WHO KILLED THE PAGEANT QUEEN?
by David Mills and Michael Tracey
Aired July 11, 2001 in United Kingdom
NARRATOR:- The killing of 6-year-old American beauty queen JonBenét Ramsey has become one of the great crime stories of the 20th century. Did her mother Patsy - abuse, torture and murder her daughter - just hours after this photograph was taken on Christmas Day? Police and local prosecutors say she did. They have never been able to prove it but it has made her and her husband the most hated couple in America. The unresolved question of their guilt - and the terrifying fate of their daughter - has reverberated around the world. Now frustrated by the failure to catch her killer, murder detective Lou Smit has decided to release secret police evidence which reveals exactly what happened in the Ramsey home the night JonBenét died.
LOU SMIT:- I've been a detective for 32 years, I've never given out police evidence. In this case I am. And I know that there will be a great deal of criticism, but I am ready to take the heat.
NARRATOR:-Four years on, people still come to the small Colorado city of Boulder, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, to see the mansion on 15th Street where JonBenét died. It has been empty since John Ramsey found his daughter's body in this small cellar on Boxing Day, l996.
She had been beaten over the head, garrotted and sexually assaulted. Her parents had reported her missing early that morning, and that they had found a bizarre three page ransom note on these back stairs. Journalists from all over the world descended on Boulder to cover the murder of a six-year-old beauty queen. The story they told, shocked everyone. It said that the first police to arrive thought the parents were acting strangely. And that by the time JonBenét's body was removed from the house late that night, police were almost certain the parents were involved. They had found no evidence of a break-in and no footprints in the snow around the house so they knew no one could have got in. It was a story even the mayor confirmed.
MAYOR LESLIE DURGAN:- By all reports there was no visible sign of forced entry. The body was found in a place where people are saying someone had to know the house.
NARRATOR:- On the day JonBenét was buried the media reported that her parents had hired top criminal lawyers to defend themselves. It was seen by almost everyone as confirming their guilt. As the police search of the Ramsey home continued an ever more sinister picture emerged as to what they were finding. It suggested that behind the facade of a perfect, all American couple, there were dark secrets.
RAMSEY CHRISTMAS HOME VIDEO
JB is in a child’s electric car and she is being very shy. Her mother is encouraging her to make the car move along.
PATSY RAMSEY :- "How about the telephone? ??? Look at that! You can go places now and do things can’t you? You can!"
NARRATOR:- It was said the Ramseys had deliberately sexualised their daughter - turning her into a paedophile’s dream.
PAGEANT VIDEO - JB in black and white outfit
NARRATOR:- It was reported that police believed the parents had themselves sexually abused JonBenét and murdered her, faking the kidnapping plot to cover it up. Six weeks into the murder hunt Boulder District Attorney Alex Hunter told journalists:
ALEX HUNTER:- I want to say something to the person or persons that took this baby from us. The list of suspects narrows. Soon there will be no one on the list but you.
NARRATOR:- Few doubted he was addressing the Ramseys - now openly branded as murderers by many in Boulder. But despite his public confidence, behind the scenes Alex Hunter was worried that the police investigation was going slowly. So to help, he decided to bring in the best murder detective he could find. That decision that was to have dramatic consequences.
Colorado Springs - another city at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. Alex Hunter's search ended here. After looking at over 80 detectives he chose Lou Smit - who like his De'Lorean sports car - has become an American legend.
LOU SMIT :- I remember telling my wife. I said, “Honey if you don't want me to do this I won't. then” because I was retired. I was taking it easy but sometimes in life you have challenges and you just have to rise to meet them.
NARRATOR:- During his 32-year career, Smit investigated over 200 murders. He solved over 90 per cent of them. He never lost a case in court. Smit spent his career investigating violent death for the Colorado Springs Police Department, DA's office and coroner. His last job was running murder investigations for the El Paso County Sheriff's Dept - one of the largest police forces in Colorado. Lou Smit is in an office and an unseen man is telling him about certain information which is available to him. Under Smit, the murder clear up rate soared to 105% - as he solved old, un-solved murders.
LOU SMIT (talking to unseen man) Boy that was something the day we caught him, we must have had fifty cars lined up there.... .
NARRATOR - The decision to involve Smit in the Ramsey case was widely approved.
JOHN ANDERSON - That was a brilliant decision. In crime scene investigation, Lou's the very best. He's been there. He's been there in the field. He's seen those, he just didn't read about them, he he's actually been there over and over and over. Lou Smit, is the very best violent crimes homicide detective that I know.
NARRATOR - When Smit joined the investigation, the case against the Ramseys, although taking longer to prepare than expected, still seemed overwhelming. The ransom note had been written in the home - probably, according to police, by Patsy Ramsey. And the fact that had been no footprints in the snow - and therefore no intruder - was now common knowledge.
They couple were hounded everywhere they went. (Scenes outside of a church).
Their lawyers were worried by Smit's appointment. One of them called Greg Walta, Colorado's former chief public defender.
GREG WALTA - "He knew that I'd tried cases against Smit. I told him that if the Ramseys were guilty they'd better look out because Smit would nail them and if they were guilty not to let them talk to Smit, he'd get under their skin and he'd get information that would kill them. On the other hand, I told them that if they were innocent, go ahead and cooperate, because this guy has integrity. He'll follow that evidence wherever it goes and if it leads away from the Ramsey's. he would follow it
NARRATOR :- Smit arrived in Boulder, driving his family's camper van, three months after the killing. His task, to investigate the murder for the DA's office and to liase with the separate police team. He didn't think it would take long.
LOU SMIT :- It seemed as though the parents were probably involved in it and from what I'd seen in the newspapers and the television there'd been snow all around the house, there were no footprints in the snow, how could anyone get into the house. The ransom note was supposedly written inside the house. I thought this would be a fairly easy case. I thought it would be a slam dunk and I even remember talking to my daughter and I got to joke with her saying that you know, if somebody did get into the house, it must be Santa Claus coming down the chimney.
NARRATOR - The Boulder police welcomed Smit's arrival. One detective referred to his "terrific reputation". As everyone hoped, he was about to break the case. But “how” was to shock everyone. Lou Smit arrived in Boulder to begin his investigation in March 1997. He began - as he would begin every day - outside the Ramsey house.
LOU SMIT - Yeah, I remember that every morning at 7 o'clock I'd always come down to this particular spot and I would just say a little prayer and kinda look around the neighbourhood, drink a cup of coffee and just more or less get myself ready to go for the day
NARRATOR - Even though he arrived three months after the murder, for Smit the crime scene remained the most important part of his investigation. He was certain the killer would have left clues. It was just a matter of finding them.
LOU SMIT - When you're not in on a crime scene you do miss out on quite a bit of the feelings that you get during the initial investigation. That's where photographs really do come in. The Boulder Police Department did take some great photographs. I did spend a great deal of time inspecting each and every one of those photographs and they did tell me a story.
NARRATOR - Much of the house had been disturbed by friends who had gone to help the Ramseys. Because of this, Smit found one police photograph, taken in the basement, disturbing.
LOU SMIT - JonBenét's body was right behind that door when this photograph was taken. if that door would have been opened at that time, this case would have taken an entirely different turn. Everyone in the house would have been cleared out. Nothing would have been disturbed.
NARRATOR - Smit found other early photographs that also worried him.
LOU SMIT - This photograph does show a lot of snow around the house and if you seen this your first perception would be that a person who entered that house would have to leave some footprints in the snow.
Now look at this photograph. The sidewalks are completely clear of snow.
This is another angle. You not only don’t see snow on the walkway area but take a look - even at this table, there's no snow. There's no snow on the chair.
Another rather significant photograph. This is a photograph taken from the alley. A person approaching this house from the alley would leave no footprints around the house.
NARRATOR - Smit was surprised at the lack of snow but says, of course, the fact someone could have reached the house after all, did not mean anyone had. But it did mean Smit had to look for evidence of an intruder which might have been missed.
LOU SMIT - If an intruder had spent any time at all checking out the house he may have noticed that on various doors and windows there was a sticker indicating that the house was alarmed. On a lot of these older houses, the windows leading into the basement are not alarmed and that drew my attention to this window on the north side of the house. It’s a small window leading into the basement. When we inspected the photographs we did see something very interesting..
NARRATOR - Smit found the dust on the window frame had been disturbed. He also found what he thought were finger marks. He concluded that someone may have tried to open this window. Yet an interior photograph showed it remained locked and undisturbed - if there was an attempt, it had failed. However another photograph, taken in the basement, suggested a second attempt may have succeeded.
LOU SMIT - Now this is a photograph that really caught my eye because the window was wide open but what also caught my attention was mark on the wall leading directly from this open window down to the floor. When I first seen that photograph I thought, "Oh oh, looks like somebody could have got in here.
NARRATOR - That open basement window was at the side of the house, underneath an unlocked metal grill. According to Smit, if an intruder had got in this way, there would be evidence here on the outside, as well as on the inside.
LOU SMIT - And that's exactly what the photographs show me. There was a great deal of foliage which was on the front of the grate and it actually had been pinched under the leading edge of that grate. Even when you pick the grate up you can see very clearly that there was green foliage right on the plate that the grate rested on. Also, in looking into the window well, the window in the centre the one that had been opened had a great deal of disturbance in that particular area of the window. You can also see was appears to be finger marks on the window frame itself.
NARRATOR - All this convinced Smit an intruder could easily have got in this way.
LOU SMIT :- You know its been said that only a midget could get down into that grate, well I'm no midget and I'll show you how easily it can be done. It really wasn't that difficult coming in that window. And often with a burglar or an intruder if they find a safe way in they also figure it'll be a safe way out. And if you remember, there was a suitcase that was right underneath this window. And if he figures that he has to go out this window, he may think that it would be much easier if there was something to stand on and on top of this suitcase was a very small pea sized piece of glass - which may have been picked up by a person’s shoe and a faint impression of possibly a footprint on the suitcase. And that suggests very strongly to me that perhaps someone did stand on that suitcase at one point, perhaps to go out the window or perhaps just to test to see if he could go out that window. Now I can't say for sure if an intruder went through that window, but also we cannot just disregard it and say that he did not come through that window.
NARRATOR - Smit knew that the local police had said they'd found no evidence of an intruder. Although his evidence so far was inconclusive, he felt it should, at least, be kept in mind.
The Boulder police declined to take part in this program - but it is clear, they rejected Smit's advice. Lead detective Steve Thomas, later publicly described the idea of an intruder as "far fetched" and "ridiculous". Ignoring Smit's advice, police set out to increase the already intense media pressure on the Ramseys. Lacking evidence to justify any arrests, they hoped this might force a confession.
VIDEO of JB getting crowned in a pageant
NARRATOR - The fact that Patsy Ramsey - a former beauty queen herself entered JonBenét for children's pageants had already led to accusations of sexual abuse. Now it was leaked that police had got warrants to search the Ramsey home for pornography. It led to a media frenzy. Late night television fuelled the hysteria.
LATE LATE SHOW with Tom Snider
MAN (Cyril Wecht?):- If papa is playing with the little girl in the house that's something that ought to be out in the open, call the cops, get this guy out of the house…
WOMAN :- But nobody knows about it, except the father and the daughter. You don't talk about it in families, siblings don't talk to siblings, no. JonBenét had tape over her mouth, that's the strongest message we have…you will never speak of it.
JOHN RAMSEY :- No I did not kill my daughter JonBenét. There have also been innuendoes that she has been or was sexually molested, I can tell you that those were the most hurtful innuendoes....
NARRATOR - No link with pornography or sex abuse was ever found.
But when the Ramseys talked to journalists in a last desperate attempt to plead their innocence, few believed them. Yet by now - Smit had found further evidence suggesting there could have been an intruder.
LOU SMIT - The open window itself really wouldn't mean too much. But if an intruder came in here he would have left other clues behind him. This is the way he would have come and it’s just a short distance to the staircase that leads upstairs. And up these stairs we found one of the most important clues in this case. In this small alcove just off the kitchen ws the pen that was used to write the ransom note. Just a short distance away on a small table was the pad that the ransom note was written on.
Could the killer have written the ransom note here? - Sure!
Do we know for sure? No!
But the ransom note we do know is one of the best clues left behind by this killer.
LOU SMIT (looking at the ransom note on his computer) :- First of all, it was done in a very calm and controlled way. The person was not writing in panic. I have interviewed many many murderers and even psychopath. After a murder, they're extremely agitated. It is very difficult for them even to sit down. In my estimation there is just absolutely no way that they could have written that note after that murder.
I believe that this note was written before the murder.
This note suggests violence - what he's going to do to this little girl.
“If you want her to see 1997”
“will result in the immediate execution of your daughter”
“you will be denied her remains for proper burial”
“will result in your daughter being beheaded.”
“she dies”…”she dies”…”she dies”…”she dies”
“99% chance of killing your daughter”
“don't think that the killing will be difficult”
This is what the killer is saying. It’s vicious and brutal. It's the personality of our killer.
NARRATOR - Smit was dubious about the police view that Patsy Ramsey wrote the note.
LOU SMIT - I know that is the common opinion in the case, however six competent examiners did examine that note and she rated very low on the scale and I can tell you this, there's no way that Patsy Ramsey could have written that note afterwards; if she wrote it before, fine, that way she could think in a very clear and logical way. No way Patsy could have wrote that afterwards, after murdering her daughter. That's for sure.
LOU SMIT back in house - Whether or not the note was written in this alcove or not we don't know, but we do know that the ransom note was found on the bottom step of this spiral staircase. From here it’s only a short distance to JonBenét's room.
This is JonBenét's bedroom but the door right next to it is the guest bedroom and there was a real interesting thing that we found out about this room. This window overlooks the garage and the driveway and would be a great vantage point for anyone that would want to see if the Ramseys were coming home that night.
What's interesting about this room - we did see that some of the drawers in the bathroom right off the bedroom were partially open - looked like they were out of place.
Also in this room there was a rope and we don't know where that rope came from. No one can explain why that rope is in this room.
Also what was real interesting in this room, and it's just a small detail, is that there was a dust ruffle that was tucked in except for just a small area that seems to have been pulled out. Now does that mean that the killer may have been under that bed, we just don't know. But it’s just an observation. One of the small things that detectives look for. He could have been under there and it would be a perfect vantage point for him to go right in JonBenét's bedroom in order to take her out later.
RAMSEY XMAS HOME VIDEO
JB is opening presents and holding up a toy tiger. PR draws her attention to what looks like a large bride doll.
NARRATOR - While Smit was finding evidence of an intruder - the police were now developing a new theory. This was that Patsy Ramsey had killed her daughter when she lashed out in temper, probably over bed-wetting.
The police were angered at Smit's increasing suspicion that they were wrong - and angered too that prosecutors in the District Attorneys office, were beginning to listen to him.
Lead detective Steve Thomas - who would not take part in this program - accused Smit and DA staff of 'losing touch with 'reality' and of 'impeding the investigation'.
Concerned at the hostility - Smit turned to his old boss John Anderson, the Sheriff of El Paso County for advice. Anderson - who runs one of Colorado's most respected police departments - is an expert on crime scene analysis.
JOHN ANDERSON - I did look at some of the photos and was very intrigued. Lou clearly had physical evidence that I think he justifiably should have been concerned that people were ignoring and there seemed to be a tendency that if the lead didn't or connect one of the family members and ultimately one of the parents the lead should be dismissed, that it was of no value. And that was very concerning. I thought that there was a lot of physical evidence that pointed to someone other than a family member.
NARRATOR - Despite this, media persecution of the Ramseys intensified. Police still hoped to force a confession.
WOMAN :- There is something which is just just not right. These people are too well orchestrated, they are too great at performing in front of the public. That press conference was just sinister. It was bizarre.
But Vanity Fair says Boulder police are so sure of their case that they've had arrest affidavits prepared since May.
WOMAN :- They list evidence against the two parties…
MAN :- John and Patsy Ramsey…?
WOMAN :- In quite specific detail.
MAN :- And this information supports a charge of what?
WOMAN :- murder.
WOMAN :- We the jury find John Bennet Ramsey liable for the wrongful death of JonBenét Ramsey. John Ramsey, liable.
MAN:- And as for Patsy?
WOMAN :- We the jury find Patsy Ramsey liable for the wrongful death of JonBenét Ramsey.
NARRATOR - Yet by the time of that trial by television, Smit had uncovered dramatic new evidence. It remained hidden in the police files. But it would change everything.
Two months into his investigation, Lou Smit was about to make a discovery which would transform the JonBenét Ramsey murder case.
LOU SMIT - We don't know if the killer was in there or not, but it's just a few quiet steps into JonBenét's room.
This is where JonBenét's bed was. She was asleep in bed. The photographs show that the sheets on her bed were clean, there is no sign of urine on those sheets. There is no evidence that JonBenét wet her bed that night. There was no sign of a struggle in this room.
NARRATOR - The bed was not disturbed. Nor was the bedside table. The absence of a struggle, pointed towards the parents.
LOU SMIT :- Someone that JonBenét knew, like her parents, could have taken her from the bed without a struggle taking place.
NARRATOR - Smit discovered how she was taken - unexpectedly when pursuing another problem. The cause of marks on her back and face which the autopsy report described as "unexplained abrasions".
LOU SMIT - We were pretty sure that these injuries were not on JonBenét beforehand because pictures were taken of her earlier that day. So these injuries occurred right at or about the time of death. So we had to find out what these marks were.
NARRATOR - The explanation came when he and a lawyer in the DA's office, by chance, put these two photographs together.
LOU SMIT :- Suddenly it became apparent that the marks themselves, both on the back and on the face, were the same distance apart.
Suddenly a little light went on and it was just like, “wait a minute…”, and we both hit on it at the same time, it was a stun gun.
NARRATOR - Smit looked for other murders where a stun gun had been used and found Gerald Boggs, whose body had been exhumed to check on known stun gun injuries.
LOU SMIT - And they compared very closely with the same marks on JonBenét. In fact the marks were on the same side of the face and it was a large mark and a small mark and the reason that that happens that way is because if one contact of the stun gun is placed directly against the skin, it leaves a smaller mark But if the other contact is left off the skin just a little bit, the arc of electricity dances around on the skin causing the larger mark
NARRATOR - Smit also identified the actual weapon which he believed caused these injuries.
LOU - The stun gun that we came up with is this one and it’s the Air Taser stun gun. When the stun gun is energized you see a light blue mark and if you look closely at the blow-up you'll see a light blue mark extending from one of the marks to the other on the back of JonBenét.
If a stun gun is used on a little girl I'm sure it would have knocked her flat and it would have allowed the killer to take her from her bed without her struggling
NARRATOR - The Boulder police rejected Smit evidence about a stun gun. They spoke to Colorado's leading expert - Pathologist Mike Dobersen and claimed he discounted the possibility.
MIKE DOBERSEN - That's right and that was somewhat of a misstatement since my real conclusion was that I couldn't at that particular time say whether it was a stun gun injury or not simply because we had to have a weapon to compare it to.
NARRATOR - When Smit brought him the Air Taser stun gun, Dobersen took a different position.
MIKE DOBERSEN - Lou had found a weapon with characteristics which fit as exactly as you could expect, the injuries on JonBenét's body.
NARRATOR - Since then Mike Dobersen has conducted experiments on anaesthetized pigs. The Taser stun gun exactly replicated the injuries on JonBenét and the distance, 3.5 centimetres, between those injuries.
MIKE DOBERSEN - My experiments, and the observations that we made and all the work that's been done, I feel that I can testify to a reasonably degree of medical certainty that these are stun gun injuries.
LOU SMIT :- If a stun gun is used it is an incredible clue left behind by the killer. It's not often that he leaves a good clue like this, but just to disregard it, would be incredibly foolish. Because if a stun gun is used on JonBenét it points directly at an intruder, it does not point at a parent.
NARRATOR - What happened next to JonBenét - is clear but brutal.
LOU SMIT - We're fairly certain that JonBenét was taken from her room down this spiral staircase. There was garland on the railing of the spiral staircase and there was also garland found in the hair and on the clothing of JonBenét. We know that the killer brought JonBenét down into this basement, there's no doubt about that, and we found some very significant evidence in this room. Remember that suitcase that was under the window? There were items in that suitcase which contained fibres which were found on the outside of the clothing of JonBenét.
Is it possible that her killer tried to put JonBenét in that suitcase? Is it possible that he tried to take her out this window in this suitcase. Could it have been a kidnapping followed by a murder? Very easily it could have been. Perhaps he had intended to take JonBenét out that window and he just couldn't get her out, and he decided to kill her.
NARRATOR - The Boulder police refused to accept any of Smit's evidence.. Lead detective Steve Thomas said the intruder was 'non-existent' and the idea of a stun gun 'preposterous'. While Smit's findings remained confidential, the theory that Patsy Ramsey killed JonBenét because of bed-wetting, was now leaked to the media.
Tonight on Hard Copy. A bombshell in Boulder, a published report puts JonBenét Ramsey in her parents' bed when the brutal attack began. JonBenét, who reportedly had a bed-wetting problem, had an accident in her bed that night and went looking for her parents. What happened next? Here’s what sources reportedly tell Globe.
MAN (English spoken) :- The most likely scenario is that JonBenét went up to her parent's bedroom wet and weepy. Her frazzled Mom completely lost it and battered her.
NARRATOR - According to Smit, what actually happened was very different. JonBenét was garrotted to death.
SMIT - There's very strong evidence that JonBenét was killed in this part of the basement and one of the reasons for that is that there was a paint tray right there and in this paint tray was a paintbrush that was used to make the garrotte. The bristle portion was still in the tray. Right next to the paint tray is a very small sliver of wood that came off of that broken brush. The garrotte was made of the middle portion of that paintbrush, the handle. Her hair was actually entwined right in the wrappings of the garrotte as the killer made it right on the back of her neck, most likely when she was lying face down on the floor. He made a noose on the other end of this garrotte. Then this noose was pulled very tightly against the neck of JonBenét, almost like a control device, almost like you were controlling a pet or a dog. Her killer has a fantasy in his mind of what he wants to do with this garrotte.
NARRATOR - With a growing conviction that the killer was a violent sexual offender , who had broken in to the Ramseys home, Smit again returned to Colorado Springs to seek advice. - this time from Bob Russell, the City's former district attorney.
SMIT & RUSSEL SITTING CHATTING
BOB RUSSEL - We spent five or six hours going through some of the evidence and the pictures he had and at that time I became convinced that the Ramseys didn't do this.
NARRATOR - Russel's view is significant. He's an expert on violent crimes against children.
He was spokesman for the US National District Attorney's Association on the subject.
Garrotting requires a deliberation, you have to think about it, you have to throw the rope around the neck. In this particular case you had to create an exact kind of knot, he had to twist the knot, all while that child is still alive. Most of the time that's a sexual kind of killing. Parents don't kill in that manner. They bash, they throw the child down, they hit them on the head and they do things of that nature. And what makes me believe this is also probably a sexual kind of killing is that there, there is an object that's jammed through the vagina of the child because blood is drawn. And that's not something a parent does, let alone a mother.
NARRATOR :- Ignoring this evidence, Boulder police took prosecutors to the Ramsey home as part of a two-day presentation of the case against the parents. This was still, in effect, that Patsy Ramsey had killed her daughter and then staged a kidnapping to cover it up. No one found this convincing. The reaction of District Attorney Alex Hunter was clear.
ALEX HUNTER :- We don't have enough to file a case. We have more work to do. This is a tough case you all know…
NARRATOR - In fact Alex Hunter's staff were preparing to take over the investigation themselves. But there was about to come a bizarre twist in the story - which would take everybody by surprise.
In 1998 the Boulder DA's office took over the Ramsey murder case. By now Lou Smit was convinced the killer was an intruder.
One reason, is what happened after JonBenét recovered from the stun gun.
LOU SMIT :- The effects of a stun gun are not permanent. There was a scream reported that night. A neighbour across the street said that she heard one of the most terrifying child screams she'd ever heard and it came from this direction. Within ten feet is an open-ended vent, this vent leads right directly to where the neighbour lives who slept with her window partially open. Again, she heard the most terrifying child’s scream she ever heard. And at some point the scream was abruptly shut off.
NARRATOR - Tests have shown that a scream would not have been heard in the parent’s bedroom, three floors up, on the other side of the house..
LOU SMIT - This is not a simple little blow to the head followed by massive staging, this is brutal first-degree murder
NARRATOR - The killer first placed the garrotte low on JonBenét's neck - throttling but not killing her. As the garrotte was pulled tighter, it rode higher up her neck..
LOU SMIT :- When you look at the injuries on the front of JonBenét’s neck, you can see the amount of force that was exerted on that garrotte and that man pulling that handle, because it actually abraded the skin all the way up into the furrow of that garrotte.. But the most significant part of this particular photograph is that there's half moon abrasions direction above the ligature and these most likely are fingernail marks where JonBenét was trying to get the garrotte from her neck. She tried to save her own life. She tried everything she could to scream and to get away from that. And whoever did that to JB had to see her doing this and feel her doing this to try to get that garrotte off of her neck. This is a very brutal killing, nothing in the family background would indicate to me that they’re this brutal people at all, not even for one night.
NARRATOR - Just as the Boulder DA's office was about to launch a proper manhunt for the killer - in the State Capital in Denver - there came a remarkable development. The Governor of Colorado held an emergency press conference - and stopped them.
His decision followed the resignation of lead detective Steve Thomas - who accused DA staff - including Smit - of protecting JonBenét's parents..
The resignation fuelled more public hysteria - and new demands that the Ramseys be indicted for murder.
Bowing to this pressure - the Governor of Colorado ordered that new prosecutors should take over the investigation.
Attorney Michael Kane was put in charge.
He quickly convened a Grand Jury to hear the case against the Ramseys and - it was widely believed - indict them.
Smit feared jurors would hear a police theory about the parents that could not be true.
He says the evidence itself, rules out the possibility that the blow to JonBenét's head came first - and that the parents then staged the garrotting to cover it up.
LOU SMIT - Somebody brutally bludgeoned JonBenét that night. This is a brutal massive head wound. Head wounds normally bleed very profusely. If someone is hit on the head with any force at all it will either swell or it will bruise or it will bleed. In the case of JonBenét even the coroner, when he first inspected the body, did not see a head wound. There was no swelling, there was no bleeding that was visible, there was no bruising.
If JonBenét was hit on the head first there would be some length of time between the time you would even think of staging this crime, then you would have to go out and you would have to find duck tape, you would have to find cord and you would have to construct a garrotte and you would have to tie her hands, and you would have to bring her down into the basement and then you would have to sexually assault your own daughter.
If it would have taken all that time to do this, there would have been massive bleeding inside that skull. So it's ludicrous even to think that the head blow came first. That did not happen. The head blow came last, almost at the time of death.
NARRATOR - Michael Kane and his team took over the case - and prepared to argue differently - DA staff previously involved were all moved to other duties until only Smit remained. Then he too was locked out of the murder office and prevented from pursing a number of real suspects he'd identified - any one of which he says, could be the killer.
As the focus moved back to the Ramseys, he says vital evidence that could solve the case was being ignored.
LOU SMIT - This crime can be solved. Our killer in this case left a lot of evidence behind. JonBenét under fingernails had her blood, no doubt about it. JonBenét, under her fingernails, also had foreign DNA. In her panties is foreign DNA. It does not belong to anybody in this family. I think JonBenét got a piece of her killer.
There is also a hair left at this scene. It was right on the blanket that was covering JonBenét. This is a Caucasian hair and it's not John and it's not Patsy Ramsey's hair. Is it our killer's hair? Whoever left it there better have a very good reason for leaving it there. There are so many clues left behind on this scene. Many murders are solved with less clues than this. But in order to find the killer we have to look for him.
NARRATOR - Stopped from pursuing other suspects and expected to support - by his silence - the indictment of the Ramseys Lou Smit finally resigned.
LOU SMIT :- I resigned because I thought there was something drastically wrong and that there was a gross injustice in this case. I had seen evidence of an intruder in the house that night, and I wasn't alone, there was other people that had seen that too, and that, all of us that wanted to pursue the intruder part of this equation were being removed from the case.
NARRATOR - Now came the last twist in the story. Michael Kane - the new prosecutor running the investigation - issued an injunction against Smit. It demanded the surrender of all his evidence and sought court permission to 'permanently erase' it.
Kane, who declined to take part in this program, also told Smit that his request to give evidence to the Grand Jury 'is denied'.
Once more Smit turned to former DA, Bob Russel for advice.
BOB RUSSEL - Once I saw that they had in fact gone to court and got an injunction it really made me mad. The evidence was too strong that the Ramsey's didn't do this. And so to seethat anybody is trying to really get the Ramsey's indicted when I had already seen the evidence that showed they probably didn't do it really bothered me. And even though I've been a prosecutor all my life….
NARRATOR - Russel turned to life long professional opponent Greg Walta, to help him protect Smit.
GREG WALTA - I was stunned. I frankly had never seen anything like it. The prosecutor's job is to make sure that a Grand Jury hears all the evidence not just some of the evidence. And a prosecutor's job is to protect evidence not destroy it. So I was stunned and I was determined to fight it.
NARRATOR - The two men - who had so often faced each other across a courtroom - now forged an alliance to ensure Smit's evidence was heard. They won a striking victory. Smit was not only allowed to testify to the Grand Jury but also to keep his evidence, and use it as he saw fit.
PRESS CONFERENCE OUTSIDE A BUILDING
ALEX HUNTER :- We do not have sufficient evidence to warrant filing charges against anyone who has been investigated at this time
NARRATOR - When Alex Hunter announced the Grand Jury's verdict - that the Ramseys should not be indicted - few doubted this was because of Smit. Some believed he had saved the couple from a latter day lynching.
NARRATOR - Today, despite Smit and despite the Grand Jury, most Americans still believe the Ramseys killed their daughter.
PATSY PLAYING PIANO
NARRATOR - Just before her death, JonBenét mastered this tune on the piano.
For her parents the agony of her death continues.
No one will employ John Ramsey.
They are trying to sell their home.
They are broke and broken.
And it’s likely to stay that way.
GREG WALTA - I think the case is in deep trouble and I think its in deep trouble because the Boulder Police Department has really staked its reputation on the Ramsey's being guilty. And once that's happened, that police department can't perform its function. And so I think the Boulder Police Department is virtually incapable of solving this case at the present time.
LOU SMIT- What a double travesty this could be - the killer running free and innocent people being charged with a crime they did not commit.