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Child pageant star JonBenét Ramsey was brutally murdered inside her home on Christmas day – and 25 years later her murder remains unsolved.
The beauty queen was just six-years-old when she was found dead in her home in Boulder, Colorado, on December 26, 1996.
Her frantic parents had reported her missing after they woke up to a ransom note demanding $118,000 but several hours later, her father found her corpse in the basement.
“I knew instantly what I found. I found my daughter,” her father John Ramsey previously told ABC.
“She was lying on a white blanket. The blanket was wrapped around her. Her hands were tied above her head."
He went on to say that she had tape over her mouth which he took off straight away before trying to untie the cord that was around her arms.
JonBenét was beaten and strangled with a makeshift garrotte which the suspect made using one of her mother Patsy's paintbrushes.
The six-year-old also had a shattered skull and was left with an 8-inch fracture, as well as shocks from a stun gun.
Brad Garrett, a former FBI agent, said the pageant star was sexually abused, with a broken piece from the paintbrush used to make the garrotte.
Following the pageant star's death, friends of her parents Patsy and John Ramsey rallied around them at their house for support, and although they thought they were helping, they potentially contaminated the scene.
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Reporter Diane Diamond, who was investigating the case, said police did a "terrible job" securing the scene.
“People were streaming through that house," she said. "They were in the kitchen, they were in the living room.
"There were some friends of Patsy’s that were helping her wipe up the kitchen. There could’ve been fingerprints there.”
Police immediately identified her family as potential killers – but her parents and brother were cleared in 2008 after DNA was taken from the child’s clothes as evidence.
Patsy was previously a suspect after it was found that the ransom note was written on her notepad, with a pen from the family's house.
“I mean, we’re suffering from having lost our child and then, for someone to accuse you, it’s just, you can’t believe that would happen,” she told CNN the year after her daughter's death.
“We were outraged. We were shocked,” said John Ramsey. “How could they think that? We were a normal family.”
Authorities started to home in on their suspicions of the parents after they noticed that the $118,000 demanded in the letter, was the same figure as the bonus John Ramsey received from his job.
The handwriting was analysed and John was cleared, however Patsy's test results came back as "inconclusive".
It was reported that a jury voted to charge both parents with child abuse resulting in first-degree murder in 1999, but the district attorney wouldn't sign the indictment.
Their son Burke was also suspected to be behind the young girl's murder with forensic investigator Werner Splitz even suggesting that he had killed his sister with a flashlight.
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The claims were made on CBS' show The Case of: JonBenét Ramsey, which saw behavioural experts suggest that Burke had “a history of scatological problems”.
In response, he launched a million-dollar lawsuit against the expert which, in the end, reached a settlement and he later issued a lawsuit against CBS, which was settled for an undisclosed amount in 2019.
In 2006, Patsy sadly passed away from ovarian cancer and was buried next to her daughter in Georgia.
Burke and his parents were exonerated in 2008 after several pieces of male DNA were found on the pageant star's clothing.
And although many people didn't believe them, one Colorado detective named Lou Smit said he knew they were innocent after he started to investigate the case three months after JonBenét's death.
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Smit believed police should have been looking for a possible intruder after realising that there was an open window in the basement.
But his theory was shut down after images of the crime scene detailed cobwebs on the window, which probably would have detached if someone had crept in that way.
It was reported that Smit had to climb through the window, to then prove to the police that it was possible for someone to go through.
FBI agent Garrett also questioned how long after the crime took place, was the photo taken, as he highlighted that "spiders can replicate webs very fast".
Police also discovered a shoe print from a boot located near to the six-year-old's body and realised that no one who lived in the house owned footwear that belonged to that brand.
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Smit also raised points that there would have been no reason for JonBenét's family to use a stun gun and said that the family didn't own one.
He also questioned the validity of the ransom note and highlighted that certain phrases the suspect used, were cited from popular films including Fat Cat, Ransom, Speed and Dirty Harry.
The detective built on his theory by noting that the DNA evidence found underneath the little girl's fingernails and her underwear “was not something that was made public for quite a long time.”
The results found that the DNA didn't match anyone in the Ramsey family.
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Smit believed there was a "gross injustice" in the case and said he had seen evidence "of an intruder in the house that night”.
After his intruder theory continued to be put on the back burner, the detective decided to resign from the case but continued to fight for justice up until his death.
Smit tragically lost his life to cancer in 2010, but his family vowed to never let the case die.
“It was really important to him," said his daughter Cindy Marra.
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