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1/11/1997

911 was misdial; photos leaked to Globe tabloid

by Jill Tucker
Daily Times-Call with wire reports

BOULDER -- A misdialed long-distance call was the source of a 911 report from the Ramsey home three days before 6-year-old JonBenet was killed.

Information regarding the 911 call surfaced this week, but there was no police report to identify why someone dialed the emergency number.

A news release Friday, however, identified the 6:47 p.m. call as a dialing error by someone present during the Ramseys ' Christmas party on Dec. 23.

The caller apparently hung up before speaking to a dispatcher and a call back to the home resulted in an answer from the voice mail system.

An officer was dispatched to the house six minutes later to ensure there was no emergency. No report was made on the incident.

Three days later, an apparently frantic Patricia Ramsey called 911 to report her daughter was missing from the home and a ransom note had been found.

The tiny blond kindergartener was found dead eight hours later in her basement.

Information regarding the second and real emergency call was not released.

Meanwhile, Boulder County has launched an investigation into how six autopsy and crime scene photos from the JonBenet Ramsey murder case fell into the hands of a supermarket weekly.

``I'm probably as upset as I've been about any procedural matter in my office in the 10 years that I've been coroner,'' said Boulder County Coroner John Meyer.

The Globe, a 1.3 million-circulation weekly magazine sold at many supermarkets, reportedly will run the photos in editions hitting the stands Monday.

Meyer said he fears publication of the pictures could jeopardize prosecution of JonBenet's killer or killers.

``I do have reason to believe that they are authentic,'' said Meyer.

``I asked George Epp, the Boulder County sheriff, to investigate the matter. That investigation is under way as I speak.''

Epp said Friday night that he's started the probe.

Two weeks into the investigation, the murder of JonBenet is still under investigation by Boulder police.

Crime scene pictures are taken by photographers for the county coroner's office and the agency investigating the homicide -- in this case, Police Chief Tom Koby's department.

Meyer believes the pictures in The Globe were taken by a member of his staff.

But he doesn't necessarily suspect one of his employees leaked them to the magazine.

``The investigation will look into all of the potential sources, and that may be inside or outside of the office,'' said Meyer. ``It certainly would not be limited to staff people in our office.''

Meyer said he doesn't think the photos came from the police department.

The coroner would not describe the pictures, but one of them apparently shows JonBenet's wrist with a cord around it.

Family members of the slain 6-year-old beauty queen are keeping their whereabouts secret for ``safety and security'' reasons that might be explained by the ransom note found at their home, the family publicist said Friday.

Pat Korten, the media consultant hired by attorneys for John and Patricia Ramsey , suggested the ransom note found by Patricia Ramsey would explain why the family has taken extreme precautions to conceal their whereabouts. Police have not released the note.

Korten also indicated the Ramseys are being protected by guards, but would not elaborate.

``You don't know what was in that note,'' Korten said. ``Protecting their whereabouts is important not just for their personal privacy but also for their safety and security. We need to take that into account as well. We do have concerns about their security and safety.''

Outside the family's 15-room Tudor home near the University of Colorado campus, Christmas decorations taken down outside the home earlier this week were stacked on the front porch. Christmas wreaths still adorned the front door and a window, but there was no sign of activity inside.

JonBenet's body was discovered by her father in her home's basement Dec. 26. Authorities said she was strangled. Media reports said JonBenet, the 1995 Little Miss Colorado, also was sexually assaulted, her skull was fractured, her mouth was covered with duct tape and a cord was found around her neck.

Authorities have yet to interview the Ramseys , who have hired attorneys and private investigators, and none has been scheduled.

Police said they have no suspects, but Koby said during a televised roundtable meeting with reporters Thursday night that investigators had narrowed the number possible suspects. Koby also said police do not believe a serial killer is on the loose; they think the murder was an isolated action, he said.

While the investigation has been heavily criticized in some media circles, Boulder officials said the police department received about 150 calls of support following the nationally televised roundtable conference.

Scripps-McClatchy News Service and The Associated Press contributed to this report.