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1/5/1997

Hunter hopeful for break

Pam Regensberg
Daily Times-Call

BOULDER -- Though police have revealed very little about their investigation into the JonBenet Ramsey slaying, the Boulder County district attorney remains confident that something will break soon.

Four attorneys with the district attorney's office examined the Boulder home where the reigning Little Miss Colorado was strangled and sexually assaulted. Chief Trial Deputy Peter Hofstrom, who has prosecuted several murder cases, and deputy district attorneys Mary Keenan, Peter Maguire and Laurence ``Trip'' DeMuth did a walk-through of John and Patricia ``Patsy'' Ramsey 's 15-room home near the University of Colorado on Friday. The four were selected because of their experience and expertise.

Keenan and Maguire successfully prosecuted Michael and Patricia Ballard and Dennis and Marcia Dunann in 1992. It was one of the most shocking and heinous child sexual abuse cases in Boulder County. The Ballards and Dunanns are serving prison sentences.

District Attorney Alex Hunter said the walk-through was typical of a criminal investigation. The attorneys gathered information that will likely be helpful during court proceedings, provided someone is indicted for the murder .

Late Saturday, police said they had finished their search of the 15-room Tudor-style home where the slaying happened, which would allow family members to return for the first time since Dec. 26.

John Ramsey found his 6-year-old daughter in an isolated basement bedroom several hours after Patsy Ramsey found a ransom note on a staircase in the back of the house. A cord had been tied around the little girl's neck and her mouth was bound with duct tape. Boulder police have no suspects and have not made any arrests.

``I'm optimistic,'' Hunter said. ``Not because I know something. It's just a feeling.''

Authorities are reluctant to release information about the city's only murder of 1996. Results from forensics tests conducted by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation will likely yield more clues as to who the murderer is. Those results were expected to be released to the police Saturday, but a police spokesperson said the reports will not be made public.

With police releasing no information, the media has had to rely on unnamed sources. So far, those unnamed sources have said JonBenet was sexually abused, that her skull was fractured and that a three-page ransom note appeared to be written on a pad a paper found inside the Ramsey home. Sources also said the Ramseys ' alarm system was not operating when JonBenet was killed.

Police have yet to interview JonBenet's parents, but Boulder police have been building a profile of the girl's family by interviewing the family's friends and family in Georgia. Boulder authorities have interviewed JonBenet's grandparents in Roswell, Ga.

The Ramsey 's lived in the Atlanta area before moving to Boulder. John Ramsey is the president of Access Graphics, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corp.

Sgt. Larry Mason, who heads the probe for the Boulder Police Department, held a brief news conference and asked the news media and the public to turn over any information that might be relevant to the investigation.

The interviews in Georgia, which included the little girl's grandparents, were ``mostly background-type stuff.'' No evidence was taken, Mason said in a news conference outside Roswell police headquarters.

``We have not, nor do we anticipate, executing any search warrants or arrest warrants while here,'' he said. ``The investigation is wide open. We haven't focused on any suspects to date.''

The officers are expected to return to Boulder Monday.

Meanwhile, officers are trying to schedule an interview with John and Patsy Ramsey . Authorities have not spoken to the Ramseys , but are reportedly making an appointment through the couple's attorneys. As of late Saturday, they had not returned to their home.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.