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Crime News CrimeCon 2022

Police Say Pursuit For Justice In JonBenet Ramsey’s Death Has ‘Never Wavered’ After Her Father Launches Petition

John Ramsey, JonBenét's father, told a CrimeCon 2022 audience that he wanted the Colorado governor to intervene and allow for independent testing of evidence in the decades-old case.

By Jill Sederstrom
The JonBenét Ramsey Case, Explained

One day after JonBenét Ramsey’s father criticized the efforts of police and announced the launch of a petition to request independent DNA testing in his daughter’s case, the Boulder Police Department has fired back.

“The Boulder Police Department is aware of the recent request involving the homicide investigation of JonBenét Ramsey and wants the community to know that it has never wavered in its pursuit to bring justice to everyone affected by the murder of this little girl,” police said in a statement released Sunday.

Police pointed to continued efforts to try to find JonBenét’s killer, saying that since the 6-year-old child was discovered dead in the basement of her family’s home on Dec. 26, 1996, police have pursued more than 21,016 tips, letters and emails and traveled to 19 states to conduct interviews with more than 1,000 people.

“The Boulder Police Department understands how grievous the loss of a child is for both the Ramsey family and the community as a whole,” they continued. “That’s why detectives have steadfastly worked to solve this horrible crime.”

For more than two decades, police said they’ve worked with federal, state and local agency partners and consulted with DNA experts to ensure that state-of-the-art DNA technology is being used to push the decades-old cold case forward.

“Our investigation with federal, state and local partners has never stopped. That includes new ways to use DNA technology,” Police Chief Maris Herold said. “We’ve always used state of the art technology as it has been at the forefront of this investigation. Every time the DNA technology changed, we worked to make sure the evidence could be tested.”

JonBenét’s father, John Ramsey, publicly criticized the department’s efforts at a Saturday panel at CrimeCon 2022 in Las Vegas, where he spoke about his daughter’s case alongside author Paula Woodward, who wrote the book “We Have Your Daughter: The Unsolved Murder Of JonBenét Ramsey Twenty Years Later.”

John called out the department for what he called their “arrogance,” “ego” and inexperience while working the case and suggested that the murder of a child should automatically be treated as a federal offense.

“We can’t let the murder of a child be left up to local police,” he said. “They’re just big enough that they think they know everything, and they don’t.”

John urged the public to sign a petition to the Colorado Gov. Jared Polis asking him to use his power to intervene and pave a path for independent DNA analysis of evidence recovered from the crime scene in light of the recent advances to DNA technology.

“Given the lack of progress by the Boulder Police, we the undersigned petitioners ask you to move DNA decisions in this case away from the BPD to an independent agency so that JonBenét has a last chance at the justice she deserves,” the petition, which had gained almost 1,800 signatures by Sunday night, stated.

John said he’s hoping public pressure is enough to convince the governor to intervene.

“The government moves based on public pressure. Our government is reactive,” he said, according to previous reporting by Oxygen.com. “And we need to apply pressure to the government to do the right thing and that's what this petition is about. We can't do it ourselves. I've tried for 25 years, and it's going to take lots of people from the public putting pressure on the police to do the right thing.”

But not everyone believes the move could be in the best interest of the case.

Former Denver district attorney Mitch Morrissey—who now serves as the chief of operations at United Data Connect—told local station KDVR he thought the petition was ridiculous.

“I hope Jared Polis has the sense to leave it in the hands of experts who have been working on this case for 20 years,” he said, adding that those who had signed the petition do not “understand the techniques and difficulties in this case.”

While working as the Denver district attorney, Morrissey assisted the Boulder County District Attorney’s office with the case.

In the statement Sunday, Boulder’s current District Attorney Michael Dougherty also weighed in on the petition, insisting that authorities are actively continuing to pursue all leads in the murder case.

“Every unsolved homicide is a tragedy, especially when the victim is a child,” he said. “The murder of JonBenet Ramsey has left a long, terrible trail of heartbreak and unanswered questions. Our office will continue to work with the Boulder Police Department, state agencies, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. As in any murder case, if evidence leads to an arrest, the D.A.’s Office will work tirelessly to secure justice for the victim, closure for loved ones, and answers for our community.”

A spokesperson for the governor’s office told KDVR they plan to review the petition.

“The State will review the petition and look into how the state can assist in using new technology to further investigate this cold case and to identify JonBenét Ramsey’s killer and bring him or her to justice,” the statement said.

Oxygen.com reached out to Polis' office, but did not receive an immediate response.