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‘The Case of: JonBenét Ramsey’ Recap: Shocking New Audio Revealed, Ransom Note Questioned

Nearly 20 years after her death, the murder of JonBenét Ramsey continues to captivate the nation’s curiosity. The first two hours of The Case of: JonBenét Ramsey — CBS’s two-part special about the still-unsolved crime — aired on Sunday, September 18, featuring several shocking revelations about the 911 call, ransom note and possible murder weapon.

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JonBenét Ramsey
The Case of: JonBenét Ramsey CBS ©2016 CBS Broadcasting, Inc.

The docuseries (recently trimmed from six hours to four) follows FBI-trained experts Jim Clemente and Laura Richards as they assemble a team of analysts to reassess the brutal murder of the 6-year-old beauty pageant star, who died in her Boulder, Colorado, home. (JonBenét’s parents, John and the late Patsy Ramsey, were officially removed from the suspect list in 2008. JonBenét’s brother, Burke Ramsey, was exonerated by DNA evidence in 1999.)

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New Audio Evidence Revealed

The first piece of evidence analyzed by the team was the 911 call from the morning of December 26, 1996. Over the years, there has been much debate regarding a potential “third voice” that can be heard speaking in the background after JonBenét’s mom, Patsy, unsuccessfully attempted to end the call. Using modern audio engineering, Clemente and Richards enhanced the tape to try to make sense of what was said. 

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Clemente offered, “I think I hear a man say, ‘We’re not speaking to you.’ I think that’s John Ramsey’s voice.” Richards added, “The tone is apparent, talking to a child.” Next they discovered a woman’s voice, likely Patsy, possibly saying, “What did you do? Help me, Jesus.” As they continued to listen to the digitally enhanced audio, Clemente noticed a voice saying, “What did you find?” 

The investigators’ conclusion? “It sounds like a smaller voice,” Clemente said. “It doesn’t sound like a booming adult.” Laura Richards clarified that if this is indeed Burke Ramsey’s voice, who was 9 years old at the time, it could be “hugely significant. … Their account is that Burke was asleep at that time.”

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911 Operator Comes Forward About Being Silenced With a “Gag Order”

When Richards and Clemente met with Kimberly Archuleta, the 911 operator who spoke with Patsy Ramsey that morning, Archuleta revealed that her side of the story had been silenced by an investigator on the case. 

“I wanted someone to get my testimony,” Archuleta said. “When they did the grand jury, nobody talked to me. I had an investigator come to my house, told me, ‘There’s a gag order — do not talk about this until we go to court,’ and I was never talked to again. And I never went to court.” Archuleta is convinced there was a third party on the other end of the phone, aside from Patsy and John Ramsey.

Ransom Note Was “Staged” and Likely Written by a Woman

The team of experts next analyzed the three-page ransom note and concluded that it was likely a forgery of some sort. Of the enormous length of the note, FBI analyst Stan Burge explained, “Seventy-six percent of this is extraneous. … To me, they’re trying to sell this now. It’s a sales job. This whole thing could have been done in four sentences.” 

Forensic linguist Jim Fitzgerald concluded of the note’s author, “We have an advanced writing style. … English speaker … I would certainly say this person is an adult, 30 or older. … There are at least six examples of what I would call ‘maternalistic language’ …” After testing the theory, the team concluded it would take a minimum of 21 minutes to handwrite the note. Clemente declared, “I think we can all agree that this letter is clearly staged … whether it was staged by someone in the family or by someone who came into this home.”

Former Gardener Alleges Patsy Said, “You Can Get Away With Murder in This Country”

Then Clemente and Richards interviewed the Ramseys’ former gardener Brian Scott. He recalled a time when Patsy Ramsey spoke with him, upset about the O.J. Simpson verdict. The former gardener revealed, “She thought O.J. got away with murder. … She did say, ‘You can get away with murder in this country.'”

Dr. Werner Spitz Says a Child Could Have Committed the Murder

The next expert brought in was Dr. Werner Spitz, whose expertise extends all the way back to his work on the John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. assassinations. Spitz concluded that a Maglite flashlight found at the Ramsey residence was the murder weapon used to kill JonBenét. When asked if it would take “tremendous strength” to cause life-threatening brain damage with the blunt object, Spitz responded, “No. … The skull of a 6-year-old? We call them eggshell skulls. … It could be an adult, it could be a child.” He continued, “There was, in my view, no doubt that it was this flashlight or one exactly like it.”

Tell Us: What do you think of the new points of view on this 20-year-old case? 

The Case of: JonBenét Ramsey concludes on CBS Monday, September 19, at 9 p.m. ET. 

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