[Interview with the Ramseys on the Today Show; Date = Mar 20, 2000; Source = Justice Watch Forum]
IN A NEW book called "The Death of Innocence," the Ramseys tell their version of that Christmas night and the investigation that followed. Katie Couric sat down with the Ramseys recently, and NBC's "Today" show features that interview in a five-part series. Read part one of their discussion.
Katie Couric: "First question, why this book and why now?"
John Ramsey: "Well the book was our opportunity, we thought, to tell our story. A horrible story has been told about our family and JonBenet for that matter, for the last three years. And we wanted to tell the story. But more importantly we still want to find the killer of our daughter."
Katie Couric: "You've never talked publicly about Christmas 1996."
John Ramsey: "Right."
Katie Couric: "Describe your house as you did in the book, that Christmas morning."
Patsy Ramsey: "Well it was ... just like any other Christmas morning. The kids are always up before you really want them to be up. And then, you know when, finally we say OK, boom, there they go, down into the living room and dive into their stacks of things from Santa Claus."
Katie Couric: "JonBenet got a bicycle."
John Ramsey: "Mmm-Hmm" (affirmative).
Patsy Ramsey: "Yes."
Katie Couric: "She was excited about that bicycle."
Patsy Ramsey: "Yep."
John Ramsey: "Yeah, she was very excited about it."
Katie Couric: "That afternoon you left for a party at the home of Fleet and Priscilla White which I understand was becoming a bit of a family tradition for you all."
Patsy Ramsey: "Well we had ... had spent Christmas dinner with them the previous year. So I guess it was the second annual invitation to dinner. So we went over there and Priscilla had a lovely dinner and it was a real fun evening."
Katie Couric: "Did you all lock the doors and turn the alarm system on when you left?"
John Ramsey: "We normally did not use the alarm system. It was a very ... it was an older alarm system that was put into the house by the previous owner. And it had this huge siren inside the house. It was an ear-piercing siren. So we didn't - sadly we didn't use it."
Katie Couric: "What time was it that you got home?"
John Ramsey: "Oh, I don't remember. It was ..."
Patsy Ramsey: "It was..."
John Ramsey: "Nine-ish probably."
Patsy Ramsey: "Yeah, late ... late evening. JonBenet had fallen asleep. She had fallen asleep in the back of the car by the time we got home."
Katie Couric: "Did she ever wake up? Tell me what happened once you got her home."
Patsy Ramsey: "We put her to ... John carried her up to bed and then I - you know - kind of got her undressed and pulled her pajama pants on. They were kind of some long underwear pants around her - pajama drawer. She was sound asleep. Tucked her in bed, kissed her good night. Said her prayers."
Katie Couric: "You said your prayers."
Patsy Ramsey: "I said my prayers over her and tucked her in bed."
Katie Couric: "That was really the last thing ... "
Patsy Ramsey: "Mmm-hmm." (affirmative)
Katie Couric: "Your last interaction with her."
Patsy Ramsey: "Right."
Katie Couric: "You took melatonin that night which is I guess an herbal sleep aid."
John Ramsey: (nods)
Katie Couric: "Maybe ... you write in the book, unfortunately you slept very soundly."
John Ramsey: "Well I ... slept too soundly."
Katie Couric: "You heard nothing that night?"
Patsy Ramsey: "I heard nothing that night, Katie, nothing. I'll never ... I mean I've asked God that a million times. Why didn't I wake up, why didn't I hear something. I don't know why. I don't know why, but I'm telling you I didn't hear a thing. Nothing."
The next morning, John and Patsy woke up around 5:30 to get ready for a family trip to their home in Charlevoix, Michigan.
Katie Couric: "What did you do when you woke up?"
Patsy Ramsey: "Just hustled around and got dressed and pulled on the clothes I'd had on the day before. And quickly got ready. Went down to the ... our bedroom is on the third floor. Went down to the second floor where the laundry area was and pulled a few things together to take along. And I looked at JonBenet's door and noticed that it was ... just seemingly the way I'd left it, you know the night before. So I headed on down the spiral staircase toward the kitchen. And as I got near to the bottom of the stair I saw three pieces of paper laid out neatly on the stairway there."
Katie Couric: "Next to each other?"
Patsy Ramsey: "Yes, mmm-hmm. And ... began to read ... read the note. And first didn't really understand what ... what it was or ... but soon it came to the part where it said we have your daughter. And I just - you know - horrified. And I went running back up the stairs as far as I could. And pushed her door open and she wasn't in her bed."
Katie Couric: "Let me backtrack for a moment if I could, Patsy. Why - you put on the same clothes you had on Christmas day the next morning. Some people have said that's strange."
Patsy Ramsey: "Strange."
Katie Couric: "She got up, she put makeup on, and yet, when she got dressed she grabbed the same clothes. Maybe that means she was up all night."
Patsy Ramsey: "If you would talk to any number of my friends, they'd confirm that I wear the same thing several days in a row sometimes. (laughter) It was nothing out of the ordinary."
Katie Couric: "Another point I just want to clarify, apparently, it's been reported that you've given two different versions of when you actually looked in at JonBenet. One, that you looked in on her before you saw the ransom note."
Patsy Ramsey: "Absolutely not, no."
Katie Couric: "What did you hear?"
John Ramsey: "I heard Patsy scream my name and I could tell by the scream that something was very, very wrong."
Patsy Ramsey: "Desperate. You just feel desperate."
John Ramsey: "Horrible, just horrible feeling."
Patsy Ramsey: "You don't know what to do first."
The ransom note left by the supposed kidnapper ran three pages long, and demanded a very specific sum of money. Not a million dollars or 10 million dollars, but just $118,000. It was signed mysteriously with the initials "S.B.T.C."
Katie Couric: "What struck you about this ransom note as you read the words?"
John Ramsey: "Very - brutal talk about - you will not see your daughter alive if you don't follow our instructions. She will be beheaded."
Patsy Ramsey: "I mean you realize right away that - you're totally helpless. And you need - you need help. You need to call 911. And that's what we did."
Katie Couric: "While all this was transpiring, your son Burke who was nine at the time..."
Patsy Ramsey: "Right."
Katie Couric: "What was he doing?"
Patsy Ramsey: "He was asleep in his room."
Katie Couric: "And Burke and JonBenet's bedrooms were one floor below yours."
Patsy Ramsey: "Yeah."
John Ramsey: "Burke's was on ... Burke's was below ours directly. JonBenet's was ... it was at the other end of the house but on the same floor as Burke's."
Katie Couric: "The note had some very specific warnings as you well know. Quote, 'If we catch you talking to a stray dog, she dies.' It also says you were under constant scrutiny. Did that make you nervous to call the police, to call your friends?"
John Ramsey: "No, we ... we had to do something. It never crossed my mind to not call for help."
On the morning of Dec. 26, Boulder police responded to a report of a kidnapping at 755 15th Street. Soon the Ramsey house was full of police officers and family friends, all waiting for word from the kidnapper.
Katie Couric: "OK. Describe your state of mind during those hours when your friends first arrived and police first arrived on the scene."
Patsy Ramsey: "That nothing felt real. I was just - I just couldn't believe what was happening."
John Ramsey: "For me I felt that I want ... I had to keep my wits about me. I could get JonBenet back if I did everything that I possibly could."
Patsy Ramsey: "I lost complete track of time. So I sat in this chair clutching a cross that was part of a Christmas decoration, praying. And I just kept expecting her to come running down the sidewalk."
Detective Linda Arndt was assigned to the Ramsey house during those long hours. Sometime that morning, John Ramsey headed for the basement of the house.
Katie Couric: "Why did you go there?"
John Ramsey: "We had a ... a basement window that was under a grate, removable grate that I had used the past summer to get into the house when I'd lost my keys. I wanted to check that window. I went down to that room. The window was open, it was broken. I went back upstairs and reported that to Detective Arndt."
Katie Couric: "You did tell her about the ... "
John Ramsey: "Yes."
Katie Couric: "Open window."
John Ramsey: "I did."
Katie Couric: "And what did she say?"
John Ramsey: "I don't recall that she said anything."
Katie Couric: "You were going through your mail at one point and Detective Arndt later used this fact to say that you were basically a little too cool, calm, and collected under these circumstances."
John Ramsey: "No. Again, that is ridiculous and the question I would ask the police is why didn't you do that? I went through those envelopes to see if there was any communication - an additional communication from the kidnapper."
Patsy Ramsey: "He did not go out to get the mail, we had a mail slot that dropped into the entry."
Around one o'clock, Detective Arndt asked Ramsey and his friend Fleet White to search the house for anything suspicious.
Katie Couric: "So you started ... "
John Ramsey: "Started in the basement."
Katie Couric: "Why?"
John Ramsey: "I wanted to do a complete search, the basement was the logical place to start, that's where there were entry and exit points. Certainly wouldn't have made any sense to go to the third floor where we had just left our bedroom. That seemed like the logical place to start."
Behind the boiler was the latched door of a room they called the wine cellar.
John Ramsey: "I opened the latch, opened the door. Knew immediately what I'd found. I ... I saw a white blanket and I guess it was instant. I knew that I'd found JonBenet. And I was ... it was a rush of thankfulness but her eyes were closed and there was tape over her mouth and her hands were bound above her head. And I immediately pulled the tape off her lips and sensed that ... that ... there was gonna be trouble. That this was not ... I was ... I didn't know at the time that she was dead but I ... her body was cool and I ... I picked her up and ran upstairs with her and all I could do was scream. If you've ever had a dream where you're frightened but all you can do in the dream is scream, that's how I felt and that's all I could do was just ... scream."
Katie Couric: "You brought her upstairs and you put her on the floor?"
John Ramsey: "Mmm-hmm." (affirmative)
Katie Couric: "Of the living room?"
John Ramsey: "Mmm-hmm." (affirmative)
Katie Couric: "Patsy ... when did you learn that John had found JonBenet?"
Patsy Ramsey: "Well at the ... I was in ... at that ... when I heard him scream I was standing in the little den. And I just heard this blood curdling scream. And you know I ... I said what, what is it? And my friend, made me stay in that room. She said don't ... and I kept just struggling. And finally ... you know... went into the living room and John was standing there with Linda Arndt and ... I looked down and there she ... she was lying there."
Katie Couric: "How do you describe that feeling?"
Patsy Ramsey: "Can't describe it. Don't wanna believe it. You know? Just not ... not supposed to happen."
Katie Couric: "And from that moment on your lives would never be the same."
John Ramsey: "No, no. They will never be the same."
Patsy Ramsey: "Mmm-mmm. (negative) Never."
Tuesday, when we continue our interview of John and Patsy Ramsey, we'll talk about the evidence that made them suspects in JonBenet's death. And we'll ask why it took them so long to talk to police