In the 20 years since JonBenét Ramsey was senselessly murdered by an unknown assailant, there have been countless questions about the case — which remains unsolved today. For two decades, onlookers invested in the case have pointed at several “clues” in hopes that they could provide insight into who is responsible for this senseless crime, but more often than not, the “clues” only make things more complicated.

And there are few pieces of evidence as compelling and mysterious as the ransom note found in the Ramsey’s kitchen shortly after they realized their six-year-old daughter was missing. Check out everything you need to know about the ransom note — and why it left investigators with more questions than answers.

jonbenet ramsey ransom note getty images

It was written inside the house

The note — which promised John Ramsey that his daughter was “safe and unharmed,” but threatened to kill the little girl if the note’s writer’s demands weren’t met — was written on stationery found inside the house, which makes it unusual. According to experts, most criminals come prepared with their ransom notes, rather than write it on the fly.

It was unusually long

Adding to the intrigue, the note — which was presumably written on the spot, given that it used supplies from the Ramseys’ house — was unusually long, topping out at more than two-and-a-half pages. Former FBI agent John E. Douglas has long speculated that it was not the work of a professional, as it seemed to have taken inspiration from movies such as Ransom and Speed.

jonbenet ramsey ransom note getty images

It asked for almost John Ramsey’s exact Christmas bonus

In the note, the group of kidnappers who identified themselves as “S.B.T.C.” — the meaning of which remains a mystery to this day — demanded $118,008, adding, “$100,000 will be in $100 bill and the remaining $18,000 in $20 bills.” The amount seems arbitrary — except for the fact that it was slightly more than John’s Christmas bonus that year, which would suggest someone familiar with the family’s finances wrote the letter.

Despite the note, JonBenét’s body was never removed from the home

Of course, the most compelling reason many people believe that the ransom note was a hoax — perhaps written by her parents in order to cover up her death — is that, despite the “kidnapper’s” claims, the beauty queen was never taken from home (she also wasn’t “safe and unharmed”), which would make a ransom note unnecessary. Her parents were never named as suspects in the investigation.

patsy and john ramsey

John and Patsy Ramsey.

A handwriting analysis was inconclusive

While several of these revelations would suggest that it was written by one of her parents, in an effort to cover up whatever occurred the night of Christmas in 1996, law enforcement authorities have been inconclusive in establishing whether or not her mother, Patsy, or father, John, wrote the notes. One handwriting expert, Cina Wong, said that it’s “highly probable” that the mother-of-two wrote the note herself, noting the similarities in the letter “A” when Patsy had to submit a writing sample, but it has never been proven that JonBenét’s own mother was responsible for the note, that some experts have said was written “in a maternal tone.”

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