"The Case of: JonBenét Ramsey”, a four part mini-series that probed the murder of six-year-old pageant queen JonBenet Ramsay was an instant hit when it was released earlier this year. You could also argue it was a fairly thorough hit-job - on the little girl’s older brother, Burke. The series, created by CBS, pointed the finger of blame solidly at Burke, who was only nine years old when she died. It implied he murdered his younger sister with a blow fro flashlight, and that the rest of his family covered up his involvement.
Now Burke is fighting back, suing the network for $250 million in compensatory damages and $500 million in punitive damages - the equivalent of $1 billion AUD.
It’s not the first time Burke, now 29, has confronted people who have suggested he was behind his sister’s death. The Ramsay family filed a number of lawsuits on his behalf in the 1990s which settled out of court.
DNA evidence cleared him of involvement in his sister's death in 1999.
"Since the time of the above accusations against Burke in 1998 and 1999, no member of the tabloid media or the mainstream media has ever again accused Burke of being involved in—or suspected of—JonBenét's murder," the most recent lawsuit stated. "That is, until CBS aired the Documentary.”
Both of JonBenet’s parents, Patsy and John Ramsay, were cleared of involvement in their daughter’s death in 2008. At the time, the Boulder County District Attorney wrote in a letter: "To the extent that we may have contributed in any way to the public perception that you might have been involved in this crime, I am deeply sorry. No innocent person should have to endure such an extensive trial in the court of public opinion.”
Burke has never been formally charged with having any part in JonBenet’s death.
The six-year-old was found dead in her family’s home on Boxing Day, 1997. She had a broken skull from a heavy blow and had been strangled with a garotte.
Over the years a number of theories about her murder have surfaced, including the names of several people suspected of breaking into the little girl’s home.
To date, her death remains a mystery.