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Split image of Madeleine McCann and Gypsy Rose Blanchard© Getty

From Madeleine McCann and JonBénet Ramsey to O.J. Simpson and Amanda Knox, shocking true crime cases revisited

A look back at some of the most shocking and divisive true crime cases

Beatriz Colon
Beatriz Colon - New York
New York WriterNew York
June 17, 2024
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There are few things that unite people as much — in collective shock — as a true crime moment, such as have been cases like that of Madeleine McCann, the Menendez Brothers, John and Lorena Bobbitt, most recently the case of Gabby Petito as well as the Idaho murders, or decades ago, the Lindbergh baby kidnapping.

30 years ago today, on June 17, 1994, about 95 million people watched the late O.J. Simpson, who died earlier this year aged 76, through his infamous Los Angeles car chase in the white Ford Bronco; months later, in October of 1995, an estimated 150 million Americans watched his verdict.

Whether solved, still a mystery, or with unconvincing outcomes, there have been several cases throughout the years that continue to captivate audiences. Revisit some of them below.

1/6

John and Patsy Ramsey, the parents of JonBenet Ramsey, meet with a small selected group of the local Colorado media after four months of silence  in Boulder, Colorado on May 1, 1997. Patsy holds up a reward sign for information leading to the arrest of their daughter's murderer.  Their 6-year-old daughter was found dead on Christmas night 1996© Getty

JonBénet Ramsey

The killing of child beauty queen JonBenét Patricia Ramsey in 1996 remains one of the most famous and highly-debated murder mysteries in the United States. On December 26, 1996, the six-year-old's body was found in the basement of her family's home in Boulder, Colorado, as well as an unusually long three-page ransom note written on a notepad belonging to the Ramseys, demanding $118,000, almost exactly what her father John Ramsey had received as a Christmas bonus the year before.

It has long been a suspicion that her parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, staged their daughter's brief disappearance and ransom note to cover up her murder; that either a family member — some have suggested her older brother Burke — or an intruder killed her are the strongest theories, however it remains a cold case.

2/6

Kate and Gerry McCann hold up a picture of Madeleine during a press conference in 2007© Getty

Madeleine McCann

Like with JonBénet, the disappearance of Madeleine McCann remains one of the most gripping mysteries, globally, though unlike JonBénet, to this day Madeleine has never been found, and little suggestions as to what happened to her exist.

The British three-year-old disappeared from her bed in a ground-level room — where her two siblings were also sleeping — of a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal in 2007, while her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, dined at a restaurant a few feet away. Though both suspects and alleged "Madeleines" have been considered through the years, there has been no resolution to the case.

3/6

Casey Anthony reacts to being found not guilty on murder charges at the Orange County Courthouse on July 5, 2011 in Orlando, Florida.  At left is her attorney Jose Baez. On the right is attorney Dorothy Clay Sims. Casey Anthony had been accused  of murdering her two-year-old daughter Caylee in 2008© Getty

Casey Anthony

On July 15, 2008, then 22-year-old Casey's mother Cindy Anthony called the police to inform them that her granddaughter Caylee, two, had been missing for a month. Alarming findings throughout Casey's belongings, including internet searches on her computer internet for chloroform and neck-breaking, made her a prime suspect, and she was charged with first degree murder that October. Caylee's skeletal remains were found near the family's Florida home two months later.

In 2011, even after conflicting testimony, Casey was, controversially, acquitted, when a 12-person jury found her not guilty on all serious charges, including first-degree murder, manslaughter and child abuse, though she was convicted on four counts of lying to the police. She was sentenced to four years in prison, however because she had already spent three on the time between her arrest and the trial's ending, she was released ten days after the sentencing. 

4/6

Amanda Knox - the college junior who became the center of a dramatic murder trial in Italy, conviction and the court appeal that finally acquitted and freed her - speaks to Robin Roberts on GOOD MORNING AMERICA, 2013© Getty

Amanda Knox

In 2007, while Amanda was a college student living in Italy, her British roommate Meredith Kercher was found dead with multiple knife wounds, and Amanda along with her then-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito were both found guilty. Rudy Guede, who was a friend of residents of the building, and admitting to being at the girls' apartment the night of the murder, was also found guilty in 2009 and sentenced to 30 years in prison, of which he served 13. 

Though Amanda and Raffaele faced 25 and 26 year sentences, respectively, in 2011, they were acquitted. Still, their freedom didn't last long, as Italy's final court of appeal overturned the acquittals in 2013, and they were found guilty again in 2014, until the Supreme Court of Italy overturned the convictions in 2015, bringing the case to a close.

5/6

Photo of Gypsy Rose Blanchard with her late mom Clauddine "Dee Dee" Blanchard provided by the Greene County Sheriff office© Greene County Sheriff

Gypsy Rose Blanchard

Gypsy, who is now 32 and was released from prison last year, was convicted for planning the murder of her mom Clauddine "Dee Dee" Blanchard in 2015. Gypsy was a victim of Munchausen by proxy, a rare behavioral disorder and form of child abuse where the caretaker of a child imposes a fake illness with fake symptoms to the them. 

Reacting to years of abuse on behalf of her mother, Gypsy asked her then-boyfriend Nicholas "Nick" Godejohn to murder her. She was sentenced to ten years in prison, of which she served eight, while her then-boyfriend was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus an additional 25 years for armed criminal action after his 2018 trial.

6/6

Portrait of American former foorball player OJ Simpson and his wife, Nicole Brown (1959 - 1994), as they attend a party at the Harley Davidson Cafe, New York, New York, 1993. Simpson was tried for the murder of his wife (on June 12, 1994) and, though he was acquitted in the murder trial, he was found guilty of wrongful death in a subsequent civil suit--still later, he was found guilty of other felony charges (unrelated to the murder) and convicted in 2008.© Getty Images

O.J. Simpson

On June 12, 1994, the late football player's ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ronald L. Goldman were found stabbed to death outside of her apartment in Brentwood, Los Angeles, and O.J immediately became a suspect. Charges were subsequently filed against him along with a warrant for his arrest, and though he and his attorneys had agreed he would turn himself in on June 17, he instead failed to do so, leading to the infamous low-speed car chase in a white 1993 Ford Bronco SUV, with his former teammate and good friend Al Cowlings in the driver's seat. 

The subsequent 1995 trial for the murders – during which he was acquitted – was dubbed the trial of the century, lasted 11 months, and an estimated 150 million people nationwide tuned in to learn the verdict. 

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