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Tabloid Denies Ramsey Case Charge

April 8, 1999

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) _ A former free-lance writer for the Globe says his editors at the supermarket tabloid talked about trying to blackmail a Boulder detective into granting an interview about the JonBenet Ramsey case.

Jeff Shapiro, who researched the Ramsey case for the Globe, said his editors considered using as leverage a rumor that Detective Steve Thomas’ mother committed suicide when Thomas was a boy. The rumor later proved false.

Craig Lewis, a Globe editor, acknowledged sending Thomas photographs of his long-dead mother days after the detective resigned from the Ramsey case in frustration. But Lewis denied it was an effort to pressure the detective.

``No employee of the Globe ever said anything like that,″ he said. ``The only person who ever said anything to Thomas about his mother was Jeff Shapiro.″

Globe Editor Tony Frost said: ``There was no threat to blackmail anyone.″

Thomas, who is writing a book about the case, declined comment.

Shapiro made the allegations in author Lawrence Schiller’s book about the Ramsey case, ``Perfect Murder, Perfect Town,″ as well in other media reports.

JonBenet, 6, was found beaten and strangled Dec. 26, 1996, in her family’s home. The child beauty queen’s parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, have come under suspicion. They have denied any involvement.

On Thursday, a grand jury investigating the slaying was granted a six-month extension to complete its work. The panel has been meeting since mid-September and its term was supposed to be up on April 21. The extension runs until Oct. 20.

Shapiro was one of the first tabloid reporters who arrived in Boulder to cover the Ramsey case. Shapiro said in Thursday’s Washington Post that he taped some conversations with his editors because he feared some of their strategies would jeopardize his career.

Shapiro took the recordings to the FBI, but the detective didn’t press charges and the agency declined to investigate. Shapiro then took them to CBS’s ``48 Hours,″ which planned to air the tapes Thursday night.

``The whole thing was kind of shocking to me,″ Shapiro told the Post. ``I was making tapes to protect myself in case there was a criminal investigation.″

One tape included an exchange between Shapiro and a Globe editor who said, ``I’m not sure that this is even a story for us,″ referring to Thomas’ family history.

``But it was something that I thought I might use to get an interview with him, you know?″ the editor asked.

Shapiro asked: ``How so?″

``Well, I’m sure he wouldn’t want it published, would he?″ the editor replied.

Lewis told The Associated Press on Thursday that a distant relative of Thomas’ sent the tabloid the photographs and told of the rumors about his mother’s death. Lewis said he sent the photos to Thomas along with a request for an interview because he thought Thomas would find them interesting.

Lewis said the taped conversations were internal discussions about a story on Thomas’ life in the wake of his resignation. He said Shapiro went to Thomas on his own to tell him about the conversations.

``The fact that he did it shows extremely poor judgment on his part,″ Lewis said.

Thomas resigned Aug. 6, accusing District Attorney Alex Hunter of bungling the case and trying to protect JonBenet’s parents.

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