JonBenet Ramsey case: Former Boulder police chief Mark Beckner says police botched initial handling

BOULDER, Colo. - In his most extensive comments on the JonBenet Ramsey case, former Boulder police chief Mark Beckner told online readers that police botched the initial handling of the crime scene.

Beckner made the comments in an interview on the social-networking and news site Reddit last weekend.

However, while 7NEWS was able to read those comments on Wednesday morning, the comments were deleted later that morning and no longer appear on the Reddit website.

The comments disappeared after Beckner told the Daily Camera that he didn't realize his comments would filter out to the rest of the world.

Beckner left one comment on the website, a comment posted Tuesday: "This will be my last post, but after reading some of the follow-up posts, I believe there may have been some misinterpretation of some of my comments or 'reading between the lines.' I want to emphasize that I do not fully know what happened that night or who killed JonBenet, as some have surmised. If anyone did, this would not be a mystery. This is why I do not speculate. I simply answered questions as truthfully as possible and only on things that have already been reported. Dismissing the intruder evidence is a mistake and as I emphasized in an earlier post, the location of the foreign DNA is significant. This could very likely be the person who killed JonBenet. However, we will not be sure until and if they find out who it belongs to. And, just because we can not prove a point of entry, doesn't mean someone didn't find a way to get in. Just as I believe we can not exonerate on one piece of evidence, neither can we ignore evidence. Finally, everyone is presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Thanks again."

Six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey was found dead in the basement of her family's home the day after Christmas 1996 after her mother Patsy Ramsey called 911 to say her daughter was missing and that a ransom note had been found.

Beckner says police should have separated JonBenet's parents and gotten full statements that day. He says police were short-staffed for the holiday and faced an unprecedented case.

Here are some of Beckner's comments that were posted on the Reddit website before they were deleted.  The questions came from Reddit users. Typos and other errors came from the people writing posts on the website:

Beckner: I certainly wish we could have gone to trial. However, the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt is hard to overcome when you have some foreign DNA that cannot be explained. If we were to find the source of this trace DNA, we would have an explanation, regardless of which way it pointed. When you are talking about small traces of DNA, there can be several explanations and various ways it could have been transferred. Without identifying who it belongs to, we can only theorize the source of the DNA and how it got there. Without this trace DNA, I believe the prosecutors would have moved forward. It is interesting that apparently the grand jury jurors did not find the DNA reason enough not to find probable cause. Personally, I believe if the source is ever found, we will discover that there is an explanation other than belonging to the murderer. There are others, such as ex-DA Mary Lacy who believe the DNA has to be that of the murderer.

What do you believe actually happened to JonBenet? Who do you think is responsible?

Beckner: We know from the evidence she was hit in the head very hard with an unknown object, possibly a flashlight or similar type item. The blow knocked her into deep unconsciousness, which could have led someone to believe she was dead. The strangulation came 45 minutes to two hours after the head strike, based on the swelling on the brain. While the head wound would have eventually killed her, the strangulation actually did kill her. The rest of the scene we believe was staged, including the vaginal trauma, to make it look like a kidnapping/assault gone bad. I have avoided saying who I believe is responsible and let the facts speak for themselves. There are several viable theories.

What was your gut instinct when John Mark Karr confessed to the murder?

Beckner: My gut reaction was that Mary Lacy did not know the facts of the case and was making a big mistake. His confession, once they shared it with us, did not match the evidence at the scene. After she asked for our help in proving he did it, we knew in about 18 hours he was not the guy. We were able to confirm he was not even in Colorado at the time by just doing some routine checking and then obtained photos of him in Georgia at the time. The DNA test, which she thought would prove he did it, proved her wrong.

Is there something you wish had been done differently from the start of the investigation that perhaps could have yielded a conviction?

Beckner: Not me personally, as I did not get involved until September 1997, about 9 months after the murder. I was brought on to try to get the investigation back on course, which I think we did a pretty good job of once we got some DAs involved who worked with us rather than against us. As for the police department in general, I wish we would have done a much better job of securing and controlling the crime scene on day one. We also should have separated John and Patsy and gotten full statements from them that day. Letting them go was a big mistake, as they soon lawyered up and we did not get to formally interview them again until May of 1997, five months after their daughter was murdered. Had the police found the body early on, as they should have, I believe the initial course of the investigation would have gone differently, but who really knows at this point. We also did a poor job of protecting the crime scene. It was sort of like a perfect storm that day that set things off in the wrong direction. It was and still is the only case of its kind as far as we or the FBI knows of, so its not like anyone had experience with this sort of thing either.

I heard rumors that Patsy Ramsay actually killed JonBenet because she was jealous of the little girls relationship with her dad. I was wondering if an inappropriate relationship between John and JonBenet was investigated? I also wanted to know if it's true that the handwriting on the ransom note matched Patsy Ramsays handwriting?

Beckner: We investigated all aspects of the family relationships. There is no evidence that I know of to support the rumor you heard. Handwriting experts noted some similarities, but not enough to say she wrote the note. There are also similarities to the style of writing to Patsy's style, such as use of exclamation marks, acronyms, and indentation. One expert noted signs of deception in the writing as well.

Was there ever a profile created for the killer?

Beckner: Creating profiles is not an exact science and are often wrong. There were several profiles, depending on who you asked.

Was the handwritten note tested for DNA/fingerprints? And do the police think the murderer sat in the house and wrote a long winded note on the Ramseys note pad before attempting to kidnap her. obviously didnt do it after if it was a criminal as they would have just got out. Also how might the "kidnapper" have known how much john ramseys bonus was. thanks.

Beckner: Yes, of course it was. The only fingerprint on the note was one belonging to the document examiner at the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI). On the notepad from which the note came from, the only fingerprints on the pad belonged to the CBI agent, the sergeant with the police department who took the pad into custody, and Patsy Ramsey. No, we do not believe a someone wrote the note prior to attempting to kidnap JonBenet. Neither the PD or the FBI believe this was ever a kidnapping. It was a murder that someone tried to stage as a kidnapping.

Regarding JonBenet's murder: Is there any information not publicly available that, in your estimation, would be considered "huge" to followers of the case? If so, do you suspect that any of this information could become publicly available in our lifetimes?

Beckner: There is some information that is not yet public, but nothing that would be considered huge or definitive. Personally, I would like to see the grand jury transcripts and evidence released to the public so that all the information could be known. Not sure that will happen in my lifetime.

See the discussion, minus Beckner's comments, on Reddit's website.



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