Boulder Police Show Little Interest in Report of Pedophile’s Alleged Ramsey Case Confession
A published report stating that a convicted pedophile had confessed to a high school friend that he killed JonBenet Ramsey elicited a dismissive response Thursday from Boulder police, who noted that he had done so before.
The Daily Mail reported that Gary Oliva had confessed in letters written to a former high school classmate, Ventura, Calif., resident Michael Vail, that he killed JonBenet but that it was an accident. Oliva is serving 10 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections at the Limon Correctional Facility after pleading guilty to two counts of sexual exploitation of a child in Boulder District Court.
Oliva’s name has been linked to the Ramsey case numerous times over the years, including as far back as an in-depth piece broadcast about the case by the CBS program “48 Hours Investigates” in October 2002.
More recently, the Daily Camera reported in June 2016 that Oliva, now 54, had been arrested after an investigation showed that in April of that year he had uploaded to a Google email address 20 or more images of graphic child pornography.
A Boulder police spokesperson at that time said “Over the history of this case, there have been a variety of people we have looked at for potential connections. Mr. Oliva is one of those people... But we’re currently not comfortable ruling anybody out as a suspect, or ruling anybody in as a suspect in the Ramsey case.”
A statement released by the Boulder department on Thursday in the wake of the new Daily Mail report took a similar tone.
“The Boulder Police Department is aware of Mr. Oliva and has investigated his potential involvement in this case, including several previous confessions,” the statement read. “The department routinely receives information on this investigation. Information provided to the police department is reviewed along with the many tips and theories we receive.
“There are no new updates in this investigation and the department will not comment further.”
Oliva drew some interest from investigators following a December 2000 arrest on the University of Colorado campus, when he was found to be carrying a photo of JonBenet, a poem he had written called “Ode to JonBenet,” and was also in possession of a stun gun. Some investigators have contended a stun gun was used in the crime.
Inquiries on Thursday to the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office, which turned control of the investigation back to the police department in January 2009, referred questions Thursday to the police.
JonBenet, 6, was found murdered in the basement of her family’s University Hill home the afternoon of Dec. 26, 1996, after her mother reported finding a ransom note demanding $118,000 for her safe return.
The youngest child of John and Patsy Ramsey had suffered a fractured skull and been asphyxiated by a garrote, and no attempt was actually made to collect that ransom money.
Both of the child’s parents were indicted in October 1999 by a Boulder County Grand Jury for child abuse resulting in death and accessory to first-degree murder. But then-Boulder County District Attorney Alex Hunter declined to prosecute the indictment, believing there was inadequate evidence to secure a conviction.
Patsy Ramsey died in June 2006 after a long battle with cancer.
Oliva’s confession is hardly the most notable in the beleaguered case. John Mark Karr, then a 41-year-old American school teacher living in Bangkok, Thailand, was arrested in August 2006 after an investigation sparked by incriminating remarks Karr made in an ongoing long-distance dialogue with University of Colorado journalism professor Michael Tracey.
Karr was brought with much fanfare back to Boulder, where he was held briefly but released without charges when it was found that his DNA was inconsistent with evidence collected at the scene.
Charlie Brennan: 303-473-1327, email@example.com or twitter.com/chasbrennan