Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Interview with Stephen Singular

First Impressions

First Impressions

Stephen Singular is a highly regarded journalist and freelance writer. Apart from his book Presumed Guilty — An Investigation into the JonBenet Ramsey Case, The Media and the Culture of Pornography, he is the author of ten other non-fiction books including the New York Times best-selling A Killing in the Family, which eventually became the NBC-TV mini-series Love Lies and Murder. His first book Talked to Death: The Life & Murder of Alan Berg - which dealt with the assassination of Denver radio talk show host Alan Berg by neo-Nazis - was the basis for Oliver Stone's 1989 film, Talk Radio. His latest book, due for release at the end of 2000, is called — The Uncivil War: The Rise of Hate, Violence, and Terrorism in America.

Q: When you first went to Boulder, Colorado in January 1997 following JonBenet's murder, did you, like the hundreds of other journalists drawn to the area at the time, have any pre-conceived ideas regarding who might be responsible for the crime?

I try not to have pre-conceived ideas about murders, but to discover what my ideas and perceptions are along the way. Even if you know what happened in a case, you still want to know why it happened. So you're always searching for that. By February 1997, when no arrest had been quickly made in the Ramsey case, I began to think that it was a more complicated homicide than the media was portraying it to be. The longer the case went on without an arrest, the more convinced of that I became.

Q: Prior to your first meeting with Boulder District Attorney Alex Hunter in April 1997, what research had you undertaken on the case?

I had gone online and looked at pictures of little girls, five and six-year-olds, the same age as JonBenet, who were being used for child pornography purposes. They were being tied up by their hands and ankles and being sexually abused, or laid out on tables or hung from ceilings. They were being treated violently, and ropes, scarves, and belts were used to tie them up. These photographic situations looked very similar to the conditions surrounding the death of JonBenet, who was strangled to death with a piece of nylon rope. Before meeting Hunter I'd also talked to computer crime specialists who told me that child porn was now the fastest growing criminal activity in cyberspace.



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