parents went to a Christmas dinner party at the home of close family friends, Priscilla and Fleet White Jr.
They returned home around 10:00 p.m. JonBenét had fallen asleep in the car, so John carried her up to her bedroom. Patsy followed to tuck her into bed.
Burke went to bed not long after his parents tucked his little sister in. There are conflicting stories about what he did before bed that night. In one account, he had a snack of pineapple and tea. In another, his dad helped him put together a model he’d gotten for Christmas.
His parents may have spent some time packing last-minute items for a family trip that they were going to take to Michigan the next day, before they also went to bed.
Burke’s Sister Goes Missing
Early in the morning of December 26, 1996, shortly after waking up, Patsy found a three-page ransom letter on the bottom steps of the staircase.
In it, the supposed kidnappers claimed that they had JonBenét. They demanded $118,000 for her safe return.
Six Additional Seconds of 911 Call Secretly Recorded
Patsy called 911 at 5:51 a.m. What was caught on that phone call has been debated for years.
The most controversial and contentious part of the 911 recording is that, at the end, Patsy failed to properly hang up the phone. Because the operator did not hang up, the call continued to record for six additional seconds. But no one has ever been able to conclusively decipher the muffled voices in the background.
In 1997, at the request of the Boulder Police Department, Aerospace Corporation conducted a test of the 911 call recording. The results were never officially released. Somehow, though, the National Enquirer got its hands on a copy of the recording and leaked it in 1998.
The enhanced 911 tape appears to reveal that Burke Ramsey was awake when Patsy called the police to report JonBenét’s kidnapping.
In the background, Burke can be heard asking his parents, “What did you find?”
John Ramsey allegedly shouts back at Burke, “We are not talking to you!”
Patsy can be heard shouting “Oh my Jesus, oh my Jesus.”
The Ramsey family has always insisted that Burke was still asleep in bed at the time.
Commenting on the leak of the transcript to the National Enquirer, the Ramsey family’s attorney suggested that the grand jury that was hearing the case should “investigate and indict those public officials, past and present, who have leaked every critical item of evidence in this investigation.”
Family attorneys accused police sources of leaking information that was critical to the case, but they fell short of denying that the contents of the 911 call were true.
Kimberley Archuletta, the operator who took the 911 call, said, “It sounded like she said, ‘OK, we’ve called the police, now what?’ and that disturbed me.
“So I remained on the phone, trying to listen to what was being said. It sounded like there were two voices in the room, maybe three different ones. I had a bad feeling about this. To me, it sounded rehearsed.”
Even if this scenario was true, in 1996, Burke was only nine years old, so he would have been too young to prosecute in Colorado. He also would not be responsible for any cover-up allegedly perpetrated by his parents.
What Happened to Burke’s Little Sister?
Minutes after the 911 call, Boulder police arrived at the Ramseys’ house. The police, however, botched the early investigation by failing to secure and control the crime scene.
Furthermore, the police did not separate John and Patsy and get full statements; they were interviewed together. After that, the family hired lawyers and police did not get to formally interview them again until May 1997, five months after JonBenét’s murder.
Police searched the house, but Officer Rick French failed to look behind a door in the basement that was secured by a wooden latch. What he didn’t know was that JonBenét’s body was on the other side of that door.
At 1:00 p.m., Detective Linda Arndt, for some reason, asked John Ramsey and his friend Fleet White Jr. to search the house for clues. The two men immediately descended into the basement. John opened the secured door that was previously ignored by police and found JonBenét.
Her body was hidden under a white blanket. JonBenét had a garrote made of nylon around her neck, her wrists were bound above her head, and her mouth was covered with duct tape. She had been bludgeoned and strangled.
John removed the tape from JonBenét’s mouth, picked her up, carried her upstairs, and laid her down on the hardwood floor in the family room—all of which were acts of tampering with evidence. Then, strangely, Arndt lifted JonBenét’s body from where she was and placed the body beside the Christmas tree.
Initially, police believed that the killer broke into the Ramsey house through a basement window, snuck up to the girl’s bedroom, and carried her back to the basement. There, JonBenét was bound, her mouth was covered with duct tape, and she was sexually assaulted. She was then strangled and her head was beaten in with an object such as a baseball bat.
Later, police said they did not believe that the basement window—or any other location—was a legitimate point of entry to the house. Police ruled out the basement window as the entry point because “the dust and spider web were undisturbed.”
According to the autopsy conducted by Dr. John E. Meyer, JonBenét was murdered by strangulation and a skull fracture. The official cause of death was “asphyxia by strangulation associated with craniocerebral trauma.”
A History of Problems?
Whereas JonBenét Ramsey was a typical all-American girl who loved being the center of attention, Burke Ramsey seemed to be socially awkward. Not only that, but there is evidence that Burke, who lived in his younger sister’s shadow, harbored a lot of jealousy toward her.
Before JonBenét’s murder, Burke was known to smear feces in the house. His feces were found in the bathroom and in JonBenét’s bedroom. On one occasion, a housekeeper said she found feces the size of a grapefruit smeared on JonBenét’s bed.
On December 26, 1996, after police sealed off JonBenét’s room, crime-scene technicians found feces smeared on a box of candy she had gotten for Christmas.
These actions may have led some to believe that Burke was highly jealous of his little sister and maybe even responsible for her death. A stretch, perhaps, but this shows that there were some deep-seated issues between Burke and JonBenét Ramsey.
January 1997: Burke Appears to Smile While Discussing JonBenét’s Death
Roughly two weeks after JonBenét was murdered, Burke Ramsey, then nine years old, was taken to see a child psychologist.
In a video of the session, Burke can be seen curled up in a chair, speaking about the day his sister was brutally murdered in his own home.
Strangely, Burke seemed to be entirely nonplussed about her death. In fact, he appeared to smile throughout the short clip.
In the session, Burke described hearing his mother “going psycho” about his missing sister. He also said that his mother was “overreacting.” The happy, carefree Burke even joked about being too busy playing video games to worry about JonBenét.
When asked what he thought his parents were reacting to in the early morning of December 26, 1996, Burke said he thought that maybe someone had stolen something or that “JonBenét was kidnapped.”
The therapist, who found the leap in logic hard to believe, asked Burke why he thought that. Burke responded, “Because I heard my mom say, ‘Where’s my baby?’” As he said this, a huge smile crossed his face.
When asked if he had ever come out of his bedroom to see what the commotion was all about, Burke simply said no. He didn’t emerge until his dad came up and told him what to do.
Burke never revealed what it was that his father told him to do.
Whether it was Burke’s body language, the way he allegedly responded after learning that his sister had been abducted, or the stories of how he smeared his own feces on JonBenét’s bed and on a box of chocolates she had gotten for Christmas, the young boy always seemed to be a little off.
DNA Evidence Cleared Burke Ramsey of JonBenét’s Murder
Despite the theory swirling around about the possibility that Burke Ramsey had killed his sister JonBenét, the DNA evidence found at the crime scene did not match that of Burke or his parents.
As early as January 15, 1997, the DNA results strongly suggested that the Ramseys were not responsible for the murder. During JonBenét’s autopsy, the coroner found DNA under her fingernails and in her underwear, and none of it matched the DNA of Burke, Patsy, or John.
In 2008, two years after Patsy died of ovarian cancer, the Boulder County District Attorney cleared the Ramseys of any involvement in JonBenét’s death after they established that DNA “from a third party” had been found on her body.
Burke’s Life after JonBenét’s Death
Life in Boulder was never the same for Burke after JonBenét’s murder.
When Burke reached high school, the Ramseys moved to their summer home in Charlevoix, Michigan “to make his life as normal as possible,” said John Ramsey.
On June 24, 2006, Patsy, 49, died of ovarian cancer at her father’s home in Roswell, Colorado. Patsy and John had returned to the Atlanta area a couple of months before Patsy passed away.
Burke carried on like many American teenagers and attended college. He studied engineering and computer technology at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. The young man graduated in 2009.
In 2012, John Ramsey said that Burke had “matured,” was living a “pretty quiet” life. He had a girlfriend.
At that time, Burke was employed as a software engineer. He worked out of his home so he could avoid being around other people.
“He’s got a 401(k) plan and an IRA, and he did it all on his own,” said John.
September 2016: Burke Ramsey Sits Down with Dr. Phil
In 2016, 20 years after JonBenét was murdered, Burke Ramsey sat down with Dr. Phil to discuss the events of December 26, 1996.
Burke, 29 at the time, smiled and laughed when talking about his mother and JonBenét.
“People are going to see this throughout the entire interview, a real unusual effect, either smiling or laughing,” Dr. Phil warned his audience. “This is a very socially awkward young man.”
Burke told Dr. Phil a completely different story than the one he told a child psychologist 20 years earlier.
When Dr. Phil asked Burke about the day JonBenét was found murdered, Burke said, “The first thing I remember is my mom bursting into my room really frantic saying, ‘Oh my gosh, oh my gosh,’ running around my room, now, I know, looking for JonBenét… The next thing I remember is a police officer coming into my room and shining a flashlight.”
Previously, he had said his father was the one who came into his bedroom that morning.
In the three-part interview with Dr. Phil, Burke said that he missed JonBenét and talked to her in heaven.
“Like there’s some important thing I was doing, [I’d] be like, ‘Hey, thanks for looking out for me’ or, ‘I hope you’re looking out for me,’ or, you know, ‘Hope you’re having fun up there because I’m taking some test,’ or like, ‘I wish I was up there right now.’”
Other than these tidbits, the so-called shocking Dr. Phil interview with Burke was actually very light, peppered with softball questions, and it didn’t really shed any new light on the topic.
Viewers were not shocked that Burke said he thought his mother Patsy was an okay mom, that he didn’t kill his sister, and that—at the age of nine—he wasn’t all that keen on talking to police or therapists.
Burke Ramsey Fingered as Killer in CBS Docu-Series
The year 2016 marked the 20th anniversary of the death of JonBenét Ramsey. Like Dr. Phil, others in the media jumped on the Ramsey bandwagon with their own specials and theories about who killed JonBenét.
While there were virtually no big revelations in the Dr. Phil interview with Burke Ramsey, A&E and CBS made up for it, taking two different positions.
In the two-hour documentary The Killing of JonBenét: The Truth Uncovered, A&E asserted that DNA evidence had rightfully exonerated the Ramseys back in 2008. Because police botched the initial investigation and concluded early on that there was no intruder, there wasn’t enough evidence to name a suspect without doing a complete re-investigation.
Meanwhile, CBS’s The Case of: JonBenét Ramsey promised to be a comprehensive miniseries “shining new light on the JonBenét Ramsey case.” The “new light” was the show’s assertion that Burke was the one responsible for killing JonBenét and that John and Patsy had tried to cover up the truth.
Despite not having any concrete evidence, forensic pathologist Dr. Werner Spitz said there was reason to believe that Burke had killed JonBenét either out of anger or by mistake, hitting her over the head with a flashlight because she took a piece of his pineapple.
The alleged “proof” backing up this claim was partially digested pineapple found in JonBenét’s stomach.
According to the CBS miniseries, the Ramseys came home between 9:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., and John tucked the sleeping JonBenét into bed while Patsy stayed downstairs with Burke and gave him some tea and pineapple.
Patsy then went upstairs to make sure that JonBenét went to the bathroom.
James Kolar, a former chief investigator for Boulder’s District Attorney, believes that JonBenét got up and went downstairs because she was hungry. Patsy was busy packing for a trip that the family was going to take the next day to Michigan.
Kolar theorizes that JonBenét wanted a piece of pineapple and snatched it off Burke’s plate. Out of anger, Burke then allegedly struck JonBenét with a flashlight.
Investigators for the CBS show said Burke had a violent history with his sister and allege that, one year earlier, he had hit her with a golf club.
According to Spitz, “The brother is not exactly thinking straight, the behavior is…of somebody who’s got a problem.
“When I think of putting feces in the sister’s bed…he was doing that.”
At the end of the closing credits, CBS included a disclaimer that said the opinions and conclusions about how the crime may have occurred are among a number of possible scenarios. Viewers were encouraged to “reach their own conclusions.”
The network was hoping that this would stave off any lawsuits from Burke and John Ramsey.
Burke Ramsey Sues CBS and Others for Defamation
As expected, Burke Ramsey did not take kindly to the way he was portrayed in the CBS series, The Case of: JonBenét Ramsey. Burke filed a $150.0-million defamation lawsuit against Spitz, claiming that Spitz had “attacked and permanently harmed” his reputation.
On December 28, 2016, Burke filed another civil lawsuit, accusing CBS, the production company Critical Content LLC, and seven experts and consultants of defamation of character. He is seeking $250.0 million in compensatory damages and $500.0 million in punitive damages.
CBS sought to have the case quashed, but Michigan’s Third Circuit Court District Judge David Groner ruled against the network. The judge determined that the disclaimer didn’t negate “potentially defamatory meaning.”
In a separate ruling, Groner denied a defense motion asking for the $150.0-million complaint filed by Burke against Spitz to be dismissed.
John Ramsey has also filed a lawsuit against CBS and others in Michigan’s Third Circuit Court.