The Unusual Suspect

Does this look like JonBenet's murderer to you?

That's when word leaked out that the Boulder police were checking out child sex offenders. (Convicted sex offenders must register with the police when they take up residence after release from prison.) The cops had plenty to choose from: There are 71 registered child sex offenders in Boulder and another 30 in Boulder County.

But Miles, who lives with his 89-year-old mother six blocks from the Ramsey house, is not a convicted child sex offender. He has been arrested before--but for possessing photographs of teenage boys. So why go after him for the murder of a six-year-old girl?

Miles was working in the garden last October when next-door neighbor Judith Phillips came rushing over. Phillips, a photographer herself and a former friend of the Ramseys, was breathless, he says.

"She said, 'You need to come over to my house right away. It's extremely important...use the side door,'" Miles recalls. "She put her hands on my shoulders and said, 'Trust me.'"

Miles did as he was asked. Phillips led him into her darkened living room, he says, where she introduced him to a man named John South.

South told him he worked for the Enquirer. "He said, 'We've learned that the Ramsey camp is targeting you as the killer of JonBenet,'" recalls Miles, imitating South's British accent. "He said, 'They want to confuse the issue and take attention away from themselves. Can you think of any reason why they would choose you?'"

Miles told the Enquirer reporter that he had several drug arrests, the last in the late 1980s, on his record, and that he'd also been arrested for sexual exploitation of a child in 1989.

That year the Boulder police raided Miles's home and seized a number of photographs of teenage boys in various stages of undress. Because there were three copies of one particular photograph, it was considered to have been taken for commercial purposes, netting Miles the exploitation charge.

However, that photograph was of Peter Hale, a friend of Miles's and, more important, a male then seventeen years old--and therefore above the age of consent.

Like the other photographs, the Hale picture was fairly modest. "Michelangelo's sculpture of David is more revealing," notes Hill, Miles's attorney. The photograph has since appeared in several mainstream photography magazines.

The exploitation charge was dropped; however, Miles pleaded guilty to contributing to the delinquency of a minor, for supplying beer to an underage drinker. As part of the deal, he was told to report to a monastery in Pecos, New Mexico, that bills itself as a retreat/counseling center for "wounded healers," where his brother was the abbott for counseling.

Miles's therapy was geared to helping him develop "more age-appropriate relationships." He also was told to stay away from minor children and from Penny Lane, a Boulder coffeeshop/ poetry venue then known as a hangout for the young and disenfranchised.

Now here was the Enquirer's South, asking if Miles had noticed anything strange in the past few days. As a matter of fact, Miles told him, someone had stolen every bit of his trash that week, and a camper had been parked across the street for two days.

After South warned him that "this is quite serious," Miles says he assumed the theft of his trash and the camper's presence confirmed that the Ramseys were after him. South told him he had a plan. "Your story will prove they are barking up the wrong tree," Miles remembers him saying.

"Now I wonder if it wasn't the National Enquirer going through my trash, and their camper," Miles says.

The next day Phillips asked Miles to come over again--this time to take his picture for the story. At first, Miles says, Phillips said she wanted to photograph him in his garden, of which he is exceedingly proud. But then she asked him to put his hands behind his head and snapped the shot when he was unprepared.

It was that photograph of a harassed-looking Miles that ran on the front page of the Enquirer a week later.

The photograph of Miles was published again inside, along with a full-page story. "I can't believe this nightmare is happening to me," Miles was quoted as saying. "Why are they doing this to me? Are John and Patsy so cold-blooded as to try to make me the fall guy to save their own skins?"

The article intimated that Miles knew he was on a "list of pedophile sex offenders living in Boulder." But Miles takes issue with that. "I am not a pedophile," he says. "I am gay, openly gay, and have been for years. I never said that I knew I was on a list or that the Boulder police were looking at me."

And that list can't be the registration that the police are required to keep, since Miles isn't a convicted child sex offender.

In fact, the first contact Miles had with the Boulder police regarding the Ramsey case was three weeks ago, after his lawsuit against the Ramseys and the Enquirer was filed. "My lawyer asked if I was on any sort of list, and the detective said no," Miles says. "They just asked me where I was that night, and I told them with my mom. We had Christmas dinner with relatives and then we went home...They said, 'Sorry for the inconvenience.'" But they also asked for a handwriting sample, a mouth swab and a palm print, Miles adds.

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