The JonBenét Ramsey murder investigation was never short of evidence, of which there was seemingly plenty. Unfortunately, much of this only served to further complicate the investigation of this as of yet unsolved case. In a previous article, we took a look at some of the more bizarre pieces of evidence from the case but with the twentieth anniversary of her murder approaching and the public interest in the case ever increasing, we thought it was time to examine some of this evidence in closer detail.
Arguably, no piece of evidence has befuddled investigators, armchair detectives and the general public alike more than the pineapple. A seemingly innocuous fruit in most circumstances, its presence both undigested in the gastrointestinal tract of the victim as well as on the breakfast room table has been the source of many questions. How it came to be on the counter, in a bowl with a serving spoon, remains a mystery as both Patsy and John Ramsey deny feeding JonBenét pineapple when they returned from a Christmas party the family had attended that evening.
The fingerprints of Patsy, John and Burke were found on the bowl. This evidence by itself is insignificant as the family would regularly unpack the dishwasher together, not to mention that it was their own crockery. So why is the pineapple evidence so important if it doesn’t point to a suspect? Read on to discover why it is, to this day, considered one of the most perplexing pieces of evidence in the case.
The science behind it: was it eaten before or after?
The presence of the pineapple on the table only became significant when undigested remains of the fruit were found in JonBenét’s gastrointestinal tract during autopsy – specifically in her stomach and proximal small intestine.
The location of the pineapple in her gastrointestinal tract as well as the degree of digestion observed suggest that she ate approximately 2.5 hours before she died. Unfortunately, the rate of digestion is highly variable and difficult to predict – this also tends to vary based on the age of the individual and what exactly was eaten. In light of this, some experts have even stated that she could’ve eaten the pineapple as early as 4:30 PM on the 25th of December.
The host of the dinner party doesn’t recall serving pineapple that evening and, in any case, the pineapple on the table does indicate it was likely served and consumed at the Ramsey house. Both Patsy and John claim that the table was completely cleared before the family left for the event that evening. It does appear that, along with the evidence from the autopsy, JonBenét did, in fact, eat the pineapple in the hours before her death, once the family had returned home.
Would I lie to you, baby?
According to Patsy and John, JonBenét was asleep before they arrived home after the party and was put straight to bed. Patsy, in particular, vehemently denied feeding her any pineapple and consistently denied any knowledge of how this got into her gastrointestinal tract.
This could, of course, indicate that the perpetrator lured JonBenét downstairs with the promise of food – suggesting both that this person had an intimate knowledge of the Ramsey house and that, in all likelihood, JonBenét recognised the perpetrator and perhaps even trusted them.
Another popular theory seeks to address the question, why would the Ramseys lie about feeding JonBenét pineapple when they went home? The answer is if they had something to hide, of course, it would manifest an obvious giveaway. A lie about a seemingly mundane detail could indicate they played a role in her death – either directly, or in an attempt to cover for nine year-old Burke.
The devil’s in the details
What the pineapple evidence does, above all else, is throw crucial doubt onto the timeline of the events on the night JonBenét was murdered.
If we were to believe that Patsy and John truly don’t know how the pineapple came to be in JonBenét’s gastrointestinal tract, then that means that the perpetrator was successful in not only luring her from her bedroom without alerting the other sleeping residents (despite the fact that Patsy maintains she would’ve heard the children get up), but also in keeping her settled and quiet downstairs while he prepared the snack.
Another issue with this version of events is that, if the perpetrator did feed JonBenét pineapple, she would still have been alive for an estimated 2.5 after eating it. While we know that she received a blow to the head before being strangled, investigators can’t estimate the time between these two events so whether she was conscious or not during this time is unknown. Nevertheless, if the ransom note was to be believed, and this was a kidnapping gone awry, the perpetrator would have put themselves at huge risk of discovery by remaining in the house for longer than necessary. In fact, experts maintain that it is incredibly unusual for the body of a kidnap victim to be found in the place from which they were purportedly kidnapped.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that this unsolved case is facing intense scrutiny once again, it is highly unlikely that we will ever have a clear answer with regard to this bizarre and mysterious piece of evidence and, by extension, what happened on the night of this horrific murder.
Your turn: Do you think the pineapple is as significant as it is perceived to be? What role do you think it played, if any, in the murder?