But after almost 28 months, the murder remains a mystery as authorities filter through heaps of physical evidence. CBS News Correspondent Bernard Goldberg takes an inside look at the investigation for 48 Hours.
Greg McCrary, a former FBI psychological profiler trained in criminal behavior, thinks that JonBenet's parents, John and Patsy, were likely involved in the crime. "Parents are involved quite often in homicides," says McCrary. "The probability of an outsider doing this is extremely remote. I think someone in the family or very, very close to the family committed this crime."
"Whoever took this child covered the child, apparently spent time wrapping the child, apparently spent time wiping down the body in the house, took time to get a pad and pen from the house to write a note," McCrary says. "Stranger intruders, when they come in to abduct a child, they're in, they're out."
Newsweek writer Sherry Keen Osborn disagrees. She believes the parents are innocent. "For the first several months, all of us thought it was the parents," Osborn says.
"We spent a week interviewing them," she remembers."You can tell after spending time with people if you're being lied to. If I had to say right now, I would say that it's not the parents. Therefore, that only leaves an intruder."
She believes that intruder would fit the profile of a sadistic pedophile. "The sort of guy that gets his jollies out of high risks, who wanders around in the house, who goes through drawers, who fingers panties, who almost haunts people," says Osborn. "The fact that her body was found and she was killed in a room that was the farthest, lowest, deepest, darkest place in the house is part of that classic pedophile profile."
McCrary, though, feels that the Ramseys themselves have acted suspiciously. "I think John and Patsy Ramsey have created a lot of speculation about their involvement through their own behavior," says McCrary.
For example, police thought they were unhelpful, even evasive. "The common behavior of victim parents is that not only will they talk to police, you can't get them out of your hair," says McCrary.
But the Ramseys didn't grant police an official interview until months after the murder, after they hired separate lawyers, supposedly on the advice of a family friend.
"Separate attorneys to me almost speaks of a conflict of interest," McCrary continues. "In other words, why couldn't one attorney represent both of them if their interests were the same?"
And then there was the ransom note.
"This is staging. The offender wants us to believthat some stranger came in here and tried to abduct the child for ransom," says McCrary. "An offender stages a crime scene for only one reason--without the staging, they're going to be the immediate logical suspect."
Initially, the Ramseys were not treated as suspects. Thinking the case was a kidnapping, the Boulder police treated them as victims. That was only the first of what critics say were several serious police mistakes, among them the fact that the couple were interviewed together, despite policy that calls for separation.
Police also allowed the crime scene to be contaminated. They allowed friends, who were called by the Ramseys, to wander through the house. One, trying to tidy up the house, actually started cleaning the kitchen.
When an initial search of the house came up empty, the lead detective asked John Ramsey and a friend of his to keep looking on their own. This decision allowed for the contamination of the very room where JonBenet's body would later be found.
"That's a police function," says McCrary. "They should have searched the house thoroughly from top to bottom."
At 1:05 that afternoon, John Ramsey found his daughter's body in the basement, wrapped in a blanket, her skull fractured. There was duct tape over her mouth, reportedly containing fibers consistent with the material in Patsy Ramsey's clothing. There was a cord around JonBenet's neck. There was a boot print near her body and a palm print on a door nearby. Neither has ever been identified. But there was also DNA under her fingernails and in her underwear that, to this day, police cannot match with anyone close to JonBenet.
"The DNA under her fingernails and on her underwear matched," says Osborn. "They belong to the same person. They don't belong to a member of her family or any of their friends, anybody that they've been able to identify yet. An intruder easily could have gotten into the house."
But what about the fact that there were no signs of forced entry? It turns out that there would have been no need, because that night, there was one door unlocked, at least six windows were open and the house's alarm wasn't even on.
Greg McCrary thinks it's interesting, but it doesn't prove an intruder killed JonBenet.
"What we have to do is go back to basics," says McCrary. "And that is we've got a child killed in the house. Staging the writing of the note. These are significant issues. We've got to assign weight in any crime scene. We'll never be able to thoroughly explain everything."
The controversy over the murder has even affected the two major law enforcement agencies involved in the case: the Boulder police and the district attorney's office. The debate continues, and the DA's office is calling the police a bunch of keystone cops.
It has become a very public feud.
"It was about the police going one direction, which was trying to prove the parents guilty," says Osbon. "The DA's office saying look, if I'm going to trial, I have to eliminate all these other possibilities as well."
Which brings us to Henry Lee, who was brought into the case by Boulder DA Alex Hunter.
Lee has worked on 6,000 murder cases, including the O.J. Simpson case, and has been described as a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Charlie Chan, a description he embraces.
"We need Charlie Chan's logic, we need Sherlock Holmes' intuition," says Lee. "We need good crime scene. We need physical evidence. We need good detective work."
It's been more than two years since JonBenet Ramsey was murdered, and there is one troubling question that becomes more and more unsettling with each passing day. Will this case ever be solved?
"I don't know," Osborn admits. "I know that there is a feeling that there is not a case that can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt."
"To prove in court beyond a reasonable doubt that someone, anyone, killed this child is going to be difficult," says McCrary.
"If crime scene not intact, doesn't matter what you do, you cannot decontaminate it," says Lee. "Unless we know the past, it's very difficult to know what the future's going to be."
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