Jurors wanted child abuse charges against Ramseys
DENVER (AP) — A grand jury that reviewed evidence in the murder of 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey believed her parents were involved in the crime, according to documents released Friday, 14 years after the panel made its recommendation.
At the time, the grand jury recommended that both parents be charged with child abuse resulting in death and as accessories to murder.
The documents allege that both parents intended to delay or prevent the arrest of the person who killed their daughter. The documents do not however say who killed the girl.
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 United States in the mid-1990s. It also raised questions about child beauty contests long before the popularity of reality shows such as “Toddlers & Tiaras” and “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” which features moms and their child beauty pageant contestants.
The Daily Camera reported earlier this year that the grand jury had issued an indictment, but the documents for the first time revealed the charges made against the Ramseys.
The murder, which set off years of sensational news coverage remains one of America’s most infamous unsolved crimes.
The district attorney at the time, Alex Hunter, who presented the evidence to the grand jury, declined to pursue charges saying, “we do not have sufficient evidence to warrant the filing of charges against anyone who has been investigated at this time.”
Only pages that had been signed by the grand jury foreman and were considered official action of the jury were released. The numbering of the charges implies that there were other charges the jurors considered but rejected.
Hunter did not return a phone message left Thursday by The Associated Press in anticipation of the documents’ release.
The grand jury met three years after the beauty queen’s body was found bludgeoned and strangled in their home in Boulder on Dec. 26, 1996. The indictments alleged the crimes occurred between Dec. 25 and Dec. 26.
The Ramseys maintained their innocence.
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.
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.
Over the years, some experts have suggested that investigators botched the case so thoroughly that it might never be solved.
Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner said the case remains open but it’s 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.
Associated Press writers Steven K. Paulson and Dan Elliott contributed to this report.