DA Lacy Clears Ramseys; Skeptics Remain Skeptical

According to this 9News report, Boulder District Attorney Mary Lacy has officially cleared John Ramsey, his late wife Patsy and any other member of the family of the 1996 murder of their 6-year-old daughter, JonBenét, based on new tests that found unidentified male DNA on JonBenét's clothing. The report includes a copy of the letter the DA's office sent to the family, offering apologies for the ordeal they've endured and pledging to track down the real killer (see below).

If this was any case except the Ramsey homicide and any district attorney but Boulder's, this would be huge news. But the fact is that Lacy's been striving to remove the Ramseys from the umbrella of suspicion since she took over the case from Alex Hunter, and the thoroughly contaminated crime scene and evidence have turned up more than the usual bits of phantom DNA and red-herring crud, as discussed here and here.

The online forums devoted to theorizing about the crime reacted to the latest news from Lacy's office with a mighty ho-hum. "I also want to know the details on the DNA," demands one poster. "Since they tried to pass the so-called fingernail DNA off as 'matching' the underwear DNA, when there were only 2 or 3 clear markers in the fingernail DNA, how many markers did they find on the long john DNA that 'matched' the incomplete panty DNA?"

More musings on the DNA puzzle can be found here. Click "More" to read the complete text of Lacy's letter. -- Alan Prendergast

District Attorney Office Twentieth Judicial District

Mary T. Lacy, District Attorney

July 9, 2008

Mr. John Ramsey

Dear Mr. Ramsey,

As you are aware, since December 2002, the Boulder District Attorney’s Office has been the agency responsible for the investigation of the homicide of your daughter, JonBenét. I understand that the fact that we have not been able to identify the person who killed her is a great disappointment that is a continuing hardship for you and your family.

However, significant new evidence has recently been discovered through the application of relatively new methods of DNA analysis. This new scientific evidence convinces us that it is appropriate, give the circumstances of this case, to state that we do not consider your immediate family, including you, your wife, Patsy, and your son, Burke, to be under any suspicion in the commission of this crime. I wish we could have done so before Mrs. Ramsey died.

We became aware last summer that some private laboratories were conducting a new methodology described as “touch DNA.” One method of sampling for touch DNA is the “scraping method.” This is a process in which forensic scientists scrape places where there are no stains or other signs of the possible presence of DNA to recover for analysis any genetic material that might nonetheless be present. We contracted with the Bode Technology Group, a high reputable laboratory recommended to us by several law enforcement agencies, to use the scraping method for touch DNA on the long johns that JonBenét wore and that were probably handled by the perpetrator during the course of this crime.

The Bode Technology laboratory was able to develop a profile from DNA recovered from the two sides of the long longs, The previously identified profile from the crotch of the underwear worn by JonBenét at the time of the murder matched the DNA recovered from the long johns at Bode.

Unexplained DNA on the victim of a crime is powerful evidence. The match of male DNA on two separate items of clothing worn by the victim at the time of the murder makes it clear to us that an unknown male handled these items. Despite substantial efforts over the years to identify the source of this DNA, there is no innocent explanation for its incriminating presence at three sites on these two different items of clothing that JonBenét was wearing at the time of her murder.

Solving this crime remains our goal, and its ultimate resolution will depend on more than just matching DNA. However, given the history of the publicity surrounding this case, I believe it is important and appropriate to provide you with our opinion that your family was not responsible for this crime. Based on the DNA results and our serious consideration of all the other evidence, we are comfortable that the profile now in CODIS is the profile of the perpetrator of this murder.

To the extent that we may have contributed in any way to the public perception that you might have been involved in this crime, I am deeply sorry. No innocent person should have to endure such an extensive trial in the court of public opinion, especially when public officials have not had sufficient evidenced to initiate a trial in a court of law. I have the greatest respect for the way you and your family have handled this adversity.

I am aware that there will be those ho will choose to continue to differ with our conclusion. But DNA is very often the most reliable forensic evidence we can hope to find and we rely on it often to bring to justice those who have committed crimes. I am very comfortable that our conclusion that this evidence has vindicated your family is based firmly on all of the evidence, including the reliable forensic DNA evidence that has been developed as a result of advances in that scientific field during this investigation.

We intend in the future to treat you as the victims of this crime, with the sympathy due you because of the horrific loss you suffered Otherwise, we will continue to refrain from publicly discussing the evidence in this case.

We hope that we will one day obtain a DNA match from the CODIS data bank that will lead to further evidence and to the solution of this crime. With recent legislative changes throughout the country, the number of profiles available for comparison in the CODIS data bank is growing steadily. Law enforcement agencies are receiving increasing numbers of cold hits on DNA profiles that have been in the system for many years. We hope that one day soon we will get a match to this perpetrator. We will, of course, contact you immediately., Perhaps only then will we begin to understand the psychopathy or motivation for this brutal and senseless crime.


Mary T. Lacy District Attorney Twentieth Judicial District Boulder, Colorado

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