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7/7/2003

Recent news puts Ramsey case back in prime time

By Travis Henry
The Daily Times-Call

BOULDER — The JonBenet Ramsey case is back in prime time as two networks cash in on recent developments to bring the investigation to television.

The case will be featured this week on NBC’s “Today” show and on “Dateline,” where producers promise viewers the chance to hear Patsy Ramsey’s 911 call “for the first time ever.”

Scheduled to appear on the special is former prosecutor Trip DeMuth and FBI profiler John Douglas, who believe that an intruder most likely killed JonBenet.

Late last month, CBS reran the miniseries “Perfect Murder, Perfect Town,” which initially aired in 2000. The miniseries is based on Lawrence Schiller’s book of the same title, which looks into the mismanagement of the investigation.

Boulder County District Attorney Mary Keenan, who also is leaning toward the intruder theory, said the new exposure may actually help the case.

“Any leads we get, we follow up on,” Keenan said. “So anytime something is on TV, we tend to get leads.”

Keenan officially took over the case from the Boulder Police Department in December 2002. She hired retired Arvada Detective Tom Bennett to take a fresh look at the case. Bennett began work June 23.

Former Colorado Springs Detective Lou Smit quit the case because he felt authorities were wrongly concentrating on the parents. Since Keenan has taken over, Smit is back as a consultant in the case.

Smit was the first detective to theorize that JonBenet’s attacker used a stun gun on her.

Keenan said her new investigator has been busy getting acquainted with everything that has been done in the case so far.

“He soaks up information like a sponge,” Keenan said.

DeMuth said that in his interview with NBC, he praises Keenan’s recent moves and her announcement that she agrees with an Atlanta judge’s ruling supporting the intruder theory.

“I think the evidence, as it stands right now, is more consistent with an intruder,” said DeMuth, who was one of the first deputy district attorneys assigned to the case.

DeMuth, who now works for a Boulder law firm, said he and fellow prosecutor Peter Hofstrom were removed from the case in 1998 for urging Boulder police to follow up leads that led away from John and Patsy Ramsey.

“It shouldn’t be about pursuing theories; it should be about pursuing evidence,” DeMuth said. “My team was prevented from pursuing evidence.”

DeMuth said he thinks the case could be solved by one big break.

“All it could take is the right phone call to Lou Smit about somebody who owns an Air Taser stun gun,” DeMuth said.

DeMuth said that while the evidence points to an intruder, no suspects should be ruled out.

“Based on the evidence, I believe the Ramseys are not guilty,” DeMuth said. “But I am not convinced of that, and I won’t be convinced of that until it is proven who did commit the crime.”

Travis Henry can be reached at 303-776-2244, Ext. 326, or by e-mail at
thenry@times-call.com.