Published January 13, 2015
A special four-part series:
If JonBenet Ramsey had lived, she would now have been a 10-year-old getting ready for the fourth grade. Though no criminal charges have ever been filed in her death, the case is headed for civil court.
John and Patsy Ramsey have repeatedly suggested that one of their friends or neighbors is responsible for their daughter's death. Attorney Darnay Hoffman is suing them on behalf of sometime Boulder resident Chris Wolf, who was cleared by local police as a suspect early on in the investigation.
"We have a potential $50 million award against them," said Hoffman.
In their book Death of Innocence, the Ramseys indicated they had information suggesting that the police should continue to investigate Wolf.
"I think they're obviously hypocrites," said Wolf.
Wolf's civil trial is expected to start next Spring. Depositions have already begun in Atlanta.
"It will probably be the only time the Ramseys have to sit in front of a jury under oath in front of the jury," said Hoffman.
Important information may be uncovered during the depositions and trial, because there are so many unanswered questions.
The autopsy report indicates the last thing JonBenet ate before her death was fresh cut pineapple. She didn't have pineapple at the Christmas party the family attended that night, and her parents say she was put to bed as soon as they got home.
But a bowl of pineapple with Patsy Ramsey's fingerprints was found on the kitchen table.Who fed JonBenet pineapple? A pedophile intruder with murder on his mind?
"For a pedophile person have to go through the refrigerator, get some pineapple, feed the pineapple, then stun gun her, and bludgeon her, and use a ligature ... that's way over common pedophile's style," said forensic pathologist Dr. Henry Lee, a lead consultant on the Ramsey investigation,
Motive is another question.
Former Boulder police detective Steve Thomas believes JonBenet was killed because she wet her bed. Were JonBenet's sheets urine-stained? Sources from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation say they were.
And what about the rambling ransom note? Experts says whoever wrote it killed JonBenet.
"Which pedophile would spend that much time writing three pages of notes?" asked Dr. Lee. "Just doesn't make sense again."
At least 10 lawsuits connected with the case have been filed claiming more than $250 million in damages. The Ramseys are being sued, but they're also suing. They have already settled libel cases with two tabloid magazines.
They are also suing former Boulder police detective Steve Thomas. In a book he wrote about the case, Thomas accused Patsy Ramsey of the murder.
Daniel Petrocelli, of O.J. civil trial fame, will defend Thomas should the $80 million suit end up in court.
So after four-and-a-half years and hundreds of hours of interviews — many of them given by the Ramseys themselves — will the civil trials produce a smoking gun?
"It's not likely a civil lawyer has thought of something brilliant that hasn't been asked yet," said legal analyst Larry Pozner.
Dr. Lee is more optimistic.
"I still call 50-50 ... because if I start to say zero, that's a hopeless case," he said. "But this case still has hope."