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6/24/2003

Keenan makes right calls in Ramsey case

The Daily Times-Call

For Boulder County District Attorney Mary Keenan, the JonBenet Ramsey case would have been an easy one to ignore.

Since the six-year-old’s death in 1996, the investigation has been a political nightmare ending and altering careers of numerous law enforcement officials.

Keenan’s own rise to power could be attributed to the unsolved slaying which arguably led to former District Attorney Alex Hunter’s decision to not seek reelection in 2000 after 28 years on the job.

Many in the public have their own theories about what happened to JonBenet, but almost everyone agrees the investigation had problems from the start.

The feisty district attorney — who actually tries some of her own cases — has tackled the Ramsey debacle head-on.

When Keenan took office, the case was still in the hands of the Boulder Police Department, the umbrella of suspicion hovered over JonBenet’s parents and Keenan’s promise to fully review the case could have been passed over as lip service.

In a risky political move, Keenan had her office take over the investigation in December from the Boulder Police Department, whom many seasoned investigators believed unfairly focused solely on John and Patsy Ramsey while ignoring other leads.

The veteran sex-crimes prosecutor also caused a stir when she issued a statement supporting an Atlanta district judge’s ruling that evidence in the case suggests that an intruder, rather than the girl’s mother, killed the 6-year-old.

Although the announcement did not sit well with Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner, Keenan decided to make the case her own.

Most recently Keenan has brought on 30-year police veteran Tom Bennett to investigate the case. Bennett is a seasoned homicide detective, lauded by all segments of the law enforcement community for his thoroughness, investigation techniques and, most importantly, integrity.

Bennett joins retired Colorado Springs detective Lou Smit, who has came back to help out in the investigation after leaving disgruntled in 1998 because he believed the old regime was focusing only on John and Patsy Ramsey.

Although it is clear Keenan leans heavily toward the intruder theory, she said she is not ruling out anything until proven otherwise.

There is no way to tell when or if JonBenet’s murder will ever be solved. But Keenan’s decisions have at least turned the case back into a front-burner active investigation.

There is no statute of limitation on murder and many cases older than this have been solved eventually.