The chance to catch the killer of JonBenet Ramsey and put a close to one of the nation's most notoriously unsolved crimes may be gone forever, according to a statement issued Friday by the city of Boulder's Police Department.
Last Friday marked the first time that the public was able to view the secret indictment that contained the charges by a grand jury against the Ramseys. The district attorney at the time, Alex Hunter, decided not to sign the indictment citing a lack of evidence and apparently believing that he could not prosecute the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
"Investigators at the time were disappointed in the then-district attorney's decision not to issue indictments," read a statement issued by the Boulder Police Dept. "Cases are rarely perfect and often contain conflicting evidence. As a result, the opportunity to present the entire case to a jury may be lost forever."
The Daily Camera's revelation of the indictment's existence to begin with, upset the long-held public belief that the grand jury never voted to indict anyone in the case.
The unsealing of the four-page indictment 14 years after the grand jurors convened revealed that they voted to charge both John and Patsy Ramsey with child abuse resulting in death and being an accessory to a crime, including first-degree murder of their daughter, though never directly accusing them of killing her. Being convicted of "knowingly and recklessly" causing child abuse resulting in death is a Class 2 felony that could have carried a sentence of four to 48 years in prison, though the three-year statute of limitations had long expired by the time the public ever heard about the indictment.
While the 12 grand jurors only needed to prove probable cause in order to indict the Ramseys, Hunter would have needed to prove the higher standard of beyond a reasonable doubt to be able to win a conviction at trial.
A guest opinion by current Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett published in The Daily Camera on Sunday revealed that Garnett asked his staff to review the documents when he took office in 2009.
"My, or my staff's view of what the evidence in the Ramsey case proves will only be stated in open court if a case is ever filed," Garnett said. "In the meantime, everyone, including the Ramsey family, is entitled to the full presumption of innocence."
But there certainly has been no shortage of pointing fingers, and the statement released by the police department reminisced a bit on old, well-published battles between them and the Boulder District Attorney's office during the case.
What we have learned from this experience is how important the relationships are between police departments which investigate cases and the district attorneys who ultimately prosecute cases. These roles should always remain clear. At the same time, both agencies must work collaboratively together as a team...
The status of the Ramsey investigation today is that of a cold case. The case is still open, but is not actively being investigated and there are no new leads. While we believe at this point it is unlikely there will ever be a prosecution, the Boulder Police Department still holds out some hope that one day the district attorney and the Boulder Police Department will be able to put together a case worthy of presenting to a jury.
A book published by former Boulder police Detective Steve Thomas in 2000 titled "JonBenet: Inside the Ramsey Murder Investigation," exposed some of the conflicts that existed between the DA's office and the Boulder Police Department in their handling of the case immediately after JonBenet's death. When Thomas left the Boulder Police force in 1998, his resignation letter accused the DA's office of leaking information to the media, not collaborating enough with the police department and sharing evidence information with "Team Ramsey," or attorneys for the Ramsey family. The police department received blame for failing to preserve the crime scene or finding JonBenet's body in the basement of the home for hours after she was first reported missing, and the Ramsey's accused the police of focusing their investigation too much on them and not the possibility of there being an intruder.
"Absent a confession, there is not any specific smoking gun to point the finger at any one individual," Jim Kolar, who worked on the case as a DA investigator from 2004 to 2006, told The Daily Camera. "It may be one of those cases doomed to never be solved."
On Dec. 26, 1996, 6-year-old JonBenet was found bludgeoned and strangled to death in the basement of her family home. A ransom note from an anonymous group of individuals "that represent a foreign faction" asking for $118,000 in exchange for the safe return of JonBenet was found just hours before, but no call ever came from a kidnapper and it was never linked to a murderer.
The entire Ramsey family was cleared of any involvement in the murder of JonBenet back in 2008, thanks to then newly discovered DNA evidence, according to 9News. Patsy Ramsey, JonBenet's mother, died 2 years earlier in 2006 of ovarian cancer. Tragically, she was still considered a possible suspect when she died.
Beginning in 2010, investigators reopened the case and launched a fresh round of interviews with witnesses that could provide more insight into the murder, according to ABC News, but nothing fruitful came of those interviews.
The DNA evidence still points to an "unexplained third party" that serves as a vague lead for authorities still pursuing the case, TIME magazine reported.
Boulder police have tested more than 150 DNA samples and investigated nearly the same amount of potential suspects in their ongoing investigation, but none have ever been linked to the crime.
After all these years, Boulder police have received thousands of tips about her murder and still receive several monthly. DA Garnett said in 2011 that he personally gets two or three tips a week from all over the world. The ones that have potential are passed along to Boulder police's Major Case Unit. There have been plenty of false leads as well, including most famously John Mark Karr -- who bizarrely admitted to being with JonBenet the night of her death, but DNA evidence later cleared him of any wrongdoing in this case.
For a thorough timeline of the case's major moments, visit The Daily Camera's interactive timeline of events from 1996 through 2012.
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JonBenet Patricia Ramsey winning a beauty pageant at 1996 America's Royale Little Miss National Beauty contests.
Patsy Ramsey and her husband, John, give a news conference in Atlanta on May 24, 2000 regarding their polygraph examinations for the murder of their daughter, JonBenet. The test results said the couple were not "attempting deception" when they denied killing their 6-year-old daughter. Patsy Ramsey has died of ovarian cancer, KCNC TV reported Saturday, June 24, 2006.
In this Aug. 29, 2000 file photo, Patsy Ramsey speaks as her husband John Ramsey listens during a short news conference in Atlanta. Prosecutors say new DNA tests have cleared JonBenet Ramsey's family in the 1996 killing of the 6-year-old beauty queen. Boulder County District Attorney Mary Lacy said Wednesday, July 9, 2008, that the tests point to an "unexplained third party." Lacy apologized to the family, saying, "To the extent that this office has added to the distress suffered by the Ramsey family at any time or to any degree, I offer my deepest apology."
A Boulder Police detective walks to the home of John and Patricia Ramsey in Boulder, Colo., on Friday, Jan. 3, 1997, as investigators sifted through evidence in the home in which the couple's 6-year-old daughter was found murdered on Dec. 26, 1996. A decade after the Christmastime slaying of JonBenet Ramsey, two aspects of the case endure: the public's endless fascination with the murder of the 6-year-old beauty contestant, and a sense the notorious crime may never be solved.
This is the home of John and Patricia Ramsey in Boulder, Colo., seen Jan. 3, 1997, as investigators sifted through evidence in the home in which the couple's 6-year-old daughter JonBenet Ramsey was found murdered on Dec. 26, 1996. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
** FILE ** A Boulder Police Department detective leaves the home of John and Patricia Ramsey in this Jan. 3, 1997 file photo in Boulder, Colo. A man arrested in Thailand is being held in connection with the slaying of JonBenet Ramsey, U.S. officials said Wednesday Aug. 16, 2006. Federal officials familiar with the case, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the man was already being held in Bangkok on unrelated sex charges. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
Shrouded by trees near, an unidentified investigator uses a tape measure on the Ramsey family home early Tuesday, July 1, 1997, while gathering information to construct an architectural model of the 6,000-square-foot, Tudor-style home in which JonBenet Ramsey was murdered more than six months ago in Boulder, Colo. Boulder police, along with district attorney investigators and members of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, have been scruntinizing the home since Monday and may be in the home for up to a week. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Flowers rest in the snow outside the home of JonBenet Ramsey on the one-year anniversary of her murder, Friday, Dec. 26, 1997, in Boulder, Colo. A candlelight vigil was scheduled for later in the evening. (AP Photo/Michael S. Green)
FILE--Boulder Sheriff's Department cadets V. Montez, left, and E. Hill are shown standing guard in this Dec. 27, 1996 file photo outside the home in Boulder, Colo. in which 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey was found dead on December 26. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
**FILE** In this Aug. 3, 2004 file photo John and Patsy Ramsey, parents of slain beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey, are shown during the election for Michigan's 105th District at his campaign headquarters in Charlevoix, Mich. When Boulder County district attorney candidate Stan Garnett checked his cell phone after a long flight last week, he had dozens of messages asking his opinion about the latest DNA tests in the JonBenet Ramsey case. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)
**FILE** This is an undated photo of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey, who was found dead in the basement of her family's home in Boulder, Colo., Thursday, Dec. 26, 1996. (AP Photo/Boulder Police Department, FILE)
Members of the grand jury investigating the murder of JonBonet Ramsey leave the Justice Center in Boulder, Colo., Wednesday, Oct. 13, 1999. Nearly three years after the slaying of Ramsey, the grand jury decided Wednesday there isn't enough evidence to charge anyone in the 6-year-old beauty queen's strangulation. Grand jurors from left are Martin Pierce, Loretta Resnikoff, Jonathan Webb, Martin Kordas Jr., Josephine Hampton, foreman James Plese, Barbara McGrath-Arnold and Susan LeFever.
Exterior view of a courthouse is shown in Boulder, Colo., Monday, Aug. 21, 2006. John Mark Karr, a school teacher who cryptically claimed to have been present when JonBenet Ramsey was killed in 1996, may have a hearing in this courthouse. Karr arrived in Los Angeles late Sunday after a flight from Thailand, where he was arrested last week. He faces legal proceedings in California before he is sent to Boulder. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
New York attorney Darnay Hoffman holds a 19-page affidavit and complaint during a news conference Tuesday, Nov. 18, 1997, in New York. Contending the JonBenet Ramsey case has been mishandled, Hoffman is going to court to challenge the actions of the Boulder County district attorney. Hoffman, who is also the attorney for Bernhard Goetz, said he will take advantage of a Colorado law that allows private citizens to question the actions of prosecutors. (AP Photo/Michael Schmelling)
American John Mark Karr, center, is taken to a police news conference by Thai plainclothes police officers at Immigration office in Bangkok, Thailand Thursday, Aug. 17, 2006. In 2006 Karr falsely confessed to murdering Jon Benet Ramsey.
An assistant at a Thai dermatology clinic displays a computer image of John Mark Karr, a suspect in the murder of child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey, that was taken in March in Bangkok and displayed on Monday, Aug. 21, 2006 by a dermatologist whom Karr consulted. The dermatologist, Dr. Setthakarn Attakonpan, said Karr had four appointments with him and his assistants to remove his facial hair in preparation for what Karr told him would be a sex-change operation. He said the marks on Karr's face were to show where hair should be removed by laser surgery.(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Murder suspect John Mark Karr listens during an extradition hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2006. Karr waived extradition Tuesday and will be returned to Boulder, Colo., where he is charged with murdering JonBenet Ramsey a decade ago. (AP Photo/Mario Anzuoni, Pool)
Patsy Ramsey's sister Paulette Davis brushes off the grave of JonBenet Ramsey at the St. James Episcopal Cemetery in Marietta, Ga., Thursday, Aug. 17, 2006. A man arrested in Thailand is being held in connection with the slaying of JonBenet Ramsey, U.S. officials said Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2006. The girl was found beaten and strangled in the basement of the family's home in Boulder, Colo., on Dec. 26, 1996. (AP Photo/Wilford A. Harewood)