In 1996, a 6-year-old girl was found strangled and beaten to death in the basement of her parents home. Her name was JonBenét Ramsey, and the news of her murder quickly moved beyond the local scene. Why? She was a child beauty queen, there was the bizarre ransom note, her parents were wealthy, and they quickly became uncooperative with the police. With allegations of police incompetence, a corrupt D.A., and suspicions that the parents or her brother could be the killer, the murder mystery soon dominated the tabloids across the nation, gaining attention worldwide. Regardless of intrigue and publicity, the killer was never found.
Years have passed since JonBenét Ramsey died. Last Saturday, former Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner gave a candid interview on Reddit regarding the JonBenét Ramsey case. He voluntarily participated in the question and answer session regarding unresolved mysteries, but he quickly regretted his decision as the chat went viral. As reported in the Boulder Daily Camera, Beckner explained that he had made a mistake.
“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 said of the Saturday Q&A, which garnered more than 600 comments.
“In fact, they had to give me a password to get in,” he said. “I didn’t know it was an open-architecture type thing, or I wouldn’t have done it. It was a misunderstanding and naivete on my part. I’ve tried to put the media attention behind me.”
With the resurgence of interest in the contents of the chat, Beckner’s comments have since been deleted as of Wednesday. Beckner left one comment on the website:
“This will be my last post, but after reading some of the follow-up posts, I believe there may have been some misinterpretation of some of my comments or ‘reading between the lines.’ I want to emphasize that I do not fully know what happened that night or who killed JonBenét, as some have surmised. If anyone did, this would not be a mystery. This is why I do not speculate. I simply answered questions as truthfully as possible and only on things that have already been reported. Dismissing the intruder evidence is a mistake and as I emphasized in an earlier post, the location of the foreign DNA is significant. This could very likely be the person who killed JonBenét. However, we will not be sure until and if they find out who it belongs to. And, just because we can not prove a point of entry, doesn’t mean someone didn’t find a way to get in. Just as I believe we can not exonerate on one piece of evidence, neither can we ignore evidence. Finally, everyone is presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Thanks again.”
The comments made by Beckner were taken down early Wednesday morning, after his interview expressing his regret over the Reddit chat with the Boulder Daily Camera was published the day before. However, KMGH News and the Boulder Daily Camera were able to save some of the original comments before they were deleted. Here are a couple excerpts, as reported by KMGH, from the Beckner interview on Reddit.
Beckner: “I certainly wish we could have gone to trial. However, the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt is hard to overcome when you have some foreign DNA that cannot be explained. If we were to find the source of this trace DNA, we would have an explanation, regardless of which way it pointed. When you are talking about small traces of DNA, there can be several explanations and various ways it could have been transferred. Without identifying who it belongs to, we can only theorize the source of the DNA and how it got there. Without this trace DNA, I believe the prosecutors would have moved forward. It is interesting that apparently the grand jury jurors did not find the DNA reason enough not to find probable cause. Personally, I believe if the source is ever found, we will discover that there is an explanation other than belonging to the murderer. There are others, such as ex-DA Mary Lacy who believe the DNA has to be that of the murderer.”
One user asked, “What do you believe actually happened to JonBenét? Who do you think is responsible?”
Beckner: “We know from the evidence she was hit in the head very hard with an unknown object, possibly a flashlight or similar type item. The blow knocked her into deep unconsciousness, which could have led someone to believe she was dead. The strangulation came 45 minutes to two hours after the head strike, based on the swelling on the brain. While the head wound would have eventually killed her, the strangulation actually did kill her. The rest of the scene we believe was staged, including the vaginal trauma, to make it look like a kidnapping/assault gone bad. I have avoided saying who I believe is responsible and let the facts speak for themselves. There are several viable theories.”
“Is there something you wish had been done differently from the start of the investigation that perhaps could have yielded a conviction?” someone else asked.
Beckner: “Not me personally, as I did not get involved until September 1997, about 9 months after the murder. I was brought on to try to get the investigation back on course, which I think we did a pretty good job of once we got some DAs involved who worked with us rather than against us. As for the police department in general, 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. Had the police found the body early on, as they should have, I believe the initial course of the investigation would have gone differently, but who really knows at this point. We also did a poor job of protecting the crime scene. It was sort of like a perfect storm that day that set things off in the wrong direction. It was and still is the only case of its kind as far as we or the FBI knows of, so its not like anyone had experience with this sort of thing either.”
The Boulder Daily Camera offered these examples of the deleted transcript.
Beckner: “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.”
Beckner: “Stun gun — no. The coroner and others who looked at the abrasion did not believe it came from a stun gun. The distance between the two marks did not match the probes of any stun gun we found. Stun guns are loud and hurt like crazy — which would have probably elicited some screaming. That probably would have woke someone up.”