| News |

Plenty of Unsolved Ramsey Questions

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Nationally, the story of Boulder District Attorney Mary Lacy's decision to "clear" the Ramsey family in the 1996 death of six-year-old JonBenét is playing out as a complete vindication of John Ramsey and his late wife, Patsy. (And vindication of Lou "Intruder Alert" Smit, Michael "Let's Make a Documentary" Tracey and Mary Lacy herself, but that's another story.) Journalists unfamiliar with the messy ambiguities of the case have simply rubber-stamped Lacy's unusual move, which is based on "touch" DNA sampling that indicates the presence of unidentified male DNA on JonBenet's long johns, matching a previous sample from the girl's underwear. After all, DNA is pretty conclusive stuff, right?

Unfortunately, Lacy's office has tried to spin the case in so many ways, sometimes even outright misrepresenting the evidence (as in the case of bogus confessor John Mark Karr, whose story fell a few leagues short of plausible even before the DNA "cleared" him), that it would be good to pose a few questions before jumping on the bandwagon. Is this DNA sample of any better quality than the one found in the underwear? Could it have been transferred from the underwear to the long johns as a result of the widespread evidence contamination that resulted from a botched investigation? Could it be an "artifact" not belonging to the killer at all, as Lacy herself suggested once upon a time?

And how does this sample, even if it holds up to scrutiny, eliminate the Ramseys from any possible involvement given the other bits of evidence -- the, um, ransom note comes to mind -- that cast suspicion on them in the first place? After all, this is the same Mary Lacy who once said (about Karr, no less!), "No one is really cleared of a homicide until there's a conviction… I don’t think you will get any prosecutor… unless they were present with the person at the time of the crime… to clear someone."

Many of these questions, and more, have already been posed on the ever-vigilant Forums for Justice website — see, for example, this press statement by forum hostess Tricia Griffith, one of the leading critics of the Lacy/Tracey/Smit cabal. Other cynics include former tabloid ace reporter Jeffrey Shapiro, whose condemnation of Lacy's self-serving expiation can be found here, and this blog by the Denver Post's David Harsanyi.

The questions are out there, but where are the answers? -- Alan Prendergast

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.