Father Knows Best

Of course, Boulder is a town that does not like to own up to its murders. JonBenet Ramsey's death was the town's only recognized murder last year--officials don't count Lorraine Lawrence, found dead in a construction pit covered with plywood. She'd died from exposure, the coroner ruled, and also had suffered from epilepsy.

This year's recognized murder was committed by a CU professor who killed her estranged husband in their home, while a police officer waited for him downstairs. Officials don't count Luis McIntire, who got too rowdy at a party, was hogtied by the cops, sprayed with pepper spray--and died. That was a heart attack caused by positional asphyxia, according to the coroner.

This year, desperate to solve something, anything, the Boulder cops have resurrected a few cases from the dead. The 1983 murder of Sid Wells, the boyfriend of Robert Redford's daughter, was reopened. And last month, two years after an obese, bedridden woman was found dead of a head wound in her apartment, her husband was finally charged with her murder.

But Boulder is not interested in reviving Susan Baley.
For her father, the case has never closed. When Stickney hired a new police chief, John Zitek, a man with 32 years' experience as a Chicago cop, Baley talked it over with him. "I think they handled it terribly. A young girl 26 years old without any history of epilepsy doesn't die of a seizure," Zitek says. The investigation stopped in the middle of a "significant lead," he adds, and at that point, "the only person who could stop it would be the chief or district attorney."

In Boulder, that would be Tom Koby or Alex Hunter--household words since the murder of JonBenet Ramsey nine months ago.

But they've been household words in the Baley home for close to a decade. As Frank Baley read reports of the Ramsey investigation, he kept wondering about that second autopsy. "That brought it all back," he says. "It was the same actors."

Baley and Zitek recently sent notarized requests, on official Stickney stationery, to the Boulder police and coroner's office, asking for the autopsy reports, for the toxicology reports, for anything in Susan's files. "But they said they could not release it," Zitek says. "It's done here all the time. I don't know why they refuse."

After nine months of Ramsey mania, you don't need a First Amendment lawyer to know that an autopsy report is open to the public--unless it's specifically sealed by the court. And even those seals break, as they have with the JonBenet Ramsey autopsy and 65 pages of search warrants. But Frank Baley cannot get anything out of Boulder. He cannot even get his calls returned.

There are some things a father can never know. Why his child left this earth before him, for example. But at least he should be able to find out how.

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