Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder of JonBenet Ramsey

The Ramseys Pass

Within days of rejecting the offer, the Boulder police announced that they had found no evidence to support a California woman's theory that JonBenet Ramsey was killed by a child sex ring. "We concluded there is no evidence to support her claims," said Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner. "We looked at her allegations to see if there was any connection at all to the Ramsey case, and we could not find any."

He said Boulder detectives had spent 11 weeks investigating the claims and conducted 22 interviews, including interviews with the woman. They also reviewed medical and psychological records, examined photographs, consulted a forensic psychiatrist and compared the claims against the physical evidence they had collected from the scene. He added that all the information the woman provided about the operation of a child sex ring had been forwarded to the FBI. Special Prosecutor Michael Kane later backed up Beckner's statement, saying there was "no credible evidence to link anything she alleges to the death of JonBenet."

On May 24, John and Patsy Ramsey underwent lie-detector tests conducted by Ed Gelb, and announced that the findings had cleared them of any involvement in their daughter's death. The Boulder police immediately countered, calling the tests a "publicity campaign," reiterating that only a law enforcement agency could give a reliable result, as an independent examiner would have to review the thousands of pages of evidence and interviews in the case file to be able to conduct a valid test. This would be difficult, as much of that information, including results of evidentiary testing, still remains secret.

The Ramseys replied by offering to allow the police or District Attorney Alex Hunter to question the Ramseys' examiner about the testing procedures and his examination of them. They did not receive a response.

Gelb's findings were later reviewed and confirmed by Cleve Baxter, founder of the Central Intelligence Agency's polygraph unit and creator of polygraph scoring techniques which are considered industry standards. The Ramseys were given what are known as "single-issue examinations," where all questions in a test are designed to mean the same thing. Each test took two to three hours. Gelb insists that the results cannot be affected by drugs, so no screening was done. Robert Lee, the director of operations for Axciton Systems, which makes the computerized polygraph instrument used by Gelb, also attested to the tests accuracy, rating them as 97-98 percent accurate.

In the first test the Ramseys were asked the following:

  • Did you inflict any of the injuries that caused the death of JonBenet?
  • Regarding JonBenet, did you inflict any of the injuries that caused her death?
  • Were those injuries that resulted in JonBenet's death inflicted by you?

In the second test they were asked:

  • Do you know for sure who killed JonBenet?
  • Regarding JonBenet, do you know for sure who killed her?
  • Are you concealing the identity of the person who killed JonBenet?

Patsy Ramsey was also given an additional test specifically about the ransom note:

  • Did you write the ransom note that was found in your house?
  • Regarding the ransom note, did you write it?
  • Is that your handwriting on the ransom note found in your house?

The examiner's final conclusion:

"Based on extensive polygraph examination, neither John nor Patsy Ramsey were attempting deception when they gave answers to the relevant questions."

The official police response?

"The findings of the tests are not valid as they were not conducted by the FBI."

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