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Grand jury: JonBenet's parents knew killer

NEED TO KNOW
  • Grand jury voted to indict John and Patsy Ramsey in 1999 on charges of child abuse, being accessories to crime
  • JonBenet Ramsey's body was found in family's basement in 1996
  • John and Patsy Ramsey have maintained their innocence
JonBenet Grand Jury 1999

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New documents released Friday in the JonBenet Ramsey case reveal that a Colorado grand jury believed there was enough evidence to charge her parents in assisting or covering up the death of the 6-year-old beauty queen.

JonBenet Ramsey's beaten and strangled body was discovered in the basement of her Boulder, Colorado, home the day after Christmas of 1996. A cloud of suspicion has loomed over her parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, since their daughter's death.

Click to view: The grand jury's unsealed indictment

A ransom note reportedly discovered by Patsy Ramsey on December 26, 1996 -- before JonBenet's body was found -- that demanded $118,000 for her return was written on a notepad from the family's home, according to investigators. Authorities also discovered that a paintbrush from Patsy Ramsey's hobby kit was used to tighten the rope that choked JonBenet.

The Ramseys, who have always maintained their innocence, were cleared in 2008 by the Boulder County District Attorney Office, who wrote a formal letter of apology after DNA tests failed to match evidence from the crime scene to any family members.

But a grand jury that convened in 1999 felt there was enough evidence to charge JonBenet Ramsey's parents in relation to her murder. According to indictment documents released Friday morning, the grand jury believed both John and Patsy Ramsey "unlawfully, knowingly, recklessly and feloniously permit a child to be unreasonably placed in a situation which posed a threat of injury to the child's life or health, which resulted in the death of JonBenet Ramsey, a child under the age of sixteen."

The grand jury additionally said that the parents "unlawfully, knowingly and feloniously render assistance to a person, with intent to hinder, delay and prevent the discovery, detention, apprehension, prosecution, conviction and punishment of such a person for the commission of a crime, knowing the person being assisted has committed and was suspected of the crime of Murder in the First Degree and Child Abuse Resulting in Death."

Even though the indictment doesn't allege the Ramseys killed her outright, it does allege they put her in a situation that resulted in her death. It also says that the Ramseys helped "a person" that they knew committed and was suspected of the murder cover up the crime, but doesn't identify that person.

Then-Boulder County District Attorney Alex Hunter didn't move forward with charges, saying there wasn't sufficient evidence. The indictment documents have been sealed until now. 

Patsy Ramsey died in 2006 from ovarian cancer. John Ramsey's lawyer, Lin Wood, spoke out earlier this year saying, "I have known for years that Boulder prosecutors did not file charges against John and Patsy Ramsey because the evidence to prosecute them did not exist."

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