The following is a deconstruction of just one of many key fragments from the JonBenét Ramsey canon. It’s the Ramseys’ account of events on Christmas day in their own words. What we’re analyzing here is a cut-out from a carefully woven tapestry. We want to study this cut-out in-depth. We want to look at what is left in, what is left out, what is under-emphasized, what is over-emphasized, what’s distorted, what’s embellished?
The First Words Spoken
The first words spoken in the Ramsey narrative come from JonBenét. She tells her parents to “wake up” because it’s Christmas. The next to speak is Burke. His words are “we gotta see what Santa brought” and “hurry up.”
I find the chronology and the quotes telling. Burke is mentioned first, perhaps because he is the older brother, but he doesn’t say anything first. We know from previous narratives that Burke was awake before anyone else, even JonBenét and evidently the most excited when it came to Christmas time. We also know from Burke’s own words on Dr. Phil in 2016 that Christmas was such a big deal for him he crept downstairs later that same night to play with a toy. On Dr. Phil Burke describes his almost ten year old self that Christmas as “super-excited.”
In addition, in the Ramseys’ account they allude to Christmas 1996 being a much better year because the kids had waited this time to rouse them. In Burke’s interview with Detective Schuler in 1998, he reveals his parents had given he and JonBenét a specific time that it was okay to wake them. Even though he and JonBenét were awake before that time, they played in his bedroom while they waited.
The point is, I don’t think JonBenét speaks first, and I don’t think it’s JonBenét who rouses the Ramseys. Curiously on the first page of their account, John refers to his own childhood and his inability to wait for Christmas. He puts the wait for Christmas and the wait for the signal to begin unwrapping presents as follows:
“I couldn’t stand all that waiting then.”
Did Burke inherit this particular trait in this particular context, an inability to delay Christmas gratification, from his dad?
In the context of the crime isn’t it ironic that the child that would lie dead in the home would also urge the family to “wake up?”
The child with the sequin star on her chest would lie for six hours overnight in the basement, seven hours with the police present, and another seven hours on the very carpet under the Christmas tree where they’d celebrated Christmas hours earlier. In this context of an immobile person, this admonition to “wake up” is telling.
And still keeping in mind the context of this case, the interminable wait for the body to be discovered, there’s also Burke words, the nagging need to “hurry up” and “[someone’s] gotta see [something].”
Coming this year…