Twenty years after the murder of JonBenet Ramsey, no development in the case has been as controversial or surprising as the decision by former Boulder District Attorney Mary Lacy to clear members of the girl’s family of suspicion in the still-unsolved case.

That move in mid-2008 was based on DNA testing undertaken at Lacy’s behest by a private laboratory in Virginia.

DNA in doubt: A closer look at the JonBenét Ramsey case

In a letter announcing her decision, Lacy asserted that DNA found on JonBenet’s long johns was conclusive – that it matched previously identified male genetic material found in the girl’s underpants, that there was no innocent explanation for its presence in the clothing, and that it was the killer’s.

But in a new joint investigation, 9Wants to Know and the Boulder Daily Camera uncovered surprising realities about that DNA evidence – evidence Lacy heralded as the key to cracking the state’s most infamous unsolved murder.

It is an investigation that was beset with problems almost from the Dec. 26, 1996, discovery of JonBenet’s battered body in a basement storeroom of her family’s Boulder home. The crime scene was contaminated. Police and prosecutors quarreled. And investigators and prosecutors broke into two camps – those who thought someone in the family was responsible for the girl’s killing, and those who thought an intruder did it.

All of the investigations on Ramsey case can be found here