The Forgotten Man

Loi Nguyen faces a fight or flight situation.

By then he'll be in Hanoi, alone, but with thirty more days of freedom.

As the national media has been reminding us all week, the grand jury never handed down indictments in the JonBenét Ramsey case.

Make that the Boulder grand jury.

Jefferson County, however, has been handing them out like parking tickets in LoDo. Jeffco may not finish its report on the Columbine massacre by the one-year anniversary on April 20, but it's been quick to investigate allegations that the sticky fingers of the Ramsey case stretched across county lines on April 1, 1997, when an attempt was allegedly made to buy a copy of the Ramsey ransom note in Jeffco.

By the time the Jefferson County grand jury started considering the evidence, the note had already been published in Vanity Fair and Newsweek, posted on the Internet and mocked in late-night monologues. Still, Jeffco prosecutors went ahead with their case against Craig Lewis, an editor for the Globe (the supermarket tabloid that investigated the murder of JonBenét Ramsey more aggressively than did Boulder authorities), claiming he'd tried to buy a copy of the note for $30,000 from handwriting expert Don Vacca, who'd been hired to analyze it for the Ramseys; Lewis reportedly had been introduced to Vacca by Tom Miller, a former lawyer whose diary was taken during a raid on his Boulder home.

While most of the planet has given up on anyone ever being charged with JonBenét's murder, late last year both Lewis and Miller were indicted with violating the state's commercial bribery statute ("The Tab, Please," October 21, 1999). And while the Ramseys take their case to the court of public opinion, both Lewis and Miller have dates in Jeffco courtrooms.

In the next few weeks, the court will rule on attorney Gary Lozow's argument that Miller's diary was seized illegally. Jeff Pagliuca, Lewis's attorney, sent ten subpoenas to people with knowledge of the ransom note -- people ranging from the Ramseys' attorneys to former Boulder cop Steve Thomas to representatives of the Boulder DA's office, the Boulder sheriff's department and the Boulder Police Department; he's expecting documents from the Ramseys' attorneys any day. And on April 14 , Pagliuca will argue several motions, including "whether the grand jury was properly instructed and the constitutionality of all the statutes." For example, is it constitutional to apply the statute to a working journalist -- even if that journalist is working for a supermarket tabloid? "You can't characterize it as anything other than trying to do a job," says Pagliuca. Besides, by now anyone who's seen Perfect Murder, Perfect Town knows how buddy-buddy Boulder DA Alex Hunter got with a Globe reporter as they swapped information.

"It's an intriguing case," says Lozow, "and one with a long history."

A history getting longer by the second.

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