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3/6/1997

Ramsey children no lo

by Pam Regensberg
Daily Times-Call

BOULDER -- JonBenet Ramsey 's half siblings have been eliminated as suspects in connection with the 6-year-old's murder 10 weeks ago.

John Andrew Ramsey , 20, and Melinda Ramsey , 25, were cleared this morning.

``Based on the information Boulder police have to date, police are now able to eliminate John Andrew and Melinda Ramsey as potential suspects,'' Boulder police spokesman Kelvin McNeill said during a weekly media briefing.

``John Andrew and Melinda are being publicly cleared of involvement to relieve them of stress caused by inappropriate speculation.''

Two weeks ago District Attorney Alex Hunter said authorities had more work to do on John Andrew Ramsey 's alibi. Police initially said the two siblings were out of town when JonBenet was murdered .

McNeill would not be specific about where they were, however.

Boulder detectives went to Roswell, Ga., in February specifically to collect evidence that would eliminate the two siblings. However, when they arrived, detectives learned that John Ramsey had hired Atlanta attorney James Jenkins to represent his children and his ex-wife, Lucinda Johnson.

``Mr. Jenkins declined to allow his clients to speak with us,'' McNeill said.

As a result, police were forced to look for other sources of information, causing the delay in publicly eliminating the brother and sister.

McNeill also confirmed that a Boulder County Social Services child advocate was consulted early in the investigation, but said he does not believe JonBenet's 10-year-old brother, Burke, is in any danger.

Police last week also collected a third handwriting from JonBenet's mother, Patsy Ramsey .

The previous two samples were considered inadequate because Patsy Ramsey had been on medication since her child's murder .

Patsy Ramsey found a handwritten ransom note demanding $118,000 for the safe return of their daughter.

The Ramseys , however, were never able to respond to the note.

JonBenet was found in the basement of her family's lavish Boulder home Dec. 26, about eight hours after the note was found.

The child had been strangled, beaten, sexually assaulted and gagged with duct tape.

Meanwhile, Boulder police on Friday hand-delivered a package of DNA evidence to Cellmark Diagnostics in Maryland.

Technicians there could take up to six weeks to complete the enhanced testing required, McNeill said.

A Cellmark spokesperson said the company would not comment about any case that is under investigation.

In other developments, authorities have interviewed retired Denver police detective Tom Haney in their search for an investigator to help with the JonBenet Ramsey murder case.

District Attorney Alex Hunter has been searching for an independent investigator to lend his office a hand with the investigation into the 6-year-old's death.

Haney was a homicide detective for three years before becoming chief of the Denver police criminal investigation division. He retired in January.