The unsolved mystery of 6-year-old JonBenét Ramsey's death in 1996 remains far stranger than most things we see on TV these days.
And yet, Toddlers & Tiaras is also "very bizarre," according to JonBenét's father, John Ramsey, who revealed today on Good Morning America that he has many regrets about his inability to protect his daughter from harm—and letting her compete in child beauty pagents is one them.
In the days, months and ultimately years following JonBenét's death, the world came to know her through photos, nearly all of them of a beaming child in full pageant-ready makeup that made her look eerily older than her age.
"Patsy and JonBenét didn't approach [pageants] that way," Ramsey said, comparing their experience to the brand of cutthroat and at times age-inappropriate competition shown on Toddlers & Tiaras.
"We—they," Ramsey corrected himself, "just did it for fun."
"I see her, you know, in shorts and T-shirt and hair kind of scruffy and just kind of a kid," he said.
Ramsey recalled his now-late wife telling him, after their daughter rode in a parade just days before she died, that a strange man approached the car JonBenét was riding in. The episode made Patsy "uncomfortable."
"I think about these things now and it makes me cringe," Ramsey said. "We were so naive. I now believe with all my heart that it's not a good idea to put your child on public display."
JonBenét's one-time beauty-queen mother, Patsy, died of ovarian cancer in 2006, when she was 49. She and her husband were not officially cleared as suspects in their daughter's killing until two years later, after which the Boulder District Attorney's Office issued an apology to the family.
JonBenét was found dead in the basement of the family's Colorado home on Dec. 26, 1996. Charges have never been filed in the case.