The JonBenet Ramsey case refuses to go cold and, 14 years after the 6-year-old beauty queen was found bludgeoned and strangled to death in her own home in Boulder, Colo., local authorities are again calling in witnesses and going over the evidence, hoping to get a fresh perspective on an unsolved mystery that has riveted millions for over a decade.
But although media oultets like CBS News are reporting on the renewal of police interest in the JonBenet Ramsey murder, Boulder Police remain reticent. That reticence has left many wondering if investigators have new information in the case, or if the new round of questioning and going through the case files is a routine follow-up that merely touches base with the usual suspects.
“We continue to work the Ramsey case and have tailored our investigation based on recommendations from our 2009 advisory committee,” Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner told the Daily Camera newspaper. “This has included additional contacts and interviews with those who may have information pertinent to the case.”
But do authorities have any new information that could lead to new (or even old and dismissed) suspects and/or the killer? Is there a specific reason that Burke Ramsey, JonBenet’s brother, who was 9 years old at the time of her death, would be contacted for questioning, even though he was exonerated in 1999 of any wrongdoing?
Lin Wood, the Ramsey family attorney, told the Daily Camera, “Whatever the reason for any type of approach with Burke, it would have nothing to do with the case other than with the reality that John and Burke could help the Boulder police as witnesses in the investigation. For all I know, they have gotten some tip and think Burke could give them some information.”
Larry Schiller, Daily Beast contributor and the author of “Perfect Murder, Perfect Town,” considered the definitive book on the JonBenet Ramsey case, appeared on CBS’ “The Early Show” and said that the town still lived under the “shadow” of the case.
“I think it’s a matter of can they corroborate something they know about or that they suspect may lead them to a solution,” Schiller said.
Schiller told “The Early Show” that there was still plenty of evidence in the case that has never been fully explained or left completely unexplained. Bringing in the “usual suspects” and potential witnesses could resurrect the case and net JonBenet Ramsey’s killer.
“Now, if he [Burke] was a witness to some event that night,” he said, “something that may, in essence, now connect with something else, you have to remember, this murder took place in a community that was embarrassed by it. Wasn’t prepared for it. Did not have a history of violence. The police are never going to give up on this case. There’s no statute of limitation on murder.”
Making the case problematic are the many mistakes made by Boulder Police and prosecutors in the case. DNA evidence that could have aided in the investigation was lost or contaminated. The crime scene itself was tampered with by both family members and shoddy evidence collection techniques by investigators unused to processing crime scenes and dealing with murder investigations. The police department also became a source of investigation “leaks” to the press as the JonBenet story became more and more famous.
And there was — and is — the political factor as well. Former District Attorney Mary Lacy exonerated the entire Ramsey family in 2008. Many close to the investigation feel as if it was an agenda-driven statement, and, even though Lacy used DNA evidence found at the scene that did not match a family member as basis, she shouldn’t have publicly exonerated the family, whose involvement remains suspect.
Steven Pitt, the forensic psychologist who has consulted with the Boulder Police since 1997, told Christine Pelisek of the Daily Beast, “Let’s be real accurate-Miss Lacy had her own agenda and that was borne out time and again. Miss Lacy isn’t the one who does the exonerating. It is an ongoing case. She clearly had her own agenda.”
Others believe that Stan Garnett, the current district attorney, has brought the case back because of his own agenda. Garnett is running for the state attorney general position.
The JonBenet Ramsey case quickly made headlines the day after Christmas in 1996. And just as quickly, authorities soon were focusing on members of the family as possible suspects. And then the media brought intensified scrutiny on the parents and the older brother as potential killers. As more and more details emerged from the investigation, law enforcement and the media kept the focus on the family as suspects.
But is the killer buried within the case files of the Boulder Police, awaiting connection and illumination and arrest? Or are the Boulder Police, who took over the case again from the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office in February 2009, just corralling family members and friends, compiling a list and interviewing all the usual suspects one more time as part of their regular cold case reviews?
And what if the killer is incarcerated or already dead?
On finding the killer, Larry Schiller said on “The Early Show.”: “I think there’s always a chance with technology and confession.” He added, “I think there’s a very, very big chance that the killer has passed on and no longer exists.”
Patricia Ramsey, JonBenet’s mother, died in 2006 of ovarian cancer. Although speculation often circulated that she might have had something to do with her daughter’s death, her name was exonerated along with her husband, John, and son, Burke, in 2008.