A reopened investigation into JonBenet Ramsey’s 1996 Christmas slaying will for the first time focus on new leads that do not involve her parents, the Rocky Mountain News reported yesterday.
Boulder District Attorney Mary Keenan said that her office’s investigation will be conducted without police help for the first time and will follow leads not previously investigated.
John and Patsy Ramsey have requested a new direction since the body of JonBenet, 6, was found strangled and beaten in the family basement Dec. 26, 1996.
A key factor in the decision to reopen the investigation was Miss Keenan’s “belief that the Boulder Police Department has done an exhaustive and thorough investigation of the Ramseys as potential suspects,” Miss Keenan wrote to the Ramseys’ Atlanta attorney, L. Lin Wood.
“I will not go to the press now or in the future to publicize this decision,” Miss Keenan told Mr. Wood in the letter obtained by the News.
The action was a response to Mr. Wood’s request in October to order a new investigation. Miss Keenan refused in June 2001 to respond to a similar request, saying, “I am not going to be baited by the Ramseys’ attorney.”
Miss Keenan, a former deputy prosecutor, said that the JonBenet case weighed so heavily since she took office early last year that she decided to reopen it after consulting Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner. Chief Beckner revealed her decision yesterday but gave no details.
“Please understand that this decision is being made for one reason only, the fact that a violent child murderer is at large,” the prosecutor wrote to Mr. Wood in a letter that he said removes his clients from the suspect list.
“This is the only chance we have of solving the case,” Mr. Wood said. “While the Ramseys will not be exempt from the investigation, the truth is, this is not about going back and reinvestigating John and Patsy Ramsey.”
According to the newspaper, while the letter states that investigators “will not exempt the Ramseys from this investigation,” it, nonetheless, implied that they are not targets.
“Our efforts will focus on following up on leads which have not previously been investigated or that are brought to our attention in the future,” Miss Keenan wrote.
“This may provide the Ramseys and their attorney greater comfort in forwarding what they believe is new information or leads that need to be investigated,” Chief Beckner said. “I wish [the new detectives] the best of luck. The investigation is theirs now.”
Miss Keenan said her office will use Lou Smit, a Colorado Springs detective who investigated the case for the previous district attorney. He continues to pursue “numerous leads” that he says point to an intruder. Ollie Gray, a private detective for the Ramseys, also had information that was passed on to Miss Keenan.
“Certain priorities will be put on certain leads,” Mr. Smit told the newspaper. “It’ll be Mary’s job to take the information and run with it.”
The previous investigation ended in October 1999, when a grand jury closed its investigation without indicting either parent.