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Questions remain in Boulder slaying

By Jonathan Shikes and Jill Tucker
The Daily Times-Call with wire reports

BOULDER -- Police answered one question Friday about the murder of a six-year-old Boulder girl, but still haven't said whether there are any suspects in the bizarre case.

The body of JonBenet Ramsey was discovered Thursday where it had been concealed in her parents' basement. Only hours earlier, her mother found a ransom note from apparent kidnappers and called the police.

On Friday, the Boulder County Coroner's office said the girl died from asphyxia due to strangulation.

Although the contents of the note haven't been released, Boulder Police Detective John Eller described it as a ``typical kidnap ransom note,'' with a demand for money and indications of future instructions.

``Allegations of future demands and money was mentioned and that's about as much as I'd like to divulge,'' Eller said.

``It's still a rather delicate and sensitive investigation, and we want to preserve as much of our potential evidence as we can. This was a beautiful, young girl, as you can see ... The parents are going to go through a tremendous grieving process.''

JonBenet's father, John Ramsey , is president and chief financial officer of Access Graphics, a $1 billion computer wholesale company which was purchased by Lockheed Martin Corp. in 1991.

Ramsey received a Boulder County award as an Entrepreneur of Distinction in 1995. Eller said the family was well-connected in the community.

The company announced on Dec. 20 that it had gone over the $1 billion mark for 1996, but police said there was no indication the slaying was linked to the father's employment.

About seven hours after police and FBI agents began a kidnap investigation, they conducted a thorough search of the home, and a family member found the child's body in the basement, Eller said.

``It's a large family structure,'' he added. ``We had no reason to believe the child was in the house.''

On Friday, investigators looked for footprints and other clues around the house, which is in the close-knit, upscale University Hill Neighborhood. A stuffed Santa sat in a sleigh on the snow-covered front yard, the brick walkway lined with candy canes.

JonBenet's parents and their 10-year-old son, who also lives in the home, were taken to an undisclosed location, where a police officer remained with them ``for security purposes,'' Eller said. Two adult siblings do not live in the home.

``As you might imagine, the family is in severe shock and we have not made an attempt to interview them at length,'' he said.

JonBenet, who attended High Peaks Elementary School, was named Little Miss Colorado last year. Her mother, Patricia ``Patsy'' Ramsey , a former Miss West Virginia, traveled around the country with JonBenet to attend her daughter's beauty contests.

Laurie Wagner, vice-president of worldwide business development for Access Graphics, which has 560 employees, said JonBenet often played around her father's office.

``She was a charming girl, an adorable child,'' Wagner said. ``Everyone is concerned for the family.''