Ranking the JonBenét Ramsey Specials: Which Were Useful and Which Were Fluff

How television is looking back at the child's death 20 years later

By Kendall Fisher Dec 26, 2016 4:00 PMTags

Christmas Day marked the 20th anniversary of JonBenét Ramsey's Dec. 25, 1996, death, but we're certain you didn't need us to tell you that...almost every big network has dedicated quite a bit of airtime to the unsolved murder mystery.

Considering it's been one of Hollywood's most talked about crimes, major stations like CBS, Lifetime and A&E have focused days-long specials on the case as it got closer to the 20-year mark. But while some fans grew addicted to learning more about the story, recollecting old facts and evidence to re-spark an opinion on the case, others found the constant coverage overwhelming and a little unnecessary

Investigator Promises "The Case Of" Will Solve Mystery

With the being said, we decided to dive into a few of the biggest specials surrounding the anniversary of JonBenét's death. Here is our ranking of which are worth the watch and which are simply added fluff:

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A&E's The Killing of JonBenét: The Truth Uncovered

Pros:It features a rare sit-down interview with the child's father, John Ramsey, as well as a look back at Burke Ramsey's 1998 interview. As you watch the young boy (at the time) squirm in his seat and explain his fear the night his sister was killed, you certainly start to doubt how he could have possibly been involved in the murder. The piece also provides never-before-seen evidence, like diary entries, and uncovers some new information, including possible stun gun marks on the little girl's neck and DNA that may have ruled the Ramsey family out all together.

Cons: Despite the new information, the special didn't necessarily "uncover" any new truths.

Conclusion: Worth the watch. The special focuses more on the intruder theory about the child's death, which is a step away from the others (which focus more on the family as suspects). It's also worth the watch due to John's sit-down as well as Burke's 1998 interview.

JonBenet Investigator Analyzes Burke Ramsey on "Dr. Phil"
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Investigation Discovery's JonBenét: An American Murder Mystery

Pros: Considering the channel has a niche for sensational crime stories, Jonbenét's murder was the perfect fit. The three-night special focused on the people who were directly involved in the case like investigators, journalists and detectives. The special also provided an interview with John Mark Karr, who confessed to the murder in 2006, but was ruled out as someone who was just looking for attention. It also featured a three-part interview between Dr. Phil and Burke Ramsey.

Cons: Nothing new was uncovered as it was made to provide a "comprehensive look" at the case overall.

Conclusion: Fluff that's worth the watch. We'd say the I.D. special dove back into the innate details of the case. If you're looking for an informative refresher, this is the way to go.

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CBS' The Case Of: JonBenét Ramsey

Pros: The four-hour CBS docuseries promised to bring "together both the original case's investigators and new specialists utilizing modern technology and techniques to try to get to the bottom of what happened." It made revelations regarding the startling 911 call as well as the ransom note. At the end of the two-night special, the team—composed of world-renowned investigators and forensic scientists as well as officials involved in the original investigation—came to the conclusion that they believe Burke Ramsey was at fault for JonBenét's death.


Cons: The special—which was cut down from six to four hours—did not, in fact, get to the bottom of what happened. Rather, it provided a hypothesis about why Burke could have been the murderer. Many viewers also found the piece to be a bit over-produced and over-dramatized (having a 10-year-old boy strike a mannequin with a flashlight seemed a bit much).

Conclusion: Worth the watch. Though there wasn't a whole lot of new information, the information pertaining to the 911 call and the ransom note as well as the refreshed look from new technology will certainly make you tilt your head to one side in contemplation.

It's Time for TV to Let JonBenét Ramsey Rest in Peace

Lifetime's Who Killed JonBenét?

Pros: The made-for-TV film provides another look at why the case was so bizarre, and why it ultimately became one of the most famous unsolved mysteries of all time. The reenactment of the murder scene and the ways in which it was disrupted the morning after her death (Dec. 26, 1996) was particularly enlightening and put JonBenét's parents—especially her mother, Patsy Ramsey—at the forefront of the murder.

Cons: The film never answers the question its title suggests. Rather, it provides a dramatic reconstruction of the morbid details behind the child's murder. The most disturbing aspect of the film is that JonBenét (voiced by Phoebe Lawrenson) narrated it, sounding sad and defeated throughout the length of the movie. Even more bizarre could be the fact that  JonBenét essentially apologizes to lead investigator Detective Steve Thomas (Eion Bailey) at the end of the film for ruining his life with her murder.

She then narrates the final, cringe-worthy lines of the movie as we watch the camera pan over her grave. "I still don't know who the bad guy in my story is. I guess I never will," she says. "Maybe that's OK with me now. Maybe I can let go. Can you?"

Conclusion: Not worth the watch. The film only provides a look back at the murder with JonBenét narrating in a disturbing way, rather than providing any new details or answering any unsolved questions. Unless you're into bizarre, over-dramatized murder mysteries, we'd say opt out.

Did you watch any of the specials? Sound off below on which you felt were worth the watch or not!