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Back to 1998 Headlines

8/7/1998

Hunter's office says

by Pam Regensberg
Daily Times-Call

BOULDER -- The future of the already-shaky JonBenet Ramsey murder investigation appears up in the air today after a principal investigator in the case brutally attacked the district attorney's office and called for a special prosecutor before resigning on Thursday.

The DA's office, meanwhile, has labeled the accusations as absurd.

In an eight-page letter addressed to Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner, Detective Steve Thomas blasted DA Alex Hunter's office, saying ``I believe the district attorney's office is thoroughly compromised.''

The 13-year police veteran said the detectives investigating JonBenet's slaying never had a chance and called the case an ``uphill battle'' from Day 1 because of political alliances on the part of prosecutors.

Thomas, who interviewed the Ramseys and was primarily responsible for condensing volumes of investigative information into the 30,000 pages that were handed over to the DA, said the detectives who know the most about the case were told they could not participate in the grand jury process.

``The very entity with whom we shared our investigative case file to see justice sought, I felt, was betraying this case,'' Thomas said. Boulder police delivered the entire case file during a two-day meeting the first of June.

Hunter, however, has not made a decision about whether he will convene a grand jury to hear Ramsey evidence in the nearly 20-month-old investigation.

In his tongue lashing, Thomas accuses the DA's office of dragging its feet by allowing evidence to go untested and uncollected. He said he wants no part of such and investigation unless an independent prosecutor is called in to oversee the case.

The 36-year-old Thomas is the third Boulder police officer closely involved in the Ramsey slaying investigation to resign from the department. Former Police Chief Tom Koby and former Detective Cmdr. John Eller also quit. Thomas has taken a job as a carpenter.

``It is my belief the district attorney's office has effectively crippled this case,'' Thomas' letter continued. The full text was obtained from the ABC News web page. The complete text of the letter is on page 5C of today's Daily Times-Call.

Hunter is currently on vacation, but Beckner said he was disappointed that Thomas publicly vented his frustrations.

``Unfortunately, in his resignation letter, Detective Thomas has chosen to criticize the progress of the Ramsey investigation and the role of the DA's office,'' Beckner said in a prepared statement. ``This comes at a critical juncture in the investigation.''

Speaking for Hunter, DA spokeswoman Suzanne Laurion called Thomas' statements absurd.

``The letter is outrageous and is substantially false and misleading,'' Laurion was quoted in newspapers this morning.

Laurion, Beckner and other members of the DA's staff met this morning and later issued a ``joint statement'' in which they once again denied the allegations.

``We talked about responding in detail to the allegations presented in the letter, but agreed that our primary responsibility is to gather sufficient evidence to prosecute the JonBenet Ramsey homicide, and to further address these charges would only sidetrack the case,'' the statement said.

Beckner rebuffed Thomas' assertions that the case cannot be successfully concluded.

``In the six weeks that Thomas has been gone from the department our agencies have worked closely together to complete additional interviews, prepare and submit additional evidence for testing and review our investigative materials,'' Beckner noted.

Nevertheless, Thomas said, the team of detectives were dedicated to finding the person or persons who strangled JonBenet on Christmas night 1996. The child beauty queen, who would have turned 8 Thursday, also suffered a severe blow to her head, a blow hard enough to split open her skull.

The girl's parents, John and Patsy Ramsey , have denied killing their daughter, but authorities called them suspects.

Thomas called the situation a ``continuing travesty.''

Thomas called earlier reports that police and prosecutors were working well together ``laughable.'' In fact, Thomas said, he was surprised that meetings between the two entities didn't turn into fist fights.

In his letter, Thomas also alleges:

* Boulder police found hidden cameras in the Ramseys ' Boulder home at 755 15th St.

* Prosecutors dismissed evidence and refused to obtain the Ramseys ' telephone and credit card records.

* Hunter shared reports, physical evidence and investigative information with Ramsey defense attorneys.

* Innocent people were not publicly cleared.

* Investigative efforts were hampered by the suggestion that police ``ask the permission of the Ramseys .''

Thomas said the decision to leave the profession he so loved caused him to weep.

``Unmistakenly and worst of all, we have failed a little girl named Jon Benet (sic). Six years old. Many good people, decent, innocent citizens are forever bound by the murder of this child. There is a tremendous obligation to them.

``But an infinitely greater obligation to her, as she rests in a small cemetery far away from this anomaly of a place called Boulder.''