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Boulder DA: New DNA clears Ramsey family in JonBenet case

SPECIAL SECTIONWATCH EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWKUSA - 9NEWS has learned that newly discovered DNA evidence in the JonBenet Ramsey murder case does not match any Ramsey family members or anyone in law enforcement DNA databases.

The discovery, from a new testing method, has prompted the Boulder District Attorney's office to release a letter officially clearing the Ramsey family, including John, Patsy and their immediate family of any involvement in the December 1996 death of the 6-year-old.

District Attorney Mary Lacy met with John Ramsey and his defense attorneys, Bryan Morgan and Hal Haddon, on Wednesday morning to formally deliver the letter clearing the family of any involvement. (Click here to view the letter)

The letter reads in part:

"We intend in the future to treat you as the victims of this crime, with the sympathy due you because of the horrific loss you suffered."

Lacy based her decision, according to the letter, on the results of new DNA samples secured and tested at the The Bode Technology Group Inc., in Lorton, Va. The new DNA "touch" analysis technology was not available in 1996 when the child was killed.

After meeting with Lacy, Ramsey did an exclusive interview with 9NEWS Investigative Reporter Paula Woodward.

In the interview he said, "The most significant thing to me was the fact that we now have pretty irrefutable DNA evidence according to the DA's office. Certainly we are grateful that they acknowledge that we, based on that, certainly could not have been involved. But the most important thing is that we now have very, very solid evidence and that's always been my hope, at least in the recent past, that that would lead us to the killer eventually as the DNA database grows and is populated."

On Wednesday afternoon, the Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner issued a statement in reaction to the developments in the JonBenet Ramsey case:

"The discovery of additional matching DNA in the JonBenet Ramsey murder case is important information that raises more questions in the search for JonBenet's killer. The Boulder Police Department concurs with the Boulder District Attorney's Office that this is a significant finding. The police department has continued to look diligently for the source of the foreign DNA, and to date, we have compared DNA samples taken from more than 200 people. Finding the source of the DNA is key to helping us determine who killed JonBenet. We remain committed to bringing JonBenet's killer to justice. That is, and always will be, our goal.

The investigation of this case has been under the direction of the DA's office for a number of years now and it would be inappropriate for us to discuss the details of this case publicly. We will, of course, continue to assist the DA's office in any way that we can, and we are hopeful that this new development will lead to the identification and successful prosecution of this child's killer."

JonBenet Ramsey's body was found in the family home in Boulder on December 26, 1996. Her father found her body in a rarely used room in the basement of the home.

According to Boulder Police reports, the family got up early on the morning of December 26 to fly to Charlevoix, Mich. to visit family.

JonBenet's mother, Patsy Ramsey, found a ransom note (Click here to see the ransom note) at the bottom of a spiral staircase about 5:30 or 6 that morning. Police were called, and searched the home, but the child's body wasn't found until another search of the home was done five hours later by John Ramsey.

In April of 1997, Boulder County District Attorney Alex Hunter declared the family under an "umbrella of suspicion" for the murder.

During his exclusive interview with 9NEWS, Ramsey went on to say, "It's hard for people to accept that someone could come into a home and murder a child from their bed. We were perhaps an answer. It became an entertainment event for the media sadly. It boosted ratings, attracted viewers to develop that controversy. But sadly there's 2,000 children murdered in our country every year. For some reason this became a very public event."

Nine years after the murder, Patsy Ramsey died in June of 2006 after a 13-year battle with ovarian cancer.

New Evidence

The new DNA "touch" analysis tests were run on the leggings that went over the child's underwear.

Boulder DA investigators and Lacy made the decision late last year to have the leggings tested at the Bode Lab. It is not clear if the leggings had been previously tested for DNA.

Boulder DA investigators considered the possibility that since the child was sexually assaulted, and was undressed and redressed, there was a possibility the perpetrator left skin cell samples. They believe that could have happened when he first pulled JonBenet's leggings down and then later back up. Investigators wanted to test to see whether DNA skin cells might be found in the waistband of the leggings.

The Bode Lab recovered DNA from the top portion of the leggings, on both the right and left legs, where the perpetrator would have put his hands to move the leggings. Those new DNA "touch" samples from the leggings match the DNA that was found in 1997 on the underwear of the child.

The new DNA "touch" testing technology from the Bode Lab tests for DNA in cells left behind from the act of touching a person's clothing. (Bode Lab) At the time of JonBenet's death, technology for DNA testing on the child'sunderwear used "swabs" from fluid obtained from skin and clothing to establish DNA identity.

The previous 1997 DNA "swab" testing of the child'sunderwear found DNA in two separate areas. DNA was found mixed with fluid from the little girl. The 1997, DNA contained enough information or DNA markers to be entered into the federal DNA database called CODIS.

The new "touch" DNA from JonBenet Ramsey has been compared with what exists in CODIS, but no match has been found.

CODIS includes strict guidelines for what can be entered into its system. There has to be a minimum of information or DNA markers before CODIS will accept the samples into its system. The original 1997 DNA passed CODIS requirements and is in the federal CODIS data base. It was entered into CODIS in 2002.

CODIS contains DNA from local, state and national databases of DNA profiles from convicted offenders, unsolved crime scene evidence and missing persons.

Mandatory DNA testing varies widely from state to state. In Colorado, legislation was introduced mandating any felon arrested of a crime to be tested for DNA, so it can be entered into the CODIS data base. (Mandatory DNA testing laws in Colorado)

Both the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and Denver Police were involved in the analysis of the new DNA.

Lacy's letter also stated:

"Solving this crime remains our goal, and its ultimate resolution will depend on more than just matching DNA. However, given the history of the publicity surrounding this case, I believe it is important and appropriate to provide you with our opinion that your family was not responsible for this crime."

"There is now one step left in finding the killer of the little girl." A source close to the investigation told 9NEWS. "And that's to match the DNA to the right person."



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