JonBenet's parents: How an indictment became an "exoneration"
If you happened to tune into cable news or talk radio or any other variety of media late last week for the first time in fourteen or fifteen years, you might think things were stuck in an endless loop. There was that harpy Nancy Grace, grilling forensic whiz Henry Lee about the mysterious male DNA in a six-year-old girl's underwear. There was Peter Boyles, scourge of the local airwaves, yakking it up with Dan Caplis and Craig Silverman about small foreign factions and other weird details mentioned in the world's most peculiar ersatz ransom note.
JonBenet Ramsey. Again.
Is somebody humming "La Macarena"? Is that Slick Willie in the White House, feeling our pain and ogling thong-snapping interns? What year is it, and how do we get out of this wormhole?
Some sense of dislocation is understandable. The release of four musty pages drafted by a Boulder grand jury in 1999, accusing John and Patsy Ramsey of criminal conduct in the 1996 death of their daughter JonBenet, triggered a surge of fresh news stories and chatter about Colorado's most infamous unsolved murder. But the case has been out of the spotlight for so long, mired in a slough of compromised investigations, civil suits and nutty theories, that the pundits couldn't agree on the significance of this revelation.
John and Patsy Ramsey during one of their many television appearances after their daughter's murder.
On one hand, the release of the record simply confirms what relentless Ramsey reporter Charlie Brennan first reported last January in the Daily Camera: The grand jury had sought an indictment against the Ramseys for felony child abuse resulting in death, but District Attorney Alex Hunter refused to sign the paperwork, maintaining that his office didn't have sufficient evidence to prosecute JonBenet's parents.
The news left University of Colorado journalism professor and Ramsey apologist Michael Tracey, who's produced a series of shoddy documentaries defending the parents and serving up red-herring alternate suspects -- culminating in the 2006 arrest of bogus confessor John Mark Karr, a fiasco of epic dimensions -- scratching his head. "I have no idea what that means," Tracey told the Denver Post.
Michael Tracey, with John Mark Karr magnified.
Ramsey attorney Lin Wood called the unsigned indictments a "historical footnote" with "absolutely zero" impact on the moribund murder investigation. He has a point; the statute of limitations on the charges has run its course, and it's not exactly news that the Ramseys were under Hunter's expansive "umbrella of suspicion" until he left office in 2001.
Yet if nothing else, the grand jury's inclination to indict John and Patsy Ramsey should bring under closer scrutiny the unprecedented "exoneration" of the parents offered by Hunter's successor, Mary Lacy.
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