Claims that the Ramseys have been exonerated

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Over the years, representatives of the Ramseys have made public statements at various times that they have been "cleared" or "exonerated" in the case. The Boulder Police Department has never cleared the Ramseys and still considers them suspects.

Early Claims[edit]

In January 1997, the Ramseys' public relations rep Pat Korten claimed that "the Ramseys "are not suspects", though he went on to admit: "I suppose you have to say the police consider them possible suspects".

Claims that the Grand Jury "Vindicated" Them[edit]

In 1999 District Attorney Alex Hunter announced that the Grand Jury had dispersed and "no charges had been filed".

The Ramseys' book The Death of Innocence was released immediately after the Grand Jury and marketed with the tagline on the back cover: "After thirteen months of deliberation, a Boulder Grand Jury refused to indict the Ramseys."

The climax of the book is Hunter's announcement that no charges had been filed:

"The battered justice system had creaked and shuddered, but it had worked! We had not been indicted! Patsy hugged me and we stood there in relief, staring at the television screen. People would have to finally see the jury's decision as our vindication. [...] After looking at the evidence—or lack of it—a jury of our peers had not indicted Patsy and me."

The Ramseys' lawyer and spokesman Lin Wood repeatedly told the public that the Grand Jury had "cleared" his clients. For instance, in 2002 he said, "I think that the system of criminal justice, as it pertains to John and Patsy Ramsey, worked as it's written. They put this case to a grand jury and the system worked. The grand jury said no."

Release of the Indictments[edit]

In 2013, the True Bills of the Grand Jury were released. They revealed that back in 1999 the Grand Jury had actually voted to charge both John and Patsy Ramsey with child abuse resulting in death and accessory to first-degree murder. The jury's foreman had signed the indictments, but District Attorney Alex Hunter had refused to proceed with the charges.

In March 2017 the Ramsey's attorney Lin Wood claimed that Burke Ramsey has been "cleared by a grand jury", despite the fact that the Grand Jury only considered John and Patsy,

The "Carnes case": Ramsey v. Wolf, Defamation case, 2003[edit]

A 2003 defamation ruling in favor of the Ramseys is frequently referred to by supporters of the Ramseys as an exoneration. Since it was by a judge, people claim it represents "their day in court".

"But Carnes' ruling was based only on the facts presented by the Ramseys and their lawyer, L. Lin Wood, and Wolf and his lawyer, Darnay Hoffman - and not on a comprehensive review of investigators' 40,000-plus pages of evidence. "The facts that were provided to the court were, in many cases, not consistent with the facts that were developed in the criminal investigation because the civil litigants understandably didn't have the resources available to them that the police department did," said a source close to the case who spoke on condition of anonymity."

Carnes' Clarification[edit]

In 2014 Judge Carnes clarified that

"My decision was based only on the civil record before me, which did not include the police investigative reports. The plaintiff [Chris Wolf] had made little to no effort to adduce any facts in support of his contentions and my Order did not profess to answer definitively the question of who had murdered the child."[1]

Mary Lacy's 2003 Statement[edit]

On April 7, 2003, District Attorney Mary Lacy issued a statement saying that a 2003 Defamation Case had convinced her that "the weight of the evidence is more consistent with a theory that an intruder murdered JonBenet than it is with a theory that Mrs. Ramsey did so."

"The Ramseys' Atlanta attorney, L. Lin Wood Jr., said that, as a practical matter, Keenan's statement exonerates the Ramseys and "effectively brings to an end this 6 1/2-year era of false accusations" against the couple." "I think it should be viewed as an exoneration of the Ramseys," said L. Lin Wood of Atlanta, where the parents now live. "It's a clear signal the investigation is not going to focus on John and Patsy Ramsey." "This means that the nightmare that John and Patsy Ramsey have lived with, of being falsely accused of the murder of their daughter, is finally over," Wood said. "And, from the lawyer's perspective, the days of anyone accusing my clients of murder are also over."

Police chief: "I am surprised that the district attorney chose to make public her personal beliefs about the case at this time," Beckner said. legal analyst Andrew Cohen said Keenan's statement shouldn't be seen as "any blanket future sort of promise from anyone."... "When the district attorney says, 'We don't think the Ramseys did it,' it doesn't mean forever and all time," Cohen said." April 11 2003 denver post editorial: "Keenan, we think, has permanently damaged, not to say destroyed, the expectation that she can be impartial in handling this case"

After revelations that the Carnes ruling was based entirely on "facts" presented by the Rameys' lawyers, Mary Lacy reversed her statement, clarifying on April 29, 2003: The Ramseyes woudl "still be looked at." "We're not excluding them," she says.

2004 CBS Report[edit]

In December 2004 the CBS 48 Hours Mystery program aired the claim that "JonBenet’s parents are no longer suspects." This was based entirely on statements made by the Ramseys' two paid private investigators John San Agustin and Ollie Gray. It also made mention of the "Amy" intruder case. An accompanying article, published December 16, 2004 was entitled "DNA Rules Out the Parents".[2]

The article strongly implies that the DA's office under Mary Lacy was no longer investigating the Ramseys at all (which was most likely true). However, Mary lacy did not "formally exonerate" the Ramseys until four years later (see below), and that exoneration itself was discarded immediately by Lacy's successor and the Boulder Police Department.

John Mark Karr Arrest[edit]

Patsy Ramsey's sister Pam claimed that John Mark Karr's confession was a victory for the family. "I don't feel like I need to stand here and say to the world, I told you so," said Pam, in a nationally-broadcast news interview, "... Today all will be laid to rest, because we will find the killer, bring him home and then they will stand under the arm of the law of justice."

John Ramsey, however, was less enthusiastic

Mary Lacy's 2008 "Exoneration Letter"[edit]

District Attorney Mary Lacy

Reversal by Subsequent District Attorneys[edit]

Mary Lacy's successor as District Attorney, Stan Garnett, told CNN:

“To come out and say that we definitely conclude these folks can be exonerated is an inaccurate portrayal of the evidence … It created an impression that the evidence in this case is much clearer than it is. The evidence is very compromised.”[3]

Michael Dougherty - "I have had nearly zero contact with the Ramsey case. It's in the possession of, and under investigation by, the Boulder Police Department."

Bill Wise: “I never would have done it. I’m not in the business of exonerating people until you have a conviction of somebody, and they don’t have a conviction.” Wise also noted that the "exoneration" was not "binding" - not even on other DAs. “When one DA exonerates, the next DA may say, ‘No dice,'”.[4]

Criticism by Boulder Police[edit]

Mark Beckner