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7/22/2005

Ramsey investigator retires

By Trevor Hughes
The Daily Times-Call

BOULDER — A retired police detective hired by the district attorney in 2003 to keep the JonBenet Ramsey case under investigation has retired again, and now no one is working full time on solving the murder of the child beauty queen.

Tom Bennett was a 30-year veteran of the Arvada Police Department and is now a two-year veteran of the Boulder County District Attorney’s office. Bennett, who was hired out of retirement by District Attorney Mary Lacy in June 2003, retired again last week.

Lacy originally hired Bennett on a part-time basis, but quickly promoted him to chief investigator. She said he filled “so many notebooks” with interviews with the Ramsey family and other people connected with the case.

“Did he solve it? No. Did he make progress? Yes. He did a tremendous amount of work, of investigative work,” Lacy said.

Last December, at the request of Lacy, Boulder police handed the primary responsibility of investigating JonBenet’s murder over to the district attorney’s office.

Bennett’s hiring was the first public act Lacy made to actively pursue a theory that an intruder killed JonBenet. In addition to investigating new leads into the case, Bennett also examined old leads.

Lacy said Bennett also helped organize the case files and has briefed his replacement, former Telluride police chief Jim Kolar, on the murder investigation. Kolar will periodically review the JonBenet Ramsey case, but no one is working full time on it now, Lacy said, because there are too many current cases to work on.

In 2001, Bennett said he was going to use his retirement to travel, fish and write a novel. Thursday, Bennett cited a desire to spend more time with his family as his reason for retiring again.

“Lot of hours lately, putting in many, many hours,” he said.

Lacy said Bennett helped improve relations between her office and local police departments. Bennett also assisted with the rape investigation into Kobe Bryant; one of Lacy’s sex-assault prosecutors was also loaned to the Eagle County District Attorney.

“He was a cop. He could talk to cops. He really became a bridge to the agencies,” Lacy said. “He was wonderful for our office. I really hated to see him go.”

Bennett said working with Lacy, her prosecutors and local police officers was “fabulous.” He declined to comment on his work in the Ramsey case, saying, “I’m not going to go down that road.”

Asked if Bennett’s work will help her office to eventually solve JonBenet’s murder, Lacy replied: “I think we will, but I have no idea when. We’ll either one day have a hit on the DNA or a confession.”

Trevor Hughes can be reached at 303-684-5220, or by e-mail at thughes@times-call.com.