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JonBenet Ramsey Case Should Have Been Handled Differently, Ex-Police Chief Says

Mark Beckner, former chief of the Boulder, Colorado, police department, spoke candidly in a Reddit AMA about the investigation he led for years. He later said he did not realize he was speaking in a public forum.

Posted on February 25, 2015, at 9:59 p.m. ET

Mark Beckner, the former police chief of Boulder, Colorado, discussed what he'd do differently in the investigation of the killing of 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey.

Mark Beckner in 2013.
Ben Neary / AP

Mark Beckner in 2013.

Beckner answered questions as part of a Reddit AMA, but later deleted them after he said he had not realized he was in a public forum.

The Denver Post republished the thread, which originally took place Saturday.
Reddit / Via reddit.com

The Denver Post republished the thread, which originally took place Saturday.

In hindsight, Beckner said the crime scene was not properly handled because police were understaffed over the holidays.

JonBenet's mother, Patsy Ramsey, called 911 on Dec. 26, 1996, to report her daughter missing from the family's home. A ransom note claiming the girl had been kidnapped was also found, yet hours later, police found her body in the home's basement.
Reddit / Via reddit.com

JonBenet's mother, Patsy Ramsey, called 911 on Dec. 26, 1996, to report her daughter missing from the family's home.

A ransom note claiming the girl had been kidnapped was also found, yet hours later, police found her body in the home's basement.

John and Patsy Ramsey also immediately should have been questioned separately during the investigation, he said.

Reddit / Via reddit.com

Still, mistakes were somewhat understandable because of the unique circumstances of the case, he said. It was the only time in history a homicide victim was found dead at home after a ransom note had been left, he said.

Reddit / Via reddit.com

Beckner did not say who he thought was guilty of killing JonBenet, but he said the inconsistencies and odd circumstances related to her parents should have been put to a trial.

AP Photo/Boulder District Attorney
AP Photo/Boulder District Attorney
AP Photo/Boulder District Attorney

Handwriting experts found a number of strange observations, Beckner said, and the FBI had never seen such a lengthy ransom note.

The note was also written at the scene, a completely unusual circumstance, he said.

Reddit / Via reddit.com
Reddit / Via reddit.com

And the note referenced $118,000, the exact amount of a bonus John Ramsey had previously received. Beckner did not speculate on how that was possible.

Reddit / Via reddit.com

Only the fingerprints of police and Patsy Ramsey were found on the note.

Reddit / Via reddit.com

Beckner admitted there were several unanswered questions about the Ramseys.

Reddit / Via reddit.com
Reddit / Via reddit.com

No charges were ever filed against the Ramseys, and they were publicly cleared as suspects. Patsy Ramsey died in 2006 of cancer.

Though the district attorney's office did not file charges, a grand jury in 1999 found enough evidence to indict the couple on child abuse charges.
Reddit / Via reddit.com

Though the district attorney's office did not file charges, a grand jury in 1999 found enough evidence to indict the couple on child abuse charges.

Another mystery of the case was a trace of DNA from an unidentified man that was found on JonBenet's clothing. Beckner said a number of explanations are possible.

Reddit / Via reddit.com

He would have liked to see the case go to trial.

Reddit / Via reddit.com

Instead, the only person ever arrested in the case was John Mark Karr, a teacher who was found to have falsely confessed.

Beckner called the episode "embarrassing," and he said he was glad Boulder police had not been involved in alleging Karr's guilt.
MyEyeSees CC BY-NC-ND / Via Flickr: myeye

Beckner called the episode "embarrassing," and he said he was glad Boulder police had not been involved in alleging Karr's guilt.

Before the former chief deleted his comments, he also spoke in favor of making more information about the case public.

Grand jury transcripts and some evidence have never been released."But, not my decision to make," Beckner said.
Reddit / Via reddit.com

Grand jury transcripts and some evidence have never been released.

"But, not my decision to make," Beckner said.