The Boulder Daily Camera reported on January 27, 2013 that the Boulder Grand Jury convened in the murder of JonBenet Ramsey voted in 1999 to indict both John and Patsy Ramsey on charges of child abuse resulting in death in connection with the events of Christmas night 1996 at the Ramsey home in Boulder. Former Boulder First Assistant D.A. Bill Wise confirmed the grand jury's vote. The Daily Camera quotes him saying, "It names both of them, John and Patsy Ramsey."
The indictment on child abuse resulting in death, when charged as "knowingly or recklessy," is a Class II felony in Colorado that carries a sentence of four to 48 years. The statute of limitations on that charge in Colorado is three years from the date of the crime. The vote for the indictment was in October of 1999, over two months before the statute of limitations would have taken effect.
Then D.A. Alex Hunter refused to sign the indictment, presumably because he did not believe there was sufficient evidence to win a courtroom conviction. There is no doubt that the completely botched crime scene would have enabled the defense to put up strong resistance to any allegations advanced by the prosecution.
On the other hand, in refusing to sign the indictment, Hunter did not follow the Colorado statute governing grand jury practices. The statute stipulates that "every indictment shall be signed" by the foreman of the grand jury and the prosecuting attorney. As University of Colorado Law School Professor Mimi Wesson told the Daily Camera, the proper legal procedure would have been for Hunter to sign the indictment -- also know as a true bill -- file it with the court and then move in open court to dismiss the charges. "That would be the more transparent and responsible course, in my opinon," she said.
Rather than follow the dictates of the statute pertaining to grand jury matters, Hunter kept it secret that indicments had been handed down. Instead of going for transparency, as advocated by Professor Wesson, Hunter elected to keep the deep suspicion the grand jurors had for JonBenet's parents from the public. Upon disbanding the grand jury, which had met for the previous 18 months, Hunter held a news conference on October 13, 1999 where he issued this statement: "I and my prosecution task force believe we do not have sufficient evidence to warrant a filing of charges against anyone who has been investigated at this time."
"We don't know who did what," one of the grand jurors interviewed by the Daily Camera said, "but we felt the adults in the house may have done something that they certainly could have prevented, or they could have helped her, and they didn't."
After 28 years as Boulder's district attorney, Hunter retired in 2001. When it came out that the grand jury had voted to indict the Ramseys, he refused to comment on the revelation.
Stan Garnett, who became Boulder D.A. in 2009, said shortly after taking office that he was returning the Ramsey case, which his predecessor, Mary Lacy, had taken over from the Boulder Police Department, back to the police. "The Ramsey case is one of the cold cases we would take great satisifaction in solving and filing and pursuing in court," he said.
On July 9, 2008, Boulder County District Attorney Mary Lacy stated that DNA tests conducted by Bode Technology Group revealed that skin cells left behind on JonBenet Ramsey's long underwear point to a killer other than the girl's parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, or her brother, Burke. Mrs. Ramsey died of ovarian cancer in 2006 at age 49.
"To the extent that we may have contributed in any way to the public perception that you might have been involved in this crime, I am deeply sorry," Lacy wrote in an exoneration letter to John Ramsey, who now has remarried and lives in Michigan. "No innocent person should have to endure such an extensive trial in the court of public opinion."
Early in the investigation into the 6-year-old pageant star's brutal murder on Christmas night in 1996, Lacy said that Boulder police discovered male DNA in a drop of blood on JonBenet's underwear that did not match any members of JonBenet's immediate family. The tests conducted by Bode Technology Group, Lacy said, revealed the same DNA that was found previously in the drop of blood was present in three places on JonBenet's long underwear.
Lacy stated that Boulder investigators now hope they'll eventually find a DNA match in the ever-expanding national DNA databank, a sentiment echoed by John Ramsey. "I think the people that are in charge of the investigation are focused on that, and that gives me a lot of comfort," Mr. Ramsey said in an interview with a Denver TV station. "Certainly we are grateful that they acknowledged that we, based on that, certainly could not have been involved."
Even if a DNA match is eventually made, it does not mean that the DNA from this contaminated crime scene will reveal it to be that of JonBenet's killer, although it possibly could. For now, all that is known, is that it is not the DNA of John, Burke, or the late Patsy Ramsey. In the meantime, the JonBenet case will continue unsolved and will remain one of the most botched crime investigations in the annals of U.S. law enforcement.