Remembering Patsy Ramsey

She goes to her grave a fundamentally ordinary person who created in other people through the lens of a camera and the shock of murder extraordinarily sharp opinions about herself. Millions of tabloid-friendly folks loved and admired Patsy Ramsey for raging at the machine after her daughter was killed and, only a littlle later, for courageously battling cancer year after year. And millions of people loathed Patsy Ramsey- for her lifestyle, for her affect-- but mostly because they think she had something horrible to do with her daughter's death. She came in this way to be a symbol, a totem seen differently from two different sides of the pole. And when Patsy Ramsey died this weekend she took with her a large part of the fuel that fed two contrasting fires for nearly ten years.

She will forever be known as the mother of JonBenet Ramsey, the six-year-old, blonde beauty pageant queen killed mysteriously in her own house in Boulder, Colorado on Christmas night, 1996. The JonBenet Ramsey murder mystery is destined to live on, in the annals of true crime and pop culture, in endless debate about who killed the little girl, and why, and in what context and in what relation, if any, to Patsy Ramsey and her husband, JonBenet's father, John Ramsey. No murder mystery since-- Chandra, Natalie, etc.-- has generated the sort of attention and curiosity and depth of feeling among people who never met the Ramseys, never lived their lives, never knew their girl. The Ramsey case is to pre-trial hype what the Simpson trial was to murder cases.

I never met Patsy Ramsey during the years I covered the JonBenet Ramsey case. But for at least five years after the little girl was found in the basement of that home, no matter where I went, or what legal story I was covering, the first question people would ask me was: "who killed JonBenet?" The second question, invariably, was: "What are John and Patsy like?" I do not know truly what they were like then or John is like now. I know that they tried, as many grieving parents now do, to use the media to help their cause, often in ways that seemed unseemly. I know that they were either the fortunate beneficiaries (if they were involved in their daughter's death) of horrible police work or the unlucky victims(if they were not involved) of an investigation that now I'm sure is used by law enforcement officials as an example of what the police ought not do when someone is identified as missing.

Unless someone confesses, we will almost certainly never really know what happened to JonBenet. The case was irretrievably fouled up at the beginning, in the earliest hours, when subsequent residents under the "umbrella of suspicion" (including John and Patsy) were allowed to search the crime site (and move the little girl's body). So perhaps it is time with Patsy's passing that we use her life and legacy in a more positive way. She died of ovarian cancer. Love her or hate her, trust her or not, you can channel all you feel for JonBenet's mother by helping the fight against that deadly illness. There may never ever be any "justice for JonBenet," as the saying went, but that doesn't mean that other young girls can't be better protected in their adult years from another sort of killer.

By Andrew Cohen |  June 26, 2006; 7:00 AM ET
Previous: Here We Go Again | Next: NSA Compromise Begs the Question

Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



Never for a serious moment did I truly suspect the family of the late Jon-Benet Ramsey to have anything to do with her death. Of course investigations must be meticulous and include members of the immediate family, neighbors and friends. What I take exception with and am terribly ashamed of is the way this family was persecuted both by the police, the press and subseqently the public. I want to shout from the rooftops.."SHAME ON YOU"..Boulder police, (and you know who you are), and "SHAME ON YOU" the press for selling papers and magazines by manipulating and telling lies about these people. Imagine for a moment the horrific discovery of your precious child in these circumstances, then while trying to cope with this unbelievable loss imagine being accused...no wait...that word does not fit..further victimized by being wrongly judged GUILTY of this dispicable crime! As if losing the child under the worst circumstances wasn't enough...Patsy and John and even their son Burke had to endure this as well. It is no wonder that poor Patsy finally succumbed to the disease she had been fighting throughout and including the dreadful loss of her precious daughter.

carole a. ouimet
Ontario Canada

Posted by: carole a. ouimet | August 17, 2006 11:05 AM

Consider the perverted attractiveness of promoting a child as an adult.

Posted by: john payne | August 18, 2006 05:54 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2007 The Washington Post Company