JonBenet Ramsey's Father Regrets Letting Her in Pageants, Says 'Toddlers and Tiaras' Is 'Bizarre'

View photo

.
JonBenet Ramsey would be 21 years old if she were alive today. Instead, she will forever be the 6-year-old beauty queen, frozen in time, hair coiffed and in full make-up.

But that's not the JonBenet her father John Ramsey remembers. He remembers something of a tomboy, who loved to hike and play with her older brother, Burke.

"I see her, you know, in shorts and t-shirt and hair kind of scruffy and just kind of a kid," he said.

 

PHOTOS: Never-Before-Seen Pictures of JonBenet Ramsey

In fact, with hindsight, Ramsey has a fascinating view of today's child beauty pageant "Tiger moms," who parade their daughters on the hit TLC show, "Toddlers and Tiaras." Ramsey said he never sat and watched the show, but he has caught snippets of it, which he said he finds disturbing.

"It's very bizarre," he says outright. "And, it certainly- Patsy and JonBenet didn't approach it that way.  We- they just did it for fun."

Ramsey said he remembers his little girl in a parade, just days before JonBenet was found killed in the basement of the family's Boulder, Colo., home on Dec. 26, 1996.

"Patsy had her sitting atop a friend's convertible in the Christmas parade waving at the people lining the streets," Ramsey recalled. "Patsy's mother later told me that a strange man approached the car during the parade and it made her uncomfortable. I think about these things now and it makes me cringe.  We were so naïve.  I now believe with all my heart that it's not a good idea to put your child on public display."

Patsy Ramsey was a beauty queen herself and JonBenet very much wanted to take part in pageants after seeing her mother on stage at a pageant reunion, John Ramsey said, but letting his daughter compete in pageants is something he regrets.

"Only because- that possibly might have drawn attention to us," he said. "I don't know. But-  I think for- for advice to a parent is just recognize that- regardless of where you live, there- there could be evil around you.  And- and don't be naive about it.  And keep your kids protected."

Almost anyone over the age of 20 probably remembers the notorious case of JonBenet Ramsey's death, which remains unsolved. It was the morning after Christmas 1996. Her family found a horrifying ransom note, threatening to kill her if they didn't pay $118,000, which was a seemingly odd amount.

Police were called and descended on the Ramseys' house, but before long, John Ramsey, the well-to-do executive, made a shocking discovery - JonBenet's body.

"When I found her it was a rush of relief." Ramsey said. "And then of course within moments, I realized that she probably was dead.  But she was back in my arms."

Within hours, the Boulder police began treating the Ramseys, especially John, as suspects. Ramsey said he got a tip from a caller inside the Boulder police department, telling him they were targeting him and he should get a lawyer. When the investigation was leaked to the press, it sparked a media frenzy.

"I had 24-hour-a-day cameras outside of our house for, gosh, a year, probably," he said.

There were tantalizing clues around the house - a footprint, a broken window, some DNA evidence - all sparking wall-to-wall tabloid coverage of the case. When asked if he thinks JonBenet's killer could still be at large, Ramsey said, "I believe he is."

"He's either alive, dead or in prison, and one of those three," he said.

John is remarkably free of bitterness when it comes to talking about the investigation.  The only time he gets worked up is at the thought that the Boulder police's rush to judgment may have allowed the killer to hurt others.

"That rests squarely on the shoulder of Boulder police," he said.

It would take 12 years before the Boulder district attorney's office completely cleared the Ramseys of any wrongdoing in their daughter's slaying, and issued an apology in 2008. But in the meantime, John Ramsey's reputation was ruined and he had lost his thriving business. JonBenet's mother, Patsy Ramsey, died of ovarian cancer at age 49 in 2006.

In his newly released book, "The Other Side of Suffering," John Ramsey talks about his incredible journey from grief to hope.  He recounts how deeply his faith helped him navigate course from suffering to forgiveness.

While no one would blame him for being angry or bitter, "I was for a time," Ramsey said. "But you can't stay there.  It's damaging to you as a person."

View Comments (3666)

Recommended for You

  • Zika Virus Outbreak Prompts CDC to Activate Highest Emergency Ops Level

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Emergency Operations Center has been moved to Level 1, the agency's highest level, due to the risk of Zika virus transmission in the U.S., officials said today. The Level 1 activation is "reflecting the agency’s assessment of the need for an…

    Good Morning America18 mins ago
  • Free Workshop in Washington DC Area, Feb. 27!

    This workshop introduces you to the tools to create winning trades no matter which direction stocks move! Attend the event and get a FREE silver bar!

    Trade Up InvestorsSponsored
  • US Veteran Says He is 'ISIS Soldier,' Calls Bin Laden 'Beautiful Man,' Officials Say

    The FBI has arrested a former member of the Army on weapons charges after he allegedly expressed sympathy for ISIS, called Osama bin Laden "a beautiful man" and said the murder of government agents was "a hundred percent obligation," according to court documents filed in a Washington state federal…

    Good Morning America37 mins ago
  • Giant Rabbit From Scotland Looking for a Home

    The Scottish SPCA center in Glasgow has a 7-month-old continental giant rabbit up for adoption. The rabbit, Atlas, is already about the size of a Westie dog and is still expected to grow, according to a Feb. 8 press release from the Scottish SPCA. Atlas is not only the same size as a dog, but…

    Good Morning America
  • Dad Tells Other Fathers, 'Respect the Mother of Your Child' in Viral Facebook Post

    A U.K. dad’s advice to fellow dads “respect the mother of your child” has gone viral after being posted in a Facebook tribute to the mother of his 9-month-old son.Tony Emms, of Cresswell Northumberland, in the U.K., posted on Facebook last month a photo of his fiancé, Charlotte Sperry, sleeping…

    Good Morning America
  • Chinese New Year Fireworks So Dangerous That Only a Few Get to Witness

    For much of the next two weeks, millions of Chinese will welcome in the Year of Monkey, which begins today, with a cavalcade of fireworks lighting up the night’s sky. In almost every corner of every city or village in Mainland China, families will light their own firecrackers and boxes of…

    Good Morning America
  • Duchess Kate Champions Mental Health in New PSA

    Duchess Kate is on a mission. The Duchess of Cambridge, 34, is speaking out in a new public service announcement (PSA) to raise awareness for Children’s Mental Health week for her mental health charity, Place2Be. The Duchess recorded a special video message to coincide with Children’s Mental…

    Good Morning America
  • 'Kung Fu Panda 3' Stays on Top at the Box Office

    "Kung Fu Panda 3" scored another box office win during Super Bowl weekend.The animated sequel earned an estimated $21 million in its second weekend of release.'Kung Fu Panda 3' Tops the Box Office'The Revenant' Tops Weekend Box OfficeThe Coen brothers' "Hail, Caesar!" opened in second place,…

    Good Morning America
  • WWE Wrestler Daniel Bryan to Retire

    Former WWE champion and professional wrestling star Daniel Bryan is retiring."Due to medical reasons, effective immediately, I am announcing my retirement. Tonight on Raw, I'll have a chance to elaborate. #gratitude," he tweeted on Monday.Read: Stone Cold Steve Austin: My Life After Pro…

    Good Morning America
  • 'Girls' Star Lena Dunham Taking Time Off for 'Chronic' Illness

    The acclaimed HBO show "Girls" is back for its final season next month, but its biggest star will not being making press appearances due to a "chronic condition."Lena Dunham took to Instagram today to write, "I just wanted to let you know that, while I am so excited for Girls to return on Feb 21, I…

    Good Morning America
  • Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Rocked by Hurricane-Force Winds Heads Back to New Jersey

    A Royal Caribbean cruise ship that was rocked by hurricane-force winds overnight is sailing back to port in Bayonne, New Jersey. The ship left from Cape Liberty, New Jersey, on Saturday for a seven-night cruise to the Bahamas. The company posted a message on Twitter saying that all guests are…

    Good Morning America
  • Dad's Piano-Playing Lullaby Soothes Baby Boy to Sleep in Seconds

    Take a look at little Samuel who couldn’t fall asleep because he had an ear infection. The moment his crafty dad starts playing his own version of the classic “Brahms’ Lullaby” however, the soothing sounds work like magic, putting the tiny tot to sleep within seconds.

    Good Morning America
  • Super Bowl 50: Beyonce Takes Fans Behind the Scenes of Her Performance

    Although Coldplay headlined the Super Bowl 50 halftime performance, all eyes were on Beyonce, who shared the stage with the British band along with pop star Bruno Mars.The singer, who announced her Formation World Tour right after the big game ended, is letting fans in on how her performance came…

    Good Morning America
  • Countdown to New Hampshire With 5 Things to Watch in Tuesday's Primary

    Tuesday will be a critical moment on the road to the White House as residents of the Granite State cast their votes in the first-in-the-nation primary. With independents making up more than 40 percent of the electorate, the New Hampshire primary can often surprise, and that may be the case…

    Good Morning America
  • Panda Cub Bei Bei Climbs a Tree With the Help of His Mom

    Bei Bei is moving up in the world.The Smithsonian National Zoo’s baby panda experienced the outdoors for the first time last week and now the nearly six-month-old cub is scaling trees—-with the help of his mom Mei Xiang, of course. The Washington DC based Zoo posted a video of the feat online this…

    Good Morning America
  • 4 Ways to Increase Your Chances of Scoring Beyonce Tour Tickets

    Minutes after Beyonce announced her 2016 Formation World Tour during Super Bowl 50, fans flooded to her website looking for more information about the tour, and temporarily crashed the site. Fans have also been tweeting in anticipation and excitement for the ticket sales to go live. Securing…

    Good Morning America
  • Paris Jackson Reveals Struggle With Alcoholism, Pressures of Fame

    Paris Jackson, the only daughter of music legend Michael Jackson, is apparently struggling with alcoholism.In a now-deleted, profanity-laced rant on Instagram, the 17-year-old told her followers that she was being attacked online."I am expected to literally sit … all day replying to comments people…

    Good Morning America
  • Russians Arrest 7 in Alleged ISIS-Related Terror Plot

    Russian security services have arrested seven people accused of plotting terror attacks on behalf of the Islamic State in major Russian cities, the country’s FSB intelligence agency said today. The arrests were made in the city of Ekaterinburg, located in the Urals region on the edge of Siberia,…

    Good Morning America