A new documentary on Lifetime marks the upcoming 20th anniversary of JonBenet Ramsey’s death by putting the spotlight on the young girl’s mother, Patsy Ramsey.
The two-hour documentary “JonBenét’s Mother: Victim or Killer?” resurrects questions about whether Patsy Ramsey might have been JonBenet’s killer. Ramsey, who died of ovarian cancer in 2006, and her husband, John Ramsey, and son, Burke, were exonerated in 2008 by then-Boulder County District Attorney Mary Lacy. While alive, Patsy Ramsey had always maintained that she had not killed her daughter.
Lacy claimed at the time that touch DNA — a method of DNA collection that analyzes skin cells left behind — proved the suspect was an unknown male. JonBenet was 6 when she was discovered dead in the basement of her family’s Boulder, Colorado, home on Dec. 26, 1996.
The Lifetime documentary examines the ransom note found at the crime scene by speaking with one of the first detectives to arrive at the Ramseys’ million-dollar mansion.
“The handwriting examiner said, ‘I need to show you something,’ and he turned three or four pages in that notepad,” Detective Sgt. Robert Whitson, now retired from the Boulder Police Department, said in the documentary. “At the top of the pad, it said ‘Mr. and Mrs.’ and then started the letter ‘R,’ so at that point it looked like somebody had started to use that notepad to make a practice ransom note.”
“And that notepad was Patsy Ramsey’s,” Whitson said.
Another Boulder Police Department officer on the case, now-retired Detective Fred Patterson, told Lifetime more about the ransom note.
“There were some similarities in the handwriting between Patsy’s writing and the writing on the note,” Patterson said.
Jeff Shapiro, an investigative journalist who covered the JonBenet case, questioned whether the similarities in handwriting were a coincidence or something more.
“Would an intruder break in and take the time to copy Patsy’s handwriting, or is it just sheer coincidence that some of the handwriting seems to resemble hers?” Shapiro told Lifetime. “Or is none of this a coincidence?”
The documentary also showcases Ramsey’s love of theater. Ramsey was a former beauty queen who enrolled her daughter, JonBenet, in beauty pageants as well.
“Patsy practiced a lot,” one of Ramsey’s friends, and defenders, Linda McLean, told Lifetime. “She worked on her characters and her vocalizations and her accents and all of the different things to create the characters.”
The documentary raises the question of whether Ramsey could have acted to cover up a possible crime.
“There was a sense within the law enforcement community that because of Patsy Ramsey’s background in entertainment, she was someone who has a grip on great theatrics,” Shapiro said.
Ramsey’s son, Burke Ramsey, was 9 at the time of JonBenet’s death. Burke Ramsey spoke publicly about the case for the first time in September.
“For a long time, the media made our lives crazy. It [was] hard to miss the cameras and news trucks in your front yard,” Burke Ramsey said in an exclusive interview on “The Dr. Phil Show.” “They would follow us around. Seeing that as a little kid — it’s just kind of [a] chaotic nightmare, so I was pretty skeptical of any sort of media. Like, it just made me a very private person.”
He continued, “As to why I’m doing it now, it’s the 20th anniversary, and [there’s] apparently still a lot of attention around it.”
Burke Ramsey told host Phil McGraw that he did not have anything to do with his sister’s murder.
Lin Wood, the attorney for the Ramsey family, did not reply to ABC News’ request for comment on the Lifetime documentary.