JonBenet: Inside the Ramsey Murder Investigationby Steve Thomas, Donald A. Davis, Don Davis
Finally, the information you've been waiting for: who really killed JonBenet?
Perhaps the most compelling murder case of our day, the death of six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey galvanized the nation-and years after it occurred, the mystery still endures. Who killed the young beauty queen and why? Who is covering up for whom and who is simply lying? In JonBenet,
Finally, the information you've been waiting for: who really killed JonBenet?
Perhaps the most compelling murder case of our day, the death of six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey galvanized the nation-and years after it occurred, the mystery still endures. Who killed the young beauty queen and why? Who is covering up for whom and who is simply lying? In JonBenet, the most authoritative and comprehensive study of the Ramsey murder, a former lead Boulder Police detective, Steve Thomas, explores the case in vivid and fascinating detail-pointing the way toward an analysis of the evidence some deem too shocking to consider. Here, Thomas raises these and many other provocative questions:
-How was the investigation botched from the beginning-and why did police so carelessly allow the crime scene to be tampered with?
-Why were John and Patsy Ramsey protected from early questioning and any lie-detector tests, even though their stories and behavior were erratic, suspicious and inconsistent?
-Why was crucial evidence ignored, why were certain key witnesses unquestioned by detectives, and why were the Ramseys privy to sensitive information about the case and even police reports?
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Inside the Ramsey Murder Investigation
By Steve Thomas, Don Davis
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2000 Steve Thomas and Don Davis
All rights reserved.
It felt good to put down my detective's badge, at least for a while, because being a cop in Boulder, Colorado, can be like patrolling Fantasyland. The city, with its alternative lifestyles and bizarre counterculture, was Mickey Mouse, with Goofy and Dopey in charge. A dozen years on the job, and the surprises just kept coming.
I had come into police work with total admiration for the men and women who wore the blue uniform. Born in the small town of Arkadelphia, Arkansas, with a horoscope that said I was "extremely tenacious," I grew up respecting the law. My mother died when I was a small boy, and my father moved my sisters and me to Dallas in 1969. While he roamed the nation raising funds for the March of Dimes, my sisters and I grew up under the guidance of a wonderful black woman named Lee Bass, who taught me to treat all people equally.
After graduating from the University of Colorado in Boulder, I spent a few years with the nearby Wheat Ridge Police Department, learning my trade, and was awarded a medal for rescuing an elderly couple from a burning building. Eventually I was assigned to a special investigations unit that introduced me to undercover work. But when the opportunity came in 1991 to join the Boulder PD, with its high salaries and top-of-the-line equipment, I took it and, like Alice in the fairy tale, tumbled through the mirror and into another world.
Not long after arriving in Boulder, I noticed the huge number of escort services advertising in the local papers and set up a prostitution sting in the city's nicest hotel. The department had not worked such an operation in twenty years. In no time we nabbed several girls, some pimps, cocaine, cash, and guns. When the newspapers reported the story, city officials quickly declared there was no prostitution problem in Boulder. When I tried to arrange another such sting, a memo was posted mandating that unless there were public complaints, we were not to work prostitution. It taught me the early lesson that Boulder did not want its boat rocked.
After my first year with the department, I was among several officers who confronted an enraged, psychotic suspect who was waving two butcher knives in a busy downtown intersection on a hot summer day and screaming that "someone is going to die." Ranting and out of control, he charged at me, and the decision was textbook. I shot him twice and still had a struggle putting handcuffs on the fighting, bleeding man.
I had become the first BPD officer in over a decade to be involved in a shooting, and got my first real taste of the Boulder County District Attorney's office. Pete Hofstrom, chief of the felony division, asked me, "Couldn't you have just hit him with a stick or something?" Using any sort of force against a suspect in Boulder was viewed as extraordinary.
Hofstrom's response was typical of the distance between a cop on the street and a prosecutor in the entrenched bureaucracy of the Office of the Boulder County District Attorney. We dealt with the law on real terms, while to me they seemed more concerned with justice as some kind of test-tube experiment. In many other jurisdictions, an assistant DA would have been among the first to support a street cop in such a life-or-death situation. In Boulder, they wanted me to bop him with a stick.
Less than a year later, I had to do it again. As a member of the SWAT team, I was covering fellow officers trying to apprehend a suicidal, armed suspect who had already shot at his wife. He charged, pointing a pistol right at me, and again I had no choice, and brought him down with three quick shots. I was hustled back to the police department for an internal investigation while Police Chief Tom Koby rushed to the emergency room bedside of the suspect, consoled him, and told him everything was going to be all right. Officers were embarrassed by the chief's action. I did not expect a commendation, because Koby would not award a decoration to any officer who used deadly force against a citizen. Instead I was sent off to "verbal judo" school to learn how to resolve critical situations with words.
By then I had begun to understand the locker-room talk. When we traded war stories, we shrugged and said, "Hey, this is Boulder." We were subjected to Internal Affairs investigations for raising our voices to suspects, and the beans-and-sandal types were in command positions. Cops hesitated to be confrontational.
Still, I found a niche in police work that I thoroughly enjoyed, working on a small undercover narcotics team. We did our own thing and were mostly left alone, but being a drug cop in a city where drugs were almost universally accepted had its moments, too. One day, in my beard and long hair, I drove an unmarked pickup truck loaded with tall marijuana plants through downtown Boulder to the police department, cheered along the way by honking motorists. "Dude, you're far too brave!" called one fan. The police received not a single tip about the load of dope being hauled through the city streets.
Shortly thereafter, the local paper printed a letter to the editor denouncing the War on Drugs. It was written by a judge who often signed my narcotics warrants.
Of course, this was Boulder, where drugs were a very, very low priority. Two of us went to the office of the district attorney one day to discuss a search warrant for a drug bust and listened to a couple of the prosecutors mock our operation and joke about their own previous drug use. Cases involving substantial quantities of heroin and cocaine were routinely plea-bargained, including one in which the arrested suspect was a deputy district attorney found with syringes in her bathrobe and what appeared to be cocaine in her dresser drawers. Claiming the drugs and paraphernalia belonged to her live-in boyfriend, she was allowed to plead to lesser crimes. But plea bargains weren't handed out just in drug cases, for even people accused of the most heinous crimes could negotiate a deal. Defense attorneys were big fans of the DA. It was the way business was done.
More than once, when I insisted on contesting a plea, a prosecutor would ask me, "Why do you want to ruin somebody's life?" I made hundreds of arrests in Boulder but went to court exactly twice in seven years.
I couldn't help but compare passive Boulder to the hard-charging task force I worked with in neighboring Jefferson County for most of 1996. There, we were about to bring home more than a dozen grand jury indictments in a racketeering case. An assistant Jeffco DA was even assigned full-time to the drug task force to give the cops on-the-spot guidance and legal advice and expedite needed warrants, a usual practice in many counties where the DA actively supports the police investigative process. That was not the usual practice in Boulder, where the DA's office usually waited on the sidelines until we "presented" a case to them.
In December 1996 I laid the badge aside for a while and went off to hunt quail with my father on a plantation in south Georgia. Days in the field with the sunshine, the dogs, and the quiet were a pleasant respite from the peculiarities of Boulder. The holiday over, we returned to Atlanta and boarded the plane for home.
There was no way to know that these would be some of my last idle moments for the next two years. In a few weeks my life would be turned upside down, and I would be flying back to Atlanta as a detective investigating the terrible murder of a little girl named JonBenét.CHAPTER 2
There was no television camera watching or videotape running in the house at 755 Fifteenth Street in Boulder on the night of December 25, 1996, so only two people really know what happened when JonBenét Ramsey was murdered: the victim and the killer. JonBenét took whatever she knew to her grave, and the person who killed her has remained stone silent. It is often that way with murder.
But rarely is there such a thing as a perfect homicide, and a wise man once told me, "Murders are usually what they seem." After spending twenty months in the churning cauldron of the Ramsey investigation, after examining all the evidence, I now agree with him. Others disagree, but to me the simplest explanation for what has gone into the books as one of the most perplexing and notorious murders of the decade is also the truth.
At one point my partner, Detective Ron Gosage, stood in the dark of the former Ramsey home, after we had spent almost a week searching it, and voiced the central question that had baffled everyone: "What the hell happened in this house?" Short of a confession, which is unlikely, the actual events will never be known.
But there are only two possible answers. One is that an intruder, known or unknown to the family, crept into the house, killed JonBenét in a botched kidnapping attempt while the family slept, then vanished, leaving behind what has been called the War and Peace of ransom notes. The other scenario is that the little girl was killed by a family member, whom I believe to have been her panicked mother, Patsy Ramsey, and that her father, John Ramsey, opted to protect his wife in the investigation that followed.
The district attorney and his top prosecutor, two police chiefs, and a large number of cops, although so at odds on some points that they almost came to blows, all agreed on one thing — that probable cause existed to arrest Patsy Ramsey in connection with the death of her daughter. But due to a totally inept justice system in Boulder, no one was ever put in handcuffs, and the Ramseys were never really in serious jeopardy.
What follows is the story of how someone got away with murder.
The first word of what had happened came at 5:52 A.M. on the morning after Christmas Day, when Patsy Ramsey dialed the 911 emergency number.
PATSY RAMSEY: (inaudible) police.
BOULDER POLICE DISPATCHER: (inaudible)
PATSY RAMSEY: Seven fifty-five Fifteenth Street.
DISPATCHER: What's going on there, Ma'am?
PATSY RAMSEY: We have a kidnapping ... Hurry, please.
DISPATCHER: Explain to me what's going on, OK?
PATSY RAMSEY: There we have a ... There's a note left and our daughter's gone.
DISPATCHER: A note was left and your daughter is gone?
PATSY RAMSEY: Yes.
DISPATCHER: How old is your daughter?
PATSY RAMSEY: She's six years old ... she's blond ... six years old.
DISPATCHER: How long ago was this?
PATSY RAMSEY: I don't know. I just found the note and my daughter's (inaudible).
DISPATCHER: Does it say who took her?
PATSY RAMSEY: What?
DISPATCHER: Does it say who took her?
PATSY RAMSEY: No . ... I don't know it's there ... there's a ransom note here.
DISPATCHER: It's a ransom note.
PATSY RAMSEY: It says SBTC Victory . ... Please.
DISPATCHER: OK, what's your name? Are you ...
PATSY RAMSEY: Patsy Ramsey. I'm the mother. Oh my God, please ...
DISPATCHER: I'm ... OK, I'm sending an officer over, OK?
PATSY RAMSEY: Please.
DISPATCHER: Do you know how long she's been gone?
PATSY RAMSEY: No, I don't. Please, we just got up and she's not here. Oh my God, please.
PATSY RAMSEY: Please send somebody.
DISPATCHER: I am, honey.
PATSY RAMSEY: Please.
DISPATCHER: Take a deep breath (inaudible).
PATSY RAMSEY: Hurry, hurry, hurry (inaudible).
DISPATCHER: Patsy? Patsy? Patsy? Patsy? Patsy?
The telephone call gave us a cornerstone of evidence, not so much for what was easily heard but for what was found when experts washed out the background noise. It has been my experience as a police officer that such emergency calls are virtually unchallengeable. They are tape recorded, and either something was said or it was not. Tapes can be so powerful that prosecutors regularly play them so a jury can hear the actual voices and emotions of the participants.
In preliminary examinations, detectives thought they could hear some more words being spoken between the time Patsy Ramsey said, "Hurry, hurry, hurry" and when the call was terminated. However, the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service could not lift anything from the background noise on the tape. As a final effort several months later, we contacted the electronic wizards at the Aerospace Corporation in Los Angeles and asked them to try and decipher the sounds behind the noise.
Their work produced a startling conclusion. Patsy apparently had trouble hanging up the telephone, and before it rested in the cradle she was heard to moan, "Help me, Jesus. Help me, Jesus." Her husband was heard to bark, "We're not talking to you." And in the background was a young-sounding voice: "What did you find?" It was JonBenét's brother, Burke.
The Ramseys would repeatedly tell us that their son did not wake up at any point throughout the night of the crime. We knew differently.CHAPTER 3
Watch III, the graveyard shift, was almost over when the dispatcher called for patrol unit 273 of the Boulder Police Department to respond to 755 Fifteenth Street. A ransom note had been found, and a six-year-old girl was missing. With little traffic on the roads an hour before sunrise, Officer Rick French got to the house on University Hill within minutes. His mere arrival was the first of many mistakes that police would make in the coming hours. An unmarked car or undercover officers should have responded to the kidnapping call, not a black-and-white, but French had no idea of the warnings in the ransom note. If the alleged kidnappers were watching the house, they would have known police had been contacted.
French walked up a curving sidewalk lined with Christmas decorations and large candy canes, small lights glittering in the darkness, and was met at the front door by a distraught dark-haired woman in black pants and a red sweater. He noted that although it was still before dawn, her hair was neatly done and her makeup was in place. They were joined at the door by a man in a long-sleeved blue-and-white-striped shirt and khaki slacks. Patsy and John Ramsey told the officer that their daughter, JonBenét, was missing and their nine-year-old son was asleep upstairs. They escorted French through a foyer and kitchen area to a back hallway, where three pages of white legal tablet paper covered with blocky handwriting were spread out on the wooden floor. The note read:
Listen carefully! We are a group of individuals that represent a small foreign faction. We do respect your bussiness [sic] but not the country that it serves. At this time we have your daughter in our posession [sic]. She is safe and unharmed and if you want her to see 1997, you must follow our instructions to the letter.
You will withdraw $118,000.00 from your account. $100.000 will be in $100 bills and the remaining $18,000 in $20 bills. Make sure that you bring an adequate size attache to the bank. When you get home you will put the money in a brown paper bag. I will call you between 8 and 10 am tomorrow to instruct you on delivery. The delivery will be exhausting so I advise you to be rested. If we monitor you getting the money early, we might call you early to arrange an earlier delivery of the money and hence a [sic] earlier delivery pick-up of your daughter.
Any deviation of my instructions will result in the immediate execution of your daughter. You will also be denied her remains for proper burial. The two gentlemen watching over your daughter do not particularly like you so I advise you not to provoke them. Speaking to anyone about your situation, such as Police, F.B.I., etc., will result in your daughter being beheaded. If we catch you talking to a stray dog, she dies. If you alert bank authorities, she dies. If the money is in any way marked or tampered with, she dies. You will be scanned for electronic devices and if any are found, she dies. You can try to deceive us but be warned that we are familiar with Law enforcement countermeasures and tactics. You stand a 99% chance of killing your daughter if you try to out smart us. Follow our instructions and you stand a 100% chance of getting her back. You and your family are under constant scrutiny as well as the authorities. Don't try to grow a brain John. You are not the only fat cat around so don't think that killing will be difficult. Don't underestimate us John. Use that good southern common sense of yours. It is up to you now John!
Excerpted from JonBenét by Steve Thomas, Don Davis. Copyright © 2000 Steve Thomas and Don Davis. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Steve Thomas received more than a hundred commendations and awards during his thirteen-year police career, including the Award of Excellence and the Medal for Lifesaving, for assignments ranging from recruit training and SWAT to special investigations and undercover narcotics. Prior to the JonBenet case, Thomas worked on a multi-state task force investigating racketeering and organized crime that resulted in numerous grand-jury indictments. Thomas has been a guest lecturer on criminal justice topics and instructed extensively on law-enforcement issues.
Don Davis, an award-winning news correspondent for thirty years, with assignments from Vietnam to the White House, has written a dozen books. His most recent is Last Man on the Moon, published by St. Martin's Press.
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Another disgusting account of how there is a fine line between justice between the poor and the rich. This is about as close to the truth as anyone is ever going to get with this case. It saddens and shocks and enfuriates me how political gain, money and greed were more important to the Boulder County District Attorney Alex Hunter than solving the murder and getting justice for a 6-year-old innocent little girl who was murdered in her home on Christmas Night. Author and Detective Steve Thomas wasn't out to make money with this book. He wasn't out doing talk shows and interviews. After writing this, he went back into leading a life of privacy and doing construction work. I believe he truly cared about this case, devoting his life 24/7 for years to try to get to the bottom of the mystery, and I believe he did. Truth and justice meant more to him than the DA, which is why he had to lay down his badge to speak the truth instead of remaining silent to the powers that be. It is amazing that there are still some "good guys" out there like Steve Thomas. It's too bad that his career and reputation were smeared by the DA and others for uncovering and speaking out against the extreme corruption in Boulder. After reading this book, it is evident that there was MORE THAN ENOUGH probable cause to arrest if not both of the Ramseys at least arrest Patsy Ramsey. Thank you, Steve Thomas, for being honest and exposing the DA for what he is.
I came into this being open minded, and not making any haste judgments about the illusive who done it theory. I came away from it feeling very frustrated with the justice system, and shocked of how this case was handled by the Boulder District Attorney, Alex Hunter. I think it was clearly evident there was proof beyond a reasonable doubt, who caused the death of this innocent little girl. I commend all of the investigators who tried to do the right thing, even with money and prestige trying to derail their investigation. I highly recommend this book.
This account by Steve Thomas is on the money. It, in my opinion, is the closet we will ever get to the truth. While innocent until proven guilty, the Ramsey's certainly seem like they are hiding something or someone. Read the book.
Mr Steve Thomas truly CARES about the victim in this case. I work in the legal arena and can honestly say the frustrations and VERY hard and diligent work by the Boulder police in this case has been maligned and degraded by the defense side in this case. It is a disgrace that cases today (and in 1996, when this started to snowball) are now tried in the media, without ANY regard for the murder victim. Kudos to Steve Thomas for wanting justice in this case. The truth will out, as Shakespeare once said. And shame on those who have known the truth but continue to inundate the media with lies. The American public deserves to know the entire truth of this case, and how JonBenet was denied justice.She would be a 22 year old college student if she were alive today.
Highly recommended. Lots of facts. Well written and very believable. It was well worth the money. It answered many of my questions. Another great book on the Nook right now is "The Partisan" by William Jarvis. This book is a novel but based on true facts. It is now only 99 cents. Both books are A+++++
Very interesting and compelling book...and very convincing as to who killed this child.
This was so tragic. I read this book and I enjoyed it. It was so sad how such a young little girl died. I believe it wasn't the Ramseys' who killed her. I believe it was someone the Ramseys' knew. R.I.P. Jonbenet Ramsey 1990-1996
For me, this book proves the conspiracy in the cover-up and protection of the Ramseys. There's more going on here than just the Ramsey's money buying their innocence. Too many people over looked vital evidence. Too many got in the way of justice. There's something very fishy in Boulder.
Well written. Such a sad messed up story. That police department should be very embarassed and most of them shouldve been fired
Steve was the lead investigator in the JonBenet case. His account of the story is a seemingly objective one which examines the direct and circumstantial evidence. Yes, there are some bias that are present in the text, but Thomas does a good job of keeping that to a minimum. Great read.
this book was amazing because it told of the entire investigation through the truthful eyes of a man who investigated it the whole time. it was very sad and i felt horrible for the beautiful jon benet. it was truly sad to hear of how they found her and her sad death that has been plagueing the nation. i definitely recommend it
I enjoyed reading from Steve Thomas's point of view. He sounds so aware of the case. He breaks the case down so carefully you don't miss a thing. I also like that the author was one of the leading detectives on the case, instead of just a regular person aspect. I am positive this won't be a disapointing read.
I'm a 16 year old high school girl, and I truly enjoyed this book. From the moment I picked it up, I could honestly not drop it. As many people know it, teenagers do not like to read at all, but this book had me very much intrigued. I'm not a book worm or anything,I'm a regular 16 year old girl, and I loved this book.
This was an Excellent Book and i Would HIGHLY Recommend it to Anyone who would want to know the Inside Story!! I Think the Author did a Marvelous job on Writng it and I also Think He should be HIGHLY Commended for Standing up for What he Believed in!! It makes me Sick to Think That There May Never be any Justice for That Poor Little girl!! But I guess we Can ALL Hope and Pray That SOMEDAY, SOMEONE will talk or Finally the ones that did do it will Roast in Hell and I hope there's NOT a day that goes by that it doesn't haunt them in someway!! This was a Very Enlightening book!! Thanks again for a Wonderful Book!!
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in this case. The author manages to be detailed yet focused, and to convey his frustration with the case without going off into a diatribe. It illustrates clearly what can happen when leaders become more concerned with posturing and maintaining power than with taking care of business, or making decisions which need to be made. It could not have been an easy task for the author to dredge up all this. The book is brave, riveting and heartbreaking.
This is an excellent book which chronicles the John Benet Ramsey case. The material is based on first hand accounts of the evidence found as well as the goings on between the Boulder Police Department and Boulder D.A. office and the obstacles that answer the question : Why hasn't this case been prosecuted yet ? Author Steve Thomas deserves five gold stars for his fair, frank and informative book. Highly recommended.
Steve Thomas did a wonderful job of telling a story that has been told so many times that one walks away more confused than before. I never paid much attention to the Jon Benet story, but like a song on the radio that is played over and over -- I couldn't help but have the story burned in my memory. Yet I never really heard the facts, at least not until I read Steve Thomas' book. Steve Thomas is a modern day hero. A man that would not give up and would not back down. I saw him on Larry King Live and he looked Patsy Ramsey right in the eye and told her he thinks she did it. It was the first time I saw the always composed, Mrs. Ramsey - Blink!! So - I bought the book - and I could not put it down. For anyone that wants to know the truth -- I highly recommend this book.
This was by far one of the best true crime books I have ever read. Mr. Thomas did an excellent job convincing me of Patsy Ramsey's guilt. I applaud Steve Thomas for his seemingly fine job during the investigation of this little girl's murder. JonBenet would be proud. If more people read his book maybe just maybe Patsy would get whats coming to her. This should be required reading for the entire Boulder Police Department as well as 'Team Ramsey'.
I just started this book today, and Ive read 3/4 of it so far!!! I cant put it down!!! Steve Thomas really did his homework in this investigation, something the DA failed to do...they were more on the Ramseys side then their own police officers it seems. This book is excellently crafted and well organized. It comes as close to proving the crime was an 'inside job' as a confession from the killer him/herself. It was really a shame that so much evidence was ignored, the crime scene infiltrated, this is the most botched investigation that Ive ever read about next to the OJ Simpson one. I feel that Steve Thomas' voice is one that deserves to be heard by all, so that maybe one day we will truly have justice for poor little Jon Benet.
I have become very interested in the JonBenet Ramsey case and thought Steve Thomas did an excellent job telling his story. I felt his anger and frustration through the entire book and hope this book helped him find some peace with this case.
Well written, articulate and gives you an in-depth picture of the whole case. Steve is an extremely smart and able police officer and his book proves it!
Great book! Steve Thomas does an excellent job with this one, blowing the whistle on the Boulder DA, sticking to the facts, yet at times showing how big his heart is. A hero in my mind and a role model for those in a position of responsibility and authority.
Excellent book very well written and detailed by the lead detective in the investigation of the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. Found this book extemely believable and most interesting to read above all the others. Could not put it down until finished.I think Steve Thomas tells the truth and should be commended for doing so.
I read the book in two days. I could not put it down. I felt his frustration as every door was slammed in his face by the DA and I felt his true dedication to finding the truth behind this bizarre and heartbreaking murder. I agree with his conclusions and I hope someday for him and JonBenet this case will be settled and the real murderer brought to justice. Thanks Steve for having the guts to come forward and truly bringing us inside the case.
This well written story comes together in a methodical timeline and it brings all the crazy things we have heard into one book that makes sense. There is no plausible way this murder couldbe solved with all the outrageous corruption and lack of skill in the D A's office. Myconfolences to the Boulder police who should have all wslked out of their jobs early on, THAT would brought awareness to the lies and deceit of the DA's office. Good book.