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EARLY 1997 - before anniversary news
Coroner: police tried to keep body to force interview
Tests on JonBenet were complete
By CLAY EVANS Camera Staff Writer

Friday, April 25, 1997

Boulder police investigators asked the Boulder County coroner's office if it could withhold the body of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey from her family - even though forensic work was complete - to pressure them into submitting to a police interview, Coroner John Meyer confirmed Thursday.

Meyer, a physician who was legal custodian of the girl's body following her murder and an autopsy, and the only official who could sanction release, refused the police request. JonBenet's body was released to her family Dec. 29, then flown to Georgia for burial.

The request from investigators came through Tom Faure, chief medical examiner for the coroner's office, on Dec. 28, Meyer said.

"My impression at the time was it was sort of a trial balloon, wondering if we could do that," Meyer said. "It was, could we do this ... not necessarily to force the family, but could we put a hold on the body until they do come to an interview."

JonBenet Ramsey was found strangled in the basement of her family's home the afternoon of Dec. 26 by her father, John Ramsey, and a family friend. About eight hours earlier, her mother, Patsy Ramsey, found a ransom note demanding $118,000 and called police.

John and Patsy Ramsey still have not been formally inter viewed by police, but their attorneys said Wednesday that police on Tuesday abruptly canceled separate interviews scheduled for Wednesday.

After receiving the inquiry about holding the body, Meyer told Faure that "certainly I didn't think that was a reason for me to put the body on further hold, that I couldn't use that as justification."

Meyer said the examination of the girl's body was complete, except for toxicology reports, which take up to six weeks for results. He said, however, that his office routinely holds the bodies of homicide victims from 24 to 72 hours after an autopsy is complete, "in case anything comes up."

Police on Wednesday said they were "reluctant to release JonBenet's body because they were not sure all the necessary forensic work had been completed, nor had they had an opportunity to discuss the circumstances of JonBenet's death with the parents."

Boulder Police Chief Tom Koby did not immediately return telephone calls from the Daily Camera on Thursday.

District Attorney Alex Hunter said Thursday there may have been other considerations that led police to ask the body be withheld for additional time.

"For example, was there everything that the CBI (Colorado Bureau of Investigation) needed? Had a pediatrician been involved? A child abuse expert involved?" Hunter said. He said that, all told, the body underwent about 12 hours of examination.

In a telephone conversation the afternoon of Dec. 28, the district attorney's chief trial deputy, Peter Hofstrom, asked Meyer if there was any medical reason to retain custody of the body.

"I told him no," Meyer said. He said he had decided to release the body on Dec. 29, before investigators made their inquiry.

But Meyer said Thursday he believes police investigators "have been doing the best they can" with the 4-month-old case. He also noted the investigators' request did not hold up the release of the body in any way.

Attorney Saskia Jordan, who works for the firm of Haddon, Morgan and Foreman, which is representing John Ramsey, said she accompanied her client to the Boulder County Justice Center on Dec. 28 to provide hair and handwriting samples when she first heard that police wanted to withhold the body.

"At no time when I got there was I told that it had anything to do with a medical or forensic reason," she said. "I was told they would not release the body until they got an interview."

Jordan faults the Boulder Police Department for the situation.

"The D.A.'s office and the coroner did everything they could to do the right thing," she said, "to dissuade the police from ransoming the body."
Ramsey sources say cops turned over info
Camera Staff Writer

Saturday, April 26, 1997
In an effort to schedule an interview with JonBenet Ramsey's parents, authorities investigating the murder provided Ramsey family attorneys with Dec. 26 police reports detailing the family's behavior the day of the homicide, sources said Friday.

"They gave them to the Ramseys earlier this week, and they tell everything police and officials observed and what friends and family said when they were at the house the day (JonBenet) was killed," a source close to the family said.

"By having a chance to look at the documents, the Ramseys get a better understanding of what police might ask during an interview before the interview actually takes place," the source said. "And by allowing such a thing to happen, it makes you wonder whether the police will ever solve this case."

Indeed, four months after John Ramsey and a friend found the 6-year-old strangled, sexually assaulted and gagged with duct tape in the basement of the Ramseys' home, police have not named any suspects or made any arrests. Investigators have carefully guarded information about the case, persuading a judge to seal search warrants and other documents.

And while officials insist the investigation remains productive, several sources said feuds among law enforcement officials have hindered the inquiry.

Detectives, for example, inquired about preventing the re lease of JonBenet's body until her parents submitted to an interrogation at the police department. Boulder County Coroner Dr. John Meyer, however, returned the girl's body on Dec. 29 after completing forensic work in the case.

Earlier this week, police suddenly canceled two separate interviews with John and Patsy

Ramsey arranged for Wednesday at the office of the Ramseys' personal attorney. City officials said the FBI concluded the Ramseys' conditions would not facilitate productive interrogations. But some sources said disputes over which investigators would conduct the interviews helped prompt the abrupt decision.

"Some people on this case just can't make a decision," the source close to the family said. "They say one thing to one agency, another thing to another group. There just isn't good leadership at all, and that's one reason they gave the Ramseys such significant police reports."

Boulder Police Chief Tom Koby did not return Daily Camera phone calls regarding the release of police documents to the Ramseys. But Boulder County District Attorney Alex Hunter - who earlier this month identified the Ramseys as the focus of the investigation - said Ramsey attorneys insisted on obtaining the reports during negotiations over police questioning.

"They (Ramsey lawyers) communicated that to the D.A.'s office, and police representatives agreed because they knew it was a condition of the interview," Hunter said. "They (the documents) were provided right prior to the (scheduled) interview."

Nevertheless, the investigation has progressed, Hunter noted.

"I continue to believe that this case will be resolved," he said. "It is a complicated case, as everybody knows. It involves thousands of pages of reports, and these reports have been read and re-read and analyzed with care, and it is important to us to have an interview at as early a time as possible and under conditions that will be productive."

The interrogation will involve the Boulder Police Department, Hunter said.

"They are the principal investigative agency, and I continue to have the utmost confidence in them," he said. "The chief and I talk on a daily basis and meet almost daily."

Investigators and Ramsey attorneys also have resumed discussions related to questioning the couple, Hunter said.

"There have been some communications, but they are very preliminary," Hunter said. "By that, I mean no discussion of details such as conditions and the like."

But some sources said an interview might never occur.

"It might not happen because people just aren't getting along," a source close to the investigation said. "For example, Bill Wise from the D.A.'s office got up in a meeting with the Boulder County commissioners' office several weeks ago and said the Police Department has made mistakes in the investigation, so obviously there are some differ ences of opinion in how this case is being handled."

Christopher Mueller, a law professor at the University of Colorado, offered another view.

"There are occasional conflicts between police departments and prosecutors because the job of the prosecutor is to prepare and prosecute the case, and the job of the police department is to investigate, gather evidence and make arrests," Mueller said. "They are working at slightly different purposes, and prosecutors don't have any direct supervisory authority over the police."

"I think it looked a couple of days ago that the police were losing the public relations battle," Mueller added. "I think relations between the Ramseys and the Police Department have deteriorated, and the differences have now become public. I think it's a hopeful sign both sides are indicating flexibility and both sides are saying they are willing to talk about conditions, and they don't seem that far apart."

A source close to the family disagreed.

"Even if everyone talks to one another, this investigation still has some serious problems," the source said. "And until people working on it stop fighting and start getting a clearer idea of how they're going to proceed, this case will never get solved.
Ramseys offer $100,000 reward
Ad offers different image of JonBenet
Camera Staff Writer

Sunday, April 27, 1997

With a sweet grin and shining brown eyes looking out from beneath slightly tousled blond hair, an advertisement seeking the killer of JonBenet Ramsey offers a markedly different portrait of the 6-year-old most frequently seen as a young beauty queen.

Today's advertisement in the Daily Camera offers a $100,000 reward from the JonBenet Ramsey Children's Foundation for information leading to the arrest and conviction of her killer. It lists a number for the foundation and the Crimestoppers' hotline operated by the Boulder Police Department. The reward money was provided by JonBenet's parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, and others.

The ad comes almost four months after JonBenet was found strangled and beaten in the basement of her family's home, about eight hours after her mother reported her kidnapped.

Family spokeswoman Rachelle Zimmer said the ad is running only in the Daily Camera.

The photo of JonBenet is in stark contrast to her portrayal on television: modeling on runways in beauty pageants, wearing makeup with her hair styled. Even in the photo of JonBenet released by police after her murder, the girl appears to be wearing lipstick and her hair is carefully coifed.

Zimmer said the family selected a school picture of JonBenet and wouldn't discuss the photo selection any further.

Such a photo probably will seem unusual to those following perhaps the most publicized murder in Boulder's history. Week after week, supermarket tabloids run pictures of JonBenet in pageant regalia - she was a former Little Miss Colorado and won several other pageants as well.

"One of the things I have always wondered (is) this child probably had a life apart from beauty pageants," said Christopher Mueller, a University of Colorado law professor. "Maybe they're trying to humanize her ... This is a battle over the public image of the family and the child."

The advertisement comes at the end of a week when the Ramseys' attorneys publicly exchanged acrimonious letters with law enforcement officials. The Ramseys' attorneys said police canceled scheduled interviews with the parents on the spur of the moment. They also accused police of a smear campaign. Boulder County District Attorney Alex Hunter said earlier this month that the Ramseys are the primary focus of the investigation.

"Obviously, the position of the Ramseys here is that they are innocent," Mueller said.
Disclosure to Ramseys 'unusual'
Report on family's behavior provided
Camera Staff Writer

Wednesday, April 30, 1997

The decision to provide John and Patsy Ramseys' attorneys with Dec. 26 police reports detailing the family's behavior is unusual and may influence investigators' interviews with the couple, legal experts said Tuesday.

"An investigator would not ordinarily disclose what he knows to a suspect he is preparing to interrogate, because it allows a suspect to tailor his story to the facts that are known to the police," said Mimi Wesson, a law professor at the University of Colorado and a former federal prosecutor. "The decision to make such a disclosure is an unusual one."

Detectives began requesting official interviews with the Ramseys shortly after their 6-year-old daughter, JonBenet, was found strangled in the basement of the Ramseys' Boulder home on Dec. 26.

Investigators interviewed the couple extensively on Dec. 26, according to a letter from the Ramseys' attorneys to Boulder County District Attorney Alex Hunter.

On April 21, the family's lawyers obtained police documents discussing the Ramseys' statements on Dec. 26. "This was an absolute condition by the Ramsey attorneys before they would allow their clients to give interviews," Hunter said in a statement.

But investigators suddenly canceled separate interviews with the couple last week after the FBI concluded the conditions would not facilitate an effective interrogation. Negotiations concerning police questioning continue, said Hunter, who recently identified the Ramseys as the focus of the investigation.

A formal police interrogation, however, may benefit the parents, said David Kaplan, a criminal defense attorney and a former president of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar.

"The worst it (the interview) can do is not provide any more useful information, and maybe you get information that allows you to once-and-for-all ex clude the Ramseys as suspects," he said.

Furnishing police documents to Ramsey lawyers "isn't normal," Kaplan added. "Usually what happens is that those kind of reports are not released before there is a case and a charge, but they quickly become information that has to be turned over to somebody that is charged."

Many defense attorneys do not allow law enforcement officials to question potential suspects, Kaplan noted.

"They're not going to provide an interview that's going to come back to hurt their clients," he said. "If a defense attorney is allowing an interview of clients they know are suspects, it is a pretty good indication of how strongly they believe in their clients' innocence."

In other developments, Suzanne Laurion, an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado, will begin work today as a media liaison for the Boulder County district attorney's office.

Also, an ad the Ramseys placed in the Sunday Camera requesting information leading to the arrest of JonBenet Ramsey's killer or killers has resulted in about 150 calls to the Boulder CrimeStoppers hotline, officials said.
The Ramseys returned to Boulder on January 3rd, 1997. That was a Friday. According to Mike Archuletta (BPD interview) he flew the plane and the only passengers were John, Patsy, Don Paugh, Burke and Pam Paugh. Pam and Burke played cards on the flight back and the others slept.

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