Video: The Ramseys

updated 7/23/2004 5:25:28 PM ET 2004-07-23T21:25:28

John Ramsey, along with his wife Patsy, and son, Burke were thrust into the nation’s headlines in December of 1996, when 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey was found murdered in their Boulder, Colorado home.  The case remains unsolved and the Ramseys now live 1,500 miles away in Charlevoix, Michigan, where John Ramsey has recently announced his candidacy. Ramsey is vying for the Republican nomination for a seat in the Michigan statehouse.  Both John and Patsy sat down with Deborah Norville to discuss his political goals and the death of JonBenet.

On his run for office
DEBORAH NORVILLE, HOST:  John, I‘m surprised.  All of the time you‘ve been under the media spotlight has usually been during the most unhappy periods of your life.  Why push yourself back out there now?

JOHN RAMSEY, Father of JonBenet:  Well, Deborah, life goes on.  You‘ve got to keep moving forward.  No one said life was going to be easy.  No one said life was going to be fair.  You‘ve got to keep moving forward, and we think this is a way we can contribute. 

NORVILLE:  You live up there in Charlevoix, Michigan.  That‘s in the upper part of the lower peninsula of Michigan.  You‘ve had a vacation home there for years.  Why did you decide to move up there and make it your permanent home?

JOHN RAMSEY:  Well, northern Michigan is a great place to live.   There‘s many wonderful communities.  Charlevoix is another wonderful community.  We‘ve been going there for years and had talked about it for a long time.  Last summer we were talking with Burke and at that time he was going to be going into his junior year in high school. 

He felt like he really would like to continue in school there in Charlevoix.  So we said, Well, that‘s the only reason that‘s keeping us back, so let‘s go ahead and make this permanent. 

NORVILLE:  John, I am really surprised, given your family‘s personal situation, when I went on and looked up all of your positions that you are using as your campaign platform, crime is nowhere to be mentioned.  Why is that? 

J. RAMSEY:  Well, it is certainly a personal issue, but I am trying to address what I believe are the more immediate issues of our district.
I believe personally that America should be known as a country that protects its children above all else.  And today, we are not.  There are some things that I would personally advocate whenever I could.  But I think, in terms of serving the district well, the positions we have outlined in our platform are real and they‘re here today and they‘re things we could do things about. 

NORVILLE:  In a nutshell, your thing is job creation for that part of Michigan, where you live.

PATSY RAMSEY, Mother of JonBenet:  That‘s a big issue.  It‘s a big issue for northern Michigan.  It‘s a big issue for the country, but that‘s a key part of what I want to try to affect.  And I think I have got some unique background to do that. 

On Patsy’s thought about John’s political aspirations
NORVILLE:  Patsy, when did you realize your husband had a political bug that he had to deal with?

P. RAMSEY:  I didn‘t realize it until just shortly ago.  He never had any inkling this would be something that he‘d be interested in.  But, I think he‘s doing a great job, and I think he‘s going to make a great representative.

NORVILLE:  Did the death of your daughter have anything to do with that transformation from businessman to someone who wanted to serve in politics, do you think, Patsy?

P. RAMSEY:  I think so.  I think it really has.  It can‘t help but change your life significantly.  Our lives, our families' lives were completely just devastated.  You start doing a lot of prioritizing and soul-searching and talking about what is important in life and what kind of a legacy are we going to leave behind.  A lot of prayer, study and thoughtful consideration, is what I think that‘s what has led John  We both feel like we really want to give back a lot to the hundreds of people that have reached out to us for a number of years.

NORVILLE:  Patsy, are you up for this contest?  I know you‘ve been battling ovarian cancer for quite some time.

P. RAMSEY:  I have, and I have been taking chemotherapy since February.  I‘m happy to report I took the last treatment last Tuesday and I‘m feeling really great.  I‘ve had a few down days, but I‘d have chemotherapy, and last week, after my last chemotherapy treatment, I was serving 350 senior citizens at a get-together.  And I‘m so glad that I‘ve felt good enough to be part of this and that we could do it together.  It really has been a tremendous healing process to be out and stumping with John.

They say that my nickname‘s “the Avon lady” because I actually like going door to door, knocking on doors.

On the influence of JonBenet’s death in the campaign
NORVILLE:  John, how large of a presence is JonBenet's death in this whole campaign?  It certainly gives you name recognition that the other candidates don‘t have.

J. RAMSEY:  Well, it does do that.  At first, we didn‘t know for certain what kind of presence it would have or what the perception would be.  We found that as we have experienced really throughout the last eight years, that people understand really what went on, realize we‘ve gotten a pretty raw deal early on and really reached out to us with compassion, and they continue to. 

NORVILLE:  It does figure in the campaign, doesn‘t it?  You also mention in it a section on your Web site, as well.  How important was it for you to go on and be proactive and address your daughter‘s death in such a public way?

J. RAMSEY:  We thought it was important to do that because we didn‘t really know what people knew.  Certainly, there was a barrage of misinformation and false information that was—that surrounded our family for several years in the beginning.  There have been some significant developments in the last year-and-a-half or so but they didn‘t receive a lot of media attention.  We thought it‘s probably appropriate that we address the facts, the most recent facts, and then move on and that was the intent of that commercial.

On the unsolved murder of their daughter
NORVILLE:  John, on your Web site, you say there‘s some new developments in the case.  Can you tell us what those are? 

J. RAMSEY:  Well, the most significant development was actually about a year and a half ago, when the district attorney took the case over, put two experienced homicide detectives on it and moved forward. 

The result of that has been that these detectives have gone back, looked at the hundreds of leads that were not followed up.  Perhaps, most significantly, they were able to extract strong DNA evidence they believe to be the killer‘s and it‘s now in the national database and I believe in some of the other international database. 

NORVILLE:  Does that put a link out there, so if somebody else has been DNA-tested and typed, so they can make a match and perhaps find someone who might be linked to this crime? 

J. RAMSEY:  Well, that is hope.  One of the things I learned was, we‘ve done a pretty good job as a country putting together a DNA database.  However, the database is not loaded.  There is not a lot of data in it, relatively speaking.  The fact that we have a strong DNA sample which the detectives firmly believe is the killer‘s, ultimately, I believe, will be the key to identifying this person. 

NORVILLE: What is your best guess, the two of you, on what happened to your daughter? 

J. RAMSEY:  Well, all we know for sure is that absolute evil came into our home that night and took the life of JonBenet in a horrible way.  It‘s unimaginable that someone could do that to a child. 

NORVILLE:  There was talk of an employee at your company who might have been upset for some reason, because the ransom note had a specific dollar figure to it.  There was a domestic worker that at one point there had been a suspicious glance cast that way.  There were others who had been visitors to the home.  You don‘t think any of them might be that DNA link you were talking about? 

J. RAMSEY:  Well, what we know now is that the people working on the case are extremely competent and are looking at all those avenues they have at this time.

I‘m very confident.  But, at the point they tell me, look, we have exhausted everything and there‘s no more we can do, then I will believe there is no more they can do.  But I think they‘re going to—I think they‘re going to get the guy. 

NORVILLE:  Patsy, you all had opened up your home to one of those charity house tours, where people pay money.  They come and they get to see beautifully decorated houses.  In 20/20 hindsight, do you regret that you all had been so public with your private life?  Do you think you might have let the killer in that way, if indeed it was a stranger to the family? 

P. RAMSEY:  We have played and replayed everything a million times in our mind. 

In hindsight you have to be very careful about everyone that you let in your house.  We had to go back and try to recall everyone who had been in our Boulder, Colorado, home for five years.  It was a very difficult thing to do.  I think your home needs to be your sanctuary.  I think I would never do that again, open my home again to have the public come through my home. 

At the time, it was for a benefit and it was for a charitable purpose and I thought it was a great thing to do.  We‘re still involved with a lot of benefits and a lot of charity work, but I will never do that again. 

On their thoughts about the future of the case

NORVILLE:  But, Patsy, if they have got this DNA sample out there and there is some question as to how well the information in the database has been entered in, how optimistic are you that somebody is going to find the killer of your little girl? 

P. RAMSEY:  I am very optimistic.  Until the day that they tell me they have done everything and they cannot find the killer, then I will give up.  But, until that day, I will not give up.  The DNA has been so instrumental in releasing people who were exonerated—erroneously.

On surviving the pain

NORVILLE:  Patsy, where do you get your strength from?  I remember looking at the news footage just after your daughter was killed and you were going into the church and you were literally being held up by your friends and family. They accused you and your husband of having been behind your daughter‘s murder.  How did you keep going in that very dark period? 

P. RAMSEY:  Well, it‘s the same thing that has sustained us for eight years.  It is a deep, abiding faith.  We believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins and is our savior.  In that strength, that foundation that began as a child going to church with my mother and father, and certainly it has stood the test of time.

It is the rock.  It is the strength that we hold hope eternal that we will one day again be with JonBenet and be with my mother and be with everyone, all my aunts and uncles who have gone before.  So I know I will see that child again.  And when we know the end of the story, then that gives us hope day-to-day to live for the happy ending.  So that‘s really been the strength.

NORVILLE:  Are you able to look at footage of your little girl in the pageants without having a pain in your heart? 

P. RAMSEY:  No, I‘ll always have a pain in my heart.  I‘m able to look at them now without falling apart all the time.  And I remember fondly when that footage may have been taken.  So that brings a smile. 

It is very painful and it will continue to be painful.  But I think JonBenet would be very proud of her daddy right now. 

NORVILLE:  JonBenet was so beautiful, so popular and so well known because of her pageant work.  Is it possible that that made her a target for some crazy person out there? 

P. RAMSEY:  I really don‘t think that because it was so minuscule a part of what we did.  Really, the people that attended that were grandparents and parents.

There more people certainly attend little league games and little league games are much more public than any of these little dancing, you know, dance recital-type venues.  But, at this point, everyone is a suspect and I really think that the DNA will help us find somebody. 

You asked me about how we continue and where we find our strength.  We found a lot of strength daily when we check our Web site,  A lot of people communicate with us.  I think that this whole—the whole venue of John running for office has opened a very positive channel for people to contact us.  They probably lost touch with us for a few years and wondered where we were. 

NORVILLE:  I know you all were listening when we had the conversation at the beginning of the broadcast with the folks in Utah who are family members of Lori Hacking.  What goes through your own minds when you see another family thrust into the spotlight with the same anguish that you all felt nearly eight years ago? 

J. RAMSEY:  Well, there‘s nothing more horrible than not knowing where your child is.  I know it has happened to every parent, where you‘ve missed your child just for a second in a shopping center and you have this horrible pain go through your stomach. 

NORVILLE:  Does it give you a bit of flashback, Patsy, when you hear another one of these stories? 

P. RAMSEY:  Yes, I was just sitting here praying silently for the girl and for the parents and everyone involved.  Our hearts just go out to them tremendously. 

NORVILLE:  What words of comfort, what words of advice would you give them?

J. RAMSEY:  I would say, first, never, ever give up hope.  Second, be sure that everything that can be done is being done.  And if you‘re not certain that everything that can be done is being done, and then escalate the problem.  Call your senator.  Call your governor.  Insist that everything possible be done and not leave it up to regular channels. 


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