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Former Boulder police detective testifies

By B.J. Plasket
The Daily Times-Call

DENVER — Former Ramsey -case detective Linda Arndt testified Tuesday that her commander told her to fear for her safety during the first months of the murder investigation, but that then-chief Tom Koby “scoffed at” her concerns.

Arndt, who took the stand Tuesday in the sixth day of a trial in which she accused the Boulder Police Department of making her the scapegoat for the failed investigation, also said Koby never returned a phone message in which she asked for help in defending herself from media attacks.

Arndt, dressed in a white jacket and skirt, looked up at the ceiling and took a long breath as she approached the witness stand to testify in the case she filed nearly three years ago. Her testimony took up most of Tuesday afternoon and is expected to last well into today.

The former detective, who grew up as the daughter of what she called “the town cop” in a small Minnesota town, also detailed her 15 years in law enforcement and her six-year stint as a Boulder detective.

Arndt said every performance review she received from her supervisors at the Boulder Police Department was excellent except for the last one she received just after being removed from the Ramsey case five months after the slaying of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey .

Arndt claimed Koby, in an April 1997 meeting with the Ramsey investigative team, told investigators the department would not issue statements clearing suspects or defending police, because “the media will put a spin on anything we do.” She testified that in spite of that stance, the department issued releases clearing suspects and defending the duty sergeant in charge on the night of the murder.

Shortly after that meeting, Arndt testified, then-commander John Eller told her stories were being written that questioned the time it took both the patrol division and the detective division to respond to the crime scene. She said Eller told her, “It is the history of the Boulder P.D. to deny there is a problem and to look for a scapegoat.”

The press release defending the duty sergeant — but not Arndt — was released the next day, she said.

She said Eller also told her she was “a key witness in a high-profile murder case” and that “whoever killed this girl doesn’t want her to testify.” She said Eller suggested she keep a low profile in public and vary her routes to and from work. She claimed Koby first told her to take her safety concerns to the Ramsey -case team, and later “scoffed at” her concerns.

Arndt said she was removed from the Ramsey case on May 13, 1997, two days before a scathing commentary by radio talk show host Peter Boyles in which she was blamed for bungling the crime scene. She said she left a phone message asking for Koby’s help in defending her, but that he never responded to the call.

Judith Fisher, a therapist who has been treating Arndt for nearly a year, earlier testified that Arndt suffers from post traumatic stress disorder because of the events surrounding JonBenet Ramsey ’s death and the department’s treatment of her.

Presiding U.S. District Judge William Downes said he expects the trial to last into next week. Downes said the trial will be in recess on Friday because he has commitments in his home district in Wyoming.