Jurors wanted child abuse charges against JonBenet Ramsey's parents
By Tracy Connor, Staff Writer, NBC News
(NBC) - A Colorado court on Friday released a long-sealed grand jury indictment of JonBenet Ramsey's parents for child abuse resulting in death, but the documents contained no specifics.
The four pages from the 1999 grand jury — two for John Ramsey and two for Patricia Ramsey — outlined two counts against each parent but did not identify a killer.
Prosecutors decided not to act on the indictment and charge the couple, and the documents remained secret until a newspaper reporter and press-freedom group convinced a judge to unseal them.
On the child abuse count, the grand jury wrote that the Ramseys "did unlawfully, knowingly, recklessly and feloniously permit a child to be unreasonably placed in a situation which posed a threat of injury to the child's life or health, which resulted in the death of JonBenet Ramsey."
On a second count of accessory to a crime, the grand jury wrote that each parent "did render assistance to a person" with the intent to prevent their arrest or prosecution, knowing they had "committed and was suspected of the crime of murder in the first degree and child abuse resulting in death."
Although the Boulder district attorney had earmarked 18 pages for possible release, the judge only put out the pages that were signed by the grand jury foreperson.
It's unclear if the other pages contained more details about the Ramseys' actions or named someone as the killer.
The 6-year-old child beauty queen was found dead in the basement of her home on Dec. 26, 1996, and the case has never been solved.
Boulder police had placed her parents under an "umbrella of suspicion" early on, but in 2008, the district attorney publicly exonerated the family based on testing of DNA found at the scene and suggested that an unknown intruder was the culprit.
The long-running mystery riveted the nation for several years and spawned books, TV movies and countless theories about who strangled the child.
Patricia Ramsey died of ovarian cancer in 2006, and John Ramsey has since remarried.
He fought to keep the documents under seal, arguing that their release would defame the family. If the indictment had to be released, his lawyers argued, they entire grand jury report should be made public so all the evidence could be evaluated.
The judge, however, ruled that he could only issue those documents that constituted an official action — those with the foreperson's signature.
Charlie Brennan, a reporter for the Daily Camera, wrote Friday that he fought to have the indictment released to bring "transparency" to a case that has been cloaked in skepticism and misinformation.
"Two reporters stood outside JonBenet's home Dec. 26, 1996, at the time the coroner's staff brought the child's body out into the cold night and harsh light of an enduring public obsession," Brennan wrote.
"I was one of the two. Never did I suspect that 17 years later, the saga would still be unfolding."
The current Boulder district attorney, Stan Garnett, declined to comment on the release, saying he would make a statement in the form of an op-ed piece to be published Sunday in the Daily Camera.