An audio tape of Patsy Ramsey’s call to 911 and videotape of police questioning of the Ramsey’s are giving the public new insights into the Jonbenet Ramsey case, seven years after the 6-year-old was killed. “Today” host Katie Couric reports on the new details in the case, including the first interview with Boulder’s former deputy district attorney, Trip Demuth.
Patsy Ramsey: “I didn’t do it, John Ramsey didn’t do it, and we didn’t have a clue of anybody who did do it. This child was the most precious thing in my life.”
John Ramsey: “It was hard for us to believe that we were considered suspects. They were trying to fit a square peg in a round hole and we were the square peg.”
That’s John and Patsy Ramsey speaking in videotaped interrogations by the Boulder Police Department taken in June 1998 and obtained exclusively by NBC News. On the tape they reassert that they are innocent two and a half years after her murder.
John Ramsey: “We know we didn’t do it. There’s a killer out there.”
Who killed JonBenet? Six and half years after her brutal death, that question remains unanswered. For years Boulder’s former district attorney suggested the Ramsey’s were the prime suspects. Many still believe that Patsy, John, or perhaps both were involved. But that public perception is now being challenged. right‘I didn’t do it, John Ramsey didn’t do it, and we didn’t have a clue of anybody who did do it. This child was the most precious thing in my life.’PATSY RAMSEY
Mary Keenan is the district attorney in Boulder now and when she took office two and a half years ago she wiped the slate clean, and began to re-examine the entire Ramsey case piece by piece.
THE 911 CALL
It was 5:52 a.m. when Patsy Ramsey called 911 from a wall phone in her kitchen to report her daughter was missing. She was standing only feet away from where the ransom note had been found, at the top of a stairwell leading to the basement where JonBenet’s body was discovered eight hours later.
911: “What’s going on ma’am?”
Patsy: “755 15th street.”
911: “What’s going on there ma’am”
Patsy: “We have a kidnapping. Hurry, please!”
911: “Explain to me what’s going on. Ok?”
Patsy: “There. We have a, there’s a note left and our daughter’s gone.”
911: “A note was left and your daughter’s gone?”
911: “How old is your daughter?”
Patsy: “She’s 6 years old. She’s blonde, 6 years old.”
911: “How long ago was this?”
Patsy: “I don’t know I just got the note, and my daughter’s gone.”
911: “Does it say who took her?”
911: “Does it say who took her?”
Patsy: “No! I don’t know. There’s a, there’s a ransom note here.”
911: “It’s a ransom note?”
Patsy: “It say’s SBTC. Victory! Please!”
911: “Okay, what’s your name? Are you Kath...?”
Patsy: “Patsy Ramsey, I’m the mother. Oh my God! Please!”
911: “Okay, I’m sending an officer over OK?
911: “Do you know how long she’s been gone?”
Patsy: “No I don’t! Please we just got up and she’s not here. Oh my god! Please!”
911: “Okay, Cal....”
Patsy: “Please send somebody.”
911: “I am honey.”
911: “Take a deep breath and...”
Patsy: “Hurry, hurry, hurry!”
911: “Patsy? Patsy? Patsy? Patsy?”
Just what happened after Patsy hung up the phone has been debated in law enforcement circles. One former Boulder police detective, Steve Thomas, believes after Patsy hung up, the phone didn’t really disconnect.
In his book, “JonBenet: Inside the Ramsey Murder Investigation,” Thomas claimed that by enhancing the tape you can hear John and Patsy talking to their son Burke. He claims that’s important because the Ramseys reportedly told police their son was asleep at the time of the call. If true, Thomas claims it suggests the family was altering their story right from the start.
But both the FBI and Secret Service — who examined the tapes — said such a conversation could not be heard.
NBC News had the tape tested by experts at two different labs that examine 911 tapes to see if there was any conversation after the hang up.
“I would say my findings are much more in parallel with the FBI’s findings. There’s not enough there to give any sort of conclusive, intelligible argument,” says Frank Piazza of Legal Audio in New York City.
David Mariasy from Team Audio in Toledo, Ohio, agrees. “When it was suggested that we look for these other lines of dialogue and there’s two or three other people after the hang up, that didn’t happen,” he says.
During an interrogation about the call, Patsy Ramsey questioned one of the Boulder police detectives about his assertion there was a conversation after she had hung up the phone.
Police: “Was there any conversation immediately following your last word to the dispatcher?”
Patsy: “I don’t remember. I was out of my mind. My child was missing. I was trying to convey that to the person on the other end of the line. OK? I don’t remember. If you have it on tape, and you’d like me to hear it, I’ll listen to it and see if that jogs my memory.”
Police: “It’s on tape.”
Patsy: “All right. Well if you’ve got it on the tape and we can play it, then I will try to help you. But I can’t remember which end was up about that time.”
At which point the detective changes the subject.
Police: “What was JonBenet’s birth date?”
Patsy: “August the 6th, 1990.”
MISTAKES MADE BY THE POLICE
Former Boulder deputy district attorney Trip Demuth spent two years investigating this case who said the focus of the case should have been on the evidence not theories.
Trip Demuth: “There were a lot of mistakes that were made. One of the mistakes was the focus on theories, as opposed to just focusing on the evidence and following leads no matter what direction it took you.”
Couric: “You sat in on one interrogation of John and Patsy Ramsey. What were your impressions of them?”
Demuth: “I really didn’t try to develop impressions. What you try to do is gather information when you’re interviewing anyone, whether they’re a witness or a potential suspect I was just looking for answers. What I can tell you is that there is some strong evidence that suggests someone other than them may have committed this murder.”
FINDING JONBENET’S KILLER
Finding the person who murdered JonBenet seems to have taken on a new direction with a new sense of urgency. Last week, the new team assembled by the Boulder DA met with investigators hired by the Ramseys to exchange information.
“When you start evaluating it, you’re going to come up with some work. You’re going to come up with some good leads, and this is what should have been done a long time ago,” says Ramsey investigator Ollie Gray.
Lou Smit, the renowned Colorado detective we first told you about two years ago, has always believed an intruder killed JonBenet.
“I believe the killer did take her out of her bed,” he says.
Now he’s been re-hired to work on the murder investigation because DA Mary Keenan removed the entire Boulder Police Department from the case and brought in a new investigative team, including Smit.
“The actions being taken with respect to the investigation make very clear that John and Patsy Ramsey, have, as a practical matter, been exonerated. They are innocent, and I believe beyond a shadow of doubt that Mary Keenan finds that to be the case under evidence, and she’s seen all the evidence,” says Lin Wood, the attorney for John and Patsy Ramsey.
And in another recent development, a federal judge appeared to support the intruder theory, ruling in favor of the Ramseys in a civil suit bought against them. The judge wrote, “The weight of the evidence is more consistent with a theory that an intruder murdered JonBenet than it is with a theory that Mrs. Ramsey did so.”
Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner, no longer on the case, responded with a statement saying, “We do not wish to debate or discuss the weight of the evidence, as we still hope that some day there will be a prosecution in this case.”
“What I can tell you, there is some strong evidence that suggests someone other than them may have committed this murder. Those leads and that evidence need to be pursued and it has not been pursued in the past,” says Demuth.
But what has been pursued is DNA found on JonBenet’s body at the crime scene. For years, police claimed DNA tests were inconclusive and couldn’t rule the Ramseys out. But now senior sources within the DA’s office confirm that none of the DNA found at the crime scene matches John or Patsy. Former FBI profiler John Douglas is now helping the DA’s office with the investigation.
“You can’t use DNA to eliminate suspects and not eliminate John and Patsy Ramsey because we know the DNA says we know it’s a male, and John Ramsey’s DNA does not match, so why are you, the Boulder Police Department eliminating suspects. Why aren’t you eliminating the Ramseys?” he says.
Police: “If I told you right now that we have — in the process of being examined — trace evidence that appears to link you to the death of JonBenet, what would you tell me?”
Patsy: “That’s totally impossible. Go re-test.”
Police: “How is it impossible?”
Patsy: “I did not kill my child. I didn’t have a thing to do with it.”
Police: “I’m talking about scientific evidence.”
Patsy: “I don’t give a flying flip how scientific it is. Go back to the damn drawing board. I didn’t do it. John Ramsey didn’t do it, and we don’t have a clue of anybody who did do it. Quit screwing around asking me about things that are ridiculous and let’s find the person that did this.”
“It’s a common investigative technique to suggest to somebody that you have more evidence than maybe you really do in order to try to get them to confess,” says Demuth.
Four and a half years after the videotaped police interrogation, investigators are still trying to solve this murder.
Couric: “Do you think the world will ever know who killed JonBenet?”
Demuth: “I really hope it does. I still believe there is sufficient evidence that was collected at the scene to be able to convict the person although it’s going to be very difficult right now because the trail is very cold.”
Attorney Lin Wood agrees.
“DNA holds out I think the greatest hope and I have hope this investigation will be successful,” he says. “At some point and time people will look back and they will evaluate how this injustice could have been inflicted upon this family.”
JonBenet, forever immortalized at age 6, would have been 13 this August. But with a new investigation, comes new hope that one day there will be an answer to the question: who killed JonBenet Ramsey?