Report: Boulder DA looks at grand jury in Ramsey case
Knot expert brought in to help police
November 30, 1997
Web posted at: 6:20 p.m. EST (2320 GMT)
DENVER (CNN) -- Boulder County District Attorney Alex Hunter
is seriously considering presenting evidence in the JonBenet
Ramsey murder case to a grand jury, according to a report in
the latest issue of Newsweek magazine.
Citing well-placed sources, Newsweek reports that Hunter has
all but decided to call a grand jury to shake loose fresh
information from friends and family members who have been
reluctant to talk.
However, a spokeswoman for Hunter, Suzanne Laurion, told CNN
Sunday that "no decision has been made" about calling a grand
jury and that no such decision is "imminent."
"By that, I mean not within the next one or two weeks," she
said. "For months now, I've been saying the option to call a
grand jury remains active."
Hunter, vacationing in Vail over the holiday weekend, was
unavailable for comment.
First anniversary of murder looms
Ramsey, a 6-year-old beauty queen, was found dead in the
basement of her family's Boulder mansion on December 26,
1996, hours after her mother found what appeared to be a
ransom note and called police to report a kidnapping. The
girl had been beaten and strangled.
Although no one has been charged in connection with the
death, Hunter has publicly identified the girl's parents,
John and Patsy Ramsey, as possible targets in the case.
Her wealthy parents, who have since moved to Atlanta, have
denied any involvement in her death and have launched their
own parallel investigation with a team of private
According to Newsweek, Boulder police have not come up with
enough evidence for Hunter to file charges in the case. But
authorities hope that having witnesses testify in secret and
under oath in front of a grand jury will produce new
As the investigation has dragged on for nearly a year, police
and prosecutors in Boulder have been under increasing
pressure to resolve the case. There have been reports of
tension between the Boulder police and Hunter's office.
Fact-finding report would be made public
John and Patricia Ramsey
Under Colorado law, even if the grand jury does not return
any criminal indictments after hearing testimony in the case,
a fact-finding report about its work would be made public,
A decision to call a grand jury has long been discussed among
the Boulder legal community, Boulder defense lawyer Buzz
Sawyer tells CNN.
"This thing's way more than ripe at this point," he said. "If
you're going to do something, I can't imagine what the sense
of waiting is."
Ramsey family attorney Bryan Morgan told CNN Sunday that he
had "no inside information" on any decision by Hunter to call
a grand jury.
"I haven't heard anything but what I've read in the papers,"
Canadian knot expert travels to Boulder
Meanwhile, as the investigation continues, an international
expert in knots has been brought in to examine ropes and
ligature materials found on JonBenet Ramsey's body, hoping to
find clues about the person who tied the knots.
John Van Tassel, a corporal with the Royal Canadian Mounted
Police, spent seven days in Colorado earlier this month,
assisting Boulder police.
"I have not formulated any opinion or conclusion as of yet,"
When her body was found, a white cord had been knotted at the
back of the girl's neck and a similar cord was tied loosely
on her right wrist.
Van Tassel said in evaluating such evidence, he looks at
whether the knots might be linked to a job or hobby, such as
fishing or knitting; whether there are similar knots among a
suspect's possessions; and whether a witness has seen a
suspect tying the kind of knots found.