"TRANSCRIPT OF THOMAS IN LIVE CHAT"
ABC Good Morning America
Thursday, April 13, 2000
Who Killed JonBenét?
Former Detective on the Ramsey Murder Investigation
April 13 — In an exclusive interview with ABCNEWS' Good Morning America, a former lead detective in the JonBenét Ramsey murder case says he believes the murdered girl's mother is the killer.
"There are only two possible answers," writes Steve Thomas in his new book JonBenét: Inside the Ramsey Murder Investigation. "One is that an intruder crept into the house, killed JonBenét in a botched attempt while the family slept, leaving behind the War and Peace of ransom notes, then disappeared.
"The other scenario is that little girl was killed by a family member whom I believe to be her panicked mother, Patsy Ramsey, and that her father John Ramsey opted to protect his wife in the investigation that followed."
Thomas resigned from the Boulder Police Department after 18 months on the case, issuing a severe critique of the district attorney's office and the management of the murder investigation.
He joined us today in a live chat on ABCNEWS.com, following a series of interviews on Good Morning America
Steve Thomas at 11:57 am ET:
Hello and thank you for having me today.
Moderator at 11:57am ET:
In your book, you identify JonBenét's mother, Patsy Ramsey, as the likely killer. In your opinion, what's the most compelling piece of evidence against Patsy?
Steve Thomas at 11:58am ET:
Out of all the evidence — and there's a tremendous amount of evidence in a circumstantial case — what I find the most compelling are the issues surrounding the pen, the pad, the ransom note and the handwriting, which we analyzed. I found it remarkable that there was only one person whose handwriting suggested evidence of authorship, who happened to be home that night, who we cannot eliminate as the author of the note.
Moderator at 11:58am ET:
Crdavid in our audience writes: "Why don't you take into account the physical and mental changes that may have affected Patsy's handwriting after the trauma of the death to her child?"
Steve Thomas at 11:59am ET:
We certainly did, and the questioned document examiners took that into consideration, as did the forensic linguists whom we consulted. There was some evidence to suggest that there was a conscious or deliberate changing of handwriting post-homicide.
Moderator at 12:00pm ET:
David Hellwege writes: "DNA in the panties and under the fingernails of JonBenét, as well as sexual molestation and palm prints, all point to the intruder theory. Why dismiss it so lightly?"
Steve Thomas at 12:00pm ET:
The oversimplification of the DNA that has been suggested by intruder theorists is better addressed in the book. The DNA evidence doesn't necessarily exclude the parents either. It's far too complicated a matter to try and oversimplify in one line.
Steve Thomas at 12:02pm ET:
There was credible evidence suggested by experts whom we consulted that there had been previous vaginal abuse of the child, but there was nothing to indicate to me, for example, that John Ramsey was involved in any of that. And, in fact, I found nothing to suggest that. I think that some sort of corporal punishment in conjunction with the frequent toileting accidents was a scenario I supported.
Moderator at 12:02pm ET:
Melissa Higgins asks: "How do you explain the open/broken basement window and the Hi-Tec shoe print left behind?"
Steve Thomas at 12:04pm ET:
Let me address the Hi-Tec first. What people had not known previously is that I don't believe that everyone who was in the house on the 26th of December was properly identified. There were firemen, paramedics, rescue personnel, uniformed police officers, detectives, undercover narcs, sergeants, FBI and others that the year after the fact, we were still unsure as to who all was in the house that day. There is a strong argument to suggest that the Hi-Tec boot print may have been left by a sightseeing police officer who later did not come forward. Additionally, Hi-Tec is one of the most popular brands of footwear worn by cops.
Steve Thomas at 12:06pm ET:
The open window is addressed in the book in some detail. I do not think it is that much of a mystery—this was the same window previously and earlier broken by John Ramsey to allow access into the house, which he crawled through. Another person in the house that morning brought it to John's attention, and at that time there seemed to be little concern. My best advice is to read the explanation in the book, which covers it in a better light than I can do online.
Moderator at 12:07pm ET:
Dana T writes: "Do you have any theories behind what S.B.T.C. signifies?"
Steve Thomas at 12:08pm ET:
You know, we searched high and low, far and wide, and heard everything from "Saved By The Cross" to Ramsey's own suggestion of "Star Base Technical Command," but were never definitively able to attach a source to that acronym. However, an open Bible on Ramsey's desk in the house, NIV version, Psalms 35-36, verses 1-4, contains the acrostic SBTC, backwards.
Moderator at 12:08pm ET:
Pamela writes: "Steve, how do the theories of the stun gun fit in with your theory of Patsy being the killer?"
Steve Thomas at 12:09pm ET:
Good question. The police detectives do not endorse the stun gun theory, based on the expertise of forensic pathologists, to whom we deferred. The stun gun theory was initiated by Investigator Smit.
Moderator at 12:09pm ET:
Marilena Diogo writes: "What evidence led you to dismiss the possibility that Burke may have struck his sister without an intent to kill her?"
Steve Thomas at 12:10pm ET:
Beyond what we can fairly address in an online chat, there was just no credible evidence whatsoever that Burke was capable or involved in any aspect of this, from writing the ransom note to staging a crime scene.
Moderator at 12:10pm ET:
Bobby writes: "Was there any indication of bed wetting that night, either in the bed or on the night clothes found on the bathroom counter, that might have sent Patsy into a rage?"
Steve Thomas at 12:11pm ET:
Good question, again. Unfortunately, so much time passed as this case was being worked as a kidnapping, that by the time the homicide was discovered, a warrant obtained, and detectives reentered the house, any wet sheets or wet clothing had already dried. But the clothes in which she was found showed evidence that her bladder emptied, although we don't know whether that was contemporaneous with her death.
Moderator at 12:12pm ET:
Lucretia Stoelzle writes: "Nobody has discussed the issue of alcoholism in the immediate family. Do Patsy or her husband have any prior alcohol dysfunctions? I knew that they had been to a party the evening of the murder, and I wonder if Patsy had been drinking heavily prior to putting JonBenét to sleep."
Steve Thomas at 12:12pm ET:
Not heavily. We were told she had consumed a couple of glasses of wine. But there was no evidence to indicate that there was any previous history of alcohol abuse.
Moderator at 12:12pm ET:
Andy writes: "No one has addressed the garrote issue. Wouldn't the tying of the knot have required a trained individual? Was either parent knowledgeable in this area? What motive could anyone have had in using a garrote?"
Steve Thomas at 12:14pm ET:
Despite what has been out there publicly, this was not an elaborately fashioned or skillfully prepared instrument. In fact, it was a rather crude, homemade type device. It did not appear that any great skill was required to prepare this instrument. As to motive, I would be remiss to try to lay it out online — again, I address it in some detail in the book — although by definition, what I believed to have been an accidental death initially lacked motive by definition.
Peter Lipari at 12:14pm ET:
How many people were privy to the $118,000 bonus...the exact amount of the ransom?
Steve Thomas at 12:15pm ET:
Great question. Something the detectives found remarkable was the ransom demand, that of John Ramsey's prior year bonus, in which we felt there were a limited number of people who would have known that. Absent the most bizarre of coincidences, we felt the ransom note demand may have had its genesis in that figure.
Moderator at 12:16pm ET:
Cyndy asks: "What about the theory that it was a disgruntled employee of Mr. Ramsey's? This person knew his bonus. Perhaps his kidnapping attempt was botched somehow so he murdered JonBonet instead?"
Steve Thomas at 12:16pm ET:
Not only did we investigate a number of people at John Ramsey's company, but also learned from the FBI that they were unaware of anyone ever killing a child as revenge against a parent.
Moderator at 12:17pm ET:
Tracey Miller writes: "The FBI profiler John Douglas was hired by John and Pat Ramsey to investigate their daughter's murder. Did he ever report his findings to the Colorado police?"
Steve Thomas at 12:17pm ET:
He did. I can say this: His profile was not consistent with his former colleagues that were currently in the FBI.
Moderator at 12:18pm ET:
Mary Heintz writes: "Do you think the family's wealth somehow prevented Boulder police from immediately interrogating and/or suspecting the parents, as they probably would for average Joe/Jane?"
Steve Thomas at 12:18pm ET:
A very good question — as I explain in the book, the Boulder police had evolved into what I thought had become a social service agency masquerading as a police department. There was a culture of nonconfrontation and nonaggressive behavior on the part of Boulder cops.
Moderator at 12:18pm ET:
Bradley writes: "Isn't it odd that John Ramsey did not attempt to revive JonBenét or call 911? Wouldn't a father attempt a rescue, even if he feared the worst?"
Steve Thomas at 12:19pm ET:
At that point, the child was obviously deceased, and there was a police officer present.
Chris at 12:19pm ET:
Before the night of Jon Benet's murder, were there any threats made to the Ramsey's?
Steve Thomas at 12:20pm ET:
None that we have ever been made aware of, with the caveat that there was a former employee who allegedly made remarks, and he was thoroughly investigated and cleared.
Moderator at 12:21pm ET:
What about the older half brother? Did he have an alibi?
Steve Thomas at 12:22pm ET:
He was in Atlanta at the time. Several people were able to place him in Atlanta, and, beside a short few hours in which he was presumed to be sleeping, we can reasonably account for him.
Renee at 12:22pm ET:
Have the Ramseys in any way contacted you about your book or threatened any sort of legal retaliation toward you.
Steve Thomas at 12:23pm ET:
Ironically, through their publisher, they asked to use my resignation letter in their book, which I declined. But in recent days, the Ramseys have resorted to publicly calling me names, and their attorney has suggested legal action.
Lee at 12:23pm ET:
Do you know what efforts are currently underway to bring this case to resolution? Are the parents under close scrutiny still? Is the DA actively supporting this investigation now that Alex Hunter is gone?
Steve Thomas at 12:23pm ET:
Not only is this case all but dead and buried as far as active investigation goes, but apparently for the first time publicly an expert or an advisor on the case has now declared it a cold case.
Tammy at 12:24pm ET:
What are your thoughts on the findings of pineapple in JonBenét's stomach?
Steve Thomas at 12:25pm ET:
There was fresh pineapple in the victim's upper digestive tract. There was fresh pineapple, consistent with the rind, in a bowl on the breakfast table with Patsy's fingerprint on it. That affords me a rather simple explanation, given it was fresh pineapple.
Moderator at 12:25pm ET:
Steve, thanks for your time today. Any final thoughts on the case?
Steve Thomas at 12:25pm ET:
Sorry I was not able to address more of the questions. Thank you for your participation in this today. I look forward to future feedback
Moderator at 12:28pm ET
Thank you all for participating in this event. If you'd like to continue this discussion, please click here.