August 6, 1998
On June 22, I submitted a letter to Chief Koby, requesting a leave of absence from the Boulder Police Department. In response to persistent speculation as to why I chose to leave the Ramsey investigation, this letter explains more fully those reasons. Although my concerns were well known for some time, I tried to be gracious in my departure, addressing only health concerns. However, after a month of soul searching and reflection, I feel I must now set the record straight.
The primary reason I chose to leave is my belief that the district attorney's office continues to mishandle the Ramsey case. I had been troubled for many months with many aspects of the investigation. Albeit an uphill battle of a case to begin with, it became a nearly impossible investigation because of the political alliances, philosophical differences, and professional egos that blocked progress in more ways, and on more occasions, than I can detail in this memorandum. I and others voiced these concerns repeatedly. In the interest of hoping justice would be served, we tolerated it, except for those closed door sessions when detectives protested in frustration, where fists hit the table, where detectives demanded that the right things be done. The wrong things were done, and made it a manner of simple principle that I could not continue to participate as it stood with the district attorney's office. As an organization, we remained silent, when we should have shouted.
The Boulder Police Department took a handful of detectives days after the murder, and handed us this case. As one of those five primary detectives, we tackled it for a year and a half. We conducted an exhaustive investigation, followed the evidence where it led us, and were faithfully and professionally committed to this case. Although not perfect, cases rarely are. During eighteen months on the Ramsey investigation, my colleagues and I worked the case night and day, and in spite of tied hands. On June 1-2, 1998, we crunched thirty thousand pages of investigation to its essence, and put our cards on the table, delivering the case in a formal presentation to the district attorney's office. We stood confident in our work. Very shortly thereafter, though, the detectives who know this case better than anyone were advised by the district attorney's office that we would not be participating as grand jury advisory witnesses.
The very entity with whom we shared our investigative case file to see justice sought, I felt, was betraying this case. We were never afforded true prosecutorial support. There was never a consolidation of resources. All legal opportunities were not made available. How were we expected to "solve" this case when the district attorney's office was crippling us with their positions? I believe they were, literally, facilitating the escape of justice. During this investigation, consider the following:
•During the investigation detectives would discover, collect, and bring evidence to the district attorney's office, only to have it summarily dismissed or rationalized as insignificant. The most elementary of investigative efforts, such as obtaining telephone and credit card records, were met without support, search warrants denied. The significant opinions of national experts were casually dismissed or ignored by the district attorney's office, even the experienced FBI were waved aside.
•Those who chose not to cooperate were never compelled before a grand jury early in this case, as detectives suggested only weeks after the murder, while information and memories were fresh.
•An informant, for reasons his own, came to detectives about conduct occurring inside the district attorneys office, including allegations of a plan intended only to destroy a man's career. We carefully listened. With that knowledge, the department did nothing. Other than to alert the accused, and in the process burn the two detectives [who captured that exchange on an undercover wire, incidentally] who came forth with this information. One of the results of that internal whistleblowing was witnessing Detective Commander Eller, who also could not tolerate what was occurring, lose his career and reputation undeservedly; scapegoated in a manner which only heightened my concerns. It did not take much inferential reasoning to realize that any dissidents were readily silenced.
•In a departure from protocol, police reports, physical evidence, and investigative information was shared with Ramsey defense attorneys, all of this in the district attorney's office "spirit of cooperation". I served a search warrant, only to find later defense attorneys were simply given copies of the evidence it yielded.
•An FBI agent, whom I didn't even know, quietly tipped me off about what the DA's office was doing behind our backs, conducting investigation the police department was wholly unaware of.
•I was advised not to speak to certain witnesses, and all but dissuaded from pursuing particular investigative efforts. Polygraphs were acceptable for some subjects, but others seemed immune from such requests.
•Innocent people were not "cleared", publicly or otherwise, even when it was unmistakably the right thing to do, as reputations and lives were destroyed. Some in the district attorney's office, to this day, pursue weak, defenseless, and innocent people in shameless tactics that one couldn't believe more bizarre if it were made up.
•I was told by one in the district attorney's office about being unable to "break" a particular police officer from his resolute accounts of events he had witnessed. In my opinion, this was not trial preparation, this was an attempt to derail months of hard work.
•I was repeatedly reminded by some in the district attorney's office just how powerful and talented and resourceful particular defense attorneys were. How could decisions be made this way?
•There is evidence that was critical to the investigation, that to this day has never been collected, because neither search warrants nor other means were supported to do so. Not to mention evidence which still sits today, untested in the laboratory, as differences continue about how to proceed.
•While investigative efforts were rebuffed, my search warrant affidavits and attempts to gather evidence in the murder investigation of a six year old child were met with refusals and, instead, the suggestion that we "ask the permission of the Ramseys" before proceeding. And just before conducting the Ramsey interviews, I thought it inconceivable I was being lectured on "building trust".
These are but a few of the many examples of why I chose to leave. Having to convince, to plead at times, to a district attorney's office to assist us in the murder of a little girl, by way of the most basic of investigative requests, was simply absurd. When my detective partner and I had to literally hand search tens of thousands of receipts, because we didn't have a search warrant to assist us otherwise, we did so. But we lost tremendous opportunities to make progress, to seek justice, and to know the truth. Auspicious timing and strategy could have made a difference. When the might of the criminal justice system should have brought all it had to bear on this investigation, and didn't, we remained silent. We were trying to deliver a murder case with hands tied behind our backs. It was difficult, and our frustrations understandable. It was an assignment without chance of success. Politics seemed to trump justice.
Even "outsiders" quickly assessed the situation, as the FBI politely noted early on: "the government isn't in charge of this investigation." As the nation watched, appropriately anticipating a fitting response to the murder of the most innocent of victims, I stood bothered as to what occurred behind the scenes. Those inside this case knew what was going on. Eighteen months gave us a unique perspective.
We learned to ignore the campaign of misinformation in which we were said to be bumbling along, or else just pursuing one or two suspects in some ruthless vendetta. Much of what appeared in the press was orchestrated by particular sources wishing to discredit the Boulder Police Department. We watched the media spun, while we were prohibited from exercising First Amendment rights. As disappointment and frustration pervaded, detectives would remark to one another, "if it reaches a particular point, I'm walking away." But we would always tolerate it "just one more time." Last year, when we discovered hidden cameras inside the Ramsey house, only to realize the detectives had been unwittingly videotaped, this should have rocked the police department off its foundation. Instead, we allowed that, too, to pass without challenge. The detectives' enthusiasm became simply resigned frustration, acquiescing to that which should never have been tolerated. In the media blitz, the pressure of the whole world watching, important decisions seemed to be premised on "how it would play" publicly. Among at least a few of the detectives, "there's something wrong here" became a catch phrase. I witnessed others having to make decisions which impacted their lives and careers, watched the soul searching that occurred as the ultimate questions were pondered. As it goes, "evils that befall the world are not nearly so often caused by bad men, as they are by good men who are silent when an opinion must be voiced." Although several good men in the police department shouted loudly behind closed doors, the organization stood deafeningly silent at what continued to occur unchallenged.
Last Spring, you, too, seemed at a loss. I was taken aback when I was reminded of what happened to Commander Eller when he stuck his neck out. When reminded how politically powerful the DA was. When reminded of the hundreds of other cases the department had to file with this district attorney's office, and that this was but one case. And finally, when I was asked, "what do you want done? The system burned down?", it struck me dumb. But when you conceded that there were those inside the DA's office we had to simply accept as "defense witnesses", and when we were reduced to simply recording our objections for "documentation purposes" -- I knew I was not going to participate in this much longer.
I believe the district attorney's office is thoroughly compromised. When we were told by one in the district attorney's office, months before we had even completed our investigation, that this case "is not prosecutable," we shook our heads in disbelief. A lot could have been forgiven, the lesser transgressions ignored, for the right things done. Instead, those in the district attorney's office encouraged us to allow them to "work their magic" (which I never fully understood. Did that "magic" include sharing our case file information with the defense attorneys, dragging feet in evidence collection, or believing that two decades of used-car-dealing-style-plea-bargaining was somehow going to solve this case?). Right and wrong is just that. Some of these issues were not shades of gray. Decision should have been made as such. Whether a suspect a penniless indigent with a public defender, or otherwise.
As contrasted by my experiences in Georgia, for example, where my warrant affidavits were met with a sense of support and an obligation to the victim. Having worked with able prosecutors in other jurisdictions, having worked cases where justice was aggressively sought, I have familiarity with these prosecution professionals who hold a strong sense of justice. And then, from Georgia, the Great Lakes, the East Coast, the South, I would return to Boulder, to again be thoroughly demoralized.
We delayed and ignored, for far too long, that which was "right", in deference of maintaining this dysfunctional relationship with the district attorney's office. This wasn't a runaway train that couldn't be stopped. Some of us bit our tongues as the public was told of this "renewed cooperation" between the police department and the district attorney's office -- this at the very time the detectives and those in the district attorney's office weren't even on speaking terms, the same time you had to act as a liaison between the two agencies because the detectives couldn't tolerate it. I was quite frankly surprised, as you remarked on this camaraderie, that there had not yet been a fistfight.
In Boulder, where the politics, policies, and pervasive thought has held for years, a criminal justice system designed to deal with such an event was not in place. Instead, we had an institution that when needed most, buckled. The system was paralyzed, as to this day one continues to get away with murder.
Will there be a real attempt at justice? I may be among the last to find out. The department assigned me some of the most sensitive and critical assignments in the Ramsey case, including search warrants and affidavits, the Atlanta projects, the interviews of the Ramseys, and many other sensitive assignments I won't mention. I criss-crossed the country, conducting interviews and investigation, pursuing pedophiles and drifters, chasing and discarding leads. I submitted over 250 investigative reports for this case alone. I'd have been happy to assist the grand jury. But the detectives, who know this case better than anyone, were told we would not be allowed as grand jury advisory witnesses, as is common place. If a grand jury is convened, the records will be sealed, and we will not witness what goes on inside such a proceeding. What part of the case gets presented, what doesn't?
District Attorney Hunter's continued reference to a "runaway" grand jury is also puzzling. Is he afraid that he cannot control the outcome? Why would one not simply present evidence to jurors, and let the jury decide? Perhaps the DA is hoping for a voluntary confession one day. What's needed, though, is an effective district attorney to conduct the inquiry, not a remorseful killer.
The district attorney's office should be the ethical and judicial compass for the community, ensuring that justice is served -- or at least, sought. Instead, our DA has becoming a spinning compass for the media. The perpetuating inference continues that justice is somehow just around the corner. I do not see that occurring, as the two year anniversary of this murder approaches.
It is my belief the district attorney's office has effectively crippled this case. The time for intervention is now. It is difficult to imagine a more compelling situation for the appointment of an entirely independent prosecution team to be introduced into this matter, who would oversee an attempt at righting this case.
* * * * *
Unmistakably and worst of all, we have failed a little girl named Jon Benet. Six years old. Many good people, decent, innocent citizens, are forever bound by the murder of this child. There is a tremendous obligation to them. But an infinitely greater obligation to her, as she rests in a small cemetery far away from this anomaly of a place called Boulder.
A distant second stands the second tragedy -- the failure of the system in Boulder. Ask the mistreated prosecution witnesses in this investigation, who cooperated for months, who now refuse to talk until a special prosecutor is established. Ask former detectives who have quietly tendered their shields in disheartenment. Ask all those innocent people personally affected by this case, who have had their lives upset because of the arbitrary label of "suspect" being attached. Ask the cops who cannot speak out because they still wear a badge. The list is long.
I know that to speak out brings its own issues. But as you also know, there are others who are as disheartened as I am, who are biting their tongues, searching their consciences. I know what may occur -- I may be portrayed as frustrated, disgruntled. Not so. I have had an exemplary and decorated thirteen year career as a police officer and detective. I didn't want to challenge the system. In no way do I wish to harm this case or subvert the long and arduous work that has been done. I only wish to speak up and ask for assistance in making a change. I want justice for a child who was killed in her home on Christmas night.
This case has defined many aspects of all our lives, and will continue to do so for all of our days. My colleagues put their hearts and souls into this case, and I will take some satisfaction that it was the detective team who showed tremendous efforts and loyalties to seeking justice for this victim. Many sacrifices were made. Families. Marriages. In the latter months of the investigation, I was diagnosed with a disease which will require a lifetime of medication. Although my health declined, I was resolved to see the case through to a satisfactory closure. I did that on June 1-2. And on June 22, I requested a leave of absence, without mention of what transpired in our department since Christmas 1996.
What I witnessed for two years of my life was so fundamentally flawed, it reduced me to tears. Everything the badge ever meant to me was so foundationally shaken, one should never have to sell one's soul as a prerequisite to wear it. On June 26, after leaving the investigation for the last time, and leaving the city of Boulder, I wept as I drove home, removing my detectives shield and placing it on the seat beside me, later putting it in a desk drawer at home, knowing I could never put it back on.
There is some consolation that a greater justice awaits the person who committed these acts, independent of this system we call "justice." A greater justice awaits. Of that, at least, we can be confident.
As a now infamous author, panicked in the night, once penned, "use that good southern common sense of yours." I will do just that. Originally from a small southern town where this would never have been tolerated, where respect for law and order and traditions were instilled in me, I will take that murderous author's out-of-context advice. And use my good southern common sense to put this case into the perspective it necessitates -- a precious child was murdered. There needs to be some consequence to that.
Regretfully, I tender this letter, and my police career, a calling which I loved. I do this because I cannot continue to sanction by my silence what has occurred in this case. It was never a fair playing field, the "game" was simply unacceptable anymore. And that's what makes this all so painful. The detectives never had a chance. If ever there were a case, and if ever there were a victim, who truly meant something to the detectives pursuing the truth, this is it. If not this case, what case? Until such time an independent prosecutor is appointed to oversee this case, I will not be a part of this. What went on was simply wrong.
I recalled a favorite passage recently, Atticus Finch speaking to his daughter: "Just remember that one thing does not abide by majority rule, Scout -- it's your conscience."
At thirty-six years old, I thought my life's passion as a police officer was carved in stone. I realize that although I may have to trade my badge for a carpenter's hammer, I will do so with a clear conscience. It is with a heavy heart that I offer my resignation from the Boulder Police Department, in protest of this continuing travesty.
Detective Steve Thomas #638
Boulder Police Department
August 6, 1998
By FLEET RUSSELL WHITE, Jr. and PRISCILLA B. WHITE
As witnesses in the JonBenet Ramsey murder investigation, we are reluctant to express our views regarding the investigation. At this time, however, we feel compelled to address matters which we feel to be of great importance.
There is a widely held perception that the investigation has been plagued by intense news media coverage and the improper conduct of the Boulder Police Department and the Boulder County District Attorney.
There can be no question that the wide circulation of facts, evidence, and opinions has had a debilitating effect on the investigation. Equally damaging, however, have been public statements made by officials which, because of their nature and discontinuity, have created confusion and anxiety not only for the public but also for law enforcement personnel and witnesses. It must be clear at this point that the extraordinary circumstances of this crime and its investigation do not lend themselves to discussion or debate in a public forum. Doing so will only serve to jeopardize the civil rights of involved parties, reduce the willingness of witnesses to cooperate, and make the task of law enforcement agencies investigating the case more difficult.
Public officials who contemplate the release of information concerning the case or who desire to publicly express their opinions must be mindful of these risks. Such statements and the release of information should only serve the goals of furthering the investigation or protecting the public. There are simply no other valid reasons for making information regarding the investigation available to the public. It is likely that few, if any, statements of fact or opinion made by public officials concerning the Ramsey investigation have met this standard. For this case to proceed in a positive manner it will be necessary to do all that is practically possible to integrate the activities of a prosecutor and police investigators and shield their investigation from public view until such time when an arrest is made.
As witnesses, we have developed confidence and trust in Boulder Police Department investigators. While we recognize that errors have been made in the investigation, we feel strongly that these officers and their leadership are committed both personally and professionally to assembling a valid case which will lead to an arrest and conviction. Furthermore, we are greatly encouraged by their addition of competent legal counsel who are aiding their investigation.
We have not, on the other hand, developed such sentiments toward the Boulder County District Attorney. On the contrary, we feel that the Boulder County District Attorney has not acted in a manner consistent with an agency which must work with police investigators and witnesses in a positive and professional manner. Our sentiments toward the Boulder County District Attorney are based on our personal experiences which have been augmented by the following considerations:
There are various relationships between the Boulder County District Attorney and members of the Boulder and Denver legal communities which may have impaired the objectivity of the Boulder County District Attorney with respect to a case brought before it by the Boulder Police Department.
The Boulder County District Attorney under the leadership of District Attorney Alex Hunter has been criticized in the past for not being an aggressive prosecutor of homicide cases.
There appears to be an atmosphere of distrust and non-cooperation between the Boulder County District Attorney and the Boulder Police Department regarding the investigation. This relationship appears to be irreparably damaged with respect to the Ramsey case.
There is a strong impression that the Boulder County District Attorney has acted improperly by sharing evidence and other information with attorneys and other parties not officially involved in the investigation.
There is a strong impression that Alex Hunter and members of his staff have acted inappropriately by giving their opinions and information regarding the investigation to various news media organizations. This impression has been strengthened recently by the statements made by District Attorney Alex Hunter appearing in the Jan. 19, 1998, issue of New Yorker magazine. His comments regarding the police investigation are mean-spirited and entirely devoid of any constructive aspect. We feel that his decision to state publicly these opinions regarding an on-going homicide investigation clearly defines his poor judgment and wanton disregard for all parties involved in this investigation and for the criminal justice system. The fact that he made some of these statements five months ago, as has been recently suggested, does nothing to make them less inexcusable. What public service did Mr. Hunter envision when he made such statements and revealed details of the investigation over a period of five months to a noted journalist who has publicly announced his intention to write a book about the investigation?
These considerations cannot be ignored in an attempt to understand the present status of the investigation or in anticipating its future course. At a minimum, these considerations have created the strong appearance of impropriety, professional incompetence and a lack of objectivity. Additionally, the suit against Alex Hunter brought by Darnay Hoffman, regardless of its merit, has reinforced this appearance in the public consciousness. In this context, the following questions must be asked:
Is the Boulder County District Attorney capable of inspiring the confidence and trust of police investigators and relevant witnesses in order that a case may be developed in such a manner as to maximize the likelihood of an arrest?
Is the Boulder County District Attorney capable of objectively and professionally evaluating the merit of a case presented to it by the Boulder Police Department?
Is the Boulder County District Attorney capable of aggressively and professionally coordinating and conducting a prosecution or other court proceedings in a manner most likely to result in an indictment and a successful prosecution?
On Dec. 18, 1997, we met with Gov. Roy Romer to urge that he intervene immediately to remove the Boulder County District Attorney from any involvement in the case and appoint an independent special prosecutor. On Jan. 7, 1998, we were notified by Governor Romer that he had decided not to intervene. In a Jan. 12, 1998, letter from Gov. Romer, we were formally notified of his decision. In this letter, he stated that he had "decided not to intervene in this matter at this time" and indicated that his decision was "based in part on the fact that the police investigation is not yet complete and the case has not been referred to the district attorney for prosecution." While he did not specify what other factors were considered in arriving at his decision, we can only hope that they derive from sound recommendations received from knowledgeable and unbiased officials involved in the investigation who are in possession of compelling facts which are not available to us.
If Gov. Romer is inclined to intervene but feels that such a decision would now be untimely, we would submit that the passage of time cannot be expected to reduce the obstacles facing the investigation and the prosecution. In their effort to follow evidence, construct a valid case, and to maintain the confidence of witnesses, the Boulder Police Department needs the immediate participation and guidance of a supportive and competent prosecutor.
The idea of waiting for the case to be "completed" and to be "referred" to the Boulder County District Attorney presupposes that the negative effect of the presence of the Boulder County District Attorney in the investigation will somehow be mitigated in the future. It ignores the practical problem that the Boulder Police Department and relevant witnesses have no confidence in the ability of the Boulder County District Attorney to prudently handle evidence and to professionally and impartially consider a case presented to it.
Furthermore, it is unreasonable for Governor Romer or for any of us to rely on civic and law enforcement officials who offer assurances that they can somehow eliminate the differences between the Boulder Police Department and the Boulder County District Attorney in an effort to move the case forward purposefully when they have so amply demonstrated their inability to do so. Nor should we or Gov. Romer rely on the Hoffman suit or similar actions that may follow. It appears that these will only result in meaningless debate over semantics and, at best, lead to protracted and contentious court proceedings and investigations. As for the concern that the removal of the Boulder County District Attorney from the Ramsey case will jeopardize the future relationship between the Boulder Police Department and the Boulder County District Attorney on other cases, it is more likely that the continued presence of the Boulder County District Attorney in the Ramsey case will only serve to lessen the prospects of a healthy future relationship.
We again respectfully request that Gov. Romer intervene in this matter and level the playing field in Boulder. The Boulder Police Department has but one goal in this matter which is to bring the person or persons who have committed crimes to justice. The police are handicapped by those who are acting to obfuscate and confuse the facts of this investigation. At this point there is little to be gained by speculating about who these people are and what reasons they may have for doing so. That can be left for another day. We request that Governor Romer immediately intervene and remove the Boulder County District Attorney and its offices from the investigation and appoint a competent and completely independent special prosecutor who is capable of establishing and maintaining the confidence and the trust of the Boulder Police Department, witnesses in the case, and the public whereby to maximize the likelihood of a successful conclusion to this case. Regardless of the nature of his decision, we request that Governor Romer announce it publicly and that he make clear his reasoning. We ask the people of Colorado and especially the people of Boulder to join us in this respect.
The investigation of the murder of JonBenet Ramsey has profoundly hurt many innocent people. It has caused the Boulder community and many of its leaders and institutions to be degraded. It has engendered contempt for Boulder`s law enforcement agencies and criminal justice system. Governor Romer, with the support of the people of Boulder, must attend to these matters now.
To the people of Colorado:
On August 12, 1998, Boulder District Attorney Alex Hunter announced that he would be presenting the JonBenet Ramsey murder case to a Boulder grand jury at the expense of the State of Colorado. Colorado grand jury law requires that both jurors and witnesses take an oath of secrecy regarding grand jury proceedings and testimony. In anticipation of receiving a subpoena to appear before that grand jury, we wish at this time to address matters concerning the investigation which we feel are of great importance to the people of Colorado and the Boulder community.
After JonBenet Ramsey was killed in Boulder nearly twenty months ago, her parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, immediately hired prominent Democrat criminal defense attorneys with the law firm of Haddon, Morgan and Foreman. This firm and its partners have close professional, political and personal ties to prosecutors, the Denver and Boulder legal and judicial communities, state legislators, and high-ranking members of Colorado government, including Governor Roy Romer. The investigation of her death has since been characterized by confusion and delays. The district attorney and Ramsey defense attorneys started early in the investigation to condition the public to believe that these delays and the lack of a prosecution have resulted almost entirely from initial police bungling of the case and the non-cooperation of witnesses. This has continued to this day. Advising the district attorney since the early days of the investigation have been Denver metropolitan area district attorneys Bob Grant (Adams County), Bill Ritter (Denver County), Jim Peters (18th Judicial District), and Dave Thomas (1st Judicial District).
Recently, Boulder police detective Steve Thomas, an investigator on the JonBenet Ramsey murder case, left the department in disgust. In his August 6 letter of resignation, he publicly accused the district attorney of obstructing the police investigation and allowing politics to "trump" justice. He asked that a special prosecutor be brought in to handle the case.
We knew JonBenet and her parents very well and have been closely involved in the investigation as witnesses. During the past year, we have also come to know and respect Mr. Thomas and were saddened and discouraged by his departure from the investigation. We share Mr. Thomas' view regarding the district attorney and his contention that overwhelming pressure brought to bear on the district attorney and police leadership from various quarters has thwarted the investigation and delayed justice in the case. While it is unlikely that the district attorney has been corrupted by Ramsey defense attorneys, it is certain that the district attorney and his prosecutors have been greatly influenced by their metro area district attorney advisers and by defense attorneys' chummy persuasiveness and threats of reprisals for anyone daring to jeopardize the civil rights of their victim clients. Indeed, the district attorney and the Ramsey attorneys have simultaneously rebuked the police for "focusing" their investigation on the Ramseys when in fact police were simply following evidence. During the course of the investigation, the district attorney has used inexplicable methods including the recruitment of magazine writers and tabloids to leak information concerning the case and to needle witnesses, "suspects", and police detectives. He has provided evidence to Ramsey defense attorneys at their request but denied reasonable requests by witnesses for their own statements to police. He has thoroughly alienated police detectives and key witnesses whose cooperation is vital to the investigation and prosecution. His public statements regarding the investigation have been erratic, evasive, and misleading. They have also been profoundly damaging to the case. Understandably, public confidence in the district attorney's handling of the investigation was low even before Mr. Thomas' letter.
Notwithstanding what the public has been led to believe, Boulder police leadership and detectives have been under the effective control of the district attorney and his advisers since the early days of the investigation.
In December, 1997, we met with Governor Romer to request that the state intervene and appoint an independent special prosecutor to take over the investigation and prosecution of the case. Citing the growing conflict between police and prosecutors and the delay of any progress in the investigation, we expressed our view that Boulder authorities were incapable of seeking justice. We also pointed out specific circumstances which we felt could inhibit or restrict Governor Romer's willingness to intervene. In early January, 1998, we were advised that he had decided against intervention on the advice of Boulder Police Chief Tom Koby. Chief Koby, who has since left the department, had told Governor Romer that the investigation was incomplete and therefore had not been given to the district attorney for prosecution. In short, there had been no failure to prosecute and thus no basis for the state's intervention. Upon learning of his decision, we wrote a letter published January 16, 1998 in the Boulder Daily Camera expressing our views and requesting that Governor Romer reconsider his decision. Recently, Governor Romer publicly stated that he did not recall the letter. We hope that this letter will make a stronger impression.
Since our meeting with Governor Romer eight months ago, the public has been shown the forced reconciliation of demoralized police detectives with the district attorney and his prosecutors and a sequence of odd and highly publicized milestones In the case. In March, 1998, police Chief Koby and lead investigator Mark Beckner (later to be appointed police chief), made an unusual public appeal to the district attorney for a grand jury investigation on the pro bono advice of three prominent Denver attorneys. In response, the district attorney requested a complete presentation by police of evidence. This presentation occurred over two days in early June, 1998, and was witnessed by prosecutors, representatives of the State Attorney General's office, prominent forensic scientists, and advisers of the district attorney and the police department. The public was then told that the investigation had been finally transferred to the district attorney from the police department and that the district attorney would now require some indeterminate length of time to review the case prior to making a decision concerning the police request for a grand jury investigation. Upon leaving the presentation, both Alex Hunter and Mark Beckner made inappropriate but tantalizing comments designed to give the public hope that the case may yet be "solved". They warned, however, that there was still a lot of work to do and that additional evidence was needed. Then, in late June, 1998, the public was once again brought in on a major development in the case. The Ramseys were interviewed by representatives of the district attorney in a carefully orchestrated demonstration of their willingness to cooperate in the investigation now that biased and incompetent police detectives were no longer involved.
Most developments in the case brought to the public's attention throughout 1997 should be regarded as well-publicized but clumsy attempts by the district attorney and police leadership to look busy, follow long "task lists", and clean up investigative files while the district attorney killed time and spread-out responsibility for the case. On the other hand, "advances" in the case since early this year have been carefully planned to condition the public for a grand jury investigation. The district attorney's past indecision and the need for the police to ask him for a grand jury investigation were deliberate attempts to mislead the public. If based on nothing other than the district attorney's repeated public statements and leaks characterizing the case as "not prosecutable", there can be little doubt that, absent a confession, the people running the investigation had long ago decided against filing charges in the case. Instead, they manipulated public opinion to favor the use of the grand jury. There is compelling evidence, however, that their motivation for presenting the case to a grand jury has little or nothing to do with obtaining new evidence, grilling "reluctant" witnesses, or returning an indictment and everything to do with sealing away facts, circumstances and evidence gathered in the investigation in a grand jury transcript. It is our firm belief that the district attorney and others intend to use the grand jury and its secrecy in an attempt to protect their careers and also serve the conflicting interests of powerful, influential, and threatening people who have something to hide or protect or who simply don't want to be publicly linked to a dreadful murder investigation. Also weighing on the district attorney has been the matter of preserving and protecting the now "cooperative" and forthcoming Ramseys' rights as victims.
In direct response to Mr. Thomas' recent letter, Governor Romer met on August 12, 1998 with district attorneys Grant, Ritter, Peters, and Thomas. Later that day, Governor Romer announced at a press conference that Hunter had told him that the case was "on track for a grand jury". Romer said that "it would be improper to appoint a special prosecutor now" but that to improve public confidence in the case he would make available to Hunter additional prosecutorial expertise. Shortly after the press conference, Hunter's office announced that the case would be presented to a grand jury in "order to gain additional evidence in the case". On August 13, 1998, the Rocky Mountain News offered an editorial entitled "Calling in the Calvary" (sic) in which the editor generally supported Governor's Romer's action but insightfully asked the obvious question: Why has it taken so long for Hunter's office to present the case to a grand jury? The editorial read:
"But if the Ramsey case is 'on track for a grand jury,' as Romer insists, it seems to have been sitting on a siding for quite a long time awaiting clearance to proceed. This is all the more true given the fact that Ritter, Grant, Thomas, and Peters obviously believe that the grand jury must be used as an investigative tool in the Ramsey case, and not merely to reach a predetermined prosecutorial goal. If that is the case, why wasn't a grand jury used months ago? Indeed, why wasn't it used more than a year ago?"
Following the Sid Wells murder in Boulder in August, 1983, a grand jury investigating the high-profile case met off-and-on for fifteen months without returning an indictment. Quoted in the January 29, 1984 Denver Post, Boulder Assistant District Attorney Bill Wise revealed that the case had been originally referred to the grand jury "because of its power to further investigate the case. The district attorney didn't have subpoena power and we needed that tool." Hunter had waited less than three months before presenting the Wells murder case to a grand jury. Three months after the death of JonBenet Ramsey, police were still trying to interview John and Patsy Ramsey and obtain other evidence critical to the case.
There is a relatively simple but compelling answer to the question raised by the Rocky Mountain News editorial. Since very early in the case, there has been at least a tacit understanding among the district attorney, police leadership, those persons advising these agencies, and Ramsey defense attorneys that the case would be presented to a grand jury but not until the statutory Boulder grand jury was convened in April, 1998. This delay was deemed necessary by some or all of these parties in order to take advantage of a new statute (16-5-205.5, C.R.S.) concerning grand jury reporting procedures which was the result of legislation promoted by the Colorado District Attorney's Council and passed by the legislature in early March 1997. By law, however, this change in procedure would only apply to reports issued by grand juries convened after October 1, 1997. In order to take advantage of the new statute, a Boulder grand jury would have to wait until April, 1998, the next convening of the statutory Boulder grand jury subsequent to October 1, 1997. In order to accomplish this, it was necessary for these people to stall and cynically rely on the public's relative ignorance of the statute and the purpose and general nature of grand juries. The district attorney and police leadership worked hard to create the fiction that the police investigation was not "complete" and therefore not ready to be transferred to the district attorney. As long as the district attorney didn't have the case it would be difficult to fault him for not prosecuting or presenting the case to a grand jury. It was this fiction that was used by the district attorney to deflect mounting criticism including that contained in our letter in January, 1998. It also served as the basis for a Boulder court to throw out a suit brought against the district attorney by New York attorney Darnay Hoffman who had accused the district attorney of "constructively abandoning the case". The district attorney's publicly expressed indecision in late 1997 regarding a grand jury investigation gave way to his progressively greater "leaning" toward such a decision as the date for convening the Boulder grand jury drew near.
House Bill 97-1009 was drafted by the Colorado District Attorneys Council in late 1996 and was introduced in the Colorado House of Representatives on January 8, 1997, two weeks after JonBenet was killed. HB 97-1009 was sponsored by Representative Bill Kaufman, a Republican, and Senator Ed Perlmutter, a Democrat.
The impetus for this bill was the desire of the Council to effect legislation changing an existing statute (16-5-205 (4), C.R.S.) regarding the issuance of grand jury reports in those cases where there is not an indictment. The matter was discussed by the district attorneys and legislators at a conference in the summer of 1996. The existing statute allowed the issuance of reports but was argued to be confusing and overly restrictive. As a result, grand jury reports were nonexistent. In a January 19, 1997 editorial supporting passage of the bill, the Denver Post pointed to the inconclusive grand jury investigations concerning DIA and police conduct in the high profile Ocrant case in Arapahoe County. Also mentioned was the recent Truax officer-involved shooting case in which Denver DA Bill Ritter chose not to use a grand jury to investigate possible police officer misconduct because of his concern that the grand jury might not report its findings to the public. Citing these cases, the Post "...urged that in the balance between the public's right to information and the statutory demand for grand jury secrecy, public disclosure should carry more weight than it now does." The Post editorial went on to say:
"The proposed law would instruct judges to determine whether the report should be released and allow for withholding any parts necessary to protect witnesses. It also would give witnesses an opportunity to see reports and file opposing motions if they object to their release.
Such reports could go a long way toward dispelling doubts like those that still linger over the DIA and Truax investigations, and by providing all witnesses with safeguards against disclosures that might damage or embarrass them, still preserve the confidentiality that is both the armor and the engine of the grand jury process. "
The original draft of the bill was presented to the House Judiciary Committee by Representative Kaufman at a hearing on January 21, 1997, long after the Ramsey case had exploded into a national news story amid growing suspicions of police mishandling of the case. Speaking in favor of the bill before the committee were district attorneys Ritter, Thomas, and Grant. All of these district attorneys, along with Jim Peters, would be named publicly as advisers to Alex Hunter on the Ramsey case a few weeks later on February 14, 1997. It is clear from the draft bill and from their comments at this hearing that they intended reporting by grand juries to be on matters generally limited to allegations of non criminal misconduct by public employees, officials, and agencies but only when such information regarding those allegations was in the public interest. At the hearing, Mr. Ritter stated:
"...there are other matters where we bring...an issue into the grand jury for investigation and it grows legs and we find ourselves investigating the conduct of government officers, the conduct of public employees, the conduct of government programs where, because tax dollars are involved, the public does have a right to know something about the operation even if it they fall short of the conduct being criminal and that, I think, is the real meaning behind a bill like this."
Also speaking in favor of the bill were John Dailey, Head of the Criminal Enforcement Unit of the Attorney General's office and Kim Morss of the Colorado Judicial Department appearing at the request of the Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court. Also speaking in favor of the bill was Marge Easton of the Colorado Press Association.
On March 5, 1997, Senator Perlmutter presented the bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Appearing once again to speak in favor of the bill were Bill Ritter, Marge Easton, and John Dailey. Also speaking for the bill were Ray Slaughter and Stu Van Meveren of the Colorado District Attorneys Council.
The final bill was passed on March 21, 1997. Included in the bill were specific criteria to be used by grand juries and prosecutors in determining what constitutes the "public interest" for the purpose of a grand jury report:
(a) Allegations of the misuse or misapplication of public funds;
(b) Allegations of abuse of authority by a public servant, as defined in Section 18-1-901(3)(o), C.R.S.,or a peace officer, as defined in section 18-901(3)(1), C.R.S.
(c) Allegations of misfeasance or malfeasance with regard to a governmental function, as defined in Section 18-1-901(3)(j), C.R.S."
(d) Allegations of commission of a class 1, class 2, or class 3 felony.
The original intent of the Colorado District Attorney Council draft and that of Representative Kaufman was to make it easier for grand juries to issue reports in cases where there is not an indictment returned but where, in the public interest, the grand jury wishes to address allegations of misconduct by public employees falling short of criminal conduct. The final bill made it possible for a grand jury to address allegations of 1st and 2nd degree murder and the two classes of child abuse resulting in death. The new statute would enable a Boulder grand jury investigating the death of JonBenet Ramsey to publicly exonerate someone who has been alleged to have of (sic) committed one of these crimes but only in the event an indictment was not returned. The bill was signed into law by Governor Romer on April 8, 1997. We strongly urge those wishing to investigate the intentions and motives of the Colorado District Attorneys Council, legislators, and those speaking on behalf of the bill to review the Senate and House Journals and listen to tapes of the House and Senate Judiciary Hearings and floor debates on file at the Colorado State Archives, 1313 Sherman Street, Room 1B20, Denver.
During the Senate Judiciary Hearing on March 5, 1997, and after the bill had been amended to include the criteria defining the public interest, Senator Perlmutter stated that he had "...contacted several defense attorneys I know in Denver and they were all supportive of it (the bill). They thought it was a good idea." According to records at the Secretary of State's Office, Sen. Perlmutter received a 1994 campaign contribution from Hal Haddon, defense attorney for John Ramsey. The Haddon firm is well known for its expertise in grand jury practice. Norman Mueller, a partner of the firm, once wrote in the April, 1988 issue of The Colorado Lawyer"...defense counsel must creatively and vigorously scrutinize the grand jury process at the earliest possible stage of the case."
The May 6, 1998 issue of the Colorado Journal, a publication for the legal community, presented an article flattering to Alex Hunter entitled "D.A. Winks At This One With or Without a Grand Jury Indictment Boulder's Prosecutor Will Still Shine". The article is written around comments received from Senator Perlmutter and district attorney Bill Ritter. It reads:
"If Hunter does take the matter to the grand jury and that panel manages to wrestle the evidence it needs to hand down an actual indictment, Hunter will appear the hero for going that route.
But if they fail to do so, Hunter could still come out smelling like a rose with the help of a little-known state law that went into effect last fall: That grand jury reports may be released to the public if no indictment results from its probe.
That way, a prosecutor facing pressure to file charges can say, 'See even the grand jury couldn't find anything.' said Sen. Ed Perlmutter, D-Golden, who co-sponsored the law in the 1997 Colorado Legislature.
The law, which only applies to Class 1, 2, and 3 felony cases, was intended to help ease the public's mind in certain investigations where a prosecutor fails to file charges, despite pressure from the police to do so as in the JonBenet case, he said." (italics added).
In the article Sen. Perlmutter indicated that he sponsored the bill because he "didn't want the grand juries to be abused, especially in high-profile cases as this one (the Ramsey case)."
For his part, Mr. Ritter said:
" I don't think Alex Hunter would go to the grand jury for political cover, that's just not how Alex Hunter operates,' said Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter.
'The reason you go to a grand jury is because, as DA, you do not have the ability in the state of Colorado to compel testimony or compel the production of documents."'
But then the article speculates:
"But no matter what the grand jury decides, its probe could help vindicate the impugned reputations of many members of the Boulder police and district attorneys office."
The article was misleading in that it stated that the new grand jury statute designed by Mr. Ritter and Senator Perlmutter to protect and exonerate people and "vindicate" the reputations of public servants was "effective" and therefore available for use by a Boulder grand jury on October 1, 1997. It also inaccurately described what allegations the statute deemed of public interest.
For the purpose of assisting them in the Ramsey investigation, the Boulder Police Department in July 1997 accepted the pro bono legal services of Daniel S. Hoffman with the firm of McKenna & Cuneo, Robert N. Miller with the firm of LeBoeuf, Lamb, Green, and MacRae, and Richard N. Baer with the firm of Sherman & Howard. All are prominent Denver attorneys. Responding to our public information request, the Boulder city attorney's office supplied us with copies of the final agreement between the city and these attorneys dated July 30, 1997 and an earlier draft of that agreement dated July 28, 1997. In the draft, these attorneys jointly made the following disclosures to the city:
"As we indicated to you, our respective firms have or had certain relationships that we feel obligated to disclose to you. Specifically: 1. Sherman & Howard L.L.C. ("S. & H.") represents Lockheed Martin in various matters. Lockheed Martin currently owns Access Graphics, the company that employs the father of the deceased. In addition, in 1994, S. & H. represented Access Graphics in a lawsuit brought by a terminated employee...
2. Mr. Hoffman is outside counsel for Lockheed Martin in a number of litigations, one of which is currently pending. It is reasonable to assume that during our representation of you, Mr. Hoffman may be retained by Lockheed Martin. Additionally, Mr. Haddon represents Mr. Hoffman personally, in a case against Mr. Hoffman, his former law firm, and a number of Mr. Hoffman's former partners at the firm.
3. Robert Miller is currently co-counsel with Mr. Haddon on a litigation in which they obtained a significant verdict for their client and which will proceed on appeal."
John Ramsey was the president and chief executive officer of Access Graphics, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation. In the fall of 1997 Access Graphics was sold by Lockheed Martin to GE Capital in a complicated transaction reported in the news media to be valued at $2.8 billion. The value attributed to Access Graphics was likely in excess of $200 million. Prior to the sale, John Ramsey left Access Graphics under adverse circumstances after attempting to purchase Access Graphics from Lockheed Martin. Mr. Hoffman was identified in the April 18, 1997 issue of Colorado Journal to be the "lead attorneys for Lockheed Martin in an age discrimination case which days before had resulted in a $7.6 million settlement. The "Mr. Haddon" referred to in the disclosures is Harold Haddon, the criminal defense attorney currently representing John Ramsey. The final agreement that was executed by the city and these three attorneys did not contain these disclosures. According to Mr. Baer, they were deleted at the request of the city attorney. The city attorney has recently indicated to us that he has no knowledge of the role these attorneys have played in the investigation.
On March 10, 1998, the Boulder Daily Camera reported that "DA hints Ramsey case headed for grand jury". Two days later, the Boulder police made their request for a grand jury on the advice of these attorneys and transferred the case to the district attorney. On April 22, 1998, the Boulder grand jury was convened.
It is certain that Boulder County District Attorney Alex Hunter; the metro area district attorneys advising Mr. Hunter; the current leadership of the Boulder Police Department, the three attorneys advising the Boulder Police Department, and Ramsey defense attorneys have known since HB97-1009 was signed by Governor Romer on April 8, 1997, that to take advantage of the new statute, it would be necessary to delay a grand jury investigation of the Ramsey case until April, 1998. In retrospect, it is clear that the case was delayed for that purpose. It is hard to imagine that Governor Romer and members of the office of the Attorney General and the Colorado Judiciary Department have not also long known this.
The Boulder County District Attorney and members of his office have delayed the investigation of the death of JonBenet Ramsey in order to take advantage of a statute which will, if an indictment is not returned, enable him to persuade a grand jury to issue a report telling the public that the case was delayed and that an indictment was not returned as a result of police misconduct and the non-cooperation of witnesses. It will also enable him to publicly exonerate anyone alleged to have murdered JonBenet Ramsey. If he wishes such a report to be made, and of course he does since it would contain precisely what he has been saying throughout the investigation, he must first cause the grand jury not to return an indictment.
This, then, is how politics will have been allowed, finally, to trump justice.
Delaying the case in this manner simply to serve the selfish interests of a relatively small number of public servants and wealthy and powerful people has destroyed the case's infrastructure which consists of the confidence and trust of witnesses and the public in the criminal justice system and the hard work done in good faith by police detectives. That he has allowed this destruction is compelling evidence that Alex Hunter and those advising him have no intention of seeking an indictment from a grand jury. By their actions, these people have demonstrated cynical and callous disregard for the people of Colorado, the criminal justice system, and the well being and safety of the Boulder community and its citizens.
What distinguishes the investigation of JonBenet's death from all others, and what has so seriously handicapped the investigation, is the extraordinary number of people that it has affected and influenced. The people of Colorado wish to see justice for JonBenet. They must not accept the "conclusion" to the case now being offered by the Boulder County District Attorney and Governor Romer. We will not.
After further assessing public opinion and reviewing the contents of this letter and that of Mr. Thomas, we hope it will occur to Governor Romer that evidence in this case must be reviewed by those who have no interest in seeking anything other than justice for JonBenet.
Fleet and Priscilla White, August, 1998.
NAME: RAMSEY, JONBENET AUTOPSY NO. 96A-155
DOB: 08/06/90 DEATH D/T: 12/26/96 @ 1323
AGE: 6Y AUTOPSY D/T: 12/27/96 @ 0815
SEX: F ID NO: 137712
PATH MD: MEYER COR/MEDREC#: 1714-96-A
I. Ligature strangulation
A. Circumferential ligature with associated ligature furrow of neck
B. Abrasions and petechial hemorrhages, neck
C. Petechial hemorrhages, conjunctival surfaces of eyes and skin of face
II. Craniocerebral injuries
A. Scalp contusion
B. Linear, comminuted fracture of right side of skull
C. Linear pattern of contusions of right cerebral hemisphere
D. subarachnoid and subdural hemorrhage
E. Small contusions, tips of temporal lobes
III. Abrasion of right cheek
IV. Abrasion/contusion, posterior right shoulder
V. Abrasions of left lower back and posterior left lower leg
VI. Abrasion and vancular congestion of vaginal mucosa
VII. Ligature of right wrist
blood ethanol - none detected
blood drug screen - no drugs detected
Cause of death of this six year old female is asphyxia by strangulation associated with craniocerebral trauma.
John E. Meyer M.D.
The body of this six year old female was first seen by me after I was called to an address identified as 755 - 15th street in Boulder, Colorado, on 12/26/96. I arrived at the scene approximately 8 PM on 12/26 and entered the house where the decedent's body was located at approximately 8:20 PM.
A brief examination of the body disclosed a ligature around the neck and a ligature around the right wrist. Also noted was a small area of abrasion or contusion below the right ear on the lateral aspect of the right cheek. A prominent dried abrasion was present on the lower left neck. After examining the body, I left the residence at approximately 8:30 PM.
EXTERNAL EVIDENCE OF INJURY: Located just below the right ear at the right angle of the mandible, 1.5 inches below the right external auditory canal is a 3/8 x 1/4 inch area of rust colored abrasion. In the lateral aspect of the left lower eyelid on the inner conjunctival surface is a 1 mm in maximum dimension petechial hemorrhage. Very fine, less than 1 mm petechial hemorrhages are present on the skin of the upper eyelids bilaterally as well as on the lateral left cheek. On everything the left upper eyelid there are much smaller, less than 1 mm petechial hemorrhages located on the conjunctival surface. Possible petechial hemorrhages are also seen on the conjunctival surfaces of the right upper and lower eyelids, but liver mortis on this side of the face makes definite identification difficult.
A deep ligature furrow encircles the entire neck. The width of the furrow varies from one-eight of an inch to five/sixteenths of an inch and is horizontal in orientation, with little upward deviation. The skin of the anterior neck above and below the ligature furrow contains areas of petechial hemorrhage and abrasion encompassing an area measuring approximately 3 x 2 inches. The ligature furrow crosses the anterior midline of the neck just below the laryngeal prominence, approximately at the level of the cricoid cartilage. It is almost completely horizontal with slight upward deviation from the horizontal towards the back of the neck. The midline of the furrow mark on the anterior neck is 8 inches below the top of the head. The midline of the furrow mark on the posterior neck is 6.75 inches below the top of the head.
The area of abrasion and petechial hemorrhage of the skin of the anterior neck includes on the lower left neck, just to the left of the midline, a roughly triangular, parchment-like rust colored abrasion which measures 1.5 inches in length with a maximum width of 0.75
inches. This roughly triangular shaped abrasion is obliquely oriented with the apex superior and lateral. The remainder of the abrasions and petechial hemorrhages of the skin above and below the anterior projection of the ligature furrow are nonpatterned, purple to rust colored, and present in the midline, right, and left areas of the anterior neck. The skin just above the ligature furrow along the right side of the neck contains petechial hemorrhage composed of multiple confluent very small petechial hemorrhages as well as several larger petechial hemorrhages measuring up to one-sixteenth and one-eight of an inch in maximum dimension. Similar smaller petechial hemorrhages are present on the skin below the ligature furrow on the left lateral aspect of the neck. Located on the right side of the chin is a three-sixteenths by one-eight of an inch area of superficial abrasion. On the posterior aspect of the right shoulder is a poorly demarcated, very superficial focus of abrasion/contusion which is pale purple in color and measures up to three-quarters by one-half inch in maximum dimension. Several linear aggregates of petechial hemorrhages are present in the anterior left shoulder just above deltopectoral groove. These measure up to one inch in length by one-sixteenth to one-eight of an inch in width. On the left lateral aspect of the lower back, approximately sixteen and one-quarter inches and seventeen and one-half inches below the level of the top of the head are two dried rust colored to slightly purple abrasions. The more superior of the two measures one-eight by one-sixteenth of an inch and the more inferior measures three-sixteenths by one-eight of an inch. There is no surrounding contusion identified. On the posterior aspect of the left lower leg, almost in the midline, approximately 4 inches above the level of the heel are two small scratch-like abrasions which are dried and rust colored. They measure one-sixteenth by less than one-sixteenth of an inch and one-eight by less than one-sixteenth of an inch respectively.
On the anterior aspect of the perineum, along the edges of closure of the labia majora, is a small amount of dried blood. A similar small amount of dried and semifluid blood is present on the skin of the fourchette and in the vestibule. Inside the vestibule of the vagina and along the distal vaginal wall is reddish hyperemia. This hyperemia is circumferential and perhaps more noticeable on the right side and posteriorly. The hyperemia also appears to extend just inside the vaginal orifice. A 1 cm red-purple area of abrasion is located on the right posterolateral area of the 1 x 1 cm hymeneal orifice. The hymen itself is represented by a rim of mucosal tissue extending clockwise between the 2 and 10:00 positions. The area of abrasion is present at approximately the 7:00 position and appears to involve the hymen and distal right lateral vaginal wall and possibly the area anterior to the hymen. On the right labia majora is a very faint area of violent discoloration measuring approximately one inch by three-eighths of an inch. Incision into the underlying subcutaneous tissue discloses no hemorrhage. A minimal amount of semiliquid thin watery red fluid is present in the vaginal vault. No recent or remote anal or other perineal trauma is identified.
REMAINDER OF EXTERNAL EXAMINATION: The unembalmed, well developed and well nourished Caucasian female body measures 47 inches in length and weight an estimated 45 pounds.
No scalp trauma is identified. The external auditory canals are patent and free of blood. The eyes are green and the pupils equally dilated. The sclerae are white. The nostrils are both patent and contain a small amount of tan mucous material. The teeth are native and in good repair. The tongue is smooth, pink-tan and granular. No buccal mucosal trauma is seen. The frenulum is intact. There is slight drying artifact of the tip of the tongue. On the right cheek is a pattern of dried saliva and mucous material which does not appear to be hemorrhagic. The neck contains no palpable adenopathy or masses and the trachea and larynx are midline. The chest is symmetrical. Breasts are prepubescent. The abdomen is flat and contains no scars. No palpable organomegaly or masses are identified. The external genitalia are that of a prepubescent female. No pubic hair is present. The anus is patent. Examination of the extremities is unremarkable.
The fingernails of both hands are of sufficient length for clipping. Examination of the back is unremarkable. There is dorsal 3+ to 4+ livor mortis which is nonblanching. Livor mortis is also present on the right side of the face. At the time of the initiation of the autopsy there is mild 1 to 2+ rigor mortis of the elbows and shoulders with more advanced 2 to 3+ rigor mortis of the joints of the lower extremities.
INTERNAL EXAM: The anterior chest musculature is well developed. No sternal or rib fractures are identified.
Mediastinum: The mediastinal contents are normally distributed. The 21 gm thymus gland has a normal external appearance. The cut sections are finely lobular and pink-tan. No petechial hemorrhages are seen. The aorta and remainder of the mediastinal structures are unremarkable.
Body Cavities: The right and left thoracic cavities contain approximately 5 cc of straw colored fluid. The pleural surfaces are smooth and glistening. The pericardial sac contains 3-4 cc of straw colored fluid and the epicardium and pericardium are unremarkable. The abdominal contents are normally distributed and covered by a smooth glistening serosa. No intra-abdominal accumulation of fluid or blood is seen.
Lungs: The 200 gm right lung and 175 gm let lung have a normal lobar configuration. An occasional scattered subpleural petechial hemorrhage is seen on the surface of each lung. The cut sections of the lungs disclose an intact alveolar architecture with a small amount of watery fluid exuding from the cut surfaces with mild pressure. The intrapulmonary bronchi and vasculature are unremarkable. No evidence of consolidation is seen.
Heart: The 100 gm heart has a normal external configuration. There are scattered subepicardial petechial hemorrhages over the anterior surface of the heart. The coronary arteries are normal in their distribution and contain no evidence of atherosclerosis. The tan-pink myocardium is homogeneous and contains no areas of fibrosis or infarction. The endocardium is unremarkable. The valve cusps are thin, delicate and pliable and contain no vegetation or thrombosis. The major vessels enter and leave the heart in the normal fashion. The foramen ovale is closed.
Aorta and Vena Cava: The aorta is patent throughout its course as are its major branches. No atherosclerosis is seen. The Vena Cava is unremarkable.
Spleen: The 61 gm spleen has a finely wrinkled purple capsule. Cut sections are homogeneous and disclose readily identifiable red and white pulp. No intrinsic abnormalities are identified.
Adrenals: The adrenal glands are of normal size and shape. A golden yellow cortex surmounts a thin brown-tan medullary area. No intrinsic abnormalities are identified.
Kidneys: The 40 gm right kidney and 40 gm left kidney have a normal external appearance. The surfaces are smooth and glistening. Cut sections disclose an intact corticomedullary architecture. The renal papilae are sharply demarcated. The pelvocaliceal system is lined by gray-white mucosa which is unremarkable. Both ureters are patent throughout their course to the bladder.
Liver: The 625 gm liver has a normal external appearance. The capsule is smooth and glistening. Cut sections disclose an intact lobular architecture with no intrinsic abnormalities identified.
Pancreas: The pancreas is of normal size and shape. Cut sections are finely lobular and tan. No intrinsic abnormalities are identified.
Bladder: The bladder is contracted and contains no urine. The bladder mucosa is smooth and tan-gray. No intrinsic abnormalities are seen.
Genitalia: The upper portions of the vaginal vault contain no abnormalities. The prepubescent uterus measures 3 x 1 x 0.8 cm and is unremarkable. The cervical os contains no abnormalities. Both fallopian tubes and ovaries are prepubescent and unremarkable by gross examination.
Gallbladder: The gallbladder contains 2-3 cc of amber bile. No stones are identified and the mucosa is smooth and velvety. The cystic duct, right and left hepatic duct and common bile duct are patent throughout their course to the duodenum.
G.I. Tract: The esophagus is empty. It is lined by gray-white mucosa. The stomach contains a small amount (8-10 cc) of viscous to green to tan colored thick mucous material without particulate matter identified. The gastric mucosa is autolyzed but contains no areas of hemorrhage or ulceration. The proximal portion of the small intestine contains fragmented pieces of yellow to light green-tan apparent vegetable or fruit material which may represent fragments of pineapple. No hemorrhage is identified. The remainder of the small intestine is unremarkable. The large intestine contains soft green fecal material. The appendix is present.
Lymphatic System: Unremarkable.
Musculoskeletal System: Unremarkable.
Skull and Brain: Upon reflection of the scalp there is found to be an extensive area of scalp hemorrhage along the right temporoparietal area extending from the orbital ridge, posteriorly all the way to the occipital area. This encompasses an area measuring approximately 7 x 4 inches. This grossly appears to be fresh hemorrhage with no evidence of organization. At the superior extension of this area of hemorrhage is a linear to comminuted skull fracture which extends from the right occipital to posteroparietal area forward to the right frontal area across the parietal portion of the skull. the posteroparietal area of this fracture is a roughly rectangular shaped displaced fragment of skull measuring one and three-quarters by one-half inch. The hemorrhage and the fracture extend posteriorly just past the midline of the occipital area of the skull. This fracture measures approximately 8.5 inches in length. On removal of the skull cap there is found to be a thin film of subdural hemorrhage measuring approximately 7-8 cc over the surface of the right cerebral hemisphere and extending to the base of the cerebral hemisphere. The 1450 gm brain has a normal overall architecture. Mild narrowing of the sulci and flattening of the gyri are seen. No inflammation is identified. There is a thin film of subarachnoid hemorrhage overlying the entire right cerebral hemisphere. On the right cerebral hemisphere underlying the previously mentioned linear skull fracture is an extensive linear area of purple contusion extending from the right frontal area, posteriorly along the lateral aspect of the parietal region and into the occipital area. This area of contusion measures 8 inches in length with a width of up to 1.75 inches. At the tip of the right temporal lobe is a one-quarter by one quarter inch similar appearing purple contusion. Only very minimal contusion is present at the tip of the left temporal lobe. This area of contusion measures only one-half inch in maximum dimension. The cerebral vasculature contains no evidence of atherosclerosis. Multiple coronal sections of the cerebral hemispheres, brain stem and cerebullum disclose no additional abnormalities. The areas of previously described contusion are characterized by purple linear streak-like discolorations of the gray matter perpendicular to the surface of the cerebral cortex. These extend approximately 6 mm into the cerebral cortex. Examination of the base of the brain discloses no additional fractures.
Neck: Dissection of the neck is performed after removal of the thoracoabdominal organs and the brain. The anterior strap musculature of the neck is serially dissected. Multiple sections of the sternocleidomastoid muscle disclose no hemorrhages. Sections of the remainder of the strap musculature of the neck disclose no evidence of hemorrhage. Examination of the thyroid cartilage, cricoid cartilage and hyoid bone disclose not evidence of fracture of hemorrhage. Multiple cross sections of the tongue disclose no hemorrhage or traumatic injury. The thyroid gland weights 2 gm and is normal in appearance. Cut sections are finely lobular and red-tan. The trachea and larynx are lined by smooth pink-tan mucosa without intrinsic abnormalities.
MICROSCOPIC DESCRIPTION: (All Sections Stained with H&E)
(Slide Key) - (A) - scalp hemorrhage, (B) - sections of vaginal mucosa with smallest fragment representing area of abrasion of 7:00 position, (C) - heart, (D-F) - lungs, (G) - liver and spleen, (H) - pancreas and kidney, (I) - thyroid and bladder, (J) - thymus and adrenals, (K-L) - reproductive organs, (M) - larynx, (N-T) - brain.
Myocardium: Sections of the ventricular myocardium are composed of interlacing bundles of cardiac muscle fibers. No fibrosis or inflammation are identified.
Lungs: The alveolar architecture of the lungs is well preserved. Pulmonary vascular congestion is identified. No intrinsic abnormalities are seen.
Spleen: There is mild autolysis of the spleen. Both red and white pulp are identifiable.
Thyroid: The thyroid gland is composed of normal-appearing follicles. An occasional isolated area of chronic interstitial inflammatory infiltrate is seen. There is also a small fragment of parathyroid tissue.
Thymus: The thymus gland retains the usual architecture. The lymphoid material is intact and scattered Hassall's corpuscles are identified. Mild vascular congestion is identified.
Trachea: There is mild chronic inflammation in the submucosa of the trachea.
Liver: The lobular architecture of the liver is well preserved. No inflammation or intrinsic abnormality are identified.
Pancreas: There is autolysis of the pancreas which is otherwise unremarkable.
Kidney: The overall architecture of the kidney is well preserved. There is perhaps mild vascular congestion in the cortex but no inflammation is identified.
Bladder: The transitional epithelium of the bladder is autolyzed. No significant intrinsic abnormalities are seen.
Reproductive Organs: Sections of the uterus are consistent with the prepubescent age. The ovary is unremarkable.
Adrenal: The architecture of the adrenal is well preserved and no intrinsic abnormalities are seen.
Brain: Sections of the areas of contusion disclose disrupted blood vessels of the cortex with surrounding hemorrhage. There is no evidence of inflammatory infiltrate or organization of the hemorrhage. Subarachnoid hemorrhage is also identified. Cortical neurons are surrounded by clear halos, as are glial cells.
Vaginal Mucosa: All of the sections contain vascular congestion and focal interstitial chronic inflammation. the smallest piece of tissue, from the 7:00 position of the vaginal wall/hymen, contain epithelial erosion with underlying capillary congestion. A small number of red blood cells is present on the eroded surface, as is birefringent foreign material. Acute inflammatory infiltrate is not seen.
EVIDENCE: Items turned over to the Boulder Police Department as evidence include: Fibers and hair from clothing and body surfaces; ligatures; clothing; vaginal swabs and smears; rectal swabs and smears; oral swabs and smears; paper bags from hands, fingernail clippings, jewelry, paper bags from feet; white body bag; sample of head hear, eyelashes and eyebrows; swabs from right and left thighs and right cheek; red top and purple top tubes of blood.
END OF REPORT