JonBenet Ramsey's Parents and Brother Officially Cleared
Update: Here is the DA's official letter of apology to John Ramsey.(pdf)
The Boulder County District Attorney today issued a press release officially clearing John and Patsy Ramsey and their son Burke of involvement in their daughter's death.
DNA and genetic material found in JonBenet's underwear and longjohns was subjected to a new method of testing not previously available.
The method is "touch DNA." [More...]
One method for sampling for touch DNA is the “scraping method.” In this process, forensic scientists scrape a surface where there is no observable stain or other indication of possible DNA in an effort to recover for analysis any genetic material that might nonetheless be present. This methodology was not well known in this country until recently and is still used infrequently.
....The Bode Technology laboratory applied the “touch DNA” scraping method to both sides of the waist area of the long johns that JonBenet Ramsey was wearing over her underwear when her body was discovered. These sites were chosen because evidence supports the likelihood that the perpetrator removed and/or replaced the long johns, perhaps by handling them on the sides near the waist.
On March 24, 2008, Bode informed us that they had recovered and identified genetic material from both sides of the waist area of the long johns. The unknown male profile previously identified from the inside crotch area of the underwear matched the DNA recovered from the long johns at Bode.
The DA then checked for innocent sources.
We consulted with a DNA expert from a different laboratory, who recommended additional investigation into the remote possibility that the DNA might have come from sources at the autopsy when this clothing was removed. Additional samples were obtained and then analyzed by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to assist us in this effort. We received those results on June 27th of this year and are, as a result, confidant that this DNA did not come from innocent sources at the autopsy. As mentioned above, extensive DNA testing had previously excluded people connected to the family and to the investigation as possible innocent sources.
The unexplained third party DNA on the clothing of the victim is very significant and powerful evidence. It is very unlikely that there would be an innocent explanation for DNA found at three different locations on two separate items of clothing worn by the victim at the time of her murder. This is particularly true in this case because the matching DNA profiles were found on genetic material from inside the crotch of the victim’s underwear and near the waist on both sides of her long johns, and because concerted efforts that might identify a source, and perhaps an innocent explanation, were unsuccessful.
It is therefore the position of the Boulder District Attorney’s Office that this profile belongs to the perpetrator of the homicide.
The Boulder District Attorney’s Office does not consider any member of the Ramsey family, including John, Patsy, or Burke Ramsey, as suspects in this case. We make this announcement now because we have recently obtained this new scientific evidence that adds significantly to the exculpatory value of the previous scientific evidence. We do so with full appreciation for the other evidence in this case.
On the villification of the Ramseys and an apology:
Local, national, and even international publicity has focused on the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. Many members of the public came to believe that one or more of the Ramseys, including her mother or her father or even her brother, were responsible for this brutal homicide. Those suspicions were not based on evidence that had been tested in court; rather, they were based on evidence reported by the media.
It is the responsibility of every prosecutor to seek justice. That responsibility includes seeking justice for people whose reputations and lives can be damaged irreparably by the lingering specter of suspicion. In a highly publicized case, the detrimental impact of publicity and suspicion on people’s lives can be extreme. The suspicions about the Ramseys in this case created an ongoing living hell for the Ramsey family and their friends, which added to their suffering from the unexplained and devastating loss of JonBenet.
For reasons including those discussed above, we believe that justice dictates that the Ramseys be treated only as victims of this very serious crime. We will accord them all the rights guaranteed to the victims of violent crimes under the law in Colorado and all the respect and sympathy due from one human being to another.
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.
As I wrote in 2004 when evidence came to light about an intruder:
John and Patsy Ramsey were treated like criminals for six years. The public and the media lynch mob criticized everything about them, from the way they behaved to their "lawyering up." Even Governor Owens criticized them for "hiding behind their lawyers."
Put yourselves in the Ramseys' shoes. Your cherished daughter has just been murdered. Instead of being able to grieve, every move you make is met with criticism. The police label you as being "under the umbrella of suspicion" and stop searching elsewhere for the killer of your daughter. You are fodder for the cable TV talk shows night after night.
Watching talk show hosts like Dan Abrams and Geraldo Rivera now admit the Ramseys did not kill their daughter brings some measure of satisfaction to those of us, myself included, who defended the Ramseys on their shows night after night. An apology from the Boulder police, the media, and the public would be even better.
People sometimes fail to realize that when the wrong person is accused, the real killer remains at large and likely will strike again. Shortly after JonBenet's murder, Boulder's then-Mayor Leslie Durgin told the public:
"People in Boulder have no need to fear there is someone wandering the streets of Boulder looking for someone to attack. Boulder is safe,'' she said. "
She was wrong. If you live in Boulder, you better lock your doors at night. Unless he's moved, a killer is among you.
Patsy Ramsey did not live to hear her name cleared or the apology. She knew in her heart she was innocent. Now the world knows.
Thank you Mary Lacy.
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