JonBenét Ramsey's Brother Talks About Her Murder For The First Time

Photo: Helen H. Richardson/Getty Images.
JonBenet's parents address the public in this file photo.
It's been 20 years since the murder of 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenét Ramsey captured the attention of the nation. Now, the only family member who has never spoken publicly is breaking his silence.

Burke Ramsey, JonBenét's older brother, spoke to Dr. Phil McGraw on Monday, in his first interview since his sister’s death, the beginning of a three-part series that will air over the next week and a half.

“Seeing that as a little kid is just kind of a chaotic nightmare,” he said of losing his sister and the media frenzy that followed.

Burke was 9 years old when his sister was murdered in 1996, under unusual circumstances that initially left police suspicious of the girl’s immediate family. JonBenét went missing in the early hours of December 26, 1996, shortly before a ransom note demanding $118,000 for her safe return was found on the staircase of the family home. Her body was discovered in the basement several hours later.

The initial police investigation focused on the Ramsey family, as investigators found no sign of a break-in. Both of JonBenét’s parents, John and Patricia Ramsey, were identified as suspects in the case, as was Burke.

In 2008, the Boulder District Attorney’s office issued a formal apology to the Ramsey family, clearing them of involvement in the crime after a DNA test found new evidence. The “touch analysis” test, which used technology not available in 1996, pointed to an outside intruder and “[did] not belong to anyone in the Ramsey family,” NBC reported at the time.

Talking about the three-part interview with NBC's Today show, Dr. Phil said that he had addressed the rumors, asking Ramsey directly if he or his parents had killed his sister — but didn't offer any answers.

"I know people think I did it, that my parents did it," Ramsey said.

Though he has avoided media in the decades since JonBenét's death, Ramsey told Dr. Phil that he wanted to speak out now to take control of the narrative about his family’s tragedy.

“For a long time, the media basically made our lives crazy,” he said. “It’s hard to miss the cameras and news trucks in your front yard. We’d go to the supermarket sometimes and there would be a tabloid with my picture [or] with JonBenét’s picture plastered on the front.”

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post featured a photo that was not JonBenet Ramsey, but an actress playing JonBenet in a 2000 film. Refinery29 regrets the error.

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