JonBenét Patricia Ramsey (; August 6, 1990 – December 25, 1996) was an American child beauty queen who was killed at the age of 6 in her family's home in Boulder, Colorado. A lengthy handwritten ransom note was found in the house. Her father John found the girl's body in the basement of their house about eight hours after she had been reported missing. She sustained a broken skull from a blow to the head and had been strangled; a garrote was found tied around her neck. The autopsy report stated that the official cause of death was "asphyxia by strangulation associated with craniocerebral trauma." Her death was ruled a homicide. The case generated nationwide public and media interest, in part because her mother Patsy Ramsey (herself a former beauty queen) had entered JonBenét into a series of child beauty pageants. The crime is still unsolved and remains an open investigation with the Boulder Police Department.
The police initially suspected that the ransom note had been written by JonBenét's mother, and that the note and appearance of the child's body had been staged by her parents in order to cover up the crime. However, in 1998, the District Attorney said that due to a new DNA analysis, none of the immediate family members were under suspicion for the crime. Also in 1998, the police and the DA both said that JonBenét's brother Burke, who was nine years old at the time of her death, was not a suspect. The Ramseys gave several televised interviews but resisted police questioning except on their own terms. In October 2013, unsealed court documents revealed that a 1999 grand jury had recommended filing charges against JonBenét's parents for permitting the child to be in a threatening situation. John and Patsy were also accused of hindering the prosecution of an unidentified person who had "committed ... the crime of murder in the first degree and child abuse resulting in death". However, the DA determined that there was insufficient evidence to pursue a successful indictment.
In 2002, the DA's successor took over investigation of the case from the police and primarily pursued the theory that an intruder had committed the killing. In 2003, trace DNA that was taken from the victim's clothes was found to belong to an unknown male; each of the family's DNA had been excluded from this match. The DA sent the Ramseys a letter of apology in 2008, declaring the family "completely cleared" by the DNA results. Others, including former Boulder police chief Mark Beckner, disagreed with exonerating the Ramseys, criticizing exonerating anyone based on a small piece of evidence that has not yet been proven to be connected. In February 2009, the Boulder police took the case back from the DA and reopened the investigation.
Media coverage of the case has focused on JonBenét's brief beauty pageant career, as well as her parents' wealth and the unusual evidence found in the case. Media reports questioned how the police handled the case. Ramsey family members and their friends have filed defamation suits against several media organizations.