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Grand Jury Probe Urged in JonBenet Ramsey Killing

Crime: D.A. weighing tactic that would help gain information from uncooperative witnesses. Police winnowing list of 68 possible suspects.

June 03, 1998| From Associated Press

BOULDER, Colo. — The lead investigator in the JonBenet Ramsey slaying strongly urged the district attorney Tuesday to turn the case over to a grand jury, which has broad powers that he said could help police catch the little girl's killer.

"I have an idea of who did it," said Police Cmdr. Mark Beckner. "If I were the D.A., I would go ahead with a grand jury at this point."

Beckner's statements came at the end of two days of meetings in which police presented the evidence in the case to Boulder County Dist. Atty. Alex Hunter and his advisors.

Hunter said he could make a decision about using the grand jury within 30 days.

"I'm leaning toward it. I think it makes sense," Hunter said.

He refused to discuss specifics, and said there was some disagreement among experts he has consulted on how to proceed in the case.

Police turned over more than 30,000 pages of evidence. Beckner said police had interviewed 590 people, some more than once. He said a list of 68 possible suspects was shrinking. He said he gave the district attorney 30 reasons to turn to a grand jury, including its ability to get records and interviews from uncooperative witnesses.

At the meetings, Hunter's advisors included forensic scientist Henry Lee and defense attorney Barry Scheck, both figures from the O.J. Simpson case. On Sunday, the two men, accompanied by Hunter, visited the mansion where the 6-year-old girl died.

JonBenet's parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, remain under suspicion. The former Little Miss Colorado was found beaten and strangled in the family's home on Dec. 26, 1996. Both parents have vehemently maintained their innocence.

Ramsey found his daughter's body about eight hours after his wife said she found a ransom note demanding $118,000.

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