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S P E C I A L JonBenet Ramsey Case

Report: Boulder DA looks at grand jury in Ramsey case

Jon Benet Ramsey

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 investigators.

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 information.

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
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, Newsweek said.

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," he said.

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," he said.

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.


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