Synopses & Reviews
"Do roses know their thorns can hurt?" JonBenet asked me that one morning. I was the landscaper at the Ramseys' home during the last two years of her life, and it was the kind of question I'd learned to expect from her.
So when she asked me about thorns, I told her, "They're a rose's shield. They allow roses to survive. They keep away animals who might eat them."
She would follow me all over the yard, finding something to do wherever I was working. I was happy to talk with her, and would answer her questions about anything and everything. All the topics you'd call natural science seemed to interest her.
"What is a year?"
"That's the length of time it takes for the earth to make one trip all around the sun."
"So I've been around the sun five times?"
"Right. And you've almost finished your sixth trip."
That same week in September, the needles were falling off the pine tree and the sap had started to drip. "Why does a tree do that?" she asked. I wasn't certain I knew exactly, but I tried to explain--scientifically. "The sun helps pull the sap up from the trunk to the leaves." Then I compared the sap to human blood, said the sap carries nourishment to the whole tree. Anyone could see she was excited to learn about these things.
Theneighborhood kids would come by from time to time. JonBenet seemed to socialize with them just fine. Her brother, Burke, was three years older. He almost never said a word to me. Just played by himself in the backyard, completely occupied with his own projects. Next to the sandbox and swing, in the pea gravel area, he dug a system of canals. Then he put a hose on top of the slide. The water poured down and spread perfectly throughout the elaborate waterway.
"Someday you're going to be an engineer?" I asked him.
"No," he said. Just a single word--no.
He always seemed to play alone.
Just then Patsy called from inside, "It's time to start your homework." I remember thinking, There's a mother who really cares about her children.
"Burke, come in and start your homework."
"OK, just a minute, Mom." It was like an old-fashioned TV show--Leave It to Beaver or Father Knows Best.
While I kept the gardens well-defined and tidy, as pristine as a golf course, JonBenet had her own projects. She would attach an exercise device to one ankle, and then, as it rotated several inches off the ground but parallel to it, she would hop with the other leg over the cord as it swung by. She'd keep this up for long periods on the back patio. And she was very good at it. It was kind of a cool thing--demanded good reflexes and coordination. I even thought of getting one for myself.
I'd heard she was Little Miss Colorado, and I asked her if she was excited about winning the title.
"I really don't care about it," she said. It didn't seem to be a very big deal to her, or if it was, she certainly didn't let on. She seemed more interested in trips around the sun or the lifeblood of trees.
In early December of '96, I was raking the blanket of leaves under a maple, getting the property ready for winter.
"Don't pick the leaves up, please," JonBenet begged me. "Leave them for me to play with."
Well, I'm thinking, no way. My job is to pick them up, and that's what I'm going to do.
"Last year my dad and I did that."
And then she said quietly; "I really miss him. I wish he was around more."
"Where does he go?"
"I don't know. But sometimes he goes away for a long time."
"You really miss him?" I asked.
"Yeah, I really miss him a lot."
Then she started to cry, tears rolling down her cheeks.
A moment later, I saw JonBenet was scooping up the leaves from the top of the barrel and hurling them over her head into the wind. "Hey! Stop that!" I yelled.
"No, I want to play in 'em." She was being kind of bratty. She had a bit of smart aleck in her.
That evening I left a big pile of leaves out front by the gutter for her to play with.
That was probably the last time I spoke to JonBenet. Six weeks later I took the morning paper from my front steps and saw it. I don't even remember now what the headlines said.
In Perfect Murder, Perfect Town,
Lawrence Schiller thoroughly recreates every aspect of the complex case of the death of JonBenét Ramsey. A brilliant portrait of an inscrutable family thrust under the spotlight of public suspicion and an affluent, tranquil city torn apart by a crime it couldn't handle, Perfect Murder, Perfect Town
uncovers the mysteries that have bewildered the nation.
- Why were the Ramseys, the targets of the investigation, able to control the direction of the police inquiry?
- Can the key to the murder be found in the pen and writing pad used for the ransom note?
- Was it possible for an intruder to have killed JonBenét?
< p=""> In < i=""> Perfect Murder, Perfect Town, <> Lawrence Schiller thoroughly recreates every aspect of the complex case of the death of JonBen& #233; t Ramsey. A brilliant portrait of an inscrutable family thrust under the spotlight of public suspicion and an affluent, tranquil city torn apart by a crime it couldn't handle, < i=""> Perfect Murder, Perfect Town<> uncovers the mysteries that have bewildered the nation.<> < ul=""> < p=""> < li=""> Why were the Ramseys, the targets of the investigation, able to control the direction of the police inquiry? <> < p=""> < li=""> Can the key to the murder be found in the pen and writing pad used for the ransom note? <> < p=""> < li=""> Was it possible for an intruder to have killed JonBen& #233; t? <> < i=""> < l="">
About the Author
Lawrence Schiller ranks among our greatest investigative journalists. In addition to his bestselling books, he has written for the New Yorker and other major publications. For many years he has appeared as an on-air consultant for the ABC and NBC networks. He lives in Los Angeles.