55 days - over a year - GJ met
Letters overshadow JonBenét grand jury
By Matt Sebastian
Camera Staff Writer

For the first time since convening last month, the grand jury investigating the murder of JonBenét Ramsey took a backseat this past week to other news in the case.
It was a week of leaks and public statements, with missives coming from former investigator Lou Smit and John Ramsey himself.
"The law in the hands of the unskilled and the unknowing is a terrible thing," Ramsey wrote, slamming the Boulder Police Department for making him and his wife targets of the investigation.
Smit chimed in with a defense of John and Pasty Ramsey, saying they "didn't kill their daughter" and alleging Boulder police are ignoring evidence of an intruder.
The release of the two letters came the day of and the day after a network newsmagazine aired a report on the Dec. 26, 1996, slaying, highlighted by leaked evidence that points toward the 6-year-old's mother.
Police have named no suspects in the 21-month-old murder, but have said the girl's parents remain under suspicion. They have maintained their innocence.
But the grand jury proceeded as usual last week, meeting all day Tuesday and for about four hours Thursday.
On Tuesday, the panel apparently heard testimony from Detective Linda Arndt, who was seen at the Boulder County Justice Center for the second straight grand jury session.
Arndt was the first detective at the Ramseys' 15th Street home that December day, arriving about two hours after Patsy Ramsey called 911 to report her daughter had been kidnapped.
That afternoon, after being asked by Arndt to search the home, John Ramsey discovered his daughter's beaten and strangled body in a basement storeroom.
It appears that no witnesses went before the 12-person panel during its half-day session Thursday.
The grand jury is expected to resume on Tuesday.

October 4, 1998
Forensic chemist ready to testify
Ramsey grand jury to reconvene this week to hear from CBI expert

By Matt Sebastian
Camera Staff Writer

The grand jury investigating the unsolved slaying of JonBenét Ramsey, after taking a week off, is expected to reconvene Tuesday and hear testimony from a Colorado Bureau of Investigation forensic chemist.

Deborah Chavez, an investigator assigned to the CBI crime lab, on Friday said she has been asked by the Boulder County District Attorney's Office to appear before the grand jury this week.

"Last I was told it was Tuesday," Chavez said, noting she has not been subpoenaed.

Citing the secrecy of the month-old inquest, Chavez would not discuss any details of her upcoming grand jury appearance, nor would she address her duties at CBI.

Chavez, the wife of University of Colorado journalism professor Ray Chavez, would only identify herself as a forensic chemist.

But judging by the grand jury's recent focus on the 2½-page ransom note left at the crime scene, prosecutors might be planning to ask Chavez about the chemical breakdown of the ink on the note.

Her colleague Chet Ubowski, the agent-in-charge of the CBI lab and the bureau's handwriting expert, was seen leaving the grand jury courtroom with prosecutors after the panel's last meeting on Oct. 15.

It's believed Ubowski spent the day testifying to his analysis of the ransom note found at the Ramsey home early Dec. 26, 1996.

Eight hours after the discovery of the note, John Ramsey found the beaten and strangled body of his 6-year-old daughter, JonBenét, in a basement storeroom.

According to a search warrant affidavit, Ubowski determined in early 1997 that John Ramsey didn't pen the note, but that there were "indications" Patsy Ramsey might have been the author.

The Ramseys have denied any involvement in their daughter's murder.

Speaking hypothetically about the CBI's work on the Ramsey case, inspector Pete Mang told the Daily Camera last December that investigators could try and compare ink on the ransom note to the ink of various pens collected as evidence.

But, Mang cautioned, while such analysis can demonstrate whether a particular pen may have been used, such a conclusion would not be definitive. Unlike humans and their fingerprints, not every pen carries a unique ink.

October 24, 1998
Ramsey friends talked to grand jury

By Charlie Brennan
Scripps Howard News Service

Family friends who were with John and Patsy Ramsey the morning their daughter JonBenét was reported missing have testified before the grand jury investigating the 6-year-old's murder.

John and Barbara Fernie testified in the secret proceedings before the holidays, said a source close to the couple.

The Fernies, whom the Ramseys called to their Boulder home before dawn Dec. 26, 1996, could not be reached for comment. The Fernies arrived more than an hour before the first detective did.

The final grand jury session before the holidays was Dec. 1, meaning the Fernies' testimony could have come no later than that.

According to court documents, John Fernie accompanied John Ramsey and family friend Fleet White to the Ramsey basement the afternoon of Dec. 26, 1996, after Detective Linda Arndt suggested the men scour the house for anything that might be amiss.

Minutes later, John Ramsey found his daughter's body, strangled and beaten, in a windowless room police had not searched.

JonBenét's mother first alerted authorities at 5:52 a.m. that day to her 6-year-old daughter's disappearance, reporting that she had found a 2½-page ransom note demanding $118,000. The Ramseys remain suspects but claim they're innocent of wrongdoing.

The disclosure concerning the Fernies' testimony raises the possibility that a number of witnesses may have passed through the Boulder County Justice Center in recent months — undetected by the media monitoring the Ramsey grand-jury investigation.

The grand jury began its work Sept. 15. Intense media scrutiny prompted courthouse personnel to use an underground garage to shield witnesses.

January 19, 1999
From Jim Fisher's book:

"Michael Kane had a grand jury of eight women and four men, but no evidence. He couldn't prove that Patsy had written the ransom note. He didn't have a confession, a motive, an eyewitness, a jailhouse snitch, or one piece of physical evidence linking the Ramseys to the murder. He had nothing but his passion and his theories. He didn't have enough to indict a ham sandwich. But Kane kept going. And he had the media in his corner. As a result, the Ramseys had become the most hated couple in the United States. Justice demanded that these people be indicted, and it was Kane's job to make sure that happened."

in his book, Jim Fisher does a fair job of pointing out how Kane tried to lead the grand jury (as he was legally not only allowed but encouraged to do. On page 193 of his book he notes that Kane tried (unsuccessfully) to keep Detective Lou Smit and the three document examiners who would clear Patsy of writing the note (Howard Rile, Lloyd Cunningham and Donald Vacca) from testifying in front of the grand jury. A court decision allowed all four to testify, and Michael Kane was furious that they would be allow to speak against the favored BORG presentation underway.

All of the four, as I have been told, felt they were treated with great disrespect in those grand jury proceedings. Michael Kane's attitude toward those four witnesses has been described as vicious.

Howard Rile, in particular, was not expecting nor was he prepared for the verbal assault. He felt his testimony was damaged by the acts of Michael Kane and that his appearance was a "nightmare". He asked to be allowed to go back on the stand and make clear his position, this time understanding the tone that was going to be set by the prosecutor. His request was denied.

For the record, my request to appear was also denied and I am upset that while Don Foster was also not taking the stand, his report was shared under the hearsay provision granted to a grand jury.

In other words, Kane was leading the grand jury in a merry chase of BORG fantasy and all IDI discussion was scoffed at if shared at all.

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