Looking back: Two infamous murders


Taken from Wikimedia Commons

Gone too soon. A murder victim, 6 year old JonBenét Ramsey’s grave located at the Saint James Episcopal Cemetery. She was killed in her home on Christmas in 1996, and was best known for her Little Miss beauty pageant win.

There are always people who crave the mysteries of unsolved murders and odd deaths, and I’m here to calm those cravings. I have been fascinated with murder mysteries and horror concepts for years. Especially fascinated in investigating, researching, reading, and watching about different mysteries, especially unsolved ones. However, two very famous murders caught my attention while viewing different killings. The mysterious murders of 6-year old JonBenét Ramsey and 22-year old Elizabeth Short continue to haunt the memories of the nation, despite having occurred decades ago. The ongoing investigations of who and how these two girls were killed lead to dead-ends; we may never know the true story of these murders. That is, unless someone decides to investigate and solve the case once and for all. While there is significant evidence to point certain people like the murderers of these cases, there is not enough to accuse them of it, and we’re here to fully analyze the biggest unsolved murders in history: the mystery of JonBenét Ramsey and the Black Dahlia.

JonBenét Ramsey

We have all heard of the famous mystery behind 6-year-old JonBenét Ramsey’s disappearance and murder. Everyone has their own theories and beliefs on who the real killer is, despite the case not being solved even after 20 years.  The biggest fascination was with the murder of JonBenét Ramsey. I would spend hours upon hours researching JonBenét and her unexpected death until I came to a conclusion of who the murderer was…

JonBenét Ramsey was a famous 6-year old beauty pageant whose glamour photos were portrayed all over the country. Although she had a life in beauty, that wasn’t all of her. She was sweet and beautiful with a light that could brighten a room. However, she was tragically murdered in the basement of her own home in Boulder, Colorado. JonBenét Ramsey’s body was found by her father (John Ramsey) in the basement on the night of December 26, 1996, after a police call was made by her mother that her daughter went missing. 8 hours earlier, Patsy Ramsey (JonBenét’s mother) found what appeared to be a ransom note. She called the police after reading the long note. 

The ransom note required a withdrawal of exactly $118,000 which was coincidentally close to the bonus John Ramsey received at work and the meaning of the initials ‘S.B.T.C’ is still unknown to this day. Later investigation proved that the ransom note was actually written INSIDE the Ramsey home because there was a piece of a practice note found. Despite being written inside the home, the handwriting on the note didn’t match that of Patsy or John.

When the autopsy of JonBenét was released, the cause of death stated was asphyxiation caused by a smooth cord found near her body at the crime scene. However, the County Coroner contradicted this statement by saying that she was killed by head bludgeoning. Further investigation found traces of DNA on JonBenét’s underwear and pajamas, which was tested against the family; it was not a match to anybody related to JonBenét or listed criminals in the criminal database. 

Suspect 1 – Bill Mcreynolds

Waiting in line to sit on his lap, a man dressed as Santa Claus sits in a fake throne awaiting the little girl. Once she is pulled up onto his lap, the man asks what she wants for Christmas, and she begins to talk about how she wants her day to be the best and brightest.

Bill Mcreynolds was a neighbor of the Ramsey’s at the time of her death. He told investigators that JonBenét was close to him; she meant a lot to him. Although saying this, there was some suspicion towards him. Although sweet, there was speculation on him because of his interaction with her on the days leading up to her murder. However, he and his wife submitted hair, handwriting and blood samples that eventually ruled him out as a suspect.

Suspect 2 – Gary Oliva

In the darkness, a phone clutched shakily in his hands, a man swiftly phones an old friend to help his racing thoughts and heart. Once the phone answers, and his friends familiar voice is echoed into his ear, he says nothing but, “I hurt a little girl. I hurt a little girl.”

Gary Oliva lived just across the street from the Ramsey’s and has some interesting evidence against him. In my opinion, I think that he’s a very possible killer of JonBenét and is capable of doing such a horrible crime. However, I don’t believe he’s the real killer. But, the evidence against him that has been recently submitted by his high school friend, Michael Vail, shows a 15 letter confession of murdering the 6-year-old. Vail claimed that Oliva had called him the night after her death.

When Oliva had called his friend the night after the murder, Vail asked where it happened, he reported that the confessing killer said in Boulder, Colorado. Records show that no other girl was harmed in the area that night. Earlier in his life, he had attempted to strangle his mother with a telephone cord, which made investigators suspicious because JonBenét’s autopsy concluded she was killed by asphyxiation. He was also arrested on charges of child pornography and for unrelated drug use. When investigated, a photo of JonBenét was found in his bag, and even in jail, he continues to ask for photos of JonBenét to look at. However, the DNA on JonBenét’s body did not match him.

Suspect 3 – John Mark Karr

A man hunched over his laptop, the darkness of his room surrounding his bent body. Typing rapidly with a sly smirk on his face, the messages being received and sent become dark and dreary.

For over four years of constant communication to gain the trust of a suspected killer, Journalism professor Michael Tracey communicated only through e-mail with John Mark Karr. According to Tracey and the e-mails he received, Karr confessed to murdering JonBenét with a bludgeon to the head with a flashlight and being in love with her; Tracey committed those four years to have Karr gain his trust. In Karr’s e-mails, it was noticed how he had used similar wording to the ransom note. In some e-mails, he had referred to Patsy Ramsey as “Neddie” which was her nickname; no one knew this except close family. However, it was later found that Karr wasn’t even in Colorado the night of the murder, his confession was false, and his DNA did not match that found on JonBenét, therefore he was ruled out as a suspect.

With all these suspects and no strong evidence to convict one, the case was found at a dead-end. However, in a study by Dr. Henry Lee, he had found that the DNA found on JonBenét’s clothes had been contaminated with when a package of underwear was found, unopened, with the same DNA on it. The DNA was ruled fallacious, and now all ruled-out suspects are now suspected again.

While circumstantial evidence may link the named suspects to the murder, my opinion is that the real killer is either JonBenét’s brother, Burke Ramsey, or Gary Oliva. The reason I believe it could be Burke was that he could have a possible motive for murdering his sister. Not only was JonBenét majorly in the spotlight and was rejoiced in fame, but she was also portrayed as more ‘loved’. Burke, in my opinion, could’ve had a jealous rage and accidentally hit her too hard with a baseball bat and her family tried to cover his actions up by staging a kidnapping and placing random items that didn’t belong to them in JonBenét’s room. In an interview with Dr. Phil, after 20 years in the silence about his sister’s murder, Burke finally decided to speak about it. The entire time the interview was going on, Burke didn’t seem very affected by what happened and was even smiling oddly whilst talking about it. The entire video is linked here.

While Burke is a possible suspect and I believe he could’ve done it, I also believe that Gary Oliva, the neighbor of the Ramsey’s, also could commit this crime. The evidence against him is very little, however. The strange pedophilia love he seemed to have for JonBenét and how he wanted to see pictures of her whilst in jail, it struck me as creepy. With the confession he made to his friend Michael Vail to the picture found in his bag of JonBenét, I’ve always had a large suspicion of him being the killer.

Black Dahlia

File:Black Dahlia.jpg
The first mugshot was taken of Elizabeth Short after being arrested for underage drinking. She was arrested by Santa Barbara police. This photo and her fingerprints taken then were used for the investigation of her murder. Taken from Wikimedia Commons.

The famous mystery of the death of Black Dahlia has continued to catch the eyes of many, including myself. The limited amount of possible suspects makes it harder to really determine who did it, but by the end of the day, the amount of evidence towards one individual makes up my mind. Elizabeth Short was an aspiring actress who had dreams of one day being in famous movies and being recognized in the world; however that was accomplished in a much more gruesome way. On January 15, 1947, her mutilated body was found in a vacant lot. The person who had found her, Betty Bersinger, said that she was so bloodless and pale that she believed Short was a mannequin.

File:Black Dahlia letter to Los Angeles Examiner.png
A letter sent by an unknown person was delivered to the Los Angeles police department. The words were from newspaper scraps and were washed clean with gasoline to remove all fingerprints. The note came with Short’s belongings as well. Taken from Wikimedia Commons

With no further leads following the days after the discovery of Black Dahlia’s body, a letter was sent to the Los Angeles police department. In the letter, words from newspaper articles were placed to form a note. Along with the letter, a bag of Black Dahlia’s belongings came with it. Her birth certificate, business cards, photographs, and an address book were found. In the following letter, one excited the investigators greatly;

“Here it is, turning on Wed. Jan. 29 10 AM. Had my fun with police. Black Dahlia Avenger,” read the note. However, no one ever confessed.

Suspect #1 – Robert Manley

Wiping the fog from his windshield, the man glances at the girl beside him, shivering and cheeks red from the cold. Winter days are short, but their journey had only just begun.

Before arriving in Los Angeles to meet her unfortunate end, Short had been reported being seen with a man named Robert Manley. He apparently drove her to Los Angeles, and he was the last person to have seen her alive. When he and Short arrived in Los Angeles, they stayed in the Biltmore Hotel, reportedly a “haunted” place. Hotel guests claimed to see Short walking on the first, tenth and eleventh floors of the building wearing a black dress and then disappearing into a wall. The last place Short was seen alive was at the Crown Grill Bar with Manley. He was thought to be the possible killer because he was the last person seen with Elizabeth when she was alive and he had also quickly left Los Angeles before her body was found. However, he was dropped as a suspect when he passed a polygraph and took a truth serum.

Suspect #2 – Joseph Dumais

Jumping up and down, unsure of his actions or words being spoken, he laughs and dances with the woman before passing out on a couch and not recalling the night before.

Dumais had confessed to being blackout drunk with Elizabeth Short before her murder happened. He had confessed to killing her, but there was no evidence to support his allegation and was claimed to have falsely confessed.

Suspect #3 – George Hodel

A door, the hypothetical elephant in the room, was subject to brief glances. The surgeon’s hands twitch, almost as if imagining using the tools of his trade.

Hodel’s son, Steve, was convinced that his father had murdered the Black Dahlia. His reasoning for this was that not only did he have a secret room that no kids were allowed to be in, he was also highly intelligent and studied surgery and medicine, which makes him capable of the disembowelment and mutilation of Elizabeth Short. George had also been accused by his own daughter for sexual harassment and his son had even found a photo of what appeared to be Short. Facial recognition experts ranged the photo of positively being Black Dahlia as 90-95% possible, but the results were inconclusive. His handwriting had also appeared to be similar to the ones on the note, but it was also announced as a range of either probable or inconclusive. After police began suspecting George, they planted listening devices into his home and found disturbing content from him. On tape he stated,

“Supposing I did kill the Black Dahlia. They couldn’t prove it now. They can’t talk to my secretary anymore because she’s dead.” With this and having a woman say that George and Short had been friendly, Steve took on his own investigation when the police didn’t do anything after. When Steve returned to his childhood home in 2012 with a police dog, the canine had scented human remains in the dirt, and soil samples came back positive to confirm this. L.A. District Attorney Stephen Kay had stated,

“Based on the results of Steve’s investigation, I would have no reservations about filing two counts of murder against Dr. George Hodel,” and clarified that he was speaking for himself and not the D.A’s office. Unfortunately, the Black Dahlia case remains unsolved and Steve is seemed to be the only one trying to solve the case.

Based on the evidence of the crime and the possible suspects, my conclusion on who I think the killer is 100%, George Hodel. His experience with surgery and medical procedures helps to show he could’ve easily have done the horrible mutilating of the 22-year old, and his secret room and resembling a photo of what appeared to be Elizabeth, it all adds up; especially when Steve had found human remains where his family used to live. I have no doubt that George Hodel was the one who committed this horrible crime, there is too much evidence against him that would make him be dropped as a suspect.