Thursday, March 23, 2000

Today Show - Part 4


NBC News Transcripts, March 23, 2000

KATIE COURIC reporting:

In part four of our interview with the parents of JonBenet Ramsey, where are they today after three years under an umbrella of suspicion? John and Patsy Ramsey have been hounded by the press and investigated by a grand jury. Now they're trying to put their lives back together. I think the only entity that you all hate as much as the Boulder police is the press. Tell me about the lengths that people in my business went to to get at you.

Ms. PATSY RAMSEY: They stole our trash. They hid in trees and shrubbery.

Mr. JOHN RAMSEY: We've been followed to Europe.

COURIC: Someone came to your church, I understand, saying they wanted to...

Mr. RAMSEY: We--we apparently...

COURIC: ...convert to Christianity?

Mr. RAMSEY: We apparently filled the church every Sunday. It was largely the tabloid media is what we finally figured out.

Ms. RAMSEY: All of those writers must have gotten straight A's in creative writing is all I can figure, because they're very creative.

COURIC: In other words, much of what was printed about you was just completely and utterly fabricated?

Mr. RAMSEY: Utterly. All of it was false.

COURIC: You talk about the tabloids.

Mr. RAMSEY: So you only have a few of them, I see.

COURIC: You on the front page.

Ms. RAMSEY: Mm-hmm.

Mr. RAMSEY: Yes.

COURIC: (Reading) "JonBenet, Mom did it alone. She killed little beauty for wetting her bed."

Ms. RAMSEY: Mm-hmm.

COURIC: "JonBenet rape shocker." What was it like seeing these headlines week after week, or did you see them?

Mr. RAMSEY: You--you can't avoid them. They're in the supermarkets, they're in the drugstores. This was the same kind of magazine that--that, you know, a few years ago was publishing, you know, 'Two-headed alien born in Oklahoma.' And I used to look at them and think, 'Oh, I wonder--nah, probably not.' And now they've--they've focused on--on my family. And I can't help but think that most of the people that walk by these things look at that and say, 'Hm, I wonder.'

Ms. RAMSEY: Mm-hmm.

COURIC: I think they do.

Mr. RAMSEY: And I think they do, too.

Ms. RAMSEY: The media is so powerful. They can--can formulate public opinion in this country. They say, 'Looking for pornography.' They don't say, 'Didn't find any.' They say, 'Looking for previous sexual abuse.' They don't report, 'Never found any,' you know. All of it is so insinuating.

COURIC: You all write about so-called urban legends that have circulated, false information or false impressions that...

Ms. RAMSEY: Mm-hmm.

COURIC: Sort of added up to give the overall feeling that you...

Mr. RAMSEY: Mm-hmm.

COURIC: ...were guilty.

Ms. RAMSEY: Were guilty, right.

COURIC: For example, it could not have been an intruder because there were no footprints in the snow.

Mr. RAMSEY: The fact of the matter is, I've seen photos that were taken early that morning by the police. There was--there were patches of snow, but there were lots of clear space, particularly on the patio that is--is adjacent to the basement window.

COURIC: You left the house for a time that morning.

Mr. RAMSEY: I left the house for probably five seconds. I went out on the patio. I went around to the--we had another exterior garage door. I wanted to see if it was locked.

COURIC: That one January morning when cameras caught you all coming out of church, down the aisle with members of the congregation...

Mr. RAMSEY: Mm-hmm.

COURIC: ...who had gathered, that you had set the whole thing up, it was a publicity stunt.

Mr. RAMSEY: We were accused of that. The fact of the matter was that our minister at the service said, 'Look, this is what's going to happen. There's going to be a lot of cameras out there. But I'm going to change the rules. I want all of you who are supporting the Ramseys to line up along the sidewalk and show the world that we support them.' And everybody did. It was wonderful.

COURIC: You were unemotional...

Mr. RAMSEY: When?

COURIC: general. People interpreted your behavior as unemotional or somehow inappropriate or not proper in terms of how one should behave if one is grieving.

Mr. RAMSEY: Well, I've grieved for the loss of two children. I've grieved for the loss of my parents. If you want to see me grieve, I'll call you some--some evening at three in the morning when I've woken up and I've had this stark image of my daughter when I found her. You'll see me grieve.

COURIC: When we come back, the Ramseys talk of how they were prepared to be indicted. That's after this. ***

COURIC: Back now with more of our interview with John and Patsy Ramsey. They claim that from the beginning, the police jumped to conclusions about who killed their daughter, and the public was impatient. Following JonBenet's murder on December 26th, 1996, the Ramsey case dragged on and on. Nearly two years of police investigation and no arrests. In September of 1998, the Boulder district attorney's office submitted the case to a grand jury. After 13 months, an indictment seemed imminent. But this was the result. Unidentified Man: The Boulder grand jury has completed its work and will not return. No charges have been filed.

COURIC: No indictment against John and Patsy Ramsey. The news was a shock to everyone, including the Ramseys themselves. You all were so convinced that you were going to be indicted that you actually went to Boulder prepared to turn yourselves in to authorities.

Mr. JOHN RAMSEY: We were convinced that the system hadn't worked for three years, and why should we expect it to work now? We had no fear of a trial. We had no doubt about the outcome of a trial. None.

COURIC: Given you had no doubt, do you ever wish there had been a trial?

Mr. RAMSEY: We've talked about that often. We've said...

Ms. RAMSEY: There--there are some good--there are some benefits to that, because we would have been able to obtain all of the evidence. Every...

Mr. RAMSEY: We've had the worst so far. We've been--we have never been officially named as suspects by the Boulder police. We've--we've been...

Ms. RAMSEY: Under the umbrella...

Mr. RAMSEY: Under the umbrella of suspicion.

Ms. RAMSEY: ...of suspicion.

Mr. RAMSEY: But yet we've been tried, convicted, and probably in some people's minds, executed in the public court.

Ms. RAMSEY: Without the benefit of the trial.

COURIC: Some people believe that because the grand jury failed to indict you, it doesn't mean that they exonerated you, that it could have been simply there was not enough evidence to indict, but that doesn't mean you are innocent.

Mr. RAMSEY: You know how much evidence it takes to indict on probable cause at a grand jury? It's about that much. And it takes about that much to convict.

COURIC: Following the grand jury's conclusion, Colorado Governor Bill Owens spoke pointedly about the, quote, "killers" of JonBenet Ramsey. Governor BILL OWENS: The killers in this case made some very serious mistakes. But they're also very smart. They have stonewalled effectively, and they've covered their tracks well.

COURIC: The Ramseys say it was clear he was talking about them.

Mr. RAMSEY: It was horribly disappointing. Because what he needed to say, in our minds, was, 'I'm going to find the killer of this child. We're going to put investigators on this case that have homicide experience. We're going to continue with resources until we find the killer.'

COURIC: You all must have been furious, more than just disappointed.

Ms. RAMSEY: We were amazed.

Mr. RAMSEY: It was shocking.

Ms. RAMSEY: I mean, isn't he stepping on the Constitution? Or am I reading things wrong?

COURIC: After the grand jury's action, a poll showed that 49 percent of the country still thought one of you was involved in your daughter's murder.

Mr. RAMSEY: I'm surprised it wasn't 100 percent. They've been told that for three years.

COURIC: It's amazing when you hear about polls or public opinion, that in general, actually, completely, you've been treated with a great deal of--of respect and kindness by strangers.

Mr. RAMSEY: We've been overwhelmed by the goodness that's come forward to us, strangers that have come up to us and--we had two people on the way up for this interview that stopped us in the airport. 'Aren't you JonBenet's parents?' I'm always proud to say, 'Yes, I am.' And they said, 'Well, I just want you to know, I'm--I'm sorry for what's happened to you.'

COURIC: And yet the Ramseys' relationship with one of their closest friends came to an odd and troubling end. Let me ask you about your close friend Fleet White, because that's one of these strange sort of areas in this case. You spent Christmas day together. He was with you when you found JonBenet's body. And yet, just a week later, it was reported that he got angry at you for hiring lawyers and not cooperating more with the police, and you haven't spoken since. And, in fact, he's twice asked the governor's office to appoint a--a special prosecutor to further investigate you. So a man who used to be your best friend is behaving this way. What gives?

Mr. RAMSEY: The best that I can figure, and we know this has happened to other people who've told us this, the police will go to our friends and say, 'Katie, the Ramseys think you had something to do with the death of their daughter. Would you talk to us?' I believe that they did that to Fleet White.

COURIC: It sounds at face value that he thinks you were involved.

Ms. RAMSEY: I don't know--we...

Mr. RAMSEY: I can't...

Ms. RAMSEY: We can't explain it.

Mr. RAMSEY: I can't accept that.

COURIC: Do you think he could have been involved in this at all?

Mr. RAMSEY: No, I don't.

Ms. RAMSEY: I don't believe that.

Mr. RAMSEY: They had a nice family. We spent lots of time together, our families did.

COURIC: Today the Ramseys are trying to rebuild their own family life in Atlanta, the hometown they returned to in the spring of 1997. John's eldest son, John Andrew, was dropped as a suspect in the case when he proved he'd been away the night JonBenet was killed. Now he's finishing up a college history degree. His sister Melinda lives in Virginia and is expecting a baby. The Boulder district attorney put a stop to tabloid rumors by officially clearing Burke Ramsey as a suspect last May. Today, Burke is what his parents call a typical 13-year-old. How is Burke doing through all this?

Ms. RAMSEY: What we worry about with Burke is down the road. You know, you just don't know what kind of repercussions he may suffer from this long-term.

COURIC: Has he gotten professional help? Have you all gotten professional help to deal with this?

Ms. RAMSEY: Oh, yes. Absolutely.

COURIC: What other residual effects have you all experienced from this ordeal?

Ms. RAMSEY: It--it was very painful to look at houses with a number of bedrooms, because it brought home so painfully the fact that we needed fewer bedrooms now since we no longer had two children.

COURIC: They're remodeling the house they eventually bought and making sure it provides the sense of security they say their Boulder home failed to give.

Ms. RAMSEY: The whole upstairs hallway's about six feet by eight feet. It's nice because it's small and you know where everything is. There are no hiding places. I didn't want any more doors or windows than we absolutely had to have. And all the ones that we do have will be fixed so they can't come open.

COURIC: Do you all have nightmares?

Mr. RAMSEY: Occasionally. Less now than I did.

COURIC: How are you all doing financially? John, you write about being fired by General Electric, NBC's parent company, when your company was sold to GE.

Mr. RAMSEY: Mm-hmm.

COURIC: According to GE, the company has a policy of not commenting on personnel matters. Are you working at all? Are you doing consulting work?

Mr. RAMSEY: No, no. This is a--a pretty serious cloud over my head. I mean--I mean, it's difficult to--to expect people that--who don't know me in a business environment to...

COURIC: To name you as employee of the month?

Mr. RAMSEY: Yeah, that's right.

COURIC: Are you hoping to make money from this book?

Mr. RAMSEY: The book--any of the profits from the book will go to the foundation that we set up to honor JonBenet.

COURIC: What is that foundation, and what--what does it do?

Mr. RAMSEY: We want the foundation to focus on protecting America's children against predators. I would like the murder of a child to be treated in this country as a federal offense. But there's been over a thousand children murdered in their homes since JonBenet was murdered, yet we don't know about it. We should, as a country, respond to that the best that we can. We don't today.

COURIC: Tomorrow, as we conclude our interviews with the Ramseys, who they think killed their daughter. We'll be right back.

Thursday, March 24, 2000 - Today Show - Part 5