World & Nation

Grand jury reportedly indicted JonBenet Ramsey’s parents in 1999

Grand jury reportedly indicted JonBenet Ramsey’s parents in 1999
John and Patsy Ramsey were eventually cleared in the death of their 6-year-old daughter, JonBenet.
(Patrick Davidson / Rocky Mountain News)

The JonBenet Ramsey slaying took another tortuous twist with a report that a grand jury had indicted the 6-year-old’s parents in 1999.

But the prosecutor then in charge of the case, Boulder Dist. Atty. Alex Hunter, decided not to sign off on the charge of child abuse resulting in death, according to a report by the Boulder Daily Camera. The case eventually dissipated without a conviction.


The Camera cited multiple unidentified sources, including jurors who are bound by law to remain silent on grand jury proceedings -- which are conducted in secret and intended to shield citizens from weak prosecutions.

ABC News, citing two unidentified sources, said it confirmed the Daily Camera report, which was published Sunday. FOX-31 in Denver said it confirmed that Hunter didn’t the sign the indictment, citing former Boulder First Assistant Dist. Atty. Bill Wise.


Hunter himself refused to comment. 

The mystery around JonBenet’s death congealed into one of the signature criminal cases of the 1990s -- and the 2000s, as the story continued to take bizarre turns.

JonBenet was a child beauty-pageant queen who was found dead in her family’s basement the day after Christmas in 1996, garroted around the neck. Her body was found about eight hours after her parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, reported her missing and said they found a ransom note.

Narrowing the investigation to a suspect who could be put on trial proved problematic as the case wandered into a wilderness of public curiosity and speculation. Suspicion swirled around the parents, as did tabloid headlines.


“I have an idea of who did it,” the case’s lead investigator, Boulder Police Cmdr. Mark Beckner, said two years after the killing,  once police had sifted  through hundreds of interviews and scores of suspects. “If I were the D.A., I would go ahead with a grand jury at this point.”

Months later, one of the investigation’s lead detectives resigned out of concern that prosecution wasn’t being pursued hard enough, and stoked suspicion that Patsy Ramsey wrote the ransom note.

The Daily Camera’s report said that although the grand jurors voted for indictment, they were OK with Hunter’s decision not to prosecute.

Hunter, citing the professional oaths he’d sworn to keep grand jury proceedings secret, declined to comment to the Camera. In a 1999 news conference about the grand jury, Hunter said he didn’t have enough evidence to prosecute anyone.


Patsy Ramsey died of ovarian cancer in 2006.

JonBenet’s parents were specifically cleared of wrongdoing in 2008 by successor Boulder Dist. Atty. Mary Lacy, who said new DNA evidence supported the theory that an unidentified man had killed JonBenet.

That man definitely wasn’t school teacher John Mark Karr, who was arrested in 2006 after falsely confessing to a journalism professor that he’d killed the girl. The DNA evidence didn’t line up, and neither did Karr’s story; he joined the large ranks of Americans to spin bogus confessions in high-profile cases.

The case remains unsolved.

In 2012, JonBenet’s father marked what would have been his daughter’s 21st birthday with an interview saying he regretted putting JonBenet in the public eye as a beauty pageant contestant.

John Ramsey was promoting his new book, “The Other Side of Suffering.”


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Grand jury reportedly indicted JonBenet Ramsey’s parents in 1999

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