Shirley Brady
#9
By ALLI KRUPSKI
Camera Staff Writer

Sunday, January 26, 1997

At just 6, JonBenet Ramsey seemed to relish the public limelight, singing and dancing, winning national beauty pageants and attending an academic specialty school.

But the little girl's death has placed her in an entirely different spotlight. Her father, John, found her strangled in the wine cellar of the family's 15-room, ornately decorated home at 755 15th Street on Dec. 26. About eight hours earlier, her mother, Patsy, a former Miss West Virginia, reportedly found a ransom note demanding $118,000 and called police.

The mystery of her death - heightened by police investigators' silence, the family's behavior, and the national media scrutiny - has captivated the country.

Now, one month later, JonBenet's parents and brothers Burke, 9, and John Andrew, 20, remain in seclusion and have begun to reassemble their lives. Boulder police, however, still have not identified any suspects or formally interviewed the parents.

"I don't know if they'll talk to police or if things ever will be the same for them, but they're getting better," a family friend said. "John's going to go back to work, and Burke's back at school. I don't think they'll ever feel more normal again until the press starts to leave them alone."

The homicide has captured national attention: Reporters from TV networks and newspapers across the country file regular, if not daily, reports; Newsweek, People and several tabloids have featured the former Little Miss Colorado on their covers. Lately, the number of reporters and TV and radio personalities has dwindled.

"I think, at first, people were enthralled, but now people are sick of hearing about the whole thing," said Mark Oberman, a 37-year-old Boulder resident. "I just think the police need to hurry up and make an arrest, or at least tell us a little bit more about what's going on, so the rumors will just stop flying and the press will move on to another story."

Police have narrowed the field of suspects, but otherwise refuse to release new information or confirm details leaking out about the murder, such as where the killer strangled the girl or the time of death.

For example, the killer reportedly struck the beauty queen's head with a blunt object, such as a baseball bat or golf club, and sexually assaulted her. "She had bruises indicating something like that, and the person most likely used some type of instrument," a source close to the investigation said.

Police have questioned friends and relatives about the family.

"They asked me if the (John Ramsey's) first divorce ended because of child abuse and ... how the children acted when they were around their daddy," said Shirley Brady, the Ramseys' nanny in Atlanta from 1986 to 1989. "I told them there was no way the divorce could have ended because of child abuse and that the children loved being around their daddy. He was gentle and he adored them."

John and Patsy Ramsey appeared on CNN to discuss the crime. They also have hired a media consultant, two private investigators, two criminal defense attorneys, a former FBI criminal personality profiler and a hand writing analyst. As the so-called "Ramsey team" and authorities search for clues, the family continues to struggle with its grief.

"They're taking their first tentative steps to try to regain some normalcy to their lives," said Pat Korten, the Ramsey's media consultant. "They are getting out a little bit and getting support from friends ... because if they didn't, it would be almost impossible to cope."

John Ramsey, president of Boulder-based Access Graphics, temporarily stepped aside from his position but may return to his job this week, company spokeswoman Laurie Wagner said.

"He has not picked a specific date yet," she said.

Last week, several reporters staked out the business hoping for a glimpse of Ramsey, authorities said. "A reporter got into the back stairwell watching for John on Wednesday, but he was asked to leave," Wagner said.

Ramsey will not field questions as he walks into the building, she said.

"When he's back, as far as the business goes, everything will return to normal," Wagner said. "We might create an opportunity for employees to speak with him one on one to express their condolences rather than just bumping into him in the hallway."

Burke Ramsey recently returned to his fourth-grade class after officials counseled staff and students, Boulder Valley School District Superintendent Lydia Swize said.

Meanwhile, police await the results of tests of handwriting, blood and hair samples from the Ramseys, several friends and others.

"We receive them (from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation) as they are available," city spokesman Kelvin McNeill said. "The interview is a matter of scheduling, and the investigation is proceeding as planned." But McNeill's words did not comfort one Ramsey family friend.

"I know the police are working hard," he said. "I just wish they would arrest whatever monster did this, because there is a madman loose in Boulder. It just needs to be resolved, so the Ramseys can truly start to deal with their grief and have a private life again.
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