Less than five years before the murder of JonBenét Ramsey, the slain child beauty queen’s family was besieged by another tragedy when her older half-sister was killed in a car accident.
Elizabeth “Beth” Pasch Ramsey died alongside her boyfriend Matthew Derrington on Jan. 8, 1992, when their BMW lost control on a rain-slicked highway and collided with a truck.
Beth, a 22-year-old flight attendant for Delta Airlines, was a passenger in the car and died from multiple internal injuries.
Both Beth and Matthew were killed at the scene.
Within five years, tragedy would afflict the Ramsey family once more when Beth’s six-year-old half-sister JonBenét was found brutally beaten and strangled to death in the basement of the family’s Boulder, Colorado home early on Dec. 26, 1996.
The horrific discovery was made by her father John Ramsey, hours after her mother Patsy reported her missing to police having found a bizarre ransom note demanding $118,000 in exchange for the girl’s safe return.
JonBenét’s murder has never been solved and remains one of the US’ most infamous cold cases.
For years, John and Patsy were considered key suspects in their daughter’s death before they were eventually exonerated of any wrongdoing in 2008 – two years after Patsy passed away from ovarian cancer.
Speaking in an exclusive sit-down interview with The U.S. Sun, John said it is the worst feeling in the world to lose a child – but the pain of losing two is simply indescribable.
“When I lost Beth I got a call that she’d been killed. It was done. Over,” recounted an emotional John.
“I couldn’t get her the best doctors, I couldn’t comfort her, I couldn’t do anything, it was over.
“That was really tough,” he added. “But that was an accident in the middle of the day.
“They were on their way to a museum in Chicago and got hit by a truck.
“It was a horrible loss, but it was an accident.
“But what happened [to JonBenét] was not an accident.
“This was a vicious, creature – a subhuman creature who did this.”
A HANGING DARK CLOUD
Reiterating his feelings of helplessness when learning of Beth’s death, John said his emotions differed greatly when he discovered JonBenét was missing.
Instead of resigning himself to the idea that his youngest child may have met a similar, tragic end, John said he was overcome with determination to bring JonBenét home.
Twenty-six years later, John believes his determination was mistaken by police for callousness that fateful morning, fueling suspicions against him and Patsy when his daughter’s body was eventually found later that afternoon.
Within days they were declared suspects in JonBenét’s murder and became household names in the global media.
John was accused of being a child molester who staged JonBenét’s kidnapping and murder to cover up the unfounded accusations of abuse.
Patsy – who was painted as a pushy pageant mom living vicariously through her daughter – meanwhile, was accused of killing JonBenét in a blind rage in the middle of the night over an apparent bed-wetting incident.
JonBenét’s older brother Burke, who was just nine at the time, also fell under a veil of suspicion. Before long, articles would appear in the press claiming he had killed JonBenét after years of harbored jealousy, which his parents helped cover up to spare him a life behind bars.
John told The U.S. Sun the accusations against him and Patsy didn’t bother them all that much, for they’d already been hurt as much as they could possibly be.
However, seeing their young son Burke being attacked in the press was the bitterest of pills to swallow.
And though Burke was cleared of any suspicion in 1999, conspiracies have continued to swirl in the decades since.
When I lost Beth I got a call that she’d been killed. It was done […] That was really tough but it was an accident. But what happened [to JonBenét] was not an accident.
The dark cloud case by his sister’s death continues to hang over Burke and affects him today, John says.
“Burke was recently recruited to go to work for a small startup company by one of the founders of the company – very qualified to do it – and the other founders wouldn’t hire him because he’s Burke Ramsey,” said John.
“Burke just sort of takes it with a grain of salt … [but] it’s nuts and it makes me mad.
“I don’t like my children to be assaulted or negatively hurt more than they already are by the loss of their sister.”
‘IT’S BEEN HARD ON BURKE’
John said identifying the killer will do little to fill the void of JonBenét’s absence, though he believes it will help to lift some of the negativity that continues to mar his family name.
But for the most part, despite the conspiracies and accusations, Burke has escaped the fanfare relatively unscathed.
Describing the now-35-year-old as a “quiet fellow”, John says his son has enjoyed a successful career in software engineering, having graduated from Purdue with a degree in computer science.
He has never struggled to make friends and regularly brings dates back home to meet the rest of his family, though is yet to settle down.
“We spent about a year with Burke and a sight child psychologist after this because we wanted to give him as much support as we could,” said John.
“He told us that kids have abilities to compartmentalize things, where they can go off and play tomorrow, keep it separate, and then it becomes a problem in their 40s […] but he’s done great.
“I know it has changed his life and wounded him, as he not only lost his sister, he lost his mother too,” John added. “He was just 18 when Patsy died and that’s tough for a kid.
“And that was the worst part of losing her: Burke losing his mother.
“I could deal with it, it was hard, but it was really hard for Burke to lose his mother as well as his sister.”
QUEST FOR ANSWERS
Burke was never formally considered a suspect in his sister’s death despite rampant speculation.
John, who turned 79 in December, is worried that he’s running out of time to get answers about who killed JonBenét.
He is once again campaigning to have the case removed from the jurisdiction of Boulder PD so that fresh eyes can look over the case and better resources applied to the investigation before time for him runs out.
He also recently appealed to the Governor of Colorado Jared Polis to instruct BPD to release any DNA evidence they have to a state-of-the-art genealogy lab.
Additionally, John is urging investigators to take a look at an attack on another young girl that happened in Boulder months after his daughter’s murder, which he believes could be connected.The existence of the attack was unearthed by The U.S. Sun in an exclusive report last month.
To read more about that report, click here.