Documents: Jury sought child abuse charges against JonBenet’s parents

BOULDER, Colo. — A grand jury that reviewed evidence in the death of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey believed her parents were involved in the crime but that another unknown person killed the young beauty queen, according to documents released Friday, 14 years after the grand jury made its recommendation.

At the time, the panel recommended that both her parents be charged with child abuse resulting in death and being an accessory to a crime, including murder.

However, the documents allege that both parents intended to delay or prevent the arrest of the person who killed their daughter.

The proposed charges were disclosed for the first time in the documents. However, no new light was shed on who committed the killing.

Prosecutors at the time declined to actually file charges against John and Patsy Ramsey, who have since been treated as victims in the case.

The district attorney at the time, Alex Hunter, who presented the evidence to the grand jury, said in 1999: “I and my prosecutorial team believe we do not have sufficient evidence to warrant the filing of charges against anyone who has been investigated at this time.”

John Ramsey’s attorney, Hal Haddon, issued a letter earlier this week opposing release of the indictments, pointing out that Hunter’s successor, former district attorney Mary Lacy, cleared the Ramseys based on new DNA testing in 2008.

He also cited Lacy’s apology in a letter to John Ramsey at the time, in which she said “no innocent person should have to endure such an extensive trial in the court of public opinion, especially when public officials have not had sufficient evidence to initiate a trial in a court of law.”

Haddon said Friday he would have no further comment on the release of the indictments.

Patsy Ramsey died in 2006.

Lurid details of the crime and striking videos of the child in adult makeup and costumes performing in pageants propelled the case into one of the highest profile mysteries in the U.S. in the mid-1990s.

The grand jury met three years after JonBenet’s body was found bludgeoned and strangled in the family home in Boulder on Dec. 26, 1996.

The Ramseys maintained their innocence, offering a $100,000 reward for information about the killer and mounting a newspaper campaign seeking evidence.

Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner said the case remains open but is not an active investigation. He predicted the indictment’s release wouldn’t change anything.

“Given the publicity that’s been out there, many people have formed their opinions one way or another,” he said.

Former prosecutor and law professor Karen Steinhauser said grand juries sometimes hear evidence that won’t be admitted during trial that can form the basis of indictments.

But she added that prosecutors must have a good faith belief that they could prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt before pursuing charges.

“I’m not sure that the release of this indictment is going to change the fact that there has not been able to be a prosecution and probably won’t be able to be a prosecution,” she said.

David Lane, a defense attorney who was not involved in the case, said the indictments could have been an attempt to force the parents to turn against each other, which he said was unlikely because both were protected by laws that limit testimony of one spouse against another.

“Somebody killed JonBenet Ramsey,” Lane said. “It sounds like they were accused of aiding and abetting each other, with the hope someone would crack and break. That didn’t happen, and prosecutors may have decided not to go forward.”

The Daily Camera reported earlier this year that the grand jury had issued the indictment. The actual documents were released Friday in response to a lawsuit by the Daily Camera and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett determined the release would not violate grand jury secrecy rules, and transferred the documents to Robert Lowenbach, a retired Weld County judge, for review.

Lowenbach said Wednesday that only pages signed by the grand jury foreman would be releasable as official actions of the jury. His order mentioned 18 pages in all — nine relating to each of JonBenet’s parents. Four pages — two each relating to the parents — were released Friday.

John Ramsey didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

Patsy Ramsey died of cancer in 2006, the same year a globe-hopping school teacher was arrested in Thailand after falsely claiming to have killed JonBenet. Former District Attorney Mary Lacy cleared the Ramseys in 2008 based on new DNA testing that suggested the killer was a stranger, not a family member.

Lacy did not return a phone call on Friday.

Over the years, some experts have suggested that investigators botched the case so thoroughly that it might never be solved.

Earlier this week, John Ramsey asked officials to release the entire grand jury record if the unprosecuted indictment was made public.

However, Lowenbach said transcripts of grand jury proceedings and evidence presented to it are not considered official action under the law governing criminal court records. He also said releasing such information could hurt other grand juries, whose work is secret.

An attorney representing John Ramsey, L. Lin Wood, has said he’s confident that no evidence in the grand jury case implicated the Ramsey family and the public should be able to see that for themselves.

—————

Associated Press writers Steven K. Paulson and Dan Elliott contributed to this report.

News
Educators dressed in red have taken to the streets to demand more for their students.
Educators dressed in red have taken to the streets to demand more for their students. Educators from around the State are bringing the Red for Ed movement to the steps of the Nevada Legislature in Carson City, NV, and to the Grant Sawyer Building in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Nature Conservancy Ranch
The Nature Conservancy just bought the 900-acre 7J Ranch at the headwaters of the Amargosa River, north of Beatty. The property could become a research station, though ranching will continue.
Swift water rescue at Durango Wash in Las Vegas
On Thursday, February 14, 2019, at approximately 8:42 a.m., the Clark County Fire Department responded to a report of a swift water incident where people were trapped in the Durango wash which is located near 8771 Halcon Ave. Personnel found one person who was trapped in the flood channel. The individual was transported to the hospital in stable condition. Video by Clark County Fire & Rescue.
Flooding at E Cheyenne in N. Las Vegas Blvd.
Quick Weather Around the Strip
Rain hits Las Vegas, but that doesn't stop people from heading out to the Strip. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Aaron Semas, professional bull rider, talks about his traumatic brain injuries
Aaron Semas, professional bull rider, talks about his traumatic brain injuries. The Cleveland Clinic will begin researching the brains of retired bull riders to understand the impact traumatic brain injuries have on cognition. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Matt Stutzman shoots arrows with his feet
Matt Stutzman who was born without arms shoots arrows with his feet and hits the bullseye with remarkable accuracy. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Secretary of Air Force Emphasizes the Importance of Nellis AFB
US Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson visited Nellis Air Force Base during Red Flag training and described how important the base is to the military.
Former Northwest Academy student speaks out
Tanner Reynolds, 13, with his mother Angela McDonald, speaks out on his experience as a former student of Northwest Academy in Amargosa Valley, which includes abuse by staff member Caleb Michael Hill. Hill, 29, was arrested Jan. 29 by the Nye County Sheriff’s Office on suspicion of child abuse.
Former Northwest Academy students speak out
Tristan Groom, 15, and his brother Jade Gaastra, 23, speak out on their experiences as former students of Northwest Academy in Amargosa Valley, which includes abuse by staff and excessive medication.
Disruption At Metro PD OIS Presser
A man claiming to be part of the press refused to leave a press conference at Metro police headquarters, Wednesday January 30, 2019. Officers were forced to physically remove the man. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Clients at Las Vegas’ Homeless Courtyard talk about their experience
Clients at Las Vegas’ Homeless Courtyard talk about their experience after the city began operating around the clock. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Las Vegas parts ways with operator of homeless courtyard
Jocelyn Bluitt-Fisher discusses the transition between operators of the homeless courtyard in Las Vegas, Thursday Jan. 24, 2019.(Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police and Raiders partner with SafeNest
Las Vegas police and the Raiders partner with SafeNest on Project Safe 417 (the police code for domestic violence is 417). The program partners trained SafeNest volunteer advocates with Metropolitan Police Department officers dispatched to domestic violence calls, allowing advocates to provide immediate crisis advocacy to victims at the scene of those calls. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
North Las Vegas police chief discusses officer-involved shooting
North Las Vegas police chief Pamela Ojeda held a press conference Thursday, Jan. 24, regarding an officer-involved shooting that took place on Jan. 21. The incident resulted in the killing of suspect Horacio Ruiz-Rodriguez. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Volunteers gather for annual Clark County homeless count
Volunteers gather for the annual Southern Nevada Homeless Census, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who can understand hospital price lists?
Lists of costs for procedures, drugs and devices are now posted the websites of hospitals to comply with a new federal rule designed to provide additional consumer transparency. Good luck figuring out what they mean.
People in Mesquite deal with a massive power outage
People in Mesquite respond to a major power outage in the area on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Group helping stranded motorists during power outage
A group of Good Samaritans are offering free gas to people in need at the Glendale AM/PM, during a massive power outage near Mesquite on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen falls at Las Vegas parade
U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen of Nevada fell and injured her wrist at the Martin Luther King Day parade in Las Vegas on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Local astronomers host super blood wolf moon viewing
The Las Vegas Astronomical Society paired with the College of Southern Nevada to host a lunar eclipse viewing Sunday night. Known as the super blood wolf moon, the astronomical event won't occur for another 18 years. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Tate Elementary shows academic progress after categorical funding
Students at Tate Elementary in Las Vegas has benefited from a program to boost education funding in targeted student populations, known as categorical funding. One program called Zoom helps students who have fallen below grade level in reading. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
The third annual Women’s March in Las Vegas
The third annual Women’s March in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @btesfaye
First former felon to work for Nevada Department of Corrections
After his father died, Michael Russell struggled for years with drug addiction. When he finally decided to change for good, he got sober and worked for years to help others. Now he is the first former felon to be hired by the Nevada Department of Corrections. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Three Square helps TSA workers
Three Square Food Bank donated over 400 care bags to TSA workers affected by the government shutdown Wednesday, filled with food, personal hygiene products and water.
Las Vegas furniture store donates to Clark County firehouses
Walker Furniture donated new mattresses to all 30 Clark County firehouses in the Las Vegas Valley, starting today with Station 22. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mount Charleston Gets Heavy Snow, Fog
Mount Charleston saw heavy snow today, and fog in lower elevations as a cold front swept across the Las Vegas Valley. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Krystal Whipple arrested in Arizona
Krystal Whipple, charged in the killing of a Las Vegas nail salon manager over a $35 manicure, is expected to return to Nevada to face a murder charge.
Holocaust survivor on acceptance
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, talks about the most important message for people to understand from her life and experiences.
Holocaust survivor speaks about telling her story
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, tells of opening up about her experiences during Sunday’s event at Temple Sinai.
ad-high_impact_4
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing