UPDATE: New DNA Testing Planned in JonBenét Case Apr 17, 2016 15:12:40 GMT -5
Post by Joanna on Apr 17, 2016 15:12:40 GMT -5
Has the JonBenét Ramsey Murder Case Been Solved?
Her murder rocked the nation. On the day after Christmas, 1996, the brutally beaten, strangled body of 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenét Ramsey was discovered in the basement of her family’s picture-perfect home in Boulder, Colo. For the next two decades, police failed to find the killer, or killers, and the case – which CBS plans to revisit in a docu-series this fall – is still America’s greatest unsolved mystery.
Until now. After 20 years of exhaustive research, private investigator Ollie Gray, who was initially hired by the Ramsey family but continued the investigation on his own along with a dogged team of detectives, exclusively tells In Touch that he has finally solved the case that has baffled the nation. He says Michael Helgoth, a deeply troubled 26-year-old whose family owned a junkyard on the outskirts of Boulder, did it – but had help. “Based on what we know now, I believe Helgoth and his accomplices committed the crime. There’s no doubt about it,” says Gray, who takes In Touch inside his extensive case file. The most shocking new evidence? “There was a tape recording made by Helgoth,” Helgoth’s former employee John Kenady exclusively tells In Touch. “And in it, he said he killed JonBenét”
Kenady found out about the confession recently. “A family member told my friend about the tape, which was removed from Mike’s house after he died [in 1997],” reveals Kenady. “But apparently it was overlooked by police and returned to Mike’s family. I’m told someone close to him may still have the tape.”
The details of the murder are horrific. Gray and his fellow detectives, including the late Lou Smit, a legendary homicide cop, uncovered clues indicating that Helgoth and two to three accomplices went to the Ramsey home intending to kidnap JonBenét and found the little girl asleep under her Beauty and the Beast bed sheets and pink comforter. They shocked her with a stun gun, bound her wrists tightly with cord, gagged her with duct tape and brought her to the dingy, windowless basement room, where they used an expertly tied garrote to strangle her so tightly her hair ripped out, and at some point also bludgeoned her with a blunt object. “To someone with a twisted mind, she may have looked like a really good target,” former Denver private investigator Pete Peterson has said.
That description fits Helgoth. Kenady calls him a “sicko” who enjoyed torturing and killing junkyard kittens, owned a stun gun and was depressed about money. “In late November , Helgoth had told me that he and a partner were going to make a great deal – and they each would bring in around $50,000 and $60,000,” says Kenady. He adds that around Christmas, “I will never forget that we were walking toward his house and he said, ‘I wonder what it would be like to crack a human skull.’ I was amazed. I thought that was a very odd thing to say.”
It was a very telling thing. “I read in the papers about a ransom note found at the Ramsey’s home demanding $118,000 – close to the amount that Helgoth told me he and his partner would make,” says Kenady, who also claims that Helgoth didn’t show up for work the day after Christmas – and was acting very withdrawn in the following weeks. “Then that JonBenét received a crack in her skull. I felt obligated to call the police.” Kenady – who has a questionable past himself after being sentenced to three years supervised probation in 1979 for sexual assault on a child – phoned the Boulder police department nearly 20 times. “No one would call me back,” he says.
They had their hands full. Police in the upscale community who responded to a frantic 911 call from JonBenét’s mom, Patsy, at dawn on Dec. 26 – in which she reported that her daughter was missing and she’d found a ransom note – mishandled the case from the start. The house was not treated as a crime scene, statements were not immediately taken from Patsy and her husband, John, and, most critically, police allowed John and a friend to search the premises. Eight hours later, it was the little girl’s father who found her body and carried her upstairs to the living room. “The crime scene wasn’t handled properly, [and] as a result, some evidence was compromised,” former police chief Mark Beckner revealed years later.
It got worse from there. JonBenét death was the only reported homicide in Boulder in 1996, and detectives, who had never worked a murder case before, soon found themselves overwhelmed. When shocking photos of the blonde, green-eyed kindergartner, her painted face and provocative gaze belying her tender age, emerged – along with since-disputed reports that she’d been sexually assaulted – the case became a national obsession. Police quickly focused on her parents. Patsy, a former beauty queen herself, and John, a prominent businessman, were later declared by police chief Beckner to be “under an umbrella of suspicion.” This, says Gray, caused them to ignore crucial information that should have been a priority lead,” Gray tells In Touch. “But I got the distinct feeling that the Boulder police had absolutely no interest in anything that took them away from the theory that John and Patsy Ramsey killed their daughter.”
Despite the focus on John and Patsy, authorities believed they didn’t have enough proof to arrest them. Under intense national scrutiny to crack the case, then-district attorney Alex Hunter enlisted Smit, who had solved more than 200 homicides, to come out of retirement. But the case took a turn when the veteran detective soon determined that the Ramseys had been incorrectly targeted, citing evidence that the assailant had come from outside the house. (The Ramseys were officially cleared by authorities two years after Patsy’s 2006 death from ovarian cancer.) On Feb. 13, 1997, Hunter announced publicly that they were close to catching the vicious killer, and played a psychological game by addressing the unknown killer. “The list of suspects narrows,” he said. “Soon, there will be no one on the list but you.”
Two days later, Helgoth was found dead of a gunshot wound in his home – and many saw it as a sign of his guilt. Helgoth’s DNA was tested years later, but it didn’t match the DNA that was found under JonBenét’s fingernails and on her underpants and pajamas, so police concluded he hadn’t done it. However, the DNA is not as crucial a clue as it was made out to be. Internationally recognized forensic expert Henry Lee said that the DNA on JonBenét could have come from many sources, including the factory in which her clothes were made. “Just because Helgoth’s DNA didn’t match doesn’t eliminate him as one fo the killers,” says an insider close to the investigation. “It could simply mean he didn’t touch her body, or that an accomplice could have played a role.”
One of Helgoth’s accomplices murdered him, says Kenady. Helgoth’s death was ruled a suicide, but the facts don’t add up. “The gun was fund on Helgoth’s right side, but the bullet hole goes across his body from left to right. It doesn’t make sense why someone would commit suicide in that manner,” says Gray. Adds Kenady: “He was murdered to keep his mouth shut.”
With JonBenét’s killer finally unmasked, according to Gray, it’s time to find out who else was involved. “If they could just find out who killed Helgoth,” says Gray, “it could lead police to his accomplices in her murder.”
Source: Larry Haley, In Touch Magazine, April 25, 2016, issue.