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After the friendship turned sour....
Boulder Weekly - 02-29-1999 - What I saw at the feeding frenzy

In the Boulder Weekly - February 29, 1999

What I saw at the feeding frenzy
A between-the-lines look at the Ramsey case
by Frank Coffman

In the beginning, the Ramsey murder case seemed simple to solve. The day after the murder, as the Ramsey's housekeeper was leaving the Boulder police station, a detective working on the case told her, "I am confident we'll have an arrest by Sunday."

Instead of an early arrest, the Ramsey case turned into an interminable murder mystery and a feeding frenzy for the media. Children are killed everyday in this country, but the death of JonBenet was different. People around the nation and the world wanted to know all about it.

Almost overnight, Boulder was deluged by national media. The town resented the intrusion on its comfortable neighborhoods and on its image as an ideal place to live. At first, city spokesperson Leslie Aaholm refused even to acknowledge that the crime was a murder, referring to it as an "incident." Reporters ran up against a police department with little to say, except for a crabby police chief who scolded them for covering the story.

The Ramseys and their friends were also tight-lipped or hostile to the media. On one occasion, when a TV journalist drove up to the house of the Fernies (friends who were in the Ramseys' house on the morning of the murder), John Fernie walked up and spat on the vehicle before the journalist even got out. This was going to be a tough story, indeed.

To penetrate the wall of silence around the case, tabloid newspapers and TV shows employed methods that the mainstream news media wouldn't dream of using. The TV show American Journal paid the Ramseys' housekeeper $15,000 to appear on camera. the National Enquirer paid $40,000 for photos of JonBenet. One tabloid TV program used private detectives to pry into the Ramseys' telephone call logs and financial records, tracking the couple's whereabouts by keeping tabs on their credit card purchases.

In the months after the murder, tabloid reporters trailed the Ramseys wherever they went. Craig Lewis of the Globe recalls, "In the early days, we had three cars following the Ramseys-one car with reporters and two cars with photographers." Scott McKiernan, of Zuma photo agency, followed the Ramseys and staked out places they frequented. He also used a radio scanner to listen in on the cellular phone calls of former Ramsey friend Fleet White, overhearing him on one occasion tell his father that the Ramseys were trying to cast him as a suspect in the murder.

When the Ramseys moved into the Boulder home of friends Glen and Susan Stine, one tabloid publication convinced neighbors who disliked the Stines to allow reporters to use their house as a base of operations. A video camera was set up in a front window, taping the unwitting Ramseys as they came and went.

National Enquirer reporters grabbed the Stines' trash, gleaning scraps of information on the Ramseys such as the name of their psychiatrist, the kinds of anti-depressants they'd been prescribed, and other leads about their activities.

One day in February 1997, the Stines struck back at the press when Globe reporter Ken Harrell tried a more direct approach. Instead of parking up the street like other reporters, he walked straight up, knocked on the Stines front door and asked to speak with the Ramseys. Susan Stine, who is sometimes called "Patsy's pit bull," opened the door a crack and asked to see his identification. As Harrell held up his wallet to show her his ID, Mrs. Stine grabbed it and slammed the door in his face. She then called the police to report a "stalker" at the front door. Officers arrived to find Harrell agitated to a degree that he indeed bore some resemblance to a crazed stalker. They put him on the ground and handcuffed him, before they realized how Mrs. Stine had contrived the situation.

John Ramsey, who was in the house when the incident occurred, later laughed about how Mrs. Stine handled the Globe reporter. At an employee meeting at the offices of his company, Access Graphics, Ramsey brought up the episode as an example of how to deal with the news media. Diane Hallis, who worked at Access Graphics, recalls that John Ramsey would look out the third floor windows of the offices trying to spot reporters. "He hated them," she says. "His anger was directed toward the media, but never toward the killer. He never mentioned the killer."

"You bastard!"

John Ramsey said on CNN six days after the murder that he wasn't angry about the crime; however, he seemed enraged at photographers who confronted him. In Atlanta in 1997, John Ramsey and Glen Stine chased a National Enquirer photographer down the street and into a restaurant, where the photographer managed to elude them by hiding in the kitchen.

In January 1998 in the Atlanta airport, John Ramsey tussled with a Globe photographer who was waiting for him in the airport. Spotting a photographer at a street carnival in Charlevoix, Michigan in the summer of 1997, John Ramsey jumped up on a picnic table, pointed a finger at him and screamed at the top of his lungs, "I told you to get your motherfucking ass out of here!"

I got a taste of the Ramsey temper in Boulder one evening last December when I tried to photograph John as he stood on a downtown street corner. "You bastard!" he said, lunging at me. Grabbing my arm and a fistful of jacket, he tried to throw me to the pavement. "Don't, John-it's not worth it!" yelled his attorney, Michael Bynum. Ramsey then released me and rejoined Bynum, "Pasta Jay" Elowsky and his son, John Andrew. As they walked away, I raised my camera for another shot. Ramsey's cool demeanor returned. "Nice camera," he said, sounding almost amiable.

Of course, the tabloids are liable to provoke anger from anyone who feels hounded. But contrary to the notion that tabloids make up their stories, tab reporters sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to get a story. They are willing to use methods that make the mainstream media cringe, such as paying sources for information.

"We do develop sources," says Don Gentile of the National Enquirer. "Instead of getting a source from inside, we get a source from left-field, which may be just as good."

In the Ramsey case, the Globe and the National Enquirer were willing to pay huge sums for a copy of the ransom note. The Globe knew that the Ramseys had a good quality photocopy of the ransom note, given to them by the police. Ramsey lawyers had given copies of the note to handwriting experts for comparison to the Ramsey's writing. In April 1997, two Globe reporters came to the home of one expert in Evergreen. The reporters brought $30,000 in cash (in $100 bills) to induce this expert to give them a copy of the ransom note. He refused and later called the Jefferson County DA with a complaint of "commercial bribery." But the reporters couldn't be charged with a crime. What they did was not against the law.

On a mission from God

Jeff Shapiro, a 24-year old novice reporter under contract with the Globe, moved to Boulder from Florida in March 1997.

Though he came as a journalist to cover the Ramsey murder, Shapiro felt he'd also been sent by God to help solve the crime. His e-mail address: "JBsAvenger" (i.e. JonBenet's Avenger).

Shapiro's plan was to go undercover and work the story from the inside out. Renting a place next door to the Chi Psi fraternity house where John Andrew lived, Shapiro succeeded in befriending Ramsey's son. He even joined the Episcopal Church that the Ramseys attended. But his persistent questions about the murder case blew his cover. John Andrew's friends became suspicious and warned the younger Ramsey off his engaging, earnest neighbor.

Shapiro was forced to move on to conventional news sources.

Surprisingly, the inexperienced reporter succeeded in cozying up to a crucial figure in the case: District Attorney Alex Hunter.

From May until October 1997, Shapiro was in almost constant contact with Hunter, who didn't seem to look upon him so much as a tabloid reporter, but as an energetic, likable young man who happened to have an infatuation with the case. The avuncular DA even gave the tabloid tyro his private phone numbers. Later he allowed a Globe photographer into his office to take his picture, though he had previously condemned the tabloid's publication of stolen coroner's photos of the crime scene and implements as "reprehensible." And by July 15, 1997, the Globe was quoting Hunter praising the paper's $500,000 reward offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.

Police detectives were also talking with Shapiro. The young reporter had won their favor when he informed them where they could get white nylon cord identical to the kind used in the murder. Detectives promptly went to the store and bought up all the cord. Although Shapiro was glad to take credit for the discovery, he actually learned about the cord when I mentioned it to him in a phone conversation in May 1997.

Shapiro's subjects didn't always appreciate his attention. Learning that the DA's office considered Fleet White a potential suspect in the case, Shapiro took to following White around. One day White noticed Shapiro tailing him in a car and angrily swung his vehicle around and went after the kid reporter. As Shapiro desperately jockeyed for an escape route, White repeatedly cut him off. The two raced across town until Shapiro got ahead in traffic and escaped through a changing traffic light.

Shapiro also found himself in the middle of the clash between Alex Hunter and the police department. The Ramsey investigation was then run by John Eller, an abrasive police commander who rubbed the DA the wrong way. Hunter tipped Shapiro that Eller was being accused of sexual harassment. (That allegation turned out to be false.) Shapiro in turn tipped police about Hunter's tip. In his bolt-from-the-blue resignation letter last August, Thomas alluded to the episode, writing melodramatically that "an informant" had told police of the DA's "plan to destroy a man's career." Last week, the hyperbolic Thomas again called for the Hunter's resignation over the Shapiro/Eller episode, charging that "the DA engaged the tabloids in a smear campaign." In a recent TV interview, Thomas claimed that Shapiro acted as his "mole inside the DA's office." Shapiro calls that characterization "ridiculous," though he concedes that Thomas did try to push him into such a role.

The reporter's tip to police ended up costing him his cozy relationship with Hunter.

Thomas too suffered repercussions when Police Chief Tom Koby chastised him for investigating the DA when he should have been investigating the murder of JonBenet. Koby also warned Thomas that he would be fired if he had any further contact with Shapiro-a directive that the reporter claims Thomas violated.

Shapiro's rapport with Thomas won him certain privileges. On at least one occasion, Thomas allowed Shapiro to sit in on a sensitive investigation. In July 1997, Thomas asked me to come to the police station to phone Pam Griffin, a friend of Patsy Ramsey, so that he could surreptitiously tape the conversation. The detective wanted to document a remarkable assertion that Griffin had made to me: Patsy Ramsey admitted to her that she wrote the so-called "practice note."

However, said Griffin, Patsy claimed that it was just the aborted start of an invitation to some event which Patsy couldn't recall. Thomas allowed Shapiro to monitor my conversation with Griffin. The session was a bust, though, when Griffin dismissed her previous comments as "speculation" about Patsy's actions.

Shapiro came to believe that his acceptance by Thomas made him a kind of junior detective on the Ramsey case. Others in the department considered him a pest and ignored his theory that Patsy Ramsey killed her daughter as part of a religious sacrifice. When Thomas resigned, he broke off ties with Shapiro, leaving the reporter crushed. Shortly after the resignation, Shapiro showed up unannounced at Thomas' home in Arvada, allegedly to warn him that the Globe planned to use pressure tactics to get an interview with him. The former detective responded with a warning of a restraining order if Shapiro ever came there again.

Having lost his official sources, Shapiro began drawing closer to the Ramsey camp. He finally came full circle, apologizing to John Ramsey for his paper's accusations against him. Fired by the Globe two weeks ago, Shapiro would now like to join the FBI. In the meantime, he intends to go on CBS' 48 Hours program to expose his former employer for using what he now believes were unethical methods.

Jeff Shapiro seemed to think that the case revolved around him, and for a brief time, it almost did. Incredibly, he managed to insinuate himself everywhere and gain the confidence of major figures in the case. He achieved enviable access, but he couldn't keep anyone's trust for long.

Sleaze and vanity

In mid-1997 Ann Bardach of Vanity Fair arrived in Boulder. At the height of tension between the police and the DA, an investigator on the case leaked inside information, including the wording of the ransom note, to Bardach. To cover her source, she pressured me to tell the police a false story that would, in her words, "throw sand in the gears of the investigation." When I refused to help with her scheme, she screamed that I couldn't be trusted. Her paranoid accusations stunned me. She then spread the word that I was trying to steal her article. Finally I broke all contact with her. Editor's note: Ann Bardach calls the above anecdote "categorically false." She emphasizes that there was no professional relationship or any other kind of relationship whatsoever between her and Frank Coffman, and the only confrontations she had with him were restricted to her attempts to "elude his harassment."

While Bardach's secret source at the Boulder PD has never been identified, certain clues point to Steve Thomas.

The complaints about the DA's office that he expressed in his resignation letter are strikingly similar in tone and content to complaints voiced to Bardach by her source. In September, 1997, before Koby canceled his plan to polygraph the detectives to identify the leaker, Thomas expressed fear that he would be blamed. And at about the time that Bardach arrived in Boulder, Thomas made inquiries about the reputation of Vanity Fair.

According to Bardach, she used several sources in investigative agencies on the case, including the FBI, CBI, DA's office and Boulder Police Department. She refuses to comment on the identity of any particular sources.

The media frenzy around the Ramsey case appalled her, Bardach adds. "I've never seen such ethical lapses on the part of journalists-if that's what you can call them; many of them hardly seemed legitimate. The tabloid reporters were all working the story with check books."

Bardach's taste for tabloid reporters didn't improve when the Globe wound up with her article before Vanity Fair appeared on newsstands. The piece was stolen from the printer and faxed to The Denver Post, among other publications.

A Globe editor left a message on Bardach's machine "gloating" over their acquisition of the piece, says Bardach.

Information from her story ended up in newspapers before her magazine article could hit the streets.

Ann Bardach came and went from Boulder, but probably not soon enough for Lawrence Schiller, author of the recently released book, Perfect Murder, Perfect Town. According to The New York Post, Schiller tried to discourage sources from talking with her by spreading the rumor that her story had been canceled. (When I asked him about it, the author refused to address the point on the record.)

Schiller, who has a reputation for hardball tactics, has been tagged a "perfectly amoral profiteer" by author Jeffrey Toobin, who like Schiller, wrote a book about the O.J. Simpson murder case.

Schiller's book has been called "an encyclopedia" of the Ramsey case. It is the most thorough account of the investigation to be published thus far. However, from my personal knowledge of certain events depicted in the book, I believe Schiller often embroiders the truth. For instance, while he was working on the book, he quoted a passage to me. I told him that he had somewhat misquoted what Steve Thomas said to me and I advised him to change it, but he kept the inaccurate quotation in the book. Worse, Schiller's paraphrased reconstruction of my conversation with Lou Smit regarding traits of the note's writer (Page 448) is mostly Schiller's concoction.

Others had the same problem. The Ramseys' former housekeeper, Linda Hoffmann-Pugh, confirms most of what Schiller writes about her, but she objects to several apparent fabrications, such as the claim on Page 561 that the authorities showed her a photograph of the Ramseys' dryer with JonBenet's sheets inside. She was never shown such a photo, she says.

Schiller relied heavily on the uncorroborated statements of Jeff Shapiro. Some statements from Hunter and Thomas that appear as verbatim quotations are actually just recollections from Shapiro.

Some of Schiller's sources cooperated with him on the condition he wouldn't use their names-a condition he violated. For instance, the Ramseys' former Boulder nanny talked to Schiller once he promised to keep her anonymous. Later, before the book was finished, she became alarmed that Schiller might violate their oral agreement. I relayed her concerns to Schiller, but he refused to take her name out of the manuscript. (Schiller declined to respond to the accusation for this story.)

Others, however, were permitted anonymity in the book. Clay Evans, columnist for The Daily Camera, hides behind the fictitious name "Cordwainer Bird" on Page 426.

Schiller has already issued an errata list, but it barely scratches the surface. Jeff Merrick, a former Access Graphics' employee who knew John Ramsey, says that "very little of what he writes about me is accurate." For instance, Merrick insists that he never threatened John Ramsey and he never claimed that the company owed him close to $118,000 or any other specific amount. He calls the numerous errors "almost comical."

The Ramseys' defenders

The Ramseys have managed to find sympathetic media ears. Dan Glick at Newsweek became a virtual apologist for the couple, all the while claiming that he was "agnostic" about their guilt or innocence.

On the Internet, "Jameson's Timeline" web site presents a lengthy defense of the Ramseys. "Jameson" is the pseudonym of a housewife in North Carolina who had a vision while taking a shower two days after the murder that the Ramseys were innocent. She has met John and Patsy Ramsey and has even managed to insert herself into the police investigation. In April 1997, a tip from Jameson persuaded Boulder police detectives to fly to North Carolina to interview an imprisoned pedophile as a possible suspect. In another episode in the summer of 1998, Jameson sicced authorities, including the CBI, on the family of a former employee of the Ramseys, alleging that they were part of a child pornography operation. The only thing that came of the investigation was pain for a wrongly-accused family. Now, "Internet sleuth" Jameson, again claiming to have important evidence, is trying to prod the DA's office into summoning her to testify before the grand jury investigating the murder.

When the public first became curious about the Ramsey case, then Boulder Police Chief Tom Koby termed the murder "a sick curiosity." Sick or not, it is a preoccupation shared by the media, by law enforcement and by a large part of the public. Incredibly, the size of the investigation into the murder of one little girl approaches in magnitude the official investigation of the Kennedy assassination. Until the case is solved, there will be a pack of reporters chasing after every scrap of information to serve up to a public that hungers to know who killed JonBenet.

Frank Coffman is a long-time Boulder resident and part-time writer.

Frank Coffman was posting in the Ramsey forums as maskman - and he posted this on Dec 12, 1998 

"John Ramsey acted like Sean Penn last night! Around 11 p.m. last night (Dec. 11), John Ramsey physically attacked a photographer at the corner of 10th and Pearl in Boulder, CO. As the photographer tried to snap a picture of him, Ramsey yelled "you bastard" and charged at the photographer. Ramsey grabbed the man's jacket, tussled with him and seemed ready to tear him to pieces until Mike Bynum intervened, saying: "Don't, John! It's not worth it." Ramsey suddenly backed off, just before he got into a serious street brawl. No blood was shed, but Ramsey committed an assault. [Message for the Daily Camera: contact Bynum; he witnessed the WHOLE thing! Go get your story, Matt!] Message to John: Save your rage for the intruder -- you know, the one you're "not angry" with (as you said on CNN). It's too bad you're not as furious at the killer. A very telling episode. So much for the myth of the meek, gentle John Ramsey. He unmasked himself on Pearl street in Boulder last night!"

What he didn't post is that HE was the photographer.  But he soon went public with that story.
Peter Boyles: We have breaking Ramsey news. JR was in Boulder. Walking out of Pasta J's Saturday night, along with with JAR and Bynum, a photographr took his picture---and JR went after him. What does this prove? It proves that JR has a violent temper.


PB: We have breaking Ramsey news. JR was in Boulder. Walking out of Pasta J's Saturday night, along with with JAR and Bynum, a photographr took his picture---and JR went after him. What does this prove? It proves that JR has a violent temper. Quoting those that said "He never lost his temper with the kids"....

PB: The most significant thing next to the impeachment is the JBR murder. With us is Frank Coffman-- thank you for doing this. Tell us the story of Friday night

FC: I got word that JR was at the 10th & Pearl location--had my camera--when he walked out the door, I attempted to take his picture, but before I could do that, he charged at me, snarling and yelled "Basterd" -- I thought he was going to throw me around--Bynum yelled "Don't John, it's not worth it" I did not hit him or strike back at him, but he was getting pretty rough.

PB: Have you been to the police about this?

FC: No

PB: Are you going to?

FC: I'm thinking about it

PB: He's closing Pasta J's in Boulder and moving to the 10th and Pearl. Now who else do you think is invested in the restaurant.

FC: We heard Bynum-- and I assume Ramsey has some interest in it.

PB: They're all co-signatures on this loan in Vegas. We heard that Bynum was the first call that was made –

FC: I don't know....

PB: When Bynum was on the house tour, he was never identified as an attorney or business associate. Wasn't Bynum the consortium who had control over the sale of the house?

FC: Yes--- they didn't get market value out of it

PB: Yes, I understand they lost about $200,000. About JR's anger. The relatives---take on that disc jockey voice---- that he never raised his voice even with his children

FC: It is odd that he could be so un-angry about the murder of his daughter, and yet be so violently angry at me-

PB: How far away from him were you?

FC: Probably 15 ft. JAR was there. JAR is known to have a violent temper. I knew there might be trouble trying to take a picture, but I didn't think it would be JR. There's another time where Glen Stine and JR chased a photographer. But this one is the most extreme I've heard of. He can get raging angry. It was like showing a red cape to a bull. He grabbed my arm, my jacket, like he was trying to throw me down. I didn't try to fight him. The minute Bynum yelled at him, he immediately backed off.

PB: (laughing) it's Boulder---it's OK My final question is have you considered reporting this to PD?

FC: I guess so. I'm not after any legal rambling.

PB: Is Patsy in town?

FC: I don't know--maybe JR was just here visiting JAR
1998-12-15: Webbsleuths Community Forum
on thread titled, "John Ramsey vs Photographer"

"John Ramsey vs Photographer"

Photographer says Ramsey grabbed him
Free-lance journalist cites 'very rough' treatment
By Charlie Brennan
News Staff Writer

BOULDER -- A free-lance journalist says he was roughed up by John Ramsey when he snapped a picture of him Friday night.

"I thought, 'Oh my gosh, we're seeing a whole other side to the meek, mild John Ramsey people talk about,"' said Frank Coffman. "He was very rough. He tried to manhandle me, no question about that."

Neither Ramsey or his attorney could be reached for comment.

Coffman, 50, said he was phoned at about 11 p.m. Friday by a friend who knows of his interest in the JonBenet Ramsey murder case. That friend told him that John Ramsey, the slain girl's father, was in downtown Boulder.

Ramsey was with his 22-year-old son, John Andrew Ramsey, and several other people at a restaurant on Pearl Street. The eatery is being remodeled by Ramsey's friend, Boulder restaurateur Jay Elowsky.

Coffman grabbed his camera and walked one block from his apartment to a building being converted into a new Pasta Jay's restaurant. Ramsey, 55, has been a business partner of Elowsky in the past.

"If John Ramsey wants to come over to my neighborhood, I'll take a picture of him any time," Coffman said.

He said his confrontation began when Ramsey and others emerged from the restaurant at the corner of 10th and Pearl streets.

"From 15 feet away I start to take a picture, but before I can, he shouts ... and he runs right at me at full speed, like a bull seeing a red flag," said Coffman.

Coffman said Ramsey grabbed him.

" He started tussling with me, pulling on my jacket and pulling my arm. He had both hands on me, and he looked like he was going to take me down."

It was at that point, Coffman said, that a man he recognized as Mike Bynum -- an attorney and Ramsey family friend -- intervened by saying "Don't, John, it's not worth it."

Coffman said John Ramsey then proceeded to a nearby parked car as Coffman went ahead and took their picture.

Bynum's law office on Monday referred calls about the episode to Ramsey attorney Hal Haddon. Haddon could not be reached for comment.

John Ramsey and his wife, Patsy, are suspects in the ongoing grand jury probe into the murder of 6-year-old JonBenet. She was found murdered in the basement of their Boulder home Dec. 26, 1996. They vow they are innocent.
1998-12-18: Webbsleuths Community Forum
on thread titled, "Photo's for $'s"

It's not a mugshot, Mr. Ramsey

For an aspiring paparazzo in Boulder, opportunities are rare. So when Frank Coffman got a call Saturday from a friend saying she'd spotted John Ramsey in a restaurant at 10th and Pearl, he grabbed his camera and raced to the scene. Coffman, who favors the title writer/researcher over paparazzo, has been "fascinated" with the JonBenet Ramsey case ever since her body was found. He's made an avocation of hanging around the fringes of the case collecting information, asking questions, talking to neighbors in hopes of writing a book or a long magazine article. Along the way he sells little bits of what he finds. A good picture of Boulder's most famous father, Coffman figured, could be good for some bucks from the tabloids.

When Coffman arrived, he found Ramsey's son, John Andrew, "standing guard, glaring out the window." He waited outside until the party exited. As he approached, camera in hand, the senior Ramsey yelled, "You bastard!" and lunged at him. "He grabbed me and started tearing at my clothes," Coffman recalled. "I specifically remember him grabbing my arm. He was just snarling, enraged."

Fortunately (though it's hard to tell who for, Coffman or Ramsey) a friend of Ramsey's interceded, telling him: "No John, it's not worth it." Ramsey backed off and turned the other way. Coffman followed, taking pictures. He got a good one of John and John Andrew-which he's titled "Father, Son and Holy Ghost"-and another of Ramsey sliding into his car.

"Nice camera," Ramsey told Coffman as he opened the car door. "I said, 'You know, you shouldn't attack people, it's against the law,'" Coffman recalled. "He seemed to have a hint of a grim smile on his face when I said that."

For his part, Coffman feels no guilt. "I wouldn't harass him if I didn't suspect he had knowledge of a specific crime," said Coffman, who wouldn't go so far as to say Ramsey is guilty.

The New York Times requested copies of the photos on Tuesday and the incident won Coffman a spot on the Peter Boyles Show Monday morning. "Where is this nonviolent John Ramsey we heard about?" asked Boyles. "Here's a man who on CNN says he's not angry at the killer, but he's angry at a photographer. What is that about?"

Attorneys representing Ramsey did not return phone calls seeking comment on the incident.

-Joe Miller
1998-12-28: Webbsleuths Community Forum
on thread titled, "What John saw"

"What John saw"
Posted by jameson on 05:58:38 12/28/98
Include Original Message on Reply

When John, John Andrew, Mike Bynum and Pasta Jay left the new restaurant and Frank Coffman met them outside, it was a surprise. None of them noticed the man until he pulled something out, and then they didn't know it was a camera.

Not knowing what kind of person they were dealing with, I don't think it is hard to imagine that they felt this man posed a threat. Frank Coffman had his arm grabbed. When it was determined he was holding a camera, the "assault" on Coffman ended.

I know the Ramseys are "news", but they are also human.

The story of this assault on a photographer was told from one POV and the person was paid for it. Like other stories the press has run on the Ramsey case, this one clearly made John Ramsey look bad.

My source told me he had shared this information with reporters and it never surfaced in the press. Gee, what a surprise. NOT!

1. "Jameson has it wrong."
Posted by MaskedMan on 22:02:22 12/30/98
Include Original Message on Reply

Now, Jameson even knows what John Ramsey and others were "thinking." Incredible. Jameson somehow KNOWS that John and the others feared that the photographer might have been holding a gun, instead of a camera. This is utter baloney. I was there and I KNOW that this is a BIG LIE. But, of course, Jameson is so ready to justify ANYTHING that the Ramseys say that Jameson automatically believes John Ramsey's lame excuse for going berserk and attacking a photographer in Boulder on Dec. 11.

In the first place, a camera doesn't look like a gun. John Ramsey was close enough (15 feet away) to see that it was a camera. Second, no one said "look out" or expressed any fear. Third, before John attacked the photographer, Mike Bynum made a comment indicating that he was annoyed, not afraid. Fourth, when John got right up on the photographer -- close enough to touch the camera -- John CONTINUED to attack the photographer. John KNEW that it was a camera. Anyone could see that it was obviously a camera. Ramsey didn't say anything like: "Oh, it's just camera."

No one showed any fear. John stopped attacking only because his lawyer friend, Mike Bynum, warned him that he was about to get himself into trouble. If not for Bynum's comment, there could have been a bloody street brawl. John Ramsey behaved like a violent maniac, but now he wants to cover up the episode with a LIE.

Instead of just reporting John Ramsey's version of the incident, Jameson blindly endorses this phony story. Jameson wasn't there, so how does Jameson know what happened? This phony story shows how John Ramsey is capable of lying and how Jameson is a willing tool to spread lies. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Jameson doesn't care about the truth. Jameson is merely an apologist. The Ramseys can do no wrong. Shame on you, Jameson.

2. "More misinformation from Jameson."
Posted by MaskedMan on 00:01:40 12/31/98
Include Original Message on Reply

Jameson says: "My source told me he (JR) had shared this information with reporters and it never surfaced in the the press. Gee, what a surprise. NOT!"

Oh, really? Tell us who these "reporters" are, Jameson. PLEASE NAME THEM! I know that you cannot name them because this is baloney. Does anyone think that reporters wouldn't have loved to have a comment from John Ramsey on this incident? Of course they would!

Charlie Brennan, a reporter from the Denver Rocky Mountain News, who wrote an article about this incident, tried to get a comment from Mike Bynum and from Ramseys' lawyers. They refused to comment. Carol McKinley, from Fox News, tried to get a response from the Ramseys, but she couldn't get any response.

Jameson seems to think that reporters aren't interested in reporting the Ramseys' side of an issue. This is a stupid notion. Anything that the Ramseys say is news. Reporters want to get comments from the Ramseys.

In Jameson's typical fashion of distorting the facts, a violent attack by John Ramsey (and his failure to comment on it) has now been twisted by Jameson into a case of alleged media bias against the Ramseys. This is an appalling lie.

Why is Jameson spreading these lies? The episode "made John Ramsey look bad," so Jameson has to clean it up with falsehoods. Jameson couldn't care less about the truth because Jameson is just a propagandist for the Ramseys. The truth is what ever makes the Ramseys look good.

3. "Nope"
Posted by jameson on 03:33:16 12/31/98
Include Original Message on Reply

I am not a posting just to refute an attack on John Ramsey. In fact I didn't get this information until recently - that is why it is just going up now. I don't make up stuff, otherwise I would have posted a response long ago.

John Ramsey didn't tell me this himself, he told a third party, a reliable source. They told me.

My purpose is to provide information. I did not call you a liar or say THIS IS THE TRUTH - I posted what I was told. Let the posters decide what they want to believe.

12. "Jameson is irresponsible."
Posted by MaskedMan on 15:38:30 12/31/98
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I told Jameson in detail exactly what happened on the corner of 10th and Pearl in Boulder at 11:00 p.m. on Dec. 11, 1998, when John Ramsey attacked me as I tried to take his picture. I KNOW what happend, Jameson does NOT know. Mike Bynum was a witness and he, of course, also knows. Let him speak up. When reporter Charlie Brennan tried to get Bynum's comment, Bynum refused. Jameson wasn't there and yet Jameson accepts second-hand hearsay about what REALLY happened. Jameson even knows what JR was thinking! This is absurd on the face of it.

A camera doesn't look like a gun! I was holding the camera like a camera, up to my eye, when John Ramsey snarled "you bastard" and charged at me. He knew it was a camera! If he thought it was a gun, why did he say "you bastard"? He should have said "look out" or "get down." Why did he continue to push me around even after he got in my face? He didn't stop "when it was determined that he [I] was holding a camera," as Jameson falsely claims. No one said "oh, it's just a camera" or anything like that.

Don't give me this bull about John's "POV." John knew it was a camera. That WAS his POV at the time, regardless of whatever lie he's telling now to cover up his berserk behavior.

Furthermore, I was NOT "paid for" my story, as Jameson falsely claims. Nor, did I try to get paid for it. I didn't even take the story to the news media! The news media came to me, inquiring about what happened. There was no payment and if Jameson claims otherwise, please specify WHO allegedly paid me. This is just more baloney from Jameson, concocted to discredit my account.

I stand corrected, however, about the pronoun "he" referred to in Jameson's thread. I misunderstood. I have been reluctant to press charges against John Ramsey for assault (even though he committed an assault). There are witnesses to the incident and I have a photo of Ramsey coming at me. At first, I declined to press charges, but if JR is now lying about what happened, I may change my mind and press assault charges against John Ramsey.

Jameson is again exposed as a propagandist and mouthpiece with little regard for the truth. Since Jameson refuses to correct his/her error, I am convinced that Jameson is dedicated to the willful distortion of the truth.

18. "The incident - and a note to Masked Man"
Posted by jameson on 06:02:38 1/01/99
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Coffman has his version of the story of what happened that night. I believe that is how he saw it. I also believe that the whole altercation took about 30 seconds, the walk to the car was much longer. So in 30 seconds you have Coffman moving the camera to his face, John seeing it, lunging, realizing it was a camera, Bynum seeing a camera and telling John to stop. I think it all happened so fast either story is believable.

Then John let go of Coffman, immediately chilled, said something like "Nice camera" and walked towards his car.

Coffman continued to take pictures. Now some might think HE should have walked away at that point, but I can understand he was excited, a bit angry, and he went after the picture. He DOES earn money selling such photos. It is what photo-journalists DO.

But I think his last comment to Ramsey showed that HE (Coffman) was playing a bit of a game, perhaps baiting the situation. He said "You really shouldn't assault people, it is against the law" - or something close to that. I am sure he will correct the quote if I am wrong. Was he trying to get Ramsey angry again? I don't know.

Pasta Jay, JAR and Bynum were all there. If there was going to be a violent altercation that night, Coffman wouldn't have walked away without a bruise. His arm was grabbed and he was shaken a bit. Not thrown against the brick wall he was standing next to, not thrown to the ground, not punched. This lends a bit more credibility to the Ramsey version, IMO.

Actually I think this is a very unimportant story. Coffman knew he would not be welcomed by the Ramseys and I think John Ramsey, a man who has been threatened in the past, responded to seeing Coffman there. No matter what he thought was in Coffman's hands, there would have been some response.

Note to Masked Man - I am not a Ramsey Apologist - I don't speak for them - I say what I think. I also post the news and whatever my personal research uncovers.

You know I have spoken to the Ramseys in the past, you know I have some excellent connections (as do you) so let's not go there. That is playing the name-calling game and I don't care to engage.

Let's put this incident in perspective. Personally I think it is being blown out of proportion
2000-02-00: Brill's Content Article: "JonBenét, Inc"

By Katherine Rosman
Issue Date: February 2000



Time is by no means the only mainstream media organization that has looked to those who employ tabloid tactics to get the goods. Outlets such as Dateline NBC and The New York Times have turned to a Boulder gadfly named Frank Coffman to keep them competitive in their JonBenét coverage.

Coffman, 52, is something of a town crier in the saga. A resident of Boulder for more than 20 years, he once lived a quiet life making Halloween masks and writing occasional columns for a Boulder weekly newspaper. But that was before his town's serenity was rocked by the murder of a little girl. As an accident of proximity, Coffman says, he became entangled in the case.

On December 11, 1998, in his downtown Boulder apartment, which looks like a graduate student's crash pad, Coffman's phone rang. John Ramsey's standing on a street corner by your apartment right now! cried the caller.

Coffman took the cue: He snatched a camera and dashed out the door. Coffman saw Ramsey standing on the street corner with his son, a friend, and one of Ramsey's lawyers; with his heart pounding, Coffman raised his camera, aimed, and fired.

Ramsey wasn't pleased to see Coffman with his camera hoisted. "He attacked me," Coffman says, claiming that Ramsey lunged at him and grabbed his jacket before one of Ramsey's attorneys, Michael Bynum, stopped the potential brawl. (Bynum did not return phone calls seeking comment.)

"I was not stalking him," Coffman says without being asked. Still, he adds, it's "kind of weird to take a picture of somebody like that. I wouldn't do it to anybody else...but John and Patsy Ramsey are fair game."

Despite the scuffle, Coffman snapped a few shots, though the camera's flash didn't go off for the one picture that captured Ramsey allegedly lunging at Coffman. "If that flash had gone off, that would have been a fabulous picture," says Coffman. "It would have made him look so damn guilty. Because people would have said, 'Ah-hah! Here he is. The killer,' " Coffman purrs, adding, "and I don't know that Ramsey killed anybody."

But whether Ramsey killed anyone matters little when you've got an exclusive picture. Coffman says the incident surrounding his photography was reported in an Internet chat room and that once the word was out that he had a few photos of John Ramsey, his phone was ringing like a car alarm in New York City. "The New York Times called me," he says. "I didn't try to sell it, but they said, Look, we want to buy this, we want to publish it, so I said, Okay.

Why not?"

The Times ran one of Coffman's pictures on December 16, 1998, along with an item that described the alleged tussle with Ramsey. Coffman says he made $150 from the sale of the photo. (In addition to getting work from the Times, Coffman says, he has peeped through the windows of the Ramseys' former home in Boulder, taken photos, and sold them to Schiller's movie production team. The photos helped the producers properly re-create the crime scene.)

That the Times considers it newsworthy that a "stalkerazzi" photographer claims to have had his collar grabbed by John Ramsey indicates how far even the most legitimate of news outlets have gone for a JonBenét story. Asked about the paparazzi-like photo, Times deputy picture editor Mike Smith said, "We don't encourage or look for that kind of work."

Coffman says he is not a profiteer seeking to make hard cash off the death of a kid. "I never tried to make money on the Ramsey case," says Coffman. "I never asked anyone to send me money....They just spontaneously-all these people who were so desperate to get information and photographs and whatever on the Ramsey case."

Coffman admits that he now accepts retainers from various media outlets in case he finds himself in possession of information they want, but won't say which outlets. "I'd rather retain my freelance independent status," he reasons.

Spent this morning with a new boom box listening to some old cassette tapes of the Dave Lucas show out of Albany, NY.

Frank was playing like he wanted no lynch mob but he was doing a good job of leading it. He was lying when talking to me about our time together at the house - the sun rises low on the south and clears the snow from the south lawn while the front of the house remains covered by snow. He argued with Michael Tracey about when the crime scene photos were taken. He believed his sources and simply refused to be reasonable, IMO.

Last Fall I went to Boulder and called Frank, asked if I might meet him on the mall for a visit. He declined, he is removed from the case, he said. I felt bad for a while but if he is not going to be an honest contributor to the discussion, I guess it is just as well that we not meet again.

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