SHOW: ABC PRIMETIME LIVE (10:00 pm ET)
SEPTEMBER 10, 1997
Transcript # 97091003-j08 T
ABC PRIMETIME LIVE, SEPTEMBER 10, 1997
HEADLINE: THE MYSTERY OF JONBENET RAMSEY
BYLINE: DIANE SAWYER, DIANE SAWYER, SAM DONALDSON
HIGHLIGHT: RAMSEY FAMILY FRIEND MICHAEL BYNUM SPEAKS OUT
ANNOUNCER: PrimeTime -- now from New York, Diane Sawyer.
DIANE SAWYER, ABC News: It is the case that has had us all trying to puzzle out the truth. A magical six-year-old girl found murdered the day after Christmas, 1996. By instinct and experience, a lot of us started to suspect the parents or people close to the family. In this case, those suspicions solidified by leaks from unnamed sources. So PrimeTime decided to see if we could establish on the record some facts about the case. The district attorney in Boulder, Colorado, would not comment publicly to us, and the police would not return our phone calls. However, the Ramseys, for the first time, allowed a camera into their home and provided two people to address questions like this. Before the murder, was there any medical evidence of sexual abuse? And why would John and Patsy Ramsey rush to hire lawyers and refuse to talk to police if they were innocent? Here are their answers.
BEAUTY PAGEANT ANNOUNCER: It's the Ziegfeld Follies. The Ziegfeld Follies! Number 16, JonBenet!
DIANE SAWYER: (voice-over) Week after week, we have studied these pageant videos looking for clues. All these videos from one night in the life of a six-year-old girl who at home looked like this. And through all these months, we have also studied her parents, wondering, did they really act like innocent people? Why would innocent people rush to get a lawyer and refuse to talk to police? This is Mike Bynum, a former prosecutor and close friend of the Ramseys. Since the murder, he has been by their side and is now speaking for the first time.
MICHAEL BYNUM, Ramsey Family Friend: John and Patsy Ramsey are two very, very hurt people, obviously, based on what's happened to them. But in terms of the kind of people they are, they are caring, considerate, kind and very, very, very decent people.
DIANE SAWYER: (on camera) Do you think the Ramseys are capable of murder?
MICHAEL BYNUM: The Ramseys, in my opinion, based on everything I know, are absolutely incapable of murder and incapable of harming that child.
DIANE SAWYER: You're saying there has never, for a moment, been a flicker of even doubt in your mind?
MICHAEL BYNUM: In my mind, that is absolutely correct.
DIANE SAWYER: Because I was wondering if you ever asked them directly, "Did you do it?"
MICHAEL BYNUM: I am not going to get into specific discussions, but let me tell you, no, I never asked that question. I would never ask that question. My faith, my belief and what I've told you is unchanged.
DIANE SAWYER: December 26 -- how did you hear that something had happened?
MICHAEL BYNUM: I had been snowshoeing with my family and friends, and we were...
DIANE SAWYER: (voice-over) When Bynum, who had lost an infant grandchild of his own, learned that JonBenet had been murdered, he rushed to a friend's house, where the Ramseys and their nine-year-old son Burke (ph) had gone to stay.
(on camera) Can you tell me about what you saw when you walked in that door?
MICHAEL BYNUM: I think I can. John and Patsy were there with family and friends, their minister. And just after I got there, everyone was -- sorry --was kneeling in the living room and praying together. And when they got through, I went up and hugged John and -- and then I went over to Patsy. She was sitting on the couch. And I had to help her up and -- and give her a hug. So that was what I found when I got there. Everyone was devastated. It was difficult.
DIANE SAWYER: (voice-over) And there is someone else who was there that night who says Patsy Ramsey had collapsed.
(From taped telephone conversation)
Dr. FRANCESCO (PH) BEUF, JonBenet's Pediatrician: She was just lying on the floor.
DIANE SAWYER: (voice-over) His name is Dr. Francesco Beuf. He was JonBenet's pediatrician. He talked to me by phone about whether Mrs. Ramsey's grief was real.
(From taped telephone conversation)
Dr. FRANCESCO BEUF: Oh, for God's sake, she was as devastated as anyone could be by a terrible loss like that. They called me to provide some tranquilizers for her. She was absolutely shattered by this.
DIANE SAWYER: And Mr. Ramsey?
Dr. FRANCESCO BEUF: He looked absolutely devastated. To me, they were the most appropriate reactions in the world. God knows, I wouldn't know how I'd react if one of my children had been murdered, particularly in such horrible circumstances. He paced and paced and paced. He and I went out for a walk for a while that night. It's the wreckage of two human beings.
DIANE SAWYER: (voice-over) Even so, we were told the Ramseys volunteered to give hair, fingerprint, blood samples. And John Ramsey offered to be formally interviewed by the police if he could do it in the house near his family. Bynum says it didn't happen only because police wanted both parents, and Dr. Beuf said Patsy Ramsey wasn't able to talk.
(From taped telephone conversation)
Dr. FRANCESCO BEUF: I had advised that it was not good to have Patsy there because she was under heavy sedation and would not have been able to function. And then the story came out that the Ramseys had refused to be interviewed by the police. That is just flat wrong. I sat there.
DIANE SAWYER: (on camera) Why did they get a lawyer?
MICHAEL BYNUM: I went, as their friend, to help. And I felt that they should have legal advice -- nothing more, nothing less.
DIANE SAWYER: So you're the reason they got a lawyer?
MICHAEL BYNUM: I'm the one.
DIANE SAWYER: It did not occur to them first?
MICHAEL BYNUM: They certainly never made any mention of it to me. DIANE SAWYER: I'm trying to imagine, if I am in the middle of this agony and my friend says to me, "You better get a lawyer " I think I'd go, "What? What?"
MICHAEL BYNUM: Well...
DIANE SAWYER: This horrible thing has happened to my child. There's a note here. I should get a lawyer?
MICHAEL BYNUM: Well, first of all, that was not the words that I used. I told John there were some legal issues that I thought needed to be taken care of. And John just looked at me and said, "Do whatever you think needs to be done," and he and Burke -- he went into a room to talk with Burke and so I did.
DIANE SAWYER: What made you think there were legal issues?
MICHAEL BYNUM: I was a prosecutor. I know how this works. I know where the police attention's going to go, right from the get go.
DIANE SAWYER: (voice-over) And he says that's exactly what happened. By Saturday, two days after the murder that the police were openly hostile. An assistant DA gave him some news.
MICHAEL BYNUM: He said the police are refusing to release JonBenet's body for burial unless John and Patsy give them interviews. I have never heard of anything like that. I said to the DA, "I don't know whether or not this is illegal, but I'm sure it's immoral and unethical." I just was not willing to participate and facilitate or do anything other than to say "no." Not only no, but hell, no, you're not getting an interview. And I did say that.
DIANE SAWYER: Did they authorize you to say that?
MICHAEL BYNUM: John and Patsy? No. Absolutely not. They weren't in the room. They didn't know what was going on. And I wasn't going to bring them in on it. I did it.
DIANE SAWYER: (voice-over) In the end, the body was released. The funeral was in Atlanta. Bynum insists the Ramseys still didn't know what he had told police when they suddenly accepted an invitation to go on CNN.
PATSY RAMSEY (From CNN Tape): If anyone knows anything, please, please help us.
DIANE SAWYER: (on camera) Was it a mistake?
MICHAEL BYNUM: Yes and no. At this point in time, with everything that's happened to them, it's pretty difficult for them to do anything that isn't going to be criticized. If they do something, it's criticized that they did. If they don't, it's criticized that they don't.
DIANE SAWYER: But of all the things that solidified suspicions against the Ramseys, probably the biggest was that four-month delay in granting police a formal interview. Bynum says the Ramseys wanted to talk, but their attorneys insisted that a member of the DA's office be present. Why? He says because police were so hostile and the DA makes the final decision whether the prosecute. He insists that the big holdup was that police waited so long to let the DA's office in.
MICHAEL BYNUM: The primary issue preventing an interview for all that time, despite everything people were told in the media, was the issue of the presence of the DA in there.
DIANE SAWYER: What about this assumption on people's part that if it had been them and their child and they were innocent, they would have said, "I don't care what you say, attorneys, I am going down -- I'm going to -- I'm not going to just give an interview. I'm going to camp out down there to make sure they know everything I know, and that they're on the trail of who did this. Nothing is going to stop me."
MICHAEL BYNUM: I think there's nothing wrong with that approach and that idea. But I want to tell you, for anyone in the circumstance that John and Patsy Ramsey were in, you go ahead and do that and pick up the pieces later because you're going to be shredded. And I know that there are good police. I know there are good police in Boulder, Colorado, but I've also seen it from the prosecution side. I've seen it from the defense side if a focus occurs what that means. And it means they're coming, and you better get ready.
DIANE SAWYER: Innocent or not?
MICHAEL BYNUM: Absolutely. Absolutely.
DIANE SAWYER: Polygraphs -- have they taken a lie detector?
MICHAEL BYNUM: Not to my knowledge.
DIANE SAWYER: Should they? Will they?
MICHAEL BYNUM: Not if I ever have anything to say about it.
DIANE SAWYER: Why?
MICHAEL BYNUM: Oh, that's -- that's ouija board science, number one. And I will also tell you, to my knowledge, that request has not been made of John and Patsy.
DIANE SAWYER: (voice-over) So what's next? Can a murderer ever be found, since many observers think police let people contaminate the evidence that first day. Eight months later, the Ramsey house is empty. The only reminder that children once lived here, a swingset in the backyard. JonBenet Ramsey is a constant presence on TV, in these photos and that autopsy report, which will certainly be debated for years. Death, it says, from strangulation and a blow to the head. An abrasion on her hymen, which was otherwise intact, some vaginal area blood, some bruising. Some experts believe that sexual assault was staged to confuse police about the motive. Others have speculated something more.
(on camera) As you know, there are people in this country who simply believe that John Ramsey sexually abused his daughter.
MICHAEL BYNUM: This family has been investigated. They have been loving, caring parents. All of the medical records, all of the school records, anyone who's ever been around the family has confirmed it. There is no indication. There is no evidence.
DIANE SAWYER: (voice-over) But what about those reports that JonBenet's pediatrician, Dr. Beuf, saw JonBenet 30 times in three years?
(From taped telephone conversation)
Dr. FRANCESCO BEUF: Before your call, I sat down with her chart and counted. It was 27 times.
DIANE SAWYER: (voice-over) This is the first time Dr. Beuf has gone over his records publicly.
(From taped telephone conversation) And is that unusual to see a child that many times?
Dr. FRANCESCO BEUF: Not with the kinds of problems which this child had. The majority of them were for sinus infections and for colds.
DIANE SAWYER: And by majority you mean?
Dr. FRANCESCO BEUF: Probably 20 of the lot. I counted three in which she'd complained of some pain in urination. And the rest of them were cold, strep throats, sinus infections.
DIANE SAWYER: (voice-over) So many he said, there was some concern about asthma.
(From taped telephone conversation) How many times did you give her a vaginal examination?
Dr. FRANCESCO BEUF: Well, it was five or six times in that three-year period.
DIANE SAWYER: (voice-over) We asked him to specifically review all notes that might pertain. He agreed, citing the frenzy of uninformed speculation. Be warned, these are a doctor's clinical notes about a young patient.
September 1993 -- a call about vaginal redness, possibly associated with recent diarrhea. April 1994 -- a visit about a problem perhaps related to the use of bubble bath, which can be an irritant.
October 1994 -- a routine physical. No problems noted, though some indication of occasional bedwetting. Dr. Beuf says 20 percent to 25 percent of children that age wet the bed.
March 1995 -- abdominal pain and fever. Tests and exam showed no problem.
August 1996 -- another routine physical with a vaginal exam. The doctor said everything checked out as normal. We asked what he made of this number of complaints?
(From taped telephone conversation) Would that be unusual?
Dr. FRANCESCO BEUF: For a child that age, certainly not. They don't wipe themselves very well after they urinate. And it's something which usually is curable by having them take plain water baths or learning to wipe better. But if you have four-year-old kids, you know how hard that is. The amount of vaginitis which I saw on the child was totally consistent with little girls her age.
DIANE SAWYER: If there had been an abrasion involving the hymen, you would have seen it?
Dr. FRANCESCO BEUF: Probably. I can't say absolutely for sure because you don't do a speculum exam on a child that young at least unless it's under anesthesia.
DIANE SAWYER: Did you see in any of these examinations any sign of possible sexual abuse?
Dr. FRANCESCO BEUF: No, and I certainly would have reported it to the social service people if I had. That's something that all of us in pediatrics are very acutely aware of.
DIANE SAWYER: (on camera) And some other notes. Dr. Beuf says he last saw JonBenet Ramsey in November 1996, and that was a checkup for a sinus infection. A couple of other things. Dr. Beuf says he has turned in people he has suspected of physical and sexual abuse in his career, and that he not only looks for physical evidence, but personality changes in the children involved. And he says he saw none of that with JonBenet Ramsey. And PrimeTime consulted other pediatric experts about JonBenet's records, and they agreed with Dr. Beuf's analysis that there was nothing unusual there for a girl her age. When we come back, we will take you to the Ramsey home.
ANNOUNCER: A PrimeTime exclusive. Our cameras take you on an eye- opening walk through the home where JonBenet Ramsey's body was found.
MICHAEL BYNUM: Straight ahead from this landing in the basement is actually the room where JonBenet's body was found.
v ANNOUNCER: A revealing look at the crime scene, when PrimeTime continues after this from our ABC stations.
ANNOUNCER: PrimeTime continues. Once again, Diane Sawyer.
DIANE SAWYER: So what is new this week in the case of JonBenet Ramsey? Well, yet another leak. This one citing a source close to the case saying that the piece of wood used in the strangulation came from one of Mrs. Ramsey's paint brushes. But a source in the DA's office told us they've heard nothing about such a discovery. At the same time, members of the Boulder police and DA's office have just returned from Quantico, Virginia, where they reviewed their evidence with FBI experts. And the Ramseys have continued their public campaign asking for clues in the case.
PATSY RAMSEY: I beg you to call us.
LARRY KING, Talk Show Host: With us on the phone, she has called in, is Patsy Ramsey.
DIANE SAWYER: (on camera) There's a real spin campaign going on here. This big publicity machine is roaring out for the Ramseys. Is that what's happening? Why now? Why all this now?
MICHAEL BYNUM: Well to the extent -- to the extent there's a spin machine and public pressure being brought, it is directed at getting information that will lead to discovery of the killer of JonBenet. That is the purpose.
DIANE SAWYER: One of the questions that's been raised is that this whole publicity, media blitz, of which we are presumably a part, is in anticipation of something serious coming out of Quantico.
MICHAEL BYNUM: That really doesn't make any sense. Whatever the police and the people at Quantico decide, it's going to happen as a decision that they make.
DIANE SAWYER: Whom do the Ramseys think killed their daughter? MICHAEL BYNUM: They don't know.
DIANE SAWYER: Do they have a suspicion? Do they have theories?
MICHAEL BYNUM: I guess it would be more appropriate to say leads that they have passed on, which they did some time ago, to the police and also to their investigators.
DIANE SAWYER: Are these real leads? Are they serious leads?
MICHAEL BYNUM: Oh, yes, very much so. We know absolutely that there's the evidence of an intruder. But that information, interestingly enough, hasn't been leaked.
DIANE SAWYER: Bynum believes most of the leaks are intended the hurt the Ramseys and said he would show us the house to address errors in published reports. He pointed out it's a house with a lot of entrances. He says the Ramseys didn't always turn on the alarm and lot of the locks are simple push buttons, not deadbolts. And though it's been called a mansion, the rooms are large, but not huge, many of them added on by the Ramseys. Bynum particularly wanted to point out a window in the basement because he said press reports have it wrong.
MICHAEL BYNUM: The basement window. People have told that there's no way to get in or out of there.
DIANE SAWYER: (voice-over) He said several months before the murder, John Ramsey broke a window here because he had locked himself out. One pane was still broken the night of the murder, though this is a substitute window. Police have the original.
MICHAEL BYNUM: As you can see, this window opens to an opening that is, as I showed you earlier, easy enough to get in and out of for a person at least my size -- 5'10", 175. So, and then the grate up above, I'll show that to you as well. That's -- that grate was also taken, and the new grate's been put up there, and I had that locked so it's no longer movable.
DIANE SAWYER: But it was a loose grate?
MICHAEL BYNUM: It was a loose grate, yes.
DIANE SAWYER: And to get up to the window?
MICHAEL BYNUM: You can either hoist yourself up or step on an object such as this suitcase. And one of this nature was down here.
DIANE SAWYER: And you think you could get out it without leaving any fabrics of your clothes or any skin?
MICHAEL BYNUM: Well, I don't know what you can or cannot do. I just know this is a rather easy means of access to the home, as are a number of the other locations that I have showed you.
DIANE SAWYER: (voice-over) And where was everyone sleeping that night?
(on camera) So this is where the bed was?
MICHAEL BYNUM: That's correct.
DIANE SAWYER: (voice-over) Patsy and John Ramsey's bed was there at the far end of their room, a converted attic. To get to their daughter's bedroom, they had to walk this way, then down the stairs to the second floor. Burke's bedroom is around the corner. JonBenet's, right here.
(on camera) And there's a terrace. I didn't know there was a terrace here.
MICHAEL BYNUM: The terrace is off of her bedroom. And then the door leading out onto the terrace.
DIANE SAWYER: (voice-over) This is that terrace from the outside. JonBenet's killer, whoever it was, presumably came into this bedroom, then took her across the small hall down the winding staircase where Patsy Ramsey would later say she had found the ransom note.
(on camera) This is the stairs down into the kitchen.
(voice-over) On the first floor, there are two options to reach the door to the basement -- straight through the entrance foyer or straight through the kitchen.
MICHAEL BYNUM: And then straight through the kitchen to this hallway, which is the entry to the basement.
DIANE SAWYER: Down these stairs?
MICHAEL BYNUM: Yep. Want to go down?
DIANE SAWYER: Yes.
MICHAEL BYNUM: OK. When you come down into the basement and turn to your right...
DIANE SAWYER: (voice-over) We have all imagined this place so many times. To the right, that room with the broken window pane and laundry rooms. And straight ahead?
MICHAEL BYNUM: Straight ahead from this landing is the basement is actually the room where JonBenet's body was found.
DIANE SAWYER: (voice-over) It is a windowless room of concrete where some household supplies and golf clubs were said to have been stored. There used to be a door on it, with a small latch at the top, but police took it as evidence. The room is not as hidden as some press reports suggest. Yet, still to find your way here.
(on camera) Given the layout of the house, then, doesn't it almost have to be someone who at least knew, that had a kind of map in their head of the house?
MICHAEL BYNUM: Well, I don't know that for sure. That's certainly a possibility. I don't think that that house is one that is too difficult to be described, at least in terms of getting in and around the house. DIANE SAWYER: (voice-over) Bynum says a lot of people who had worked for the Ramseys had keys. He says on a Christmas tour two years ago 2,000 people passed through the house. And there were also contractors and construction workers. But is there real evidence of an intruder?
(on camera) What is the evidence that there's an intruder? There's no fiber sample. There's no DNA. There's no evidence of forced entry.
MICHAEL BYNUM: Well, you know more about the evidence apparently than I do. I don't think it's known what there is or is not. I think there are things in terms of the actions of this individual in that house, the note that was left, that really has been very, very secret from the public.
DIANE SAWYER: Can you tell me anything more about what you mean by "actions of that person in the house?"
MICHAEL BYNUM: No, I cannot. No I will not. I suppose I can, but I won't.
DIANE SAWYER: (on camera) Now, last January, the DA's office said there remains a real possibility that the murder was committed by an intruder. We called this week to see if the DA would still say that on record. We received no response. And again, the police would not return our calls.
DIANE SAWYER: Two things have probably caused the most speculation about JonBenet Ramsey's mother, Patsy. First, the ransom note.
(voice-over) Reportedly John Ramsey's handwriting has been ruled out, while hers cannot be, though the Ramseys have contradicting experts of their own.
(on camera) The second is general unease about her role in sending a little girl into the beauty pageants -- nine in two years. JonBenet's pediatrician told us the mother and daughter relationship was extremely loving, but tabloids have been on a constant search for signs of maternal control and temper.
(voice-over) This was a pageant in 1996. A bruise noted on JonBenet's arm. A friend of the family's said a hamster cage had fallen on her.
(From taped telephone conversation) Did you see this bruise?
Dr. FRANCESCO BEUF: No, I didn't.
DIANE SAWYER: (voice-over) Once again, Dr. Francesco Beuf, JonBenet's pediatrician, who says in 27 visits over three years, the only injuries he saw were the usual childhood accidents. His notes from October 1994.
(From taped telephone conversation)
Dr. FRANCESCO BEUF: Has good appetite. Doesn't like much variety. Amount of TV she watches. Very cooperative behavior. Loves to draw. Scar on her check from being hit with a golf club. And if a parent had been involved in that, then we certainly would have jumped on the situation. I did not write down who had been the hitter.
DIANE SAWYER: (voice-over) We're told it was a play accident with brother Burke. In 1995, his notes record a serious fall at a grocery store. A year after that, a finger hurt. Beuf indicated child abuse was not even a remote suspicion.
BEAUTY PAGEANT ANNOUNCER: JonBenet Ramsey!
DIANE SAWYER: (voice-over) But what about the beauty pageant videos that, for so many, fueled distrust of the parents?
(on camera) Nothing about it troubles you?
MICHAEL BYNUM: No. It's -- it's -- I've raised four boys who've played football and basketball and baseball and probably spent more time and effort and devotion and everything else to that than JonBenet ever did to the beauty pageants.
DIANE SAWYER: Maybe this is the question. Is she sexualized in some way in these pictures, and could that have created some kind of lure for someone, a pedophile, someone to hurt her?
DIANE SAWYER: (voice-over) A local art exhibit after the murder bore the title "Daddy's Little Hooker." Bynum read us a letter that John Ramsey wrote to the student artist.
MICHAEL BYNUM: "Dear Paul, I am writing this letter to you deeply hurt by how you have portrayed by daughter, JonBenet. We, as a family, have lost one of the most precious things in our lives, and it is difficult to imagine that we will ever have joy in our lives again. What you have incorrectly portrayed is a very small part of JonBenet's life. It was an activity that she and her mother enjoyed doing together, and she was a very competitive spirit. There was much more to her life. She was very religious. Did very well in school. Loved to go to the beach, and all the other things a normal six-year-old normally enjoys. You are young, and I can forgive you for what you have done."
DIANE SAWYER: (voice-over) He said he hoped the young man would learn that others can be hurt by his actions.
MICHAEL BYNUM: "Sincerely yours, John B. Ramsey."
DIANE SAWYER: (on camera) You're a former prosecutor. Do you think this case will ever be solved?
MICHAEL BYNUM: I do think the case will be solved. I'm just hopeful that the people the people who want to pay attention to this and be fair will do just that.
DIANE SAWYER: (on camera) The Ramsey case continues. And of course, we asked the Ramseys for an interview and were told they will not be speaking about the details of the case at this time.
DIANE SAWYER: Don't forget Nightline later. I'm Diane Sawyer. Good night, Sam.