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8/24/2002

Investigators: Evidence discounts intruder theory in JonBenet murder case

The Associated Press

DENVER - Investigators have reportedly concluded that a palm print and footprint found in the home of JonBenet Ramsey were made by family members, not an intruder as some have suggested.

Investigators believe the prints found in the basement of the home were not related to the unsolved killing of the 6-year-old girl whose body was found Dec. 26, 1996, a Denver newspaper reported Friday.

Authorities have known the answers for some time, the newspaper reported. A footprint found in mold on the floor of the Ramseys ' wine cellar, near where the girl's body was found, was linked by investigators to her then-9-year-old brother, Burke. Burke, now 15, has long since been cleared by authorities.

Investigators also said a palm print on the door leading to the wine cellar is that of Melinda Ramsey , JonBenet's adult half-sister, who was in Georgia at the time of the girl's death. The technician who originally ruled her out as the source of the print erred, the newspaper said.

Attorney Lin Wood of Atlanta, who represents JonBenet's parents, John and Patsy Ramsey , said his clients do not dispute the palm-print findings, but he said the family disagrees that the footprint came from Burke.

"Burke Ramsey does not and has never owned a pair of quote, unquote, trademarked Hi-Tec sneakers that the Ramseys are aware of," he said. "I would think they know what shoes he has owned."

He also said the investigators' conclusions regarding the two pieces of evidence do not eliminate the theory that an intruder killed the girl.

"Even if that explanation turns out to be true, but I have serious doubts, it certainly does not outweigh the overwhelming physical evidence and other evidence pointing to an intruder," Wood said.

Wood said the two most important pieces of evidence in the case are unidentified male DNA found in the girl's underwear and the handwritten ransom note, whose author has never been determined. Boulder police Chief Mark Beckner on Friday declined to confirm or deny the information about the evidence. He said he believed the information did not come from any police department employee.