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Back to 2001 Headlines

5/1/2001

Ex-prosecutor, investigator support intruder theory in JonBenet Ramsey case

The Associated Press

BOULDER — A retired investigator who was involved in the JonBenet Ramsey case presented photos on national television Monday that he says support a theory that an intruder killed the 6-year-old.

The photos, including a picture of a white cord wrapped around the child’s wrist, were shown on NBC’s “Today” show by retired homicide Detective Lou Smit, who initiated the intruder theory.

Police have said the child’s parents, John and Patsy Ramsey , remain under an umbrella of suspicion. The Ramseys have repeatedly denied any involvement. No one has been charged in the 1996 case.

In interviews on “Today,” Smit re-emphasized that he believes police focused on the parents and failed to examine Smit’s theory. Appearing with him were Boulder County sheriff’s Detective Steve Ainsworth and former Boulder County prosecutor Trip DeMuth.

“I have not seen any evidence that would be compelling to suggest that John and Patsy did kill their daughter at this point,” Ainsworth said.

Smit recounted previously publicized clues that he believes point to an intruder, including an open basement window, an unidentified footprint in the basement and a suitcase just under the window that presumably could have been used to help the intruder escape.

“JonBenet was a pedophile’s dream come true,” Smit said.

The photos included a stick that police have said was used as a garrotte to tighten the cord around the girl’s neck and two small red marks that Smit believes were caused by a stun gun.

In 1997, the Globe tabloid published similar photos. Two Boulder men pleaded guilty to obstructing government operations for stealing some of the photos and selling them to the Globe for $5,200.

In a prepared statement, Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner questioned Smit’s motives for appearing on the television show.

“We certainly do not know what Mr. Smit hopes to accomplish, but we do not wish to have public debate about what evidence we do and do not have,” Beckner said. “We will simply continue to do the work we've been doing.”

Beckner said the case and development of the evidence has significantly changed since Smit was actively involved.

“Both police and district attorney investigators have been aware of Lou Smit's theories and interpretation of the evidence since 1997,” according to Beckner’s prepared statement. “Lou Smit left the investigation in the fall of 1998 and has not been involved for the last 21/2 years of ongoing investigation.”

There will be no further comments by the police department, Beckner said.

Attorney Lin Wood of Atlanta, who represents JonBenet’s parents, believes Smit’s comments will get the investigation moving.

“There is no question in my mind that this series should in fact force the public officials in Colorado to get this case into the hands of a new investigative team so we can solve the murder of JonBenet Ramsey ,” he said.

The child beauty queen was found beaten and strangled in her family’s upscale home on Dec. 26, 1996. A grand jury investigated the case but disbanded in 1999. No indictments were issued.

Smit resigned in September 1998 after working on the official investigation for 18 months. “I did not want to be part of perhaps persecuting people that I believed, in fact, were innocent,” he said.

Times-Call staff writer Travis Henry contributed to this report.