John Benet Ramsey speaks out against pageants
‘I find it disturbing and bizarre’: JonBenet Ramsey’s father hits out at TLC show Toddlers and Tiaras and speaks of regret at putting his daughter on ‘public display’
By Rachel Quigley
PUBLISHED: 15:17, 13 March 2012 | UPDATED: 15:33, 13 March 2012
He thought it was nothing more than harmless fun at the time – but in hindsight, John Ramsey believes it was more than a contributing factor in the murder of his six-year-old daughter.
It is little wonder then, that the father of JonBenet Ramsey finds shows like Toddlers and Tiaras ‘disturbing’ and ‘bizarre’.
It has been 15 years since the child beauty queen’s death and Mr Ramsey said he cannot even bring himself to watch the hit TLC show, which showcases the competitive world of child pageants.
JonBenet was found dead on Christmas day, 1996, in the basement of her family home. Her wrists were tied above her head, she had duct tape over her mouth. She had been strangled and bludgeoned to death.
After an on-going 15-year investigation which held her parents John and Patricia as the chief suspects through most of it, her killer has never been found.
Due to the media frenzy surrounding the case, the world remembers the six-year-old as a real-life doll, with her face fully painted, hair coiffed with a sparkly tiara placed on top and her ruby red lips formed into a perfect smile.
It is the same image that mothers across the country strive week-after-week, pageant-after-pageant to recreate.
JonBenet may have been the original child beauty queen, for it was her doll-like picture that thrust the competition into the world’s spotlight, garnering it negative publicity which in turn likely made it into the hit show it is today.
Speaking to ABC, Mr Ramsey said he has never actually sat and watched Toddlers and Tiaras but has caught snippets of it.
He says: ‘It’s very bizarre. And Patsy and JonBenet didn’t approach it this way. They did it just for fun.’
Days before her death, he remembered his daughter taking part in a local parade in Boulder, Colorado, when she was sat on a friend’s convertible, waving to the crowd and drawing everyone’s attention.
‘Patsy’s mother later told me that a strange man approached the car during the parade and it made her uncomfortable,’ he told ABC.
‘I think about these things now and it makes me cringe. We were so naive. I now believe with all my heart that it’s not a good idea to put your child on public display.’
Though he remembers his only daughter as a tomboy, Mr Ramsey recalls she very much wanted to enter the pageants because her mother had been a beauty queen. Though it is a decision he very much regrets.
‘Only because that possibly might have drawn attention to us,’ he told ABC. ‘I don’t know. I think for – advice to a parent is just recognize that regardless of where you live, there could be evil around you.
‘And don’t be naive about it. And keep your kids protected.’
On that fateful day in 1996, the family received a ransom note saying they had kidnapped JonBenet and were demanding $118,000 – the amount of a bonus Mr Ramsey had recently received – or else she would be beheaded.
But it was not long before her body was found in the basement of the house.
Within hours, the Ramseys themselves became the chief suspects of the investigation and police were later criticized for losing focus of the crime scene and other leads by concentrating on the family – including JonBenet’s brother Burke – instead of following up other leads.
For the next 12 years, the blame for their beautiful daughter’s death – who was given the name Miss Sunshine – lay largely on their shoulders as they fought to clear their name and find the real killer.
Eventually, Boulder district attorney’s office completely cleared the Ramseys of any wrongdoing in their daughter’s slaying, and issued an apology in 2008.
Since then, John Ramsey has lost his reputation, his thriving business and his wife to ovarian cancer in 2006. Though he said he will never give up hope that police will find his daughter’s killer.
He is still trying to keep his daughter’s memory alive and he has released a book The Other Side Of Suffering, which documents his journey from grief to happiness.
The 68-year-old found that happiness through his relationship with fashion designer Jan Rousseaux, who he married at a private ceremony in Charlevoix, Michigan, in July last year.