A kidnap note containing many spelling errors and demanding an odd sum of money was found in the home. The note threatened that JonBenét would be "beheaded" if her father, John Ramsey, and her mother, Patricia (Patsy) Ramsey, did not pay the ransom. However, only a few hours after Patsy discovered the note, John found JonBenét's body in the basement after a police search had failed to find her.
It remains unclear what the exact circumstances of the murder were. Critics of the parents claim that the evidence, and the history of child murders, implicates one, or both, of them. Other investigators and pundits interpret the evidence to point to an intruder as the likely perpetrator. The evidence in the case has proven insufficient to bring any suspect to trial. Critics of the Boulder, Colorado police investigation claim that the evidence was mishandled and contaminated by flawed procedures.
The parents of JonBenét have undergone a great deal of criticism due to JonBenét's career as a child model and perennial beauty pageant contestant.
In December 2003, forensic investigators managed to extract enough DNA from a mixed blood sample found on the underwear of JonBenét. It appeared the killer was male and genetically unrelated to the family.