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news story
1996-12-27: Missing girl found dead
Missing girl found dead
Six-year-old was reported kidnapped earlier in day
Camera Staff Writers
December 27, 1996

A 6-year-old Boulder girl reported kidnapped early Thursday was found dead in her parents' house later that afternoon.

Boulder police said a family member discovered the body of Jon Benet Ramsey - daughter of Access Graphics president John Ramsey and Patricia Ramsey - in the basement of the family house at 755 15th St. about 1:30 p.m. The child was the 1995 Little Miss Colorado and a student at Martin Park Elementary School, according to a family friend.

The FBI joined the investigation because the child initially was reported kidnapped at 5:30 a.m. Police detectives and crime scene investigators began searching the house late Thursday after securing a search warrant. No details of what they had found were disclosed.

Although the official cause of death was not yet known, Police Chief Tom Koby said the case is considered a homicide. The child had not been shot or stabbed, said Detective Sgt. Larry Mason. It is Boulder's first official homicide of 1996, Koby said.

No arrest had been made as of press time, and police had no suspects, Mason said. The Boulder County coroner's office refused to discuss details of the case, though an autopsy will be performed today, according to city spokeswoman Leslie Aaholm.

Neighbors described Jon Bonet as a friendly, outgoing child. "She was a beautiful little girl," said Diane Brumfitt, a school counselor who lives next door to the Ramseys. "But her personality - she was very engaging and charming."

Brumfitt said police were outside the Ramsey house most of the day. The Ramseys left in a friend's car at midday, she said.

"It was almost surreal," said Brumfitt. "It just didn't seem real at all."

Joe Barnhill, who lives across the street, said he stowed the Christmas bicycle John Ramsey bought for Jon Bonet until Christmas Eve. Barnhill was outside the house Thursday afternoon walking Jon Bonet's dog - a pet he said she received as a birthday present about two years ago.

He described the Ramseys - John, Patricia, Jon Bonet and her older brother, Burke - as a happy family. "They are such congenial people - the best neighbors," said Barnhill.

Barnhill said Jon Bonet's mother, called Patsy - a former Miss West Virginia - raised a well-mannered, polite daughter. "She has been working so hard to groom her and raise her for the society we live in," said Barnhill.

"Patsy is a doting, loving, incredible mother," said Dee Dee Nelson-Schneider, a family friend who worked with Patsy Ramsey at Flatirons Elementary School. "If anything, they spoiled Jon Bonet. For instance, one day Jon Bonet said to her mother that she didn't have enough dresses, so Patsy took her shopping and let her get some dresses."

Patsy Ramsey traveled around the country with Jon Bonet to attend her daughter's beauty contests. "They were so serious about this beauty queen stuff, but they never put any pressure on her. She was Little Miss Colorado in 1995," said Nelson-Schneider.

"She had her own float in the Colorado Parade of Lights in December 1995, and Patsy walked along the side of the float the whole parade to make sure (Jon Bonet) was safe. That's how protective Patsy was."

The Ramsey family was preparing to go to a second home in Michigan for vacation, a neighbor said.

John Ramsey's company, the Boulder-based computer distributor Access Graphics, recently celebrated its first $1 billion in revenues. Access Graphics, a subsidiary of Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin Corp., employs 380 people in Boulder.

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