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Santa actor being inv

by Pam Regensberg
Daily Times-Call

BOULDER -- Authorities are re-checking information from the Boulder man who played Santa Claus at the Ramseys ' Christmas party Dec. 23, three days before 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey 's body was found in the Ramseys ' basement.

Bill McReynolds and his wife, Janet, have reportedly submitted handwriting and hair samples to Boulder police. The city, however, refused to confirm that police have talked with the McReynoldses.

Bill McReynolds, 67, is a University of Colorado journalism professor. He and his wife left shortly after the murder for a planned vacation in Spain. They returned in early February and were interviewed by police.

Authorities may be interested in two old but bizarre parallels to the Christmas-time slaying.

The McReynoldses' 9-year-old daughter and her 10-year-old friend were abducted on Thursday, Dec. 26, 1974, while they were walking in east Longmont, where the 10-year-old lived.

Police reports said one girl was molested while the other one watched. Longmont police canvassed the neighborhood and later took a man into custody, but he was never prosecuted.

JonBenet was found 22 years later -- on Thursday, Dec. 26, 1996 -- in the basement of her family's upscale Boulder home. She had been sexually assaulted, beaten and strangled. Her father, John Ramsey , reportedly found his daughter with duct tape over her mouth.

The other parallel is an award-winning 1976 play written by Janet McReynolds. The play, ``Hey Rube,'' is about the sexual assault, torture and murder of a girl whose body was found in a basement. ``Hey Rube'' depicts people using violence as a cry for help, according to May 1977 Times-Call article.

Janet McReynolds told reporters the play is irrelevant to JonBenet's slaying.

She said her play is a fictionalized account of the 1965 torture and murder of Sylvia Likens in Indiana. The 16-year-old girl was brutalized by a gang of teen-agers and a woman who had agreed to board Likens in her home.

``She was a teen-ager, and the torture took place over a period of months, and the whole neighborhood was involved,'' Janet McReynolds said in contrasting her play to the Ramsey murder . ``In JonBenet's case, the torture was over a short period of time -- I hope.''

Janet McReynolds won a Western States Art Foundation regional prize and a $7,500 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for the play in 1976, but it was never published.

``In my heart, I know there's no connection,'' Bill McReynolds said. ``Anything I'd say would sound suspicious.

That's the nuts and bolts of it.''

Meanwhile, the Ramseys have yet to submit to a formal police interview, but went on-line Sunday to defend the eldest son, 20-year-old John Andrew Ramsey , and to criticize police for not clearing his name.

``It should be made perfectly clear by the Boulder Police Department that John Andrew is not a suspect in this horrible crime,'' the statement said. ``To continue to refuse to do so is cruel to a fine young man and to the rest of our family.''

The Ramseys said the CU student was not in Boulder on the night of JonBenet's murder . He and his sister, Melinda Ramsey , were with their biological mother, Lucinda Ramsey Johnson, in Atlanta on Dec. 24 and 25, the family said.

District Attorney Alex Hunter, however, said last week that authorities need to ``do some more work'' on the young man's alibi.

The family said it has provided police with copies of airline tickets for the two older siblings, names of witnesses who were with the them during the holiday, the name of the pilot on the private flight who was to fly John Andrew and Melinda Ramsey to Minneapolis, a sworn statement from Lucinda Ramsey Johnson about the whereabouts during the holiday and other facts.

The Associated Press also contributed to this report.