Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder of JonBenet Ramsey

Still Under Suspicion

Late in March of 2000 , Governor Bill Owens appeared on ABC's Good Morning America and announced that there was new evidence in the Ramsey case but refused to divulge any details, saying he was bound by the rules of evidence to keep the information secret.

"There was substantial new evidence in October, and there's even some new evidence in the last couple of weeks. I've had the opportunity to look at virtually all the evidence in the case," he said. A somewhat confused Police Chief Mark Beckner later said he believed that the governor was referring to the ongoing laboratory tests of evidence being conducted by the FBI, but stressed that evidence could not be considered as being a breakthrough. "This case will not come together on one piece of evidence," Beckner told reporters, "It will be a totality of all the evidence together."

Owens also told ABC's Barbara Walters that there was "very good reason" that John and Patsy Ramsey are under suspicion, and called her prior interview with the couple on the 20/20 program "easy journalism." Owens criticized Walters for being too soft on the issue, a move that would later win him renewed support across the nation and arouse additional suspicion against the Ramseys.

Walters then showed him a portion of the interview during which John Ramsey makes a statement directed at Owens saying, "You've spent three years investigating my family. What are you going to do to find the killer of my daughter?"

Owens was then asked whether , in his personal belief, John or Patsy Ramsey, or both, were responsible for the death of their child.

Owens, after agreeing that the question was a fair one, refused to answer it directly.

Three days after Owens' television appearance, Police Chief Mark Beckner announced that his department would probably accept the Ramseys' offer to take a lie-detector test in regards to JonBenet's murder.

Beckner said he had originally viewed the Ramseys' offer with skepticism, but admitted that after discussions with prosecutor Michael Kane and DA Alex Hunter, it could be a good idea. However, at the end of March, Hunter appeared on CNN's Larry King Live and told King that he didn't want John or Patsy Ramsey to take a polygraph test.

"The problem is reliability," he said, stating that various factors, including medications, could affect heart rate, blood pressure and perspiration, creating a false reading. Hunter also disputed claims by the Ramseys that they'd never been asked to take a polygraph. "They were asked, both of them, if they wanted to take a polygraph," he said. "There may be some confusion about semantics, but the human eye would lead you to believe they were asked."

While Hunter was forthcoming on most issues, there were some that he refused to comment on such as:

  • Whether a grand jury that investigated the case wanted to issue an indictment.
  • What were the results of the DNA examination of JonBenet's fingernails and her underwear.
  • Whether there was any evidence indicating JonBenet had been sexually molested.

He would only say that work was continuing on the case, work which included new analysis techniques being applied to the ransom note, and indicated that it was the most important piece of evidence they had.

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