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The Nutty Professor's Twisted Sequel

We knew it was coming, but nothing could prepare us for the true awfulness of the deed itself. The fourth (and, if God is merciful, last) television documentary on the JonBenet Ramsey case concocted by University of Colorado journalism professor Michael Tracey and British producer David Mills aired in the United Kingdom earlier this month and is now available in seven parts on YouTube .

The Killing of JonBenet Ramsey: An Evil Twist is a self-serving, revisionist version of how Tracey and Boulder investigators pursued bogus confessor John Mark Karr as their latest prime suspect in the murder. The problems with that investigation, which led to Karr's costly arrest and release, were documented in great detail in Westword's October 12 "Made for Each Other."

But Mills and Tracey attempt to salvage their reps as Ramsey sleuths by presenting Karr, who was cleared of the crime by DNA evidence, as an alleged "accomplice" to the real perp -- a theory spun in greater detail here than in the 48 Hours Mystery version of this same roadshow that aired a few weeks ago.

For those who find the Mills-Tracey exercises a shade misleading, the one motivation for sitting through this latest rehash is to see how far the bombast will go. Watch Tracey mug at his computer screen as he re-enacts receiving the "harrowing" missives from the mysterious confessor! See his schnozz in glorious profile! Wait -- is he wearing gloves while reading his e-mail? And if Ramsey attorney Bryan Morgan is, as the doc claims, "Colorado's most famous criminal defense lawyer" for the past forty years, shouldn't Walter Gerash demand a recount?

The piece contains the astonishing suggestion that Karr's accomplice is a felon who used to live across the road from him in Alabama—because, well, they were both in Australia...at the same time! Kind of like saying they were both in the same hemisphere at the same time.

Professor Tracey, who's fingered other suspects on the barest of evidence in previous docs, has shown us once again how easy it is to keep the Ramsey case twisting, twisting in the wind. —Alan Prendergast

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun