I usually hate tabloid murder cases, not to mention the 24-hour fascination with them one finds on cable news channels. (Oh, how I crave a world that's never had Nancy Grace publicly inflicted upon it.) I yawned at the Scott Peterson trial, slept through the Chandra Levy saga, and snored heavily while Robert Blake was tried. I usually just don't care.
That's why I'm ashamed to admit that I've kept an eye on this JonBenet Ramsey thing for the last ten years. I've looked at the evidence, listened to the pundits, and even read some of the books. Sad, I know. For what it's worth, if it helps rehabilitate my shattered image in your mind, I promise --it's only been JonBenet and O.J. Those are the only two I ever really followed. I mean it.
Anyway, the world has been abuzz this week over this freakshow who confessed to murdering the Ramsey girl. Though his confession seems to not stand much scrutiny, there's been a fairly steady media drumbeat over the last few days implying that somebody now owes John and Patsy Ramsey (JonBenet's long-suspected parents) an apology for ever putting them under the "umbrella of suspicion."
A couple of things about that. First, if this wackjob didn't have anything to do with it (as is looking increasingly likely), nothing in the case has actually changed this week. The original problems with the case still remain. For a ton of reasons (all of which are too boring and old-news to go into here), the intruder theory of the murder has never quite worked. Now, any prosecutor will tell you that there's never a case where every single detail neatly fits once you figure out who did it. That only happens on "Monk." But in this particular case, there are a ton of reasons for thinking it was unlikely to be an intruder who broke in.
Whoever turns out to be guilty, one fact remains, and it needs to be said since it's been lost under this week's confession and Patsy Ramsey's death earlier this summer: John and Patsy Ramsey put themselves under this "cloud of suspicion." Regularly tarting up your 6-year-old daughter like an Amsterdam hooker and displaying her to the world is disturbed behavior. It's not the way normal people conduct themselves. It's not the way normal people view a six-year-old. The fact is, there was some serious weirdness in this family. Does that automatically make them guilty? Of course not. But it does mean that they legitimately fall under the "umbrella of suspicion?" You bet it does. They clearly had an extremely twisted view of a young girl who was then murdered. If that doesn't merit some suspicion, I don't know what does. No apologies are necessary.
(P.S. Oh, and this John Mark Karr guy needs to be electrocuted whether he did it or not, just for plain creepiness. Does anybody doubt that this guy will be molesting children in the future, if he hasn't already?)
[UPDATE: After writing this, I came across a piece Jack Shafer posted late yesterday at Slate, in which he voices some similar sentiments. He also says them better than me, so his piece is worth checking out.]
Related Tags: JonBenet Ramsey, Patsy Ramsey, John Ramsey, John Mark Karr