Patsy Ramsey

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Patsy Ramsey
Patsy Ramsey.jpg
Ramsey crowned "Miss West Virginia" in 1977
Patricia Ann Paugh

(1956-12-29)December 29, 1956
DiedJune 24, 2006(2006-06-24) (aged 49)
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
Children2, including JonBenét Ramsey

Patricia Ann Ramsey (née Paugh; December 29, 1956 – June 24, 2006) was an American beauty pageant winner who won the Miss West Virginia Pageant at age 20 in 1977. She was best known as the mother of JonBenét Ramsey, a 6-year-old child beauty pageant queen who was found dead in her family's home in Boulder, Colorado, on December 25, 1996.


Ramsey was born in Gilbert, West Virginia, the daughter of Nedra Ellen Ann (née Rymer) (1932–2001) and Donald Ray Paugh (b. 1931), an engineer and manager at Union Carbide.[1][2] She graduated from Parkersburg High School in 1975. She attended West Virginia University, where she belonged to the Alpha Xi Delta sorority, and from which she graduated with a B.A. in journalism in 1978.

She won the Miss West Virginia beauty title in 1977. Her sister, Pamela Ellen Paugh, won the Miss South Charleston title at age 24 in 1980.

Patsy was 23 when she married businessman John Ramsey on November 5, 1980. Their son, Burke Ramsey, was born on January 27, 1987. She gave birth to their second child, JonBenét, on August 6, 1990 in Atlanta. The family moved to Boulder, Colorado in 1991 for her husband's business. Starting from when her daughter was young, Patsy entered her in children's beauty contest, and she won some titles before the age of six.

Daughter's homicide[edit]

Her daughter was missing on the morning after Christmas Day 1996; eight hours later, her body was found in an isolated area of their basement. She had been killed by strangling and a blow to the head, and a lengthy ransom note had been left. No one ever contacted the family about a ransom. After the homicide of JonBenét was discovered, Boulder law enforcement officials declared that Patsy and her husband were "under an umbrella of suspicion"[3] because of their possible involvement in the crime. The couple spent the next 10 years defending themselves against the allegations by insisting that an intruder killed their daughter. They lawyered up, hired a public relations firm, and did not submit to a formal interview separately with police until about four months after the death of their daughter. No charges have ever been filed against anyone for the homicide.

A grand jury voted in 1999 to indict the parents of six-year-old JonBenét Ramsey on charges of child abuse resulting in death, but Boulder District Attorney Alex Hunter did not sign the indictment.[citation needed] Multiple sources, including members of the grand jury, have confirmed to the Daily Camera that Hunter refused to sign the indictment because he did not think there was sufficient evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.[4]

At around the same time, Lou Smit, a homicide detective who had been brought in to solve the case, opined that the Ramseys had been unfairly targeted, and that an intruder was likely responsible for the murder and its staging.[5][6]

On July 9, 2008—nearly 12 years after their daughter's death and two years after Patsy's death— the Boulder District Attorney cleared John Ramsey and his late wife of any wrongdoing in their daughter's death. The decision was based on new DNA evidence that was collected from JonBenét's clothing, which belonged to an unidentified male not part of the family. This particular type of DNA analysis did not exist at the time of the killing.[7] Boulder County District Attorney Mary Lacy said new DNA tests point to an "unexplained third party" as possibly responsible for the killing. Modern "touch DNA" suggests that a male of Hispanic origin (per updates on DNA and DNA found under JonBenét's fingernails two weeks after the murder, which Hunter had access to) left traces on two separate clothing articles: the undergarment panties and leggings. The official exoneration was done against normal practice, and the Boulder police have still not cleared them. (Mark Beckner, retired Boulder Chief of Police, has claimed that Mary Lacy had always strongly believed that a mother could not possibly be responsible for the death of her daughter in that fashion [and so sought to exonerate Ramsey], and that the "trace DNA" found on JonBenét's underwear [believed by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to be either "sweat or saliva"] was in such minute quantities [nanograms] that it could have come from the clothing's "manufacturing process.")[8]

In October 2016, new forensic analysis with more refined technique revealed that the original DNA deposits contain genetic markers from two persons other than the victim herself. They have never been identified through any government databases.[9]

Defamation lawsuits[edit]

Several defamation lawsuits have proceeded through the courts since JonBenét's death. Lin Wood was the plaintiff's lead attorney for John and Patsy Ramsey and for their son Burke, and has prosecuted defamation claims on their behalf against St. Martin's Press, Time, Inc., The Fox News Channel, American Media, Inc., Star, The Globe, Court TV and The New York Post.[10][11][12] John and Patsy Ramsey were also sued in two separate defamation lawsuits arising from the publication of their book, The Death of Innocence, brought by two individuals named in the book as having been investigated by Boulder police as suspects in JonBenét's death. The Ramseys were defended in those lawsuits by Lin Wood and three other Atlanta attorneys, James C. Rawls, Eric P. Schroeder, and S. Derek Bauer, who obtained dismissal of both lawsuits. In an in-depth decision, U.S. District Court Judge Julie Carnes ruled that "abundant evidence" in the homicide case pointed to an intruder having committed the crime, while "virtually no evidence" implicated the Ramseys.[13][14]


Patsy Ramsey died from ovarian cancer at age 49 on June 24, 2006. She died at her father's house with her husband by her side.[15] Ramsey is buried at St. James Episcopal Cemetery in Marietta, Georgia, next to JonBenét.

Ramsey was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer in 1993, aged 37. After treatment, she was in remission for nine years until a recurrence in 2002.[16]

In popular culture[edit]

Ramsey was portrayed by Alex Borstein in MADtv episodes 417 and 502; by Marg Helgenberger in the 2000 miniseries Perfect Murder, Perfect Town; and by soap opera actress Judi Evans in the 2000 TV movie Getting Away with Murder: The JonBenét Ramsey Mystery. Melora Hardin voiced her in the Family Guy episode, Brian Wallows and Peter's Swallows.

She was portrayed in the 2001 South Park episode, "Butters' Very Own Episode." The episode strongly implied that Patsy Ramsey and her husband were responsible for the death of JonBenét. In a 2011 interview, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone stated that they regretted how the Ramseys were portrayed in the episode.[17]


  1. ^ "Mystery Couple" by Richard Jerome, People Magazine
  2. ^ "Ancestry of JonBenet Ramsey".
  3. ^ "Police: Ramseys remain under 'umbrella of suspicion'". CNN. Dec 5, 1997.
  4. ^ "Boulder DA refused to sign indictment of Ramseys". The Denver Post, January 27, 2013.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Exclusive: JonBenet's father grateful after being cleared by DNA". Colorado 9 News. 2008-07-09. Retrieved 2019-09-06.
  8. ^ "I am former Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner. I worked in law enforcement for 36 years, and headed the investigation into the JonBenet Ramsey murder. AMAA. • /r/UnresolvedMysteries". reddit. Retrieved 2016-09-23.
  9. ^ "I am former Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner. I worked in law enforcement for 36 years, and headed the investigation into the JonBenet Ramsey murder. AMAA. • /r/UnresolvedMysteries". reddit. Retrieved 2016-09-23.
  10. ^ Erin Moriarty. "JonBenét: DNA Rules Out Parents," CBS, March 26, 2005.
  11. ^ Vanessa Miller. "Boulder police take back Ramsey case," Archived 2015-09-23 at the Wayback Machine Colorado Daily, February 2, 2009.
  12. ^ David Kohn. "Searching: The Interrogation Tapes," CBS, February 11, 2009
  13. ^ R. Robin McDonald All Articles (2009-03-16). "Northern District of Georgia's New Chief Judge Reflects on Her Career". Retrieved 2011-06-22.
  14. ^
  15. ^ Stirgus, Eric (June 25, 2006). "Patsy Ramsey Obituary". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Roswell, Georgia: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution vis Retrieved January 5, 2019. Amid the questions, Patsy Ramsey faced another challenge: ovarian cancer. Before dawn Saturday, Patsy, 49, died in her father's Roswell home, said the family's longtime attorney, Lin Wood. Her husband, John, was by her side, Wood said.
  16. ^ "Patsy Ramsey: Her life after JonBenét". The Denver Post. Retrieved 2016-12-22.
  17. ^ Goldman, Andrew (September 23, 2011). "The Fogies of 'South Park'". The New York Times Magazine.

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