The mystery of who killed JonBenet Ramsey remains unsolved almost 17 years later, but Friday more light was shed into the investigation.
Previously sealed court documents were released Friday following a decision by a Colorado court earlier this week. The documents revealed that the parents of the slain 6-year-old were both indicted by a grand jury in 1999.
JonBenet was found dead in her home on December 26, 1996, strangled and bludgeoned to death. Her parents were suspects for many years. They were cleared by DNA evidence in 2008.
John Ramsey and Patsy Ramsey were indicted for child abuse resulting in death and being an accessory to a crime, including murder.
"John Bennett Ramsey did unlawfully, knowingly, recklessly and feloniously permit a child to be unreasonably placed in a situation which posed a threat of injury to the child's life or health," the document regarding John Ramsey reads.
The grand jury found the same for Patsy Ramsey.
The grand jury also said the parents knowingly rendered "assistance to a person" to conceal the alleged killer.
Despite the indictment, the district attorney decided not to file charges, citing insufficient evidence.
The Boulder Police Department issued the following statement on their website Friday after the document was released:
Today, Judge Robert Lowenbach released true bills that had been issued by the JonBenet Ramsey grand jury back in 1999. The decision by Judge Lowenbach to publicly disclose the existence of these true bills provides confirmation to the public that the investigation pursued by the Boulder Police Department was, in fact, based on the information and evidence available. The grand jury of 12 objective jurors ultimately agreed with investigators that probable cause existed for the filing of charges. “Until this release, it was difficult to remain silent in reference to our knowledge of the true bills for so many years,” stated Police Chief Mark Beckner.
Investigators at the time were disappointed in the then district attorney’s decision not to issue indictments. Cases are rarely perfect and often contain conflicting evidence. As a result, the opportunity to present the entire case to a jury may be lost forever. We also understand the criteria for taking a case to trial is higher than probable cause.
What we have learned from this experience is how important the relationships are between police departments which investigate cases and the district attorneys who ultimately prosecute cases. These roles should always remain clear. At the same time, both agencies must work collaboratively together as a team. Under District Attorney Stan Garnett, we’ve been able to develop a team approach – with both agencies aiming for similar goals - to achieve unprecedented success in prosecuting cold cases, most of which had been rejected for prosecution under previous district attorneys. Justice, and the public interest, is better served with this type of collaboration and shared focus.
The status of the Ramsey investigation today is that of a cold case. The case is still open, but is not actively being investigated and there are no new leads. While we believe at this point it is unlikely there will ever be a prosecution, the Boulder Police Department still holds out some hope that one day the district attorney and the Boulder Police Department will be able to put together a case worthy of presenting to a jury.
To read the released documents, click on the links below.