Wednesday, July 09, 2008

New DNA Process Clears Ramsey Family

"I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can't build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery and death."--Anne Frank

Ransom Note
MyFox Colorado 31--Denver
Rocky Mountain News
Colorado's 9 News

The Rocky Mountain News (7-9-08) reports:

Boulder’s District Attorney apologized to the Ramsey family today, saying new DNA evidence convinces her that no member of his family is under suspicion for the 1996 death of John Ramsey’s daughter, 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey.

In a letter to John [see letter and FOX video], DA Mary Lacy said her office recently got results back on a new “touch DNA” process in which technicians can scrape places where there are no stains or other signs that DNA may be present.

The samples from JonBenet’s long-johns — “probably handled by the perpetrator during the course of this crime” — revealed male DNA, but none of it matched anyone in the Ramsey family, she said.

“To the extend that we may have contributed in any way to the public perception that you might nave been involved in the crime, I am deeply sorry,” Lacy wrote.

“No innocent person should have to endure such an extensive trial in the court of public opinion.” [Full text]

CBS (7-9-08) explains the new DNA technology:

A new type of DNA test has again cleared the family of JonBenet Ramsey in her death...

The new type of DNA testing, not available in previous years, was conducted on DNA recovered from JonBenet's leggings. Previous tests were conducted on DNA collected from her underwear.

Those earlier tests also did not match any of the Ramsey family members.

The new test also ruled out anyone in a large criminal DNA database. The results do point to an unknown man, authorities said...

As part of its investigation of the JonBenet Ramsey homicide, the Boulder Police identified genetic material with apparent evidentiary value. Over time, the police continued to investigate DNA, including taking advantage of advances in the science and methodology. One of the results of their efforts was that they identified genetic material and a DNA profile from drops of JonBenet's blood located in the crotch of the underwear she was wearing at the time her body was discovered. That genetic profile belongs to a male and does not belong to anyone in the Ramsey family.

The police department diligently compared that profile to a very large number of people associated with the victim, with her family, and with the investigation, and has not identified the source, innocent or otherwise, of this DNA. The Boulder Police and prosecutors assigned to this investigation in the past also worked conscientiously with laboratory analysts to obtain better results through new approaches and additional tests as they became available. Those efforts ultimately led to the discovery of sufficient genetic markers from this male profile to enter it into the national DNA data bank...

In early August of 2007, District Attorney Lacy attended a Continuing Education Program in West Virginia sponsored by the National Institute of Justice on Forensic Biology and DNA. The presenters discussed successful outcomes from a new methodology described as "touch DNA." One method for sampling for touch DNA is the "scraping method." In this process, forensic scientists scrape a surface where there is no observable stain or other indication of possible DNA in an effort to recover for analysis any genetic material that might nonetheless be present. This methodology was not well known in this country until recently and is still used infrequently.

In October of 2007, we decided to pursue the possibility of submitting additional items from the JonBenet Ramsey homicide to be examined using this methodology. We checked with a number of Colorado sources regarding which private laboratory to use for this work. Based upon multiple recommendations, including that of the Boulder Police Department, we contacted the Bode Technology Group located near Washington, D.C., and initiated discussions with the professionals at that laboratory. First Assistant District Attorney Peter Maguire and Investigator Andy Horita spent a full day with staff members at the Bode facility in early December of 2007.

The Bode Technology laboratory applied the "touch DNA" scraping method to both sides of the waist area of the long johns that JonBenet Ramsey was wearing over her underwear when her body was discovered. These sites were chosen because evidence supports the likelihood that the perpetrator removed and/or replaced the long johns, perhaps by handling them on the sides near the waist.

On March 24, 2008, Bode informed us that they had recovered and identified genetic material from both sides of the waist area of the long johns. The unknown male profile previously identified from the inside crotch area of the underwear matched the DNA recovered from the long johns at Bode.

We consulted with a DNA expert from a different laboratory, who recommended additional investigation into the remote possibility that the DNA might have come from sources at the autopsy when this clothing was removed. Additional samples were obtained and then analyzed by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to assist us in this effort. We received those results on June 27th of this year and are, as a result, confidant that this DNA did not come from innocent sources at the autopsy. As mentioned above, extensive DNA testing had previously excluded people connected to the family and to the investigation as possible innocent sources.

I want to acknowledge my appreciation for the efforts of the Boulder Police Department, Bode Technology Group, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, and the Denver Police Department Forensic Laboratory for the great work and assistance they have contributed to this investigation.

The unexplained third party DNA on the clothing of the victim is very significant and powerful evidence. It is very unlikely that there would be an innocent explanation for DNA found at three different locations on two separate items of clothing worn by the victim at the time of her murder. This is particularly true in this case because the matching DNA profiles were found on genetic material from inside the crotch of the victim's underwear and near the waist on both sides of her long johns, and because concerted efforts that might identify a source, and perhaps an innocent explanation, were unsuccessful.

It is therefore the position of the Boulder District Attorney's Office that this profile belongs to the perpetrator of the homicide. [Full text]


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