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Back to 1998 Headlines

6/3/1998

Hunter again vows best effort to solve Ramsey case

by Pam Regensberg
Daily Times-Call

BOULDER -- During the first 17 months of the JonBenet Ramsey murder investigation, District Attorney Alex Hunter repeatedly said there was a lot of work left to do.

He said it again on Tuesday.

Some 18 months after 6-year-old JonBenet was found slain in her Boulder home, the public still doesn't know who killed the little girl and authorities are recycling statements from months past.

``We've got a long way to go,'' District Attorney Alex Hunter said Tuesday following a two-day presentation in which Boulder police handed over mountains of evidence to prosecutors. ``We don't have enough to file a case. This is a tough case. We have a lot of work to do.''

Prosecutors, however, remain publicly optimistic.

``In my gut and in my heart and in my brain, I and my people ... will do our best to find the killers,'' Hunter said.

That statement seemed to back off Hunter's bold statement early in the probe when he pointed at a TV camera and threatened the killer.

``You will pay for what you did,

and we have no doubt that will happen. You have stripped us of any mercy that we might have had in the beginning of this investigation. We will see that justice is served in this case and that you pay,'' the district attorney said during a February 1997 press conference.

Hunter said resolution could mean that no case will be filed.

Weeks after the child beauty queen was slain in December 1996, Boulder police also said there is a great deal of work left to be done in finding JonBenet's killer.

Lead investigator Cmdr. Mark Beckner on Tuesday reiterated those comments.

``The baton has been passed, but there is still investigation that needs to be done,'' said Beckner, who took charge of the case in December. ``We fully admit the investigation is not complete.''

Still, a year and a half after the Christmastime slaying, there are suspects who remain ``under the umbrella of suspicion,'' but the killer has not been singled out.

``The umbrella is not quite so big,'' Beckner said to reporters after the highly secret presentation at the University of Colorado Coors Event Center.

Police are not prepared to make an arrest, but they are urging Hunter to convene a grand jury to hear the case.

Boulder police investigated 122 people as possible suspects in the homicide, including 54 sex offenders. John and Patsy Ramsey remain under suspicion.

As in the early days of the case, police are still saying additional evidence testing is necessary, there are still people to be interviewed and questions remain for John and Patsy Ramsey .

But, Beckner said ``I have an idea of who did it.''

Beckner said though his team of seven detectives compiled a decent case, a grand jury could make it solid.

``A grand jury may help us get some of the additional pieces that we need,'' Beckner said.

A grand jury has subpoena power to compel people to talk.

Hunter's options are to charge someone based on the information he received Tuesday or convene a grand jury to try the case. However, Hunter is not obligated to follow the grand jury's verdict.

``I continue to be optimistic that this case will be resolved,'' Hunter said, adding that he leans toward asking for a grand jury's assistance. ``We are going to try to move forward at a rapid clip, but no so rapidly that we are sloppy and careless.''

Hunter previously said he will make a decision within 30 days, but after the presentation he said he doesn't want to be held to that deadline.

``There may be developments that come along in the next week or so that can change that time line,'' Hunter said, declining to speak further about that statement. ``We want to give it our best shot. We are not going to do something that is premature. We only get one bite at the apple.''

Members of Hunter's prosecution team, along with famed criminologists Dr. Henry Lee and Barry Scheck, toured the Ramsey 's 15-room Tudor-style home Sunday to aid in the investigation.

``I feel like we're going to resolve this case,'' Hunter pointed out. ``I felt that before, now but I feel it more strongly.''