Is Anything That Happens to John Ramsey News?

For the better part of a decade after the still-unsolved December 25, 1996 murder of his daughter, JonBenét Ramsey, onetime Boulderite John Ramsey was a constant television-news presence in these parts -- so much so that many of us felt the urge to run away screaming whenever an anchor mentioned his name. In recent years, the situation has improved to some degree, with the exception of the days following the death of Ramsey's wife, Patsy, and the emergence of super-creep John Mark Karr. But just when it seemed safe to watch a local newscast again, Channel 9 proved that anything this guy does can and will be treated like news, no matter how insignificant it might be, with the alleged revelation that Ramsey was victimized by an e-mail virus.

You didn't just hallucinate this last sentence -- and the gist of the item is even more ridiculous than it seems. Here's the text version, credited to none other than 9News' resident Ramsey-phile, Paula Woodward:

John Ramsey said all he did was open his e-mail, then delete.

However, the virus attached to that incoming e-mail scanned his e-mail address, got his address book, and sent solicitation e-mails, purportedly from Ramsey, to his entire e-mail address list.

Ramsey is the father of JonBenet Ramsey, who was killed in December of 1996 in Boulder. He has since moved to Michigan. No one was arrested in her death.

"I was expecting something from the airlines and thought this e-mail was it. That's why I opened it," Ramsey told 9Wants to Know.

Just the simple act of opening the e-mail resulted in the theft of his e-mail address, address book and the following message, grammar problems and all, was sent to all of the people on that list.

"Dear friend," the phony e-mail begins. "We are one of the largest Chinese exporters electronic wholesaler, which can support the most effective and high quality products with competitive prices. And we hope we can do business in the long term ship with you. You can inquire your questions to our email."

Ramsey found out he'd been the victim of the virus after friends e-mailed him about it.

Ramsey then notified his address book recipients of what happened.

"I usually don't ever open e-mails when I don't know who they're from," he said.

Members of the 9NEWS Information Technology department said the virus is a more "sophisticated" version of a fairly common virus that usually only steals your e-mail address.

Really -- that's the whole thing. There's nothing more substantial, more unusual. Ramsey opened an e-mail he shouldn't have, and as a result, everyone on his e-mail list -- including Woodward, no doubt -- got a note that portrayed him as a Chinese electronics exporter. So what happens if he does it again, except this time he's supposedly a Nigerian prince, or an Australian treasure hunter, or maybe just the world's most satisfied Cialis customer? Is that news, too? And if so, what's next? "John Ramsey Dines at Area Restaurant"? "John Ramsey Walks His Dog"? "John Ramsey Displays Good Dental Hygiene"?

If Ramsey wants to confess to some high crime, or if law enforcement has evidence more substantial than the loopy theories put forward by CU prof Michael Tracey that someone else was responsible for JonBenét's demise, then fine -- produce another story about him. But please resist the urge to share any more e-mailing anecdotes about a man many of us wish we'd never heard of in the first place. That'd be one way to block spam. -- Michael Roberts

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts