Boulder, Colo. - Most Americans knew JonBenet Ramsey only in death, as the
blonde-haired little girl in the ruffled pink cowgirl outfit, bouncing across
the stage with a million-dollar smile.
"I want to be a cowboy sweetheart," she sang, with a white hat atop her
moussed, golden curls.
This undated family handout photo shows
JonBenet Ramsey. A former schoolteacher was arrested Wednesday August 16,
2006 in Thailand in the slaying of 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet
Ramsey, a surprise breakthrough in a lurid, decade-old murder case some
feared would never be solved. [AP
The performance captured on video was played around the world after the
6-year-old beauty pageant competitor was found strangled and beaten on December 26,
1996. The images persisted on TV talk shows for years afterward, helping feed
theories about her killer.
On Wednesday, authorities in Thailand arrested a man suspected in her
slaying. The district attorney disclosed no details, but the Ramsey family's
attorney in Atlanta said the suspect was a schoolteacher who once lived in
nearby Conyers, Ga. The family attorney, Lin Wood, refused to say if the Ramseys
JonBenet was born in Atlanta on August 6, 1990, to John Bennett Ramsey, a
successful business executive, and his second wife, Patsy, a onetime Miss West
Virginia. The family lived in the suburb of Dunwoody for several years before
moving to Colorado in 1991. The couple moved back to Atlanta after their
JonBenet was named after her father, with the name pronounced in a
French-inspired manner as "zhawn-ben-AY," and spent most of her life in the
liberal mountain town of Boulder.
JonBenet made the honor roll at her elementary school the month before she
died, and attended a local Episcopal church. Family and friends described her as
an inquisitive, giving child who loved Shirley Temple movies.
In the last year of her life, JonBenet followed her mother's footsteps into
beauty pageants. After her death, the world took a closer look at the children's
beauty pageant circuit, where youngsters parade in makeup and elaborate
hairstyles, sometimes when they are barely out of diapers.
She learned how to walk, gesture and perform, and collected a wardrobe of
elaborate costumes, including that of a Las Vegas showgirl and a cowgirl.
Although JonBenet loved to perform, family and friends said the competitions did
not rule her life.
In her last months, JonBenet charmed judges into awarding her numerous beauty
pageant titles, including Little Miss Colorado, America's Royale Miss and
National Tiny Miss Beauty.
As they traveled to competitions, mother and daughter would sing their
favorite song, a tune from "Gypsy," a musical and movie about a mother obsessed
with making her daughter a star.
"Wherever we go, whatever we do, we're gonna get through it together," they
would sing, a minister told mourners at JonBenet's funeral.
JonBenet was buried in Marietta, Ga., next to the grave of her half sister,
Elizabeth Ramsey, 22, who died in a car crash in Ohio in 1992. In the coffin,
she was dressed in a beauty pageant dress and tiara, with a stuffed toy animal
in her arms.