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Death of a Beauty Queen: The Murder of JonBenet Ramsey Katie Peppers and Kenita Jackson Forensic Chemistry: Spring 2009.

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Presentation on theme: "Death of a Beauty Queen: The Murder of JonBenet Ramsey Katie Peppers and Kenita Jackson Forensic Chemistry: Spring 2009."— Presentation transcript:

1 Death of a Beauty Queen: The Murder of JonBenet Ramsey Katie Peppers and Kenita Jackson Forensic Chemistry: Spring 2009

2 Background JonBenet Ramsey was found dead at age 6 in her Colorado home on Dec. 26, 1996 JonBenet Ramsey was found dead at age 6 in her Colorado home on Dec. 26, 1996 Parents were John and Patsy Ramsey Parents were John and Patsy Ramsey Older brother Burke Ramsey age 9 Older brother Burke Ramsey age 9

3 JonBenet Ramsey Ramsey Family i.cdn.turner.com/.../family-gallery jpg content/uploads/2008/08/pl_jonbenet_060817_ssv.jpg

4 Background Parents testified that JonBenet was in bed at 9:30 pm on December 25 Parents testified that JonBenet was in bed at 9:30 pm on December 25 Patsy Ramsey awoke at 5:00 am Patsy Ramsey awoke at 5:00 am – Found a ransom note – JonBenet is not in bedroom Police are called at 5:25 am Police are called at 5:25 am – Arrive 7 minutes later and no search of the premises is conducted at this time – Do not secure home as crime scene Friends and family allowed to enter to be with the Ramseys Friends and family allowed to enter to be with the Ramseys

5 Background John Ramsey and detectives eventually conduct search of home and find JonBenet in basement at 1:05 pm John Ramsey and detectives eventually conduct search of home and find JonBenet in basement at 1:05 pm Daughter had been strangled and beaten Daughter had been strangled and beaten John Ramsey removes daughter from basement John Ramsey removes daughter from basement The question becomes: The question becomes: Who Killed JonBenet? Who Killed JonBenet?

6 Case History John and Patsy Ramsey were suspects from the beginning John and Patsy Ramsey were suspects from the beginning Media speculation begins immediately as details are leaked to press Media speculation begins immediately as details are leaked to press Boulder police department under fire for improper processing of a crime scene Boulder police department under fire for improper processing of a crime scene B D-519_468x286.jpg

7 Case history Cause of Death Cause of Death – Asphyxiation due to strangulation – Blunt force trauma to the skull Time of death Time of death – Indicated using 3 common methods

8 Case History Time of death determined by: Time of death determined by: – The rate of advancement of rigor mortis (stiffening of muscles caused by chemical changes in muscle tissue after death) Onset usually begins 2 to 4 hours after death. Onset usually begins 2 to 4 hours after death. Takes 6 to 12 hours to set in for entire body. Takes 6 to 12 hours to set in for entire body. Dissipates after hours Dissipates after hours – The rate of cooling Normal body temp. is 96-degrees F and gradually decreases after death at approx. 1.5-degrees per hour (varies with room temperature, age and gender) Normal body temp. is 96-degrees F and gradually decreases after death at approx. 1.5-degrees per hour (varies with room temperature, age and gender) Determined by ambient temp. around the body and body size and clothing. Determined by ambient temp. around the body and body size and clothing. – The odor of decomposition Depends on room temperature and levels of bacteria and enzyme activity Depends on room temperature and levels of bacteria and enzyme activity For every 10 degree increase in room temp. the rate of decomposition doubles For every 10 degree increase in room temp. the rate of decomposition doubles

9 Case History Time of death Time of death – Last seen at 10 pm on 12/25/1996 – Body found approx. 1:05 pm on 12/26/1996 – Advanced rigor mortis was already present when body was found – Time of death between 10pm on Dec. 25 and 6am on Dec. 26. – Based on the odor of decomposition, death probably occurred at the beginning of this time frame

10 Case History John, Patsy and Burke Ramsey John, Patsy and Burke Ramsey – Media began circulating reports that the family was responsible for the death beginning as early as December 28, 1996 – Media lambasted Ramseys for “exploiting” daughter in beauty pageants Parents maintained innocence and suggested the presence of intruder Parents maintained innocence and suggested the presence of intruder – 2000 released book “The Death of Innocence” – Libel suits brought against Fox Network for saying no evidence suggested intruder in a 2002 broadcast

11 Evidence Two theories Two theories – Intruder committed murder – Family committed murder Evidence to support both Evidence to support both

12 Evidence Ransom note Ransom note DNA trace on body and under fingernails DNA trace on body and under fingernails White synthetic cord and paint stick used as murder weapon White synthetic cord and paint stick used as murder weapon Broken/open basement window Broken/open basement window Palm print found outside basement window Palm print found outside basement window Baseball bat found with carpet fibers present Baseball bat found with carpet fibers present Abrasions from stun gun? Abrasions from stun gun? Footprint in basement Footprint in basement Pubic hair Pubic hair

13 Evidence Ransom note analysis Ransom note analysis – Handwriting analysis – Use comparison microscope Need examples from suspects Need examples from suspects – Visual Letter – curves, slants, size Letter – curves, slants, size Line –smooth, dark lines Line –smooth, dark lines Formatting - spacing Formatting - spacing – Individualizing evidence If too many differences exist between the samples and ransom note than it is not a match If too many differences exist between the samples and ransom note than it is not a match content/uploads/2008/12/jonbenet_ramsey_ran som_note.jpg

14 Evidence Many investigators believed that the Ramseys were responsible Many investigators believed that the Ramseys were responsible – Paper/pen found in Ramsey home – Wording indicated a “female” voice – $118,000 demand unusual Amount of John Ramsey’s bonus Amount of John Ramsey’s bonus – 3 pages in Length – Signed S.B.T.C?

15 Evidence Fingernail scrapings Fingernail scrapings – Identified by Y-STR markers Y chromosome short tandem repeats Y chromosome short tandem repeats – Difficult to separate epithelial cells of males and females Ideal method when victim is female and suspect is supposedly male Ideal method when victim is female and suspect is supposedly male – Use PCR to amplify and analyze – Not individualizing because all males of the same paternal line would have matching results Same as mitochondrial analysis Same as mitochondrial analysis 0

16 Evidence DNA found underneath JonBenet’s fingernails was unidentified male DNA DNA found underneath JonBenet’s fingernails was unidentified male DNA – Did not match father or brother Pointed to possibility of intruder theory Pointed to possibility of intruder theory

17 Evidence DNA was found on the victim’s underwear DNA was found on the victim’s underwear Analyzed by V-NTRs Analyzed by V-NTRs – Use specific restriction enzyme sites to compare suspects DNA to unknown sample from crime scene DNA must be isolated from matrix DNA must be isolated from matrix Measure quantity of DNA from sample Measure quantity of DNA from sample Amplify with PCR Amplify with PCR Gel Electrophoresis to compare with reference samples Gel Electrophoresis to compare with reference samples Results can be inclusive, exclusive or inconclusive Results can be inclusive, exclusive or inconclusive – 1997 results were inconclusive

18 Evidence Pubic hair samples Pubic hair samples – Not individualizing Match color, length, diameter Match color, length, diameter Use comparison microscope Use comparison microscope Pubic hair at crime scene did not match any family members Pubic hair at crime scene did not match any family members

19 Evidence Murder Weapon Murder Weapon – Synthetic white cord that was tightened with a paint stick around child’s neck and wrists Korea printed on stick Korea printed on stick Several types of paint Several types of paint – Duct tape found on mouth Removed by John Ramsey Removed by John Ramsey No photos taken No photos taken Could not find any evidence that duct tape was from home Could not find any evidence that duct tape was from home – Need to have something to compare to under a microscope » Analyze adhesive backing by FTIR » Could have been useful if comparison sample was available

20 Evidence Open basement window Open basement window – Point of entry for intruder? Unidentified palm print found outside basement window Unidentified palm print found outside basement window – Did not match any family members Stun gun marks? Stun gun marks? Foot print made by Hi-tec stamped hiking boot found in dust in cellar Foot print made by Hi-tec stamped hiking boot found in dust in cellar – Did not belong to anyone in family Baseball bat found outside with fibers matching carpet from basement Baseball bat found outside with fibers matching carpet from basement

21 Basement window Boot Murder weapon Stun gun i.cdn.turner.com/.../PG-Basement- window.jpg i.cdn.turner.com/.../Gallery/PG-Garrote.jpg un_Style.jpg

22 Contamination of a Crime Scene Police arrive around 5:40 am Police arrive around 5:40 am – Do not search home or treat as active crime scene Friends and family are allowed to enter the home for hours until they find JonBenet Friends and family are allowed to enter the home for hours until they find JonBenet John Ramsey finds daughter John Ramsey finds daughter – Removed from basement – Removed tape – Locard’s principle Lack of crime scene photos Lack of crime scene photos Only murder in Boulder for over a year Only murder in Boulder for over a year

23 Ramseys : guilty until Proven Innocent? Media circus Media circus – Ridicule Ramseys for “exploiting” daughter in beauty pageants – Guilt indicated by “lawyering” up, not “cooperating” with police, and hiring a PR firm All leaks to media All leaks to media – “staged” crime scene – “intentional” contamination of crime scene – No signs of forced entry medium.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/ /&usg=__6M1eIuRPqlKTzKLSmZb3CuznW7Q=&h=273&w=375&sz=15&hl=en&st art=1&um=1&tbnid=ZjFusNnEkgBCRM:&tbnh=89&tbnw=122&prev=/images%3Fq%3Djohn%2Band%2Bpatsy%2Bramsey%26hl%3Den%26rlz%3 D1T4ADBF_enUS315US315%26sa%3DN%26um%3D1

24 Vindication? – DNA profile of unknown male assailant – No match in database – Patsy Ramsey dies from ovarian cancer – John Mark Karr admitted to killing JBR Was being held on child pornography charges Was being held on child pornography charges DNA did not match profile DNA did not match profile Possible accomplice – handwriting possible match for ransom note Possible accomplice – handwriting possible match for ransom note Charges eventually dropped Charges eventually dropped

25 Current July 2008, Boulder District Attorney office releases statement that Ramseys are no longer suspects July 2008, Boulder District Attorney office releases statement that Ramseys are no longer suspects New DNA technique New DNA technique – Touch DNA – Based on skin cells (7-8 cells) Analyze what is left behind on victim or murder weapon Analyze what is left behind on victim or murder weapon Use PCR Use PCR Fluorescent compound mixed with 13 specific locations on DNA Fluorescent compound mixed with 13 specific locations on DNA – Guess work : Where was a victim touched?

26 Current As of February 2009 the new district attorney of Boulder, Colorado has reopened the case based on touch DNA evidence As of February 2009 the new district attorney of Boulder, Colorado has reopened the case based on touch DNA evidence Nancy Grace Clip: Reopening JonBenet Ramsey Case Nancy Grace Clip: Reopening JonBenet Ramsey Case

27 Works Cited ders/famous/ramsey/evidence_2.html ders/famous/ramsey/evidence_2.html ders/famous/ramsey/evidence_2.html ders/famous/ramsey/evidence_2.html nsic_evidence_in_the_ramsey_case nsic_evidence_in_the_ramsey_case nsic_evidence_in_the_ramsey_case nsic_evidence_in_the_ramsey_case mescene/index.html mescene/index.html mescene/index.html mescene/index.html me/121/the_investigation/1/JonBenet_Ramsey.htm me/121/the_investigation/1/JonBenet_Ramsey.htm me/121/the_investigation/1/JonBenet_Ramsey.htm me/121/the_investigation/1/JonBenet_Ramsey.htm


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