CSI: Boulder

Aug 17, 2006 9:39am

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A confession in the murder of JonBenet Ramsey….10 years after the fact….

So why is it that in the court of public opinion the media long-ago convicted the Ramsey family — the victims of this horrible story?

Court TV’s Crime Library has a useful RECAP of the case, reminding us of the unholy alliance between idiot authorities and reporters hungry for a scoop.

Just two days after JonBenet’s body was found, for instance — on December 27, 1996 — the Rocky Mountain News quoted an Assistant District Attorney as saying, "It was very unusual for a kidnap victim’s body to be found at home – it’s not adding up."

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Already the prosecution’s finger-pointing — on and off the record — began feeding the media beast.

The author of that story, Charlie Brennan, has said that investigators were constantly fingering the parents. Investigators once said the Ramseys were under an "umbrella of suspicion"; meanwhile, other evidence — a broken basement window, for instance — weren’t shared with the media, while cops, using the media as their all-too-willing conduits, slimed the Ramseys.

Case in point: Vanity Fair quoted a policeman saying that on the first morning, Patsy Ramsey while weeping, had been "peering at him through splayed fingers."

And while authorities strain their arms patting themselves on the back for yesterday’s abduction of Mr. Karr, let’s not forget how they played a big role in tarring and feathering the grieving Ramsey parents.

After Patsy Ramsey went on CNN saying that "There is a killer on the loose, I don’t know who it is, I don’t know if it’s a he or a she – but if I were a resident of Boulder I would tell my friends to keep their babies close to you," the Mayor of Boulder gave a press conference to contradict her.

"People in Boulder have no need to fear that there is someone wandering the streets of Boulder, as has been portrayed by some people, looking for young children to attack," Mayor Leslie Durgin TOLD REPORTERS Durgin said there were "no visible signs of forced entry in the house…It appears someone knew the home well."

Not true, and in retrospect kind of shady.

In Lawrence Schiller’s great book on the case — "Perfect Murder, Perfect Town" — he revealed that Boulder District Attorney Alex Hunter leaked information to a "reporter" for the supermarket tabloid the Globe. Tabloid "reporter" Jeff Shapiro recalls an incident when Hunter actually called the Ramsey’s attorney to get information for him. "I couldn’t believe what I was seeing," Shapiro says. "The DA was calling Ramsey’s criminal defense lawyer right in front of me to get information that I had asked for."

Sleazy.

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The long-departed media mag, Brill’s Content, once did A TAKE DOWN on some of the least-exemplary media performances of that era, including, for instance, the "no-footprints-in-the-snow" "scoop" ….. though there had not been much snow in the days before JonBenet’s murder.

I hope the media and authorities are looking long and hard at their own shameful behavior in this whole affair. Of course, I doubt that anyone is….but it’s very important for all of us to remember lessons learned here for future reference

– jake

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