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Oct 25, 2013 10:09 PM by Tony Spehar - tspehar@koaa.com

A look at El Paso County's connections to the JonBenet Ramsey case

Court documents released on Friday showed that grand jury convened in Boulder in 1999 believed John and Patsy Ramsey should have been indicted in connection to the murder of their daughter JonBenet.

JonBenet was found strangled to death in her Boulder home on Dec. 26, 1996. The case gained worldwide attention and has become one of the country's most famous cold cases as it remains unsolved 17-years later.

The documents released on Friday show a grand jury decided that there was enough evidence in 1999 to indict both of JonBenet's parents for child abuse resulting in death and as accessories to a crime. The jury ruled that the Ramseys "did unlawfully, knowingly, recklessly and feloniously permit a child to be unreasonably placed in a situation which posed a threat injury to the child's life or health, which resulted in the death of JonBenet Ramsey." The accessory charge accuses both parents of hindering the investigation and helping whoever killed JonBenet.

Rather than release all the evidence and records of the grand jury decision, only four pages listing the counts the jury suggested the parents should be charged with were released. Legal experts said there's not much information to get from the four pages.

"I don't think it helps an awful lot, I think that it satisfies the curiosity of a lot of people," Former Denver District Attorney Norm Early told KUSA-TV.

Despite the ruling by the grand jury, the Boulder County District Attorney said there was a lack of evidence and did not indict the Ramsey's in 1999.

Throughout the ordeal John and Patsy Ramsey maintained their innocence and said they played no role in their daughter's death.

The investigation into the murder of JonBenet Ramsey had many connections to El Paso County. During the investigation the El Paso County Sheriff's Office was asked to review the evidence. In 2006 Former El Paso County Sheriff John Anderson told News 5 that the evidence lead him to believe that an intruder may have killed JonBenet.

"We had information very early on in the case and access to the case and the investigators," Anderson said in a 2006 interview, saying the intruder theory wasn't given much credence at the time. "That certainly was in contrast to what most people involved in the investigation at the time were looking at."

One of the strongest defenders of the Ramseys was legendary Colorado Springs Police and El Paso County Sheriff's Office Detective Lou Smit. Smit, who investigated around 200 murders in his long career, was called to join the investigation three-months after JonBenet's murder. Smit eventually resigned in 1998, saying police were ignoring evidence that didn't point to the Ramseys.

Smit was said to have never stopped in his pursuit to find JonBenet's killer, it is said he always carried a picture of Jon Benet with him. In 2010, four years after the 2006 death of Patsy Ramsey, Smit died at the age of 75, John Ramsey was with Smit in his final hours and spoke at his funeral in Colorado Springs.

"There were some other men there that had worked on the case and continued to and Lou was telling them what he thought needed to be done next and so he never, never gave up," Ramsey said at the Aug. 2010 funeral.

In 2008 the Boulder County District Attorney Mary Lacy exonerated the Ramseys, saying that DNA evidence had cleared all members of the Ramsey family and indicated the killer was an unknown male suspect.

The Boulder County District Attorney did not comment on the released documents on Friday, saying that a statement would be made in an op-ed in the Boulder Daily Camera on Sunday.

 

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