BOULDER — John and Patsy Ramsey claim that results from an independent lie-detector test they took in Atlanta prove they told the truth when they denied killing their daughter, but Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner said the couple's insistence on avoiding an FBI polygraph could prevent investigators from ever ruling out their involvement in JonBenet's death.
"If they had taken a polygraph under our parameters, and they passed it," Beckner said Wednesday afternoon, "then I think there's no doubt we would have had to take a serious look at questioning their involvement.
"We provided them with an opportunity that they may have lost now."
The Ramseys presented the results of their own lie-detector test at a press conference in Atlanta Wednesday morning.
Flanked by six attorneys and two polygraph experts, they said the tests should prompt authorities to stop blaming them for the slaying and find the real killer.
The tests indicated that the Ramseys did not "attempt to deceive" when they said they did not know who beat and strangled their 6-year-old daughter in 1996. Patsy Ramsey also denied writing a ransom note found in the family home.
"Neither John nor Patsy were attempting deception when they gave the answers," polygraph examiner Ed Gelb told reporters.
Gelb, a former president of the American Polygraph Association, has been an instructor for the FBI and the Department of Defense.
In March, the Ramseys told ABC's Barbara Walters they would submit to an exam if the results were publicized, if it were administered independent of the Boulder Police Department, and if it were conducted in their new hometown of Atlanta.
"We shouldn't have to prove our innocence ... but nevertheless we've been forced to," John Ramsey said Wednesday. "We have not one ounce of trust in the Boulder police."
Beckner, however, insisted that only the FBI could provide the objectivity, expertise and carefully controlled interview environment for a polygraph that would give investigators credible information.
"We're conducting a homicide investigation," he said, "and (a lie-detector test) would have to be done under circumstances we believe in."
For example, he said, with FBI questioning, the Ramseys would be prepared for a polygraph with facts taken directly from the investigation. But the Ramseys were prepped for their interviews with information that did not come from police records.
"That's one of the things that concerns me most," Beckner said.
But the Ramseys have steadfastly refused to agree to the conditions set down by Boulder Police.
"The FBI has worked closely with the Boulder police," said Lin Wood, the Ramseys ' attorney. "They are not independent."
The Ramseys underwent a round of lie-detector tests in April, but those tests were inconclusive, Wood said.
Patsy Ramsey said the latest test results gave confirmation to questions "I've known the answer to for three years."
"The truth is the truth, and it doesn't change," she said.
According to Beckner, investigators will add the results of the Ramseys ' polygraph to the case file just as they would any other information, but he reiterated that how the information was obtained would affect its reliability.
Beckner said that nothing in the investigation of the case had changed.
"We remain committed to solving this crime through legitimate, accepted, credible investigative methods," he said. "Contrary to the myths of the pundits and lawyers, we have not focused our investigation solely on the Ramseys .
"In fact, we've spent well over half of our investigative time in the past three and a half years on information not specific to the Ramsey family.
"What's unfortunate about our position as a law enforcement agency is that we don't have the luxury to provide many explanations."
But Beckner also found it suspect that the Ramseys continue to refuse to submit to an FBI lie-detector test, when it could clear them in the eyes of Boulder Police.
"Certainly, I think you can make some inferences from that," he said.
Criminal justice experts say the results of the test could help the Ramseys ' case.
"It doesn't end all the questions, but it certainly is a plus," said Ronald Carlson, a professor at the University of Georgia Law School. "I do think it will have some impact, not conclusive impact, but some impact on redirecting investigational efforts."
JonBenet was found beaten and strangled in the basement of her parents' upscale Boulder home on Dec. 26, 1996. Nobody has been charged in the crime.
The Ramseys have denied any involvement in their daughter's death. In a recently published book they theorize she was killed by an intruder.
Boulder police have concentrated on them instead of looking for the intruder, Patsy Ramsey said.
"I really wish we would stop playing games," she said. "I wish they would open their minds and their hearts and know that we did not kill our daughter."