1996-12-29: Details still elusive in slaying
Details still elusive in slaying
By ALLI KRUPSKI
Camera Staff Writer
December 29, 1996
The investigation continued Saturday into the murder of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey, as about 30 local police officers worked the case - the most assigned to a crime in the past four years.
Police released no further details on the slaying and identified no suspects, but they continued to search the family home at 755 15th St.
Meanwhile, neighbors said a close family friend and John Ramsey, the girl's father, discovered the body of the aspiring beauty queen Thursday afternoon in the home's basement.
Approximately eight hours earlier, about 6 a.m., Patsy Ramsey, JonBenet's mother, had called 911 to report that her daughter had been kidnapped and that a ransom note had been left.
"They found her in a hidden area down there, so whoever killed her had to be somebody that knew the house," said Joe Barnhill, who lives across the street from the Ramseys and cares for JonBenet's dog.
Police, however, would not comment on which family member found the body of the 1995 Little Miss Colorado and 1996 America Royale Miss. The coroner reported Friday that the girl had been strangled, but no details emerged as to the time of death or the manner in which she was strangled.
Police said they anticipate completing the preliminary processing of the 15-room house Monday morning. "We still have a number of people yet to interview," said John Eller, commander of the Boulder police detective division.
In addition to Eller, investigators with the case include Sheriff's Department officials and a Department of Social Services child-protection worker and supervisor. "If a child dies, they (the Department of Social Services authorities) are required by law to be involved," Eller said.
Officials also have not determined what role the reported kidnapping played in JonBenet's death. "Right now, we are focused on the homicide aspects of the case," Eller said.
Police remained tight-lipped about other elements of the crime. They would not comment on the clothing JonBenet was wearing when she died, the condition of her body, the instructions in the ransom note, or possible contact the kidnapper may have had with police or the family. Authorities also did not reveal information about the Ramseys'domestic staff and which members had access to the house.
As investigators search for clues, the family reamains secluded in a friend's home under police protection, family friends said. "They're cooperating with the police," said city spokeswoman Leslie Aaholm.
But family friends say discussing the death with police and loved ones has devastated the family. "She was killed after she went to bed, so they never got a chance to say goodbye, and it's terribly difficult for them," said a close family friend. "They're all together now just trying to get through this. It's just seared their hearts."
JonBenet's father, John, is president of Access Graphics, a Boulder computer distributor. Her mother, Patsy, a former Miss West Virginia, traveled with her daughter to beauty contests around the nation.
The murder has stunned neighbors.
"I'm sure people are more frightened now, and I feel more vulnerable," Barnhill said. "We feel that this has been a very secure and quiet neighborhood, and that's why it's such a shock."
Patty Limerick, who lives across the street from the Ramseys, said the murder concerns her as well. She learned of the crime when she returned home Thursday night from her parents' 60th wedding anniversary party in California.
"It's very disturbing because something terrible happened to an innocent human being," she said. "The neighborhood has always been very pleasant, safe and convivial."
Other residents said they have had difficulty sleeping and have placed chairs in front of their doors to prevent intruders from entering their homes at night.
"I just don't know what happened, and that's what's so scary," said one neighbor who declined to give her name. "There just isn't much crime here, which is why it's so terrifying to think that somebody really entered that house and killed her. And until they figure out what happened, I don't think I'll ever feel safe here again."