What JonBenét Ramsey's Ransom Note Really Said

In 1996, on the morning after Christmas, John and Patsy Ramsey made a horrific discovery in their Boulder, Colorado home. They woke early to discover that their 6-year-old daughter, JonBenét, had disappeared from her bed in the night and that a two-and-a-half page, handwritten ransom note had been left on the stairs.

The note, supposedly from a "foreign faction" calling themselves S.B.T.C, began: "Mr. Ramsey: Listen Carefully! We are a group of individuals that represent a small foreign faction. We respect your business, but not the country it serves. At this time, we have your daughter in our possession. She is safe and unharmed and if you want her to see 1997, you must follow our instructions to the letter" (via CNN). The kidnappers went on to demand $118,000 from the family, writing "100,000 will be in $100 bills and the remaining $18,000 in $20 bills. Make sure that you bring an adequate size attaché to the bank."

"S.B.T.C" threatened to kill JonBenét if the police were involved

The note included detailed instructions for the Ramsey family to follow, instructing them that "when you get home, you will put the money in a brown paper bag. I will call you between 8 and 10 a.m. tomorrow to instruct you on delivery. The delivery will be exhausting so I advise you to be rested. If we monitor you getting the money early we might call you early to arrange an earlier delivery of the money and hence and [sic]earlier pickup of your daughter" (via CNN).

The ransom note also threatened that "any deviation of my instructions will result in the immediate execution of your daughter. You will also be denied her remains for a proper burial" and warned "speaking to anyone about your situation, such as police or F.B.I. will result in your daughter being beheaded ...You can try to deceive us, but be warned we are familiar with law enforcement countermeasures and tactics. You stand a 99% chance of killing your daughter if you try to outsmart us." However, the Ramseys immediately disregarded the warning not to contact the authorities, and placed a call to the Boulder police at 5:52 a.m., per History. Authorities, as well as many friends and family members, soon arrived at the Ramsey's home. Police taped off JonBenét's bedroom, but not the rest of the house, so guests to the home wandered around freely — potentially damaging evidence, Crime Museum notes.

Authorities found the demand for $118,000 suspicious

The note quickly became the source of some suspicion, particularly because of the oddly specific monetary demand of $118,000, rather than a round number like $110,000 or $120,000. The request attracted even more scrutiny because the number exactly matched a bonus John Ramsey had recently received from his company, per CNN. It also appeared to have been written on a legal pad that belonged to the Ramsey family.

Some theorized that the note was a hoax that the Ramseys had written themselves. John, Patsy, and JonBenét's 9-year-old brother Burke all submitted handwriting samples to the police, and while John and Burke were cleared by the resulting analysis, Patsy's handwriting was deemed inconclusive, per Crime Museum. But the Ramsey parents were never officially named as suspects in the case, and some experts believe it may have been written by someone who knew the family or was familiar with John's work.

In fact, the tone of the random note is often strikingly familiar. It concludes: "Don't try to grow a brain John. You are not the only fat cat around so don't think that killing will be difficult. Don't underestimate us, John. Use that good, southern common sense of yours. It's up to you now, John! Victory! S.B.T.C."

The family never paid a ransom

Regardless, the Ramseys never had the chance to meet the mysterious S.B.T.C's demands. Around 1 p.m. that afternoon, just 7 hours after the note was found, JonBenét Ramsey's body was discovered in the basement of her own home, with her wrists tied and duct tape over her mouth (via Crime Museum). She was determined to have suffered a skull fracture and died due to asphyxiation as the result of strangulation.

Although the tragic case has been the subject of much media attention and sparked a number of theories, none of them has ever been proven. Recent investigation, however, has focused on the killer being an outside intruder rather than a member of the Ramsey family, and the Boulder District Attorney's Office released a statement in 2006 exonerating the three surviving family members based on newer "scientific evidence" of "exculpatory value."

JonBenét Ramsey's killer has never been caught, and her case remains unsolved.