1997-10-24: Police cast wide net in Ramsey investigation
Police cast wide net in Ramsey investigation
By ALLI KRUPSKI
Camera Staff Writer
Friday, October 24, 1997
During the almost 10 months since the JonBenet Ramsey slaying, police and prosecutors have developed an index containing more than 1,600 names and subjects in an effort to locate the girl's killer.
Contrary to allegations that authorities have focused entirely on the Ramsey family as suspects, investigators have discussed the crime with several people and contacted sex offenders registered in Boulder. They have obtained handwriting, blood and hair samples from the Ramseys, family friends and others.
Police have not named any suspects or made any arrests during the intensive investigation, even though they have compiled a range of information.
For example, a Longmont man arrested in late January in connection with driving violations said the Boulder Police Department questioned him about the homicide.
Robert C. Wolf said detectives tried to interrogate him in connection with the 6-year-olds murder, although he insists he has no relationship to the Ramseys. Investigators would not elaborate on their interview with Wolf.
"We dont engage in discussions about the investigation," Boulder Police Chief Tom Koby said.
The incident, however, shows how police have pursued a variety of leads in the death of the former Little Miss Colorado. Many local law enforcement officials and other experts agree that authorities have conducted a broad-reaching inquiry.
"The nature of this investigation requires that no stone be left unturned," said Boulder County District Attorney Alex Hunter, who has identified John and Patsy Ramsey, JonBenets parents, as the focus of the investigation.
"Even if were looking at the Ramseys, we are looking at other people, too," a source close to the case said. "If we get reports of something like someone unusual who began attending the Ramseys church right before the crime, or someone looking through trash cans in the Ramseys neighborhood before the murder, we have to investigate those leads."
The Ramseys, however, have berated the leadership of the Boulder Police Departments probe into their daughters death.
Thursday, family spokeswoman Rachelle Zimmer would not comment on the status of the police investigation. "We are not privy to what the police are doing," Zimmer said. John Ramsey and a friend discovered the girl strangled in the basement of the Ramseys Boulder home last Dec. 26. About eight hours earlier, Patsy Ramsey found a handwritten ransom note demanding $118,000 and called police.
Several weeks after the murder, an investigator in the Ramsey case asked a patrol officer to locate the Longmont mans car. Soon after, the officer allegedly observed Wolf speeding in Boulder, stopped the local writer and brought him to the police department, a police report said.
At one point, according to police documents, Wolf accused the patrol officer of harassing him about his drivers license. "You cops cant even arrest the killer of that 6-year-old girl," he reportedly told the officer. Once at the police department, two detectives, including one who wished "to speak with (Wolf) on an unrelated topic" - tried to question the 37-year-old, the report said. Wolf declined an interview with authorities, according to the report.
Police then arrested Wolf in connection with driving with a license under restraint and speeding. As police escorted Wolf out of the police department, "he became verbal and combative in the parking lot with detectives, the report said. Consequently, investigators hobbled Wolf "to refrain him from kicking and hurting himself or others."
Authorities booked and released Wolf from the Boulder County Jail, police documents said.
The District Attorneys Office dismissed the charges against Wolf in early May, officials said. "The police never tried to call me or come over and talk about the Ramseys before they pulled me over," Wolf said in an interview with the Camera several months ago.
"I was just stopped for speeding, even though I wasnt speeding."
At that time, police recorded Wolf's name and social security number, he said.
"After asking those things, they took a piece of paper with about 12 lines of a word or phrase on it and asked me to write the words in the space on the right," Wolf said.
"I looked at it, and saw the first line said Mr. Ramsey, and I said You must be crazy. I wouldn't give them a handwriting sample, so they ... threatened to name me as a suspect in the Ramsey case."
Wolf said he has no connection with the Ramseys. "I told them (the police) I have never talked to any of the people in this case or heard of any of them before this (the homicide) happened," he said. But some law enforcement experts said police frequently seek specific cars possibly associated with investigations.
"We're a mobile society, particularly in this part of the country, where most people rely heavily on a personally owned vehicle," said Karen Duffala, deputy director of the National Law Enforcement Center at the University of Denver Research Institute, an outreach program to state and local law enforcement and corrections agencies. "So the connection between an individual and the vehicle, with the vehicle being a method to locate the person, is very common. And running information down to be able to - as much as possible - fully determine what, if any, relevance it has to the investigation is part of a thorough investigative process."
Meanwhile, investigators such as Lou Smit, a retired Colorado Springs homicide detective working for the prosecutors office, continue to examine other avenues potentially related to the crime. Smit, for instance, recently called authorities in California for information about a 54-year-old man arrested 32 years ago in Oceanside regarding a crime against a child.
The man, arrested March 15, 1965, and later convicted of misdemeanor indecent exposure, allegedly lived six blocks from the Ramseys Boulder home and vanished shortly after the homicide. Authorities directed Smit to the California Department of Justice because the Oceanside Police Department purges most felony records after seven years.
"What he was doing was running criminal histories to determine whether to include certain information on lead sheets that he would then provide to the Boulder police department detectives," Suzanne Laurion, spokeswoman for the District Attorneys office, said.
In addition to researching criminal records, police have interviewed several people.
Interviewing is absolutely part of a thorough investigation because you can never get blinders on in a case, said Gregg McCrary, a former criminal profiler with the FBI. "If you develop a suspect in a case like this ... then you'd want to talk to them because you'd be really negligent not to."
McCrary also praised the police departments investigation. "Other than the initial mistakes, I think theyve been meticulous," he said. "That's the way it needs to be conducted - they need to be methodical, thorough and relentless."