Burden of Proof - October 15, 1999
JonBenet Ramsey Case: How are John and Patsy Reacting?

Aired October 15, 1999 - 12:30 p.m. ET



ALEX HUNTER, BOULDER COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: We are American prosecutors who follow the evidence, not a theory, and we will continue to follow the evidence in this case as long as there is work to be done.

CHIEF MARK BECKNER, BOULDER POLICE DEPARTMENT: In the end, all the media attention doesn't matter, all the speculation doesn't matter, legal analysts who will find fault with the work we've done doesn't matter. What matters is finding justice for JonBenet.

PAM PAUGH, PATSY RAMSEY'S SISTER: I asked her point blank the question that so many of you in the media have asked me: was she happy. And her response to me was, Pam, someone has killed my child, I can never get her back, to this date we don't have a killer, nothing about this case makes me happy, so, no, I'm not happy.


GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CO-HOST: Today on BURDEN OF PROOF: The grand jury's work is done in Boulder, but the investigation of JonBenet Ramsey's death continues. For her parents, their lives go on under the notorious umbrella of suspicion.

ANNOUNCER: This is BURDEN OF PROOF with Greta Van Susteren and Roger Cossack.

VAN SUSTEREN: Hello, and welcome to BURDEN OF PROOF.

On Wednesday, Boulder District Attorney Alex Hunter announced the end of the grand jury investigation into JonBenet Ramsey's death. But questions about the crime and subsequent investigative work remain.

ROGER COSSACK, CO-HOST: The D.A.'s office and the Boulder Police Department had separate press conferences, Thursday, and the governor of Colorado says he'd like a fresh set of eyes viewing the case.


GOV. BILL OWENS, COLORADO: The fact remains that a little girl has been brutally murdered and her killer or killers remain at large. I believe that justice, therefore, demands that we evaluate every remaining legal option that might help us determine who murdered JonBenet Ramsey. One of these options might, and I emphasize "might," be for me, as governor, to appoint a special prosecutor, as is specifically provided for in Colorado law.


VAN SUSTEREN: Joining us today, here, in Washington is Linda McLean, a close friend of John and Patsy Ramsey. Linda is also the author of "JonBenet's Mother: The Tragedy and the Truth."

Also joining us is CNN's Valerie Voss, who also shares a friendship with the Ramsey family.

Linda, let me start with you. You've written a book about your friend, Patsy Ramsey, and the tragic death of her daughter. You know, in any investigation, there's always the personal side, what people go through. When was the last time you talked to Patsy, and what is your observation, personally, what she's going through these last few days?

LINDA MCLEAN, FRIEND OF PATSY RAMSEY: Well, I talked to her, actually, just a little while ago. She was on a flight back from Boulder to Atlanta. What they went through on Wednesday, if you can imagine, they were out there, they were prepared to testify at the last minute if they had to, they were prepared to turn themselves into, if they had to. That's the kind of people they are. So, here they were, waiting for an announcement that could have said, indict, try, no bail, convict, go to jail the rest of your life, and that was what they were waiting for. That announcement that we all waited for, they waited for in that kind of environment, and it's got to be horrible.

VAN SUSTEREN: Were they surprised, do you think, by the -- what happened the last couple of days when the prosecutors decided that there's insufficient evidence to file charges. Did that surprise them, do you think?

MCLEAN: I don't think it surprised Patsy, because she has always had this tremendous faith in God, and she said God will not let this happen to me that I would be convicted for something that I didn't do, and John is frustrated and angry that they haven't looked for the real killer, and so he's thinking, well, at least get out of stage one and get on to stage two, which is let's get somebody in here who can find out who did this.

COSSACK: Linda, there was a statement by the governor, we heard earlier, that the governor has said one of the options that the governor has is to perhaps name a special prosecutor to continue an investigation in this, almost with the implication that he didn't like the result that the grand jury came up with. How are the Ramseys responding to that?

MCLEAN: They would welcome anybody to get into this. They have wanted that all along, the FBI, other prosecutors. But more than prosecutors, we need investigators. We need people like Lou Smit who quit from the D.A.'s office and was gag ordered and couldn't say anything, who said there is a pile of evidence supporting that someone else did it, and I know the Ramseys didn't do it, and I'm quitting this investigation. Now, let's get him and Henry Lee or a pathologist to look at the evidence again, look at the new evidence that people have refused to look at all along and get somebody in there to find the killer. That's John's main, and Patsy's, too, what they want.

VAN SUSTEREN: How are they going to do that? What are they going to do to contribute?

MCLEAN: They have hired -- all along, they have had investigators. They've hired teams of investigators. When Steve Thomas came to talk to me in Parkersburg for about an hour and a half...

VAN SUSTEREN: Steve Thomas being one of the detectives who has resigned from the police force but had investigated this.

MCLEAN: Yes. He came, and then the Ramseys investigator came and spent four hours. I mean, they were doing just as much or more and have and will continue to do that. They have turned up things that are leads that they want somebody to listen to, but they don't have subpoena power, they don't have ways to get DNA tested or even searched for, so what John and Patsy want is OK, this part's done, now let's get somebody in there that can really take hold and do this.

COSSACK: Linda, early on, it appeared that the district attorney or at least the police focused in and made Patsy and John Ramsey under the umbrella of suspicion, and early on they did not want to talk to the police. Is that a decision you think they regret?

MCLEAN: Well, they did talk to the police. I think it's a mistake to say they didn't. They did talk to the police, they gave hair and blood samples. Their daughter was dead. And they will tell you that it was a lawyer friend of theirs who, as soon as he started seeing them focus on the Ramseys, made the suggestion to them that they hire attorneys and not speak. And you're an attorney, and this is what attorneys are supposed to do, give you good advice. They listened to them all along. I have heard John say occasionally, you know, I'm not sure if maybe I shouldn't have done more and had more gut feelings, but when your lawyer tells you to do something, you do it.

So, they've remained fairly quiet. They have done what they were asked to do. They would have testified, yesterday -- or Wednesday, to the grand jury had they been subpoenaed. So, they're willing.

VAN SUSTEREN: Linda, how do you -- I mean, one of the things -- I went back through all my records, recently, and I remember that there's been so much in the media saying that the Ramseys did not cooperate, but they gave hair and blood within a couple days, they went on television, they were talking about it, they met with the police in April and sat down separately with them. What has been the reaction to the Ramseys to all the criticism that they aren't cooperating?

MCLEAN: Well, for all of us, it's frustrating, because all -- not just the lack of cooperation but other things that has been in the media that aren't true...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, What's -- what does Patsy say about the media?

MCLEAN: She doesn't like what they're doing, but to tell you the truth, she doesn't watch much of it. She doesn't watch the television. She never reads the tabloids. She's surrounded by people who believe in her, and she believes in God. And so we probably hear it 10 times more than she ever does. But I was there a couple of weeks ago, and this lady was on television, Linda Arndt saying some, you know, things that I knew weren't true, and Patsy hadn't seen the show but I started talking about it, and she even -- she actually got physically sick that night. I mean, she just can't take that.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is Patsy -- I mean, like, how would you characterize her view of what we, including the legal analysts, what we've done in the past three years covering this story?

MCLEAN: A feeding frenzy. I mean, I guess that's the way to put it. I mean, if you could just put yourself in their place, and John Walsh said the other night, you know, what if they didn't do it. And they didn't. And if you could put yourself in their place, you'd realize how they feel. I mean, they're just inundated constantly with suspicion and innuendo, and when something comes out good, for example the book, it doesn't get much publicity.

VAN SUSTEREN: Valerie, you've had sort of another chance to get to know Patsy, maybe not as closely as Linda, but how do you know Patsy, and what was the extent of.

VALERIE VOSS, FRIEND OF PATSY RAMSEY: Well, Patsy and John and my husband and I belong to the same church. I met John and Patsy in a Bible study class just months after JonBenet's death. And what I saw were good, Christian parents who were being deprived of the opportunity to mourn their little girl because they were the focus of an investigation. And people were making some pretty outrageous allegations.

VAN SUSTEREN: What if they did it, though, Valerie. I mean, that's the, you know, that's the...

VOSS: Well, what if they did it? I don't know, and I took the attitude, as an employee of CNN in a bible study class with some people, that it wasn't my job to judge them. It was my job to support them through a very difficult, obviously-painful time in their life, and we didn't talk about that situation. We talked about the Bible and Bible verses and what they meant in life.

COSSACK: And Roger and I have tried to pound in the issue of presumption of innocence, since this is a legal show, which is sort of, you know, an important concept.

VOSS: Yes. That's great.

COSSACK: While we're pounding that in, let's take a break. Before the tragic end of JonBenet's life, the Ramsey family seemed to live an enviable life, filled with wealth, leisure and beauty pageants. But what was it really like in the Ramsey household? Find out, when we come back.



On this date in 1991, Clarence Thomas was confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice by a 52-48 Senate vote.




BOB GRANT, ADAMS COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: One stage of this case is completed, one other stage, that grand jury stage, and it means that another continues, begins with new renewed focus and vigor, if you will. The case now reverts back to the police, and back to the investigative prowess of the people that have been assigned and worked there hearts out since this grand jury process has begun.


COSSACK: This week, another chapter in the case of JonBenet Ramsey was written, as a grand jury ended its investigation of her murder. But before the book was written on this crime, the Ramseys were a lesser-known family.

Linda, I think one of the things that perhaps catapulted this case into everyone's attention was those pictures of JonBenet Ramsey as a young beauty pageant contestant. Explain to us what that was all about, and what her life was like during those contests?

MCLEAN: Well, that was a small part of her life. I don't know where the films came. I assume it was from some other parent who was videotaping their child also. It certainly didn't come from the Ramseys. It was a part of her life, just like little league might be a part of a boy's life. And if a father gets out there and says: Go, hit! That's OK, but the mothers take the daughters to do this -- and JonBenet loved it, by the way -- then suddenly they are being over- something. And I don't think that was -- she was a normal little girl. There was so much of her life that didn't involved the pageants and she loved what she did, she just enjoyed performing.

VAN SUSTEREN: Wasn't it also sort of a little bit a part of the family. I mean, this was not something that was new to JonBenet. Her mother and her aunt had also been -- I mean, this was...

MCLEAN: But they didn't start in the pageants until they were in high school.

VAN SUSTEREN: But it was a family activity, that's what I mean.


COSSACK: I mean, think the peculiarity of it that struck people was the fact that she was so young to be dressed so, not so young.

VAN SUSTEREN: But was she, Roger? I mean, that's the issue.

COSSACK: She was six years old, I think.

VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, but don't little boys, I mean, I have seen little boys wearing baseball uniforms and football uniforms...

MCLEAN: Wrestling uniforms.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are you sure that's so young? I mean, are sure that is so odd?

COSSACK: I'm not making a qualification as to what's odd and what is not odd. I am just saying that I don't think you can compare a baseball to uniform to those pictures we saw. Nor am I adding that up and saying I think it's -- I think it is a parent's concern, you know, a parent's decision.

MCLEAN: You are right. Let's say that maybe that was a little overboard for some people. What's the leap? Because she was a stage mother she killed her daughter? Why wouldn't she want her to go on and become Miss America. I mean, people can find things wrong, but you can't make the leap: I found this wrong therefore they killed her. And so you can search and look, but you are not going to ever find a reason ever.

VAN SUSTEREN: And adding into that is that her Aunt Pam and her mother Patsy were both in the Miss America contest years ago.

But let me shift to the issue of the intruder. Who do you think committed this murder, Linda? I mean, what's your theory?

MCLEAN: I have a theory and I would no more say a name on television than I liked it being John and Patsy for the same exact reason. As a matter of fact, I think someone, John thinks someone else, Pam thinks someone else. So, you know, it is not a consensus.

VAN SUSTEREN: What about Patsy?

MCLEAN: You know, one time I was on their back porch, and I said to her: Patsy, you know you know who this is. It has to be somebody you know. Why don't you think back over, maybe there were some clues.

And she said: No, I don't know them. It's not somebody we know.

I said: Well, of course, it is.

And she said: But if it was, what kind of mother would I be that I didn't notice the signs?

And I say: Hey, you don't have time to feel guilty. We got to get on with this.

But that's the problem is that, and I think it's -- anybody that loses a child you blame yourself. If I had heard the scream, if I had been up, if I had left the door open, if I had whatever, and she thinks: If I hadn't noticed a maniac among our group of friends or business people, then there is something wrong with me as a mother.

COSSACK: Linda, I want to ask you about the note that was written. From what we understand, that the handwriting people were able to eliminate John as being the writer of that note, and were not totally able to eliminate Patsy. They didn't say that she wrote it -- let me make it very clear -- but they said they couldn't say that she didn't write it. How did Patsy Ramsey respond and react to that?

MCLEAN: It's hard to explain Patsy. I mean, she is just such a loving, faithful person that, you know, she said: Well, you know, obviously they are either doing it for fame or they're wrong. I mean, she is so sure.

VOSS: And her theory is: I didn't write it, so how could they possibly conclude that I did. She believes that the truth will be known.

COSSACK: And they didn't conclude that they did. I want to make that very clear that no one concluded that she wrote that note.

VOSS: No, no.

MCLEAN: And she knows she didn't.

VAN SUSTEREN: Linda, one of the things that people have said is that the autopsy reveals that there may have been -- and I say may because I am not absolutely sure what the autopsy report means in this -- but some sexual abuse. What is the reaction to Patsy and John because there has been an awful lot said in the media about this. How are they reacting to that allegation their child may have been abused?

MCLEAN: It was very hard to hear that, but, again, they know it's not true. They have got doctor's reports from when she was a child that can show it is isn't true. The only people that are saying this are people in Pennsylvania who have never even seen the body. So they are so confident.

All they want to so is say: Look, let's not hash that, we've hashed it, let's get on and find the killer. And we have another mountain of proof over here that nobody has looked at that indicates somebody outside the family, not a stranger, an intruder doesn't mean stranger, it means somebody who came into the house and there is a limited number of people in my opinion that it could be. They only lived in Boulder five years. They spent summers in Michigan, Patsy had cancer for two years, they had some friends, they had some business acquaintances, and they has some other people. But there is a finite number of people that could have done this. There is a lot of evidence that they haven't looked at. And, you know, I'm not an investigator, but it seems to me logical to try to put that together.

VAN SUSTEREN: We'll take a break. The grand jury's work has ended, but John and Patsy Ramsey have not been eliminated from this investigation. The future of JonBenet's parents, when we come back.


Q: When is the deadline for potential plaintiffs to submit intent-to-sue documents against government agencies in the Columbine school shooting?

A: Sunday.



VAN SUSTEREN: Yesterday in Boulder, Police Chief Mark Beckner confirmed that John and Patsy Ramsey remain under an umbrella of suspicion. And, in a separate press conference, D.A. Alex Hunter said the Ramseys haven't been eliminated from the investigation. So where do JonBenet's parents go from here?

Linda, before we get to that particular question, let me ask you: What do you think that Patsy and John Ramsey believe is the most important piece of evidence in this case?

MCLEAN: Oh, I don't know what they think is the most important piece. But what's important is there's DNA that doesn't match any of them, under her fingernails and in her pants. There is no duct tape in the house? I mean, did they cut the piece of duct tape and swallow it, put it down the toilet? There is no cord in the house. Those are the things a kidnapper would bring with them.

There is so much evidence, a Lou Smit said, evidence that it was someone from outside that has never even been looked at it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now, you said that John has suspect. I know you are not going to name names, I am not asking you to name names, but why does John have this particular person as a suspect?

MCLEAN: I can't answer that. There are lots of suspects, but we are so cautious, because it's only one person. And if you even breathe an implication on somebody else that's doing the same thing to that person that has been done to John and Patsy. And that's just not right.

COSSACK: Linda, earlier, you made a reference, you said the police and the district attorney should now go out and investigate all this mounds of evidence that you said that apparently you believe and the Ramseys believe haven't been investigated. Like what?

MCLEAN: Well, the things I just told you about that are public, and then there is some private things that have been turned in and found out, that I can't talk about.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are the police ignoring that sort of other evidence?

MCLEAN: According to the person that told me, yes. They didn't want that evidence. But, like the DNA, who's DNA is that? There is a limited number of people, test them.

COSSACK: But we have heard that DNA or there has been reports at least that that DNA is contaminated DNA; that it was DNA that was perhaps couldn't be identified.

MCLEAN: Henry Lee said the other night on "LARRY KING," when Pam Paugh asked him: Did you have carte blanche to go in there and do it your way and look at everything? And he said: No, I did not.

And we're saying: Then let him have it, let him do it, let him do it his way or somebody have all of it. I mean, but he works for them, and he answered: No, I did not. I was not able to.

VAN SUSTEREN: Valerie, do you think that the Ramseys are able to sort of, quote, "live a normal life" in Atlanta or do they have the media all over them?

VOSS: I would say probably not. Although, in the circumstances I have always seen them, in church, I think that their church family respects their privacy and their right to it. They don't judge the Ramseys, it's God's job to do the judging finally. And they support them. This has been a very difficult time for these people. They have lost a little girl. And I think people who don't know them forget that in the sensationalism of the story.

COSSACK: That's all the time we have for today. Thanks to our guests and thank you for watching.

Today on "TALKBACK LIVE": The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty is defeated in the Senate. Is it political, or just a foreign policy dispute? That's at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time.

VAN SUSTEREN: And if you're interested in buying the book "JonBenet's Mother: The Tragedy and the Truth," you can order a copy from McLean Publishing at 1-800-654-7179.

And we'll be back Monday with another edition of BURDEN OF PROOF. We'll see you then.