Friends assail investigation of JonBenet Ramsey slaying Letters urge appointment of special prosecutor

August 22, 1998|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

Three former friends of the parents of JonBenet Ramsey have asked for a special prosecutor to take over the stalled 20-month-old investigation into the slaying of the 6-year-old Colorado beauty princess.

The former friends, all residents of Boulder, have broken off their friendships with John and Patsy Ramsey, parents of the slain child. In two separate letters, they accuse Boulder District Attorney Alex Hunter of unwarranted delays in prosecuting the case and of being overly accommodating to the Ramseys.

Hunter "has provided evidence to Ramsey defense attorneys at their request" but denied requests by other witnesses for transcripts of their own statements to the police, wrote Fleet and Priscilla White, a couple who had the Ramsey family to their home for dinner on Dec. 25, 1996, a few hours before JonBenet was found dead. "He has thoroughly alienated police detectives and key witnesses whose cooperation is vital to the investigation and prosecution," the Whites wrote.

A few hours after the dinner, White and Ramsey were searching the basement of the Ramsey house when Ramsey emerged from a room with his daughter's battered body. In a brief interview Thursday, White, an oil and gas entrepreneur, described himself as "a frustrated witness in a horrible murder case."

In their 15-page letter, released Wednesday "to the people of Colorado," the Whites faulted prosecutors for allowing a "chummy" atmosphere to build with Ramsey lawyers and

charged that prosecutors and police leaders deliberately delayed the case.

Turning to their former friends, the Whites concluded, "We must be mindful, however, of the first cause of the investigation's failure -- the refusal of John and Patsy Ramsey to cooperate fully and genuinely with those officials charged with the responsibility of investigating the death of their daughter, JonBenet."

Emboldened by this letter, Judith Phillips, a photographer who had taken pictures of the Ramsey family, wrote an open letter Thursday calling for a special prosecutor and charging that Hunter was "willing to obstruct the justice he swore to uphold."

Hunter has declined to respond to the charges, saying a response could prejudice the case.

Yesterday, Denver newspapers published articles that appeared to open a window on the Ramsey household in the early morning of Dec. 26, 1996.

According to these reports, Mrs. Ramsey failed to hang up the telephone for a few moments after calling 911 to say that she had discovered a ransom note on her back stairs. She can be heard screaming, and JonBenet's brother, Burke, then 10, can be heard asking what she had found. Ramsey can be heard telling his son to go back to bed. The Ramseys have said their son was asleep in bed when Mrs. Ramsey found the note and called 911.

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

Pub Date: 8/22/98

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