By now, the power and influence of Reddit, which refers to itself as the "front page of the Internet," is known to just about everyone.
Except, apparently, former Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner.
He made his most candid comments to date about the botched investigation into the 1996 murder of Boulder's JonBenet Ramsey, who was just six when she died, in a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" session over the weekend
Afterward, Beckner expressed surprise that anyone other than the participants in the Q&A heard about his remarks. But the resultant uproar shows that the case remains a significant cause of interest, fascination and obsession nearly twenty years after the fact.
Here are some of the key excerpts from Beckner's conversation, as compiled by the Boulder Daily Camera — and a good thing, too, because someone (Beckner?) has deleted most of his responses :
• On initial police handling of the case: "I wish we would have done a much better job of securing and controlling the crime scene on day one. We also should have separated John and Patsy and gotten full statements from them that day. Letting them go was a big mistake, as they soon lawyered up and we did not get to formally interview them again until May of 1997, five months after their daughter was murdered."
• On whether a stun gun was used: "Stun gun — no. The coroner and others who looked at the abrasion did not believe it came from a stun gun. The distance between the two marks did not match the probes of any stun gun we found. Stun guns are loud and hurt like crazy — which would have probably elicited some screaming. That probably would have woke someone up."
• On possible sources of unidentified DNA on JonBenet's clothing: "Manufacturing process is one. Interactions with other people is another. Intentional placement is another. Belongs to an intruder is another. Yes, you can often tell where DNA comes from. In this case, it is small enough that it is difficult to tell. CBI thought it was either sweat or saliva."
• On whether there might have been an intruder the night of the murder: "Most investigators do not believe there was a legitimate point of entry. It is unknown how an intruder may have gotten in. Lou Smit always believed it was the basement window, but we did not agree with him, as the dust and spider web were undisturbed."
• On public interactions between JonBenet's parents: "They rarely interacted and this did not seem normal given the circumstances. Lots of speculation as to why."
• On relations between police and the Boulder District Attorney's office under Alex Hunter: "DA involvement in this case was inappropriate. They interfered in the investigation by being roadblocks to getting things done. They did not want to do a grand jury until forced to. We never allowed the DA to get that involved in a case again. Today, the new DA is great to work with and the police and DA's office work as a team."
These remarks are among the most frank Beckner has ever publicly shared, so it's no surprise they caused a stir. But in a conversation with the Daily Camera, he admits to having been taken by surprise at Reddit's reach.
"I talked to the organizer and my impression was that this was a members-only type group that talked about unsolved mysteries all around the world," he told the paper, adding, "I didn't know it was an open-architecture type thing, or I wouldn't have done it. It was a misunderstanding and naivete on my part."
That's one way of putting it — and now, a new Reddit thread has popped up reacting to Beckner's disquiet at the media hullabaloo.
Here are some excerpts from the more than 100 comments collected to date:
So the only reason he regrets doing it is that he thought that it was a closed community, and now he might have been getting some media attention from it. He was measured throughout. He didn't give away any information he shouldn't have - everything he said was on the public record. When he offered opinion, it was clear that it was opinion. He seems to not want the attention because what he said might reflect badly on past colleagues. If more people did what he did - and said it like it was and not worried about people's feelings or being put through a PR mill, then we would all be so much better off. I am very glad he did it and it is very sad that his reaction might put others off from doing an AAMA.
It's still strange though. Reddit isn't the same as it was 5 years ago, when 99% of people you talked to had never heard of Reddit. You could do an AMA back then and not get a crazy amount of attention. Today though, Reddit IS the news for a lot of people and you know full well that you are going to get attention if you post. I posted a picture of a guy with a fishing hook in his face and it got nearly 2 million views. Dont be pissed when people notice you here.
I really enjoyed his AMA. He seems like very nice guy, and it isn't a surprise he was so popular with his force. As for the comments he's making now? I think he regrets making his own opinion on who he suspects is responsible so obvious. Even if it was indirectly.
Well, that's a shame. I sure do appreciate his contribution though. His AMA knocked me off the fence with this case. I respect him even more knowing that he doesn't want media attention. Seems like a good guy.
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Clearly, Beckner seems to have enhanced his reputation among Reddit users. But we've got a feeling they won't be hearing much if anything from him in the future — unless he writes a book, as the Daily Camera article suggests he's considering. If his "Ask Me Anything" offers any indication, it could make for interesting reading.