Colorado plans new DNA tests in JonBenet Ramsey murder case

Reuters News
|
Posted: Dec 14, 2016 5:33 PM

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - Colorado investigators will conduct new tests of DNA evidence in the 20-year-old unsolved murder of child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey, the Boulder County district attorney said on Wednesday.

Additional testing, utilizing a new state crime lab and newly available forensic procedures, "might give us new information that could be helpful to the investigation," District Attorney Stan Garnett said in a statement.

But he added that authorities do not expect DNA test results alone to "definitively solve or prove the case."

The bludgeoned, strangled body of 6-year-old JonBenet was found by her father in the basement of the family's home in Boulder, Colorado, on Dec. 26, 1996, after her parents reported the child missing and a ransom note left in the house.

Videos that surfaced of the blond, blue-eyed youngster in full makeup performing in beauty pageants helped attract international attention to the case, which remains one of the most sensational unsolved murders in the annals of American crime.

No one has been charged in the slaying, but it was publicly revealed three years ago that a grand jury probing the murder in 1999 voted to indict the parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, on charges of child abuse resulting in death.

Then-District Attorney Alex Hunter declined to prosecute the case at the time, citing a lack of evidence, though he never mentioned the grand jury's vote.

In 2008, Hunter's successor, Mary Lacy, publicly exonerated the parents, saying DNA found on the girl's clothing did not match anyone in the family, and that there was no explanation for its presence other than it belonged to an unidentified male killer.

The case took another twist this fall when the Boulder Daily Camera newspaper, in conjunction with Denver television station KUSA, reported that the DNA report Lacy cited in clearing the family was less definitive than she had stated.

The outside laboratory that conducted the original testing found that the unidentified DNA contained genetic markers from two people, rendering it inconclusive, the news outlets reported.

Items from the crime scene will now be submitted for newly developed testing procedures.

Bob Grant, a former Colorado district attorney who served as a consultant to Hunter during the grand jury proceedings, said until a DNA match is found, the case will likely remain at a standstill.

"If there really is a (DNA) mixture, they may be able to sort it out with the more sophisticated instrumentation," Grant said.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Sandra Maler; Editing by Sandra Maler)