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news story
Ramsey friends talked to grand jury

By Charlie Brennan
Scripps Howard News Service

Family friends who were with John and Patsy Ramsey the morning their daughter JonBenét was reported missing have testified before the grand jury investigating the 6-year-old's murder.
John and Barbara Fernie testified in the secret proceedings before the holidays, said a source close to the couple.
The Fernies, whom the Ramseys called to their Boulder home before dawn Dec. 26, 1996, could not be reached for comment. The Fernies arrived more than an hour before the first detective did.
The final grand jury session before the holidays was Dec. 1, meaning the Fernies' testimony could have come no later than that.
According to court documents, John Fernie accompanied John Ramsey and family friend Fleet White to the Ramsey basement the afternoon of Dec. 26, 1996, after Detective Linda Arndt suggested the men scour the house for anything that might be amiss.
Minutes later, John Ramsey found his daughter's body, strangled and beaten, in a windowless room police had not searched.
JonBenét's mother first alerted authorities at 5:52 a.m. that day to her 6-year-old daughter's disappearance, reporting that she had found a 2½-page ransom note demanding $118,000. The Ramseys remain suspects but claim they're innocent of wrongdoing.
The disclosure concerning the Fernies' testimony raises the possibility that a number of witnesses may have passed through the Boulder County Justice Center in recent months — undetected by the media monitoring the Ramsey grand-jury investigation.
The grand jury began its work Sept. 15. Intense media scrutiny prompted courthouse personnel to use an underground garage to shield witnesses.

January 19, 1999

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