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Author strikes down intruder theory in JonBenét murder

In his new self-published book on the case of the child beauty queen, former investigator A. James Kolar aims to shed new light on the still unsolved 1996 murder.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

JonBenét Ramsey was likely not killed by an intruder, according to a former investigator on the 1996 high-profile murder case.

Ramsey, who was just six years old at the time, was found dead (beaten and strangled) in the basement of her Boulder, Colo. home, nearly eight hours after she'd been reported missing on Dec. 26, 1996. A grand jury investigation was completed with no indictments, and there were no arrests. For many years, there was an aura of suspicion around her parents, John and Patsy Ramsey. However, mother Patsy Ramsey died of cancer in 2006, and DNA evidence later exonerated the family in 2009. Author A. James Kolar led the case investigation for the Boulder District Attorney’s office for about nine months, between 2005 and 2006. Kolar, now the chief of the marshal’s department in Telluride, Colo., is out with a new self-published book, “Foreign Faction: Who Really Kidnapped JonBenét?”

While popular understanding of the case led the investigation toward looking for an intruder responsible for the child beauty pageant queen's death, Kolar is not so sure. He evaluated lab reports, police reports, witness statements and other information, after being asked to take over the investigation for the DA’s office, which at that time was led by former DA Mary Lacy. Kolar’s conclusions deviate from the direction the Boulder DA’s office had been taking.

In the book, Kolar discusses the condition of the cobwebs and the glass in the basement window, where police allege an intruder may have entered. Police footage was recently revealed on The Daily Beast. Kolar is also skeptical of the primary DNA evidence that was found on JonBenét’s underwear: “I don’t think we should be letting the course of the investigation be run by one single artifact that may or may not necessarily be involved in the actual crime of the kidnap or murder.”

The term ‘foreign faction’ in the title of the book refers to the ransom note found in the Ramsey home, which was claimed to be from a group representing a “small foreign faction.” Kolar said the title “speaks to the possibility of a true foreign faction being involved” — something that he is skeptical of himself.

“We needed to look back at the family, the people who were in the home that night to determine what motive, what opportunity, what could have caused this situation to occur and eventually be reported to police on the morning of December 26th,” Kolar explained.

JonBenét’s murder is now a cold case, but Kolar wanted to “try to clear the air” and give people accurate information.

“It was clear that the prosecution was not going to be able to be pursued and that this extremely widespread murder mystery might just fade into oblivion,” Kolar said.

Chief marshal of a picturesque mountain town by day and writer by night, Kolar combines a history of the investigation with some of his own findings in the case, throughout the book.

“I thought it was necessary to move the public perception to the case closer to the truth,” Kolar told

He started writing the book in May 2009 and continued for three years, spending nights and weekends writing and detailing things he reviewed during the investigation.

When asked by, the office of current Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett said he had no comment, since he has not read the book.

The case was moved over to the Boulder Police Department in 2009. Current police chief Mark Beckner said last week that he’s about 100 pages into reading the book himself and “it seems pretty accurate.” In 1997, Beckner was assigned to take command of the JonBenét Ramsey investigation for the police department.

But Beckner said Kolar’s theory in the book is nothing new and unless new information becomes available, the case will remain cold and is not actively being investigated.

The Ramsey family’s attorney, L. Lin Wood, told he has not yet read the book, but that he thinks the book is “nonsense” if it suggests there was no intruder responsible for the murder.

Wood noted that he believes Kolar self-published the book for reasons of “public notoriety” or “fame.”

“I am troubled by the idea that a former member of the law enforcement investigation would choose to take information gained from the investigation and publish it for his own personal reasons, at a time when the case has not yet been solved,” said the attorney.

Moving forward, Wood is hopeful DNA evidence in the FBI’s possession is what will bring the killer to justice, just as DNA exonerated the Ramsey family.

Kolar hopes “Foreign Faction” could eventually spark something that could solve the case. “It might trigger someone to be willing to come forward and share information about statements or information,” he added. But Kolar admitted he believes a prosecution is not possible at this point.

He recommends readers to not jump back-and-forth when reading his book, but instead to read the pages in order to “see it how an investigator sees it.”

“They get to kind of be the detective themselves and evaluate things and then see what they think at the end of the book,” Kolar said.

The self-published book is available on and at Barnes & Noble.

Kolar’s account of the case is certainly not the first. The media frenzy around the Ramsey case inspired many books, including one recently written by John Ramsey.

Over the years, the mystery of JonBenét’s murder has seen its fair share of odd developments. In 2006, the case took a strange twist when schoolteacher John Mark Karr admitted to killing JonBenét. But, Karr was soon cleared of charges in the case after DNA evidence didn’t match.