Testimony: Ramsey Detective Wasn't At Fault

Detective's Lawsuit Features Police Practice Expert

The woman who was the first detective to arrive the JonBenet Ramsey home was not responsible for preserving evidence there, an expert in police practice testified Monday.

Linda Arndt

J.P. Van Blaricom said that it was the job of sergeants who preceded Linda Arndt (pictured, right) on the scene to preserve evidence. The former police chief in Bellevue, Wash., testified that Arndt was there to answer a ransom call when authorities thought she had been kidnapped.

Arndt, 40, filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Boulder and two police chiefs alleging that her rights were violated because her superiors prohibited her from challenging media reports that implied she bungled the investigation. Neither chief disputed the false reports, she claimed.

JonBenet Ramsey

Arndt was the first detective at the Ramsey home on Dec. 26, 1996, after Patsy Ramsey called 911 and reported her daughter (pictured, left) was kidnapped. For nearly three hours, Arndt was the only detective at the home, watching the parents and their friends.

Arndt continued to call for help from her superiors during that time, but it was several hours before she was relieved.

Van Blaricom was retained by Arndt to defend her handling of the crime scene. He testified that her decisions to let John Ramsey search the home without an accompanying police officer and place a blanket over his daughter's body were "human decisions."

Defense attorney Theodore Halaby argued that Arndt was experienced enough to handle upset people and keep the crime scene preserved.

"This wasn't any wilting lily," Halaby said. "She was trained to handle high-stress situations."

Arndt has not said how much she is seeking in damages, but Judge William Downes told her attorneys not to expect a huge decision.

"It's certainly not a seven-figure case nor a high six-figure case in my opinion," Downes said in a May 14 conference call with both sides. Court documents detailing the call were made available Monday.

Downes also encouraged the two sides to settle, saying that it appeared that police didn't handle Arndt's situation as well as they could have.

"Quite clearly, this officer's marketability has taken a hit, and I don't know whether she made a mistake here in the management of this case or not," Downes said. "But somebody said things out of school about her to the media that are troubling."

Police have said that the Ramseys remain under suspicion in their daughter's murder. The Ramseys, who since have moved to suburban Atlanta, have denied the allegations. A grand jury disbanded without filing charges and the case remains unsolved.

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