No one will ever be convicted of Jon Benet Ramsey's murder, says lead detective as he admits cops made a string of 'big mistakes'
- Mark Beckner, the former chief of the Boulder Police Department, took part in an 'Ask Me Anything' session on Reddit on Saturday
- He has since said he didn't know he was speaking on a public forum but had tried to be honest; the current police chief has not taken issue with it
- Beckner, 59, joined the Ramsey case nine months after she was found killed in her parents' basement alongside a ransom note in 1996
- He said the case was mishandled because of a lack of staff over Christmas; he added that the parents should have been interviewed immediately
- He also described the peculiarities of the case, such as how the murder was staged as a kidnapping, and how the DA made their job even harder
The former Colorado police chief who led the investigation into the murder of six-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey has admitted that officers botched the initial handling of the crime scene.
Mark Beckner, former chief of the Boulder Police Department, gave his most extensive comments on the case to date in an 'Ask Me Anything' session on Reddit on Saturday. But he has since said that he had no idea he was speaking on a public forum, and that he regretted his 'naivete'.
'I talked to the organizer, and my impression was that this was a members-only type group that talked about unsolved mysteries all around the world,' Beckner, 59, told the Daily Camera.
Ramsey was found dead in the basement of her family's home on December 26, 1996, hours after her mother, Patsy Ramsey, called 911 to say her daughter was missing and a ransom note demanding $118,000 had been found.
Speaking out: Mark Beckner, former chief of the Boulder Police Department, gave his most extensive comments on the JonBenet Ramsey case to date in an 'Ask Me Anything' session on Reddit on Saturday
Although no one has ever been charged, suspicion has long fallen on her parents, Patsy and John, but there was not enough evidence to bring charges against them and they were ultimately cleared.
Please note: the Grand Jury indicted them on "death by child abuse", but the DA Alex Hunter refused to sign the indictment.
On the Reddit forum, Beckner, who joined the investigation nine months after JonBenet's death, said on the day JonBenet's body was found, police should have separated the couple to get full statements from them.
The case was initially mishandled due to a 'perfect storm type scenario', he wrote.
'It was the Christmas holiday and we were short staffed, we faced a situation as I said earlier that no one in the country had ever seen before or since, and there was confusion at the scene as people were arriving before we had enough personnel on the scene,' he wrote online.
'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.'
Investigation: Beckner, pictured in December 1997, joined the investigation into JonBenet Ramsey's murder nine months after the little girl, pictured right, was found murdered in her family's basement in 1996
Questions: Beckner said he wishes police had interviewed John and Patsy Ramsey, pictured in May 1997, immediately after the body was found. He said officers found it bizarre that the couple was barely speaking
REDDIT ASKS HIM ANYTHING: POLICE CHIEF REFLECTS ON CASE
On the botched case: 'It was the Christmas holiday and we were short staffed, we faced a situation as I said earlier that no one in the country had ever seen before or since, and there was confusion at the scene as people were arriving before we had enough personnel on the scene.'
On the Ramseys: 'We also should have separated John and Patsy and gotten full statements from them that day. Letting them go was a big mistake... The officers also noticed the how distant John and Patsy seemed to be toward each other.'
On her brother, Burke: 'After a short initial interview that day... Burke was only interviewed one more time and that was by a social services worker. We of course had many other questions we wanted to ask him as the investigation wore on, but were never given an opportunity to interview him again.'
On a possible intruder: 'Most investigators do not believe there was a legitimate point of entry. It is unknown how an intruder may have gotten in.'
On a motive: 'Neither the PD or the FBI believe this was ever a kidnapping. It was a murder that someone tried to stage as a kidnapping.'
On prior sexual abuse: 'Evidence was found that would indicate she was sexually assaulted some time prior to the day of her death.'
On the singularity of the case: 'The FBI told us they'd never seen a 2.5 page ransom note... Ours was and to my knowledge still is the only case in history where a body was found in the same house as a ransom note demanding money.'
On who he thinks is responsible: 'I have avoided saying who I believe is responsible and let the facts speak for themselves. There are several viable theories.'
For the full Reddit thread, see here.
No one has ever been prosecuted in the case, and Ramsey said he doubt anyone ever would be.
'[I] do not believe anyone will ever be convicted in the Ramsey case,' he told Reddit users.
Court documents released in 2013 showed that a grand jury recommended indictments against the Ramseys, contrary to the long-held perception that the secret panel ended their work in 1999 without deciding to charge anyone.
The documents revealed that the parents had been indicted for felony child abuse resulting in death and accessory to the crimes of first-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death - but that then-District Attorney Alex Hunter had refused to sign the indictments.
At the time, Hunter didn't mention an indictment, saying only that there wasn't enough evidence to warrant charges against the Ramseys, who had long maintained their innocence.
On the forum, Beckner touched upon the trouble his department had experienced with the Boulder District Attorney's office under Hunter.
'DA involvement in this case was inappropriate,' he said. 'They interfered in the investigation by being roadblocks to getting things done.'
Patsy passed away from cancer in 2006, and two years later, former District Attorney Mary Lacy cleared the Ramseys of any role in their daughter's death, based on DNA evidence that pointed to the involvement of a third party.
Beckner would not say who he believed might be responsible for the killing - 'there are several viable theories' - but he did say that investigators did not believe there was a 'legitimate point of entry' for an intruder to get into the house that night.
He said that the girl was hit hard across the head and then, after it was clear that she had not died, she was strangled between 45 minutes and two hours later, based on her brain swelling.
'The rest of the scene we believe was staged, including the vaginal trauma, to make it look like a kidnapping/assault gone bad,' he said.
No role? The Ramseys, pictured in 2000, were cleared in 2008 of any role in her death based on DNA evidence that pointed to another person. It later emerged that a grand jury had wanted to indict them
Red herring: In 2006, the DA ordered the arrest of John Mark Karr, who appeared to have incriminated himself in the case, but he was promptly cleared by the police department. Beckner called it 'embarrassing'
He added that they came across evidence that would indicate the girl had suffered prior sexual abuse.
After an apparent sexual abuse the night of the murder, the killer then dressed her - which caused one Redditor to note: 'I guess there wasn't a time problem for the killer'.
Beckner added: 'The killer also took the time to find a pad and sharpie pen, write a 2.5 page ransom note, fashion a garrote and choke her with it, then wrap her in a blanket with one of her favorite nightgowns and place her in a storage room in the basement. He/she/they then neatly put the pad and pen away and escaped without leaving much evidence.'
He added that the FBI told the police they had never known of a 2.5-page note and had never had a case where the body was found in the same place as the ransom note.
When police turned up at the home, they found Mrs Ramsey's tone with them 'very strange'.
'The officers also noticed the how distant John and Patsy seemed to be toward each other,' he said.
Beckner, who was named police chief of Boulder in 1998 before retiring in April last year, is now teaching several law enforcement classes online through Norwich University in Vermont, and said he would consider writing an autobiography about his career.
Questions: Beckner said the girl was knocked across the head and then strangled inside the family's Boulder home (pictured) before a ransom note was written - but that investigators believed an intruder was unlikely
Despite his misgivings about speaking out on Reddit, he said he believed he had spoken honestly and fairly to readers, the Daily Camera reported.
'I think the only thing I would emphasize is that the unknown DNA (from JonBenet's clothing) is very important,' he told the newspaper. 'And I'm not involved any more, but that has got to be the focus of the investigation. In my opinion, at this point, that's your suspect.'
Current Boulder police Chief Greg Testa told the Daily Camera that he did not know Beckner was going to discuss the case online.
'I learned about it by seeing it posted online,' Testa said. 'I didn't read it line for line, but Mark understands the nature of that investigation, and certainly wouldn't do anything to compromise it.'
He added that the investigation remains open and whenever they receive new tips in the case, they are investigated.