In September, The Onion, a national publication that makes up funny news (as opposed to those publications that would be better off making up funny news), produced a story in which fictional Columbine High halfback Jason LeClaire stated, "We have begun the long road to healing. We're bouncing back, more committed than ever to ostracizing those who are different." Kellie Nelson, his just-as-imaginary girlfriend, added, "A school where the jocks cannot freely exclude math geeks, drama fags, goths and other inferiors without fearing for their lives is not the kind of school I want to go to." Unfortunately, this generous slab of hilarity was omitted from The Onion's Denver/Boulder edition for fear some locals wouldn't be all that amused. The only way Coloradans could see it was by visiting the paper's Web site, www.theonion.com.

Even people who loathe John and Patsy Ramsey (and there are loads of them) would have to admit that the couple conducted a hugely effective publicity tour to hype The Death of Innocence, their we-didn't-kill-our-daughter-JonBenét epic. From artful buildup (newspapers printed stories about the book's publisher keeping the tome under armed guard prior to its release) to media payoff (much-ballyhooed interviews with Barbara Walters, Katie Couric, et al.), the blitz was a work of advertising-age art.

Even people who loathe John and Patsy Ramsey (and there are loads of them) would have to admit that the couple conducted a hugely effective publicity tour to hype The Death of Innocence, their we-didn't-kill-our-daughter-JonBenét epic. From artful buildup (newspapers printed stories about the book's publisher keeping the tome under armed guard prior to its release) to media payoff (much-ballyhooed interviews with Barbara Walters, Katie Couric, et al.), the blitz was a work of advertising-age art.

Shortly after the conclusion of the Ramseys' successful PR gambit, the pair made gaffe after high-profile gaffe, leading to the most entertaining flameout of the year. To recap: After John and Patsy's off-the-cuff offer to take lie-detector tests was accepted by the Boulder Police Department, they imposed a myriad of conditions in an apparent effort to weasel out of doing so, only to subsequently stage a news conference announcing that they'd passed their own tests, paid for by them and conducted in secret. That was followed by a bizarre faceoff on Larry King Live with Boulder detective-turned-author Steve Thomas and the Ramseys' decision to post on their Web site, www.ramseyfamily.com, a composite sketch of a possible slayer based on the imaginings of the late Dorothy Allison, a psychic.

Shortly after the conclusion of the Ramseys' successful PR gambit, the pair made gaffe after high-profile gaffe, leading to the most entertaining flameout of the year. To recap: After John and Patsy's off-the-cuff offer to take lie-detector tests was accepted by the Boulder Police Department, they imposed a myriad of conditions in an apparent effort to weasel out of doing so, only to subsequently stage a news conference announcing that they'd passed their own tests, paid for by them and conducted in secret. That was followed by a bizarre faceoff on Larry King Live with Boulder detective-turned-author Steve Thomas and the Ramseys' decision to post on their Web site, www.ramseyfamily.com, a composite sketch of a possible slayer based on the imaginings of the late Dorothy Allison, a psychic.

For psychic power, Dorothy Allison had nothing on Linda Arndt, the onetime Boulder cop who was the first officer on the scene following the disappearance of JonBenét in December 1996. In a Good Morning America interview with ABC's Elizabeth Vargas, the network's designated JonBenét quiz-master (she also spent a week interrogating Steve Thomas), Arndt came across like an X-Files character too screwy for even Mulder to believe. Her dizzy account of the moment when her eyes met John Ramsey's over the body of his dead daughter ("My mind exploded. I mean it, literally...I saw black with thousands of lights") was easily the most hilarious performance in a case full of them.

For psychic power, Dorothy Allison had nothing on Linda Arndt, the onetime Boulder cop who was the first officer on the scene following the disappearance of JonBenét in December 1996. In a Good Morning America interview with ABC's Elizabeth Vargas, the network's designated JonBenét quiz-master (she also spent a week interrogating Steve Thomas), Arndt came across like an X-Files character too screwy for even Mulder to believe. Her dizzy account of the moment when her eyes met John Ramsey's over the body of his dead daughter ("My mind exploded. I mean it, literally...I saw black with thousands of lights") was easily the most hilarious performance in a case full of them.

There have been many books written on the murder of six-year-old JonBenét Ramsey, some exploitative, some wildly speculative, some self-serving, some serious in intention and some plain stupid. But the clearest, most compassionate and most level-headed is JonBenét: Inside the Ramsey Murder Investigation, by Steve Thomas, the leading detective on the case. Thomas's own inclinations are clear: He believes that Patsy Ramsey killed her daughter in a fit of rage after a bed-wetting incident. Since the release of his book, Thomas has come under intense attack, not only from the Ramseys, but from office of Boulder DA Alex Hunter and the Boulder Daily Camera. He has been branded a bitter, irrational man, an incompetent cop and a money-hungry publicity-seeker. Yet in this flurry of ad hominem recrimination, Thomas's facts have been neither addressed nor disproved. This book may bring us as close as we'll ever come to understanding the murder of JonBenét.

There have been many books written on the murder of six-year-old JonBenét Ramsey, some exploitative, some wildly speculative, some self-serving, some serious in intention and some plain stupid. But the clearest, most compassionate and most level-headed is JonBenét: Inside the Ramsey Murder Investigation, by Steve Thomas, the leading detective on the case. Thomas's own inclinations are clear: He believes that Patsy Ramsey killed her daughter in a fit of rage after a bed-wetting incident. Since the release of his book, Thomas has come under intense attack, not only from the Ramseys, but from office of Boulder DA Alex Hunter and the Boulder Daily Camera. He has been branded a bitter, irrational man, an incompetent cop and a money-hungry publicity-seeker. Yet in this flurry of ad hominem recrimination, Thomas's facts have been neither addressed nor disproved. This book may bring us as close as we'll ever come to understanding the murder of JonBenét.

The Monday after Barbara Walters dished with John and Patsy Ramsey on a very special edition of 20/20, Colorado Governor Bill Owens appeared with the queen of celebrity chats on Good Morning America, criticizing her for giving two people he obviously wants to keep under an umbrella of suspicion a free ride. Walters defended herself at the time, and later told her fellow yakkers on The View that she felt "sorry" for the Guv.

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